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- The Mexican Interview -

The gun in The Mexican is supposedly cursed. Do you believe in curses or superstitions?
Mildly. I do knock on wood.

If you'd gone to a psychic 10 years ago and she'd told you that you'd be at this level, would you have believed it?
I probably wouldn't have paid her.

Have you ever had a nightmarish road trip, like your character in this film?
Yeah! Two girlfriends and myself got in my car to go on this road trip. Prior to that I had put the back seats down. So one of my girlfriends is sitting in back and for hours I must have said a thousand times, "Can you pick a side! Every time I look in the mirror, I see your face." She says, "I'm sorry, I'm very uncomfortable back here." I give her, "Come on, we're on the road, toughen up." Finally, six hours, eight hours later and, God bless her little soul, we get to a diner and I realized that the seats had caught at their first catch point and she had ridden from Los Angeles to Omaha sitting [forward] like this. We laughed all the way to Wyoming on that.

James Gandolfini said you flirted with him at the Golden Globes last year.
I didn't flirt with him. It was so funny. I was sitting there from way across the room and I thought for a second he was looking at me and I was waving like a fan. And he kind of looked down and my face turned real red and I said to Benjamin [Bratt], "James Gandolfini ignored me." Then as I went up to present, I passed by him and I just thought, "What the hell." So I put my hand on his shoulder and said, "I just wanted to say hi. I waved at you before." He said, "I figured you weren't waving at me." And I said, "I just figured you were ignoring me." He said, "No, no," and introduced me to his wife, Marcy. That was the beginning of it all.

Gandolfini said he was worried about getting up to speed on this movie.
Getting up to my speed? [Smiles] Oh, he's a goddamned liar.

This isn't the usual Julia Roberts romantic comedy. And you took half your usual salary.
First of all, you couldn't call it a romantic comedy and leave it at that. That would be shortchanging all the other bits. And I don't think what we got paid has anything to do with the kind of movie it is.

But doesn't it imply that it's kind of a risk in that it's not a commercial film?
Why? I liked the script. But that's the reason I do any script. There's no difference. More money doesn't make better scripts. Less money doesn't make a lesser script.

What classic film role would you like to have played?
If it's classic and I loved it, I wouldn't disrespect it enough to put myself in it.

The Oscar nomination for Erin Brockovich is your third. Does it feel any different this time around?
You know, I don't think like that. I keep being asked that: "Is it better, more fun?" It's not a comparative thought process for me. It's just a time to be happy and thrilled and grateful. I keep being asked that; it's baffling to me. Maybe I'm supposed to sit and assess my level of happiness and look back in time and put it on a graph and see if it matches up.

But I can remember that you were so excited with Pretty Woman.
So excited, so excited. I am still so excited. As Brad [Pitt] would say, "Inside, I'm doing cartwheels upside down naked." All that kind of stuff. I am as excited it just manifests itself with a slightly less Southern accent.

What would you say if you won?
You're on a whole different calendar page than me, babe. Come on back to today.

What do you remember about your last Oscar night?
I remember being overwhelmed and I realize today that that sense in that sort of environment never goes away. I don't think my hair trembles quite as much. I think I've gotten that under control, to style it so it doesn't show. But it was so long ago. I just remember the positive things, the dreamy qualities. "Oh my God, look at that person!"

Were you knocked out by what the women were wearing?
Well, yes. That's why the gals all pull out their pretty frocks for that night, isn't it? I can't remember what they were wearing last year but I remember watching it on TV and thinking, "Some pretty things, some interesting things."

Your character in The Mexican dreams of moving to Las Vegas. You're going to film Ocean's Eleven there. What do you think of Vegas?
I'm there now on America's Sweethearts. It's my own little oasis. ¡¦ I hate it. Well, I don't hate it, but it's just not my thing.

Do you gamble?
Not enough, apparently.

Is there anything you do without security?
Everything. In fact, when I have to have security, they call me the Road Runner because apparently I just go and forget to give them the heads up.

Have you made peace with fame, with people coming up to you?
Can I handle it now? As opposed to not having handled it before?

Yes, as opposed to maybe not. =)
Just a little bit "maybe." [Smiles] "Yes" is the answer to your question. When it first comes upon you, it's like being hit with a big tsunami in the ocean and you panic and then you realize, "If I just calm down and see which way the bubbles are going, everything will be OK." So I'd have to say yes. Like anything, the more you do it, the more relaxed you become with it. It used to be if someone came up to me I live in New York it was, "What do you want? Don't touch. Here's my purse. Back off!"

When you accepted your Golden Globe this year, you spoke of how nice it was to have someone to come home to and then you thanked Benjamin Bratt.
My cheeks are flaming red now.

Yet you've been very coy when asked about the relationship.
Well, how should I be to that kind of indictment, that interrogation? What would the appropriate response be?

What's wrong with telling the truth?
Well, apparently we got married three weekends ago or something in Las Vegas. Erin Brockovich was the maid of honor. Someone told me that. A good time was had by all. Can you imagine if I got married in Vegas!

Benjamin has a ring that he said you gave to him and that it was a reminder of what's important. Do you have one as well?
I have the twin to his ring, which is this one. [Displays the ring] And there's this one [Shows a sparkling diamond], which he gave me.

What is important to you now?
That's a long list.

The Mexican poses the question, "When, between lovers, is enough enough?" How do you answer that?
As Julia, I'd say respectfully that's really none of your business to be that far inside my brain. But it's an individual choice that evolves as a person evolves. I'd like to think the answer is the answer we say in the movie. I believe in that.

George Clooney said he sent you the Ocean's Eleven script enclosed a $20 bill.
[Smiles] Well, he's a liar. No, he's not a liar. He's a part liar. [After] Erin Brockovich, I had said to [Steven] Soderbergh, "Is there a part for me in Traffic? I want to be part of the team. I thought I was going to be part of the team!" I whined for a good two weeks over that, and he gave me the script for Ocean's Eleven and said there was a part for me to play. I said, "Ha ha! It's a movie for boys. There's 11 boys and no chicks. I'm not going to fall for this, Steven." He said, "No, I implore you to read this, there's one girl's part." I took the script and as I was leaving, he yelled, "She doesn't come in until page 42, and so don't stop at page 30 and say I'm a liar." And inside the script was a $20 bill and a note that said, "We hear you get 20 a picture hope you do this picture, Steve and George." First time I ever got paid to read a script.

You're not the lead in either of your upcoming films, America's Sweethearts or Ocean's Eleven. Is this a conscious decision?
It's just the way I like it. The biggest part isn't always the best part.


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