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Interview with Agnes Bruckner of "Anna
Nicole" on Lifetime 6/12/13
It was great to interview Ms. Bruckner. She is very sweet
and has proved her acting ability many times. This was a
conference call with Lifetime, so there were other
interviewers besides myself.
Here is the transcription by
Gisele. I'm still
editing it a bit.
Lanford Beard, EW.com: One of the first things I
wanted to ask about is the costumes in the movie. Can you
tell us about the inspiration behind them and how they
helped you to get into character?
Agnes: Yes, definitely. We had Deborah Everton,
who was our costume designer, and she was really amazing. We
all sort of did our homework and our research. There were so
many images of Anna all throughout her life online,
magazines and everything. We tried to choose from the main
pictures of her that were the more well-known images.
We tried to create it the best we could. There's the
wedding scene where Ann marries J. Howard. It was a
sort of 80's fusion of what she had on that I think Deborah
ended up finding on Ebay or something. It was so
perfect. She also designed out of scratch this beautiful red
gown that you see throughout the movie in kind of a Marilyn
Monroe-esque kind of images that you see in the movie. She
made that from scratch and it was pretty unbelievable.
Lanford: One of the big talking points that came
out of the trailer was that scene where you're in the clown
make-up from that video that they showed in court, and I was
wondering if you could talk just about filming that scene
and researching it and all that?
was one of the more difficult
videos of hers to watch for me, just because she was so
out of it. It's very disturbing. It was supposed to be
in The Bahamas when that video was made, and we were
shooting at Atlantis, and it was actually freezing
really early in the morning, so it was really, really
cold. What you see in the movie is not as long as the
actual video itself. I think it was important to kind of
show those moments with her and Howard K. Stern, played
by Adam [Goldberg] who's just really amazing in the
Lanford: Obviously there were many tragic
elements of Nicole's life. What were the parts
that inspired you or that you related to personally?
Agnes: Usually when I play a role on a project, I end up
using some of my own experiences and draw from my own
life. The funny thing about this character was that I
learned so much from Anna after doing so much research
on her about her relationship with her family -- how she
didn't have a support system. She was surrounded by
enablers all the time. It made me realize how fortunate
I am to be able to have family and friends, people in my
career also that really care about me as a person, my
health and happiness. I really took that away. What
inspired me so much about her and made me look at her in
awe was her ability to make people smile, especially in
the heyday with the Guess campaigns when she was doing
her first couple of interviews, she was so full of life
and always smiling, and she loved life. There was this
light inside of her that was really beautiful.
Q. Was there a part of Anna's life that you had the
most fun playing?
A. I really, really, really enjoyed filming the
scenes with Danny, played by Graham [Martin] and Luke
[Donaldson], because it was such a special relationship,
and there was so much love. I think that he was her rock
and her best friend at the end of the day. He was the
only person in her life who was like her mirror. He
never lied to her. He was always truthful to her, so we
had a lot of fun with the actors who were unbelievable.
I mean, these kids were so professional and they were so
great and really made Danny a very lovable, genuine,
special character. So, those were my favorite things to
Q. How did you avoid making fun of Anna Nicole and
being condescending toward her?
A. That was one of my biggest concerns before signing
on was that I didn't want to play her as a caricature. I
didn't want to just show people the "hot mess" side of
Anna Nicole. I really wanted to maybe explore and see --
I never met Anna Nicole. I didn't know how she was
behind the camera, so I kind of had to fill in the
pieces from the research that I did. I think that deep
down she was human, and we make mistakes, and we grow up
differently and have different relationships with our
families, and stuff like that. I really wanted to make
sure that we made a movie more about that. There are
plenty of "hot mess" kind of movies, trust me, but we
really wanted to make the kind of movie, where she came
from, how she grew up, her relationship with Danny, her
relationship with J. Howard. I really wanted to make
sure that we went about it in that way.
Q. Were you able to discover who she was as a person
behind all the artifice and layers?
A. Yeah. After doing research and watching pretty
much every video on her: interviews, her coming out of
restaurants with paparazzi following her, when she was
talking just being herself. Exploring her relationship
with her mom -- it was definitely strained. They didn't
have a great relationship. She never really had a father
figure, and getting married so young, having a kid so
young. All these things just kind of took and maybe kind
of created the little pieces that weren't available for
me, just being a woman. I'm not a mom or anything, but I
just kind of tried to think like, "Okay, how would she
have felt in this situation?" or whatever, being where
she came from, and having gotten married so young, and
had a kid, and be responsible for another human at such
a young age, and all that stuff.
Q. Were you able to talk to someone who actually knew
A. No, I did not. I didn't really feel the need to,
but there was no communication with anyone from her
Q. What was it like working with Martin Landau?
A. First of all, working with Martin Landau is a one
in a lifetime experience. It was just unbelievable. He
is so amazingly present and nice and professional. He
really did his homework on J. Howard, who really did
love Anna so much. When she walked into a room where he
was, his eyes lit up. She really gave that to him, and I
think that's what he got out of the relationship. I
think Martin played it so beautifully. It was really
fun. I was very nervous to be working with such an
amazingly talented person, who's been doing this for so
long, but he was so just down-to-earth and cool, and it
ended up being super fun. There are great scenes with us
having a good time at the wedding kind of dancing. He's
in a wheelchair and all this stuff. It was a really,
really fun experience with him.
Q. How do you play scenes as Anna Nicole without
going over the top?
A. I wasn't afraid of playing her the way she was
when she was over the top and so full of fun and being
goofy, because she was very goofy. She wasn't all pulled
together. She was kind of all over the place, and I
loved that about her, so I definitely wanted to show
that side of her. At the end of the day, you can't be
entertained for however long and watch one person doing
her goofy hot mess thing the whole time. I thought it
would be more interesting to show how she became that
way or why she did some of the things that she did, how
she enjoyed entertaining people, and all that stuff. So,
I really wanted to show both sides of Anna. On set Mary
was really helpful with that. I think we really came
together with Mary and found the perfect balance of
making it really fun and goofy and wild, like she was,
but we're also gonna make it heartfelt and make this
character human, because a lot of the time people saw
her as someone that wasn't a real person, so we
definitely wanted to show both sides.
Q. Were the dark moments hardest to play when she
wasn't a good person.
A. The darker moments for me were actually easier to
play. The more difficult moments for me were the
larger-than-life kind, because as Agnes, I'm so not like
that. I have stage fright, and I don't like talking in
front of big groups of people, but she was all about
that. That's where she really shined. There was a scene
in the movie where Anna presents an award to the winner
of a race, and she's on stage, and she's doing her
thing, and she's grinding up against the car. Those were
the scenes that were difficult for me, because she was
so over the top, and sexy and stuff. Those are the most
difficult scenes for me personally to work on.
Q. Was her sexy physical look and the Southern accent
A. I worked with a voice coach a little bit and tried
to use a little bit of an accent, but she definitely had
this very light, fun way of speaking, and there was a
little twang in there. The physical transformation was
unbelievable. It really takes a team of people, and we
had one of the most amazing teams I've ever worked with.
We had separate prosthetic boobs, which I've never been
in before. We had cheek prosthetics, because of that
look that she had, so we probably changed my looks three
or four times a day on set, which was really, really
crazy. But when you have such an amazing team who's so
on it, and everybody's so passionate. It's kind of
everybody's dream character to work on, so it was
really, but it turned out like unbelievable. I still
can't believe how amazing the transformation looks.
Suzanne: Did working on "The Bold and The Beautiful" help
you in this role?
Agnes: Being on a soap opera, especially at such a young
age for me was basically a very important acting class,
just because there were so many elements like working
with a different director, learning the lines, working
with different actors -- old, young -- really learning
how to act on a set. All those things I learned from
being on a soap opera. I've taken all those things with
me, and they've definitely stayed with me.
Suzanne: What was the audition process like to be Anna
Agnes: I read the script a month before I got it, and it
was really, really fantastic. Judith Verno, who's a
producer on the film, I'd worked with before on another
Lifetime movie called "The Craigslist Killer." She
reached out and just really had me in mind for this
role, and I went in. Mary Harron and Judith Verno were
on Skype actually, because they were already in Atlanta
in pre-production, and Susan Edelman, the casting
director. I curled my brown hair, 'cause I didn't have
time, and I put on the biggest push-up bra I could find,
and I just went for it. I found out a couple of hours
later that the role was mine, and my journey to become
Anna Nicole started.
Suzanne: Have you done a lot of comedy?
Agnes: No, I actually have never really dabbled in
comedy, so that was another reason it was so
nerve-wracking for me to play that side of her, because
she just let loose and she had no filter, but she just
kind of said what she said, and you couldn't help but
giggle. For me, that was more difficult to play, but
working with, especially Adam Goldberg, who was so funny
in the movie and is just funny in general, and even
Martin is hysterical. Everyone is so on top of their
game that it helped me a lot, because as an actor, it's
more about reacting than acting, so when you have really
amazing actors that you're working with, it really makes
your job a lot easier.
Suzanne: Did you know anyone that had that kind of drug
Agnes: No, I've seen a lot of "Intervention," which is
one of my favorite shows, and I'm really upset that
they're taking it off the air. Just some things like
that and documentaries that I've really enjoyed
watching. And then, you know, you've seen so many movies
with people that have problems like that. So I just had
to draw from all those things and watching videos of
Anna, because she had such mannerisms. She was very
dainty and very girly, so all the ways that she, like,
held her hands and how her neck would wobble back and
forth, I really had to study.
Q. How do you go from being small-chested to
pretending that you're well endowed?
A. With a lot of glue. We worked with a special
effects team that came up with what size we wanted to
use and everything, 'cause we didn't want them to be
ridiculously large. We wanted people to focus on her
beauty rather than just her boobs. It was just these
prosthetic boobs that took an hour and a half and then
fake eyelashes and I bleached my own hair, but we had
pieces woven in, different wigs, one like Marilyn
Monroe. The wardrobe team was just around the clock
working on outfits and designing beautiful dresses and
it took an army. It's not easy to make somebody look
like that every day and keep switching the look up, too.
It was really remarkable.
Q. How did your thoughts about Anna Nicole change
after you researched it and played the role?
A. I didn't know anything really about her, apart
from what she looked like, before I took this project
on. When she was around in her heyday, I was very young.
I remember my mom really following her story, but I
never did. After doing all the research and filling in
the missing pieces myself, along with Mary and the other
cast members, I really got protective of her. So many
videos that you see of her is where she's on drugs, like
the clown makeup video. It's very heartbreaking for me,
especially because of becoming her, in a way. I kind of
wanted to reach out and shake her up and tell her, "Stop
doing this." I think she was a pretty remarkable woman
and, unfortunately, when you're constantly surrounded by
enablers, especially in this business, and you don't
really have a good support system, this is what can
happen to you.
Q. As an actress, is it really scary to take on
something like this?
A. Definitely. Yeah, I was terrified. I had anxiety
attacks before we started. I had a week to do research,
and then I went to Atlanta and I had another week. It's
such a challenging role for me. I've never really played
a character like this before. I just had to step back
and tell myself, "It's going to be okay." After we
started to work with the hair and makeup team, and
wardrobe, we did camera tests, and we actually saw that
I was going to look like, and I worked with a voice
coach. I got together with Mary, and all of these things
just kind of came together, and it really eased me up
completely, because we really found her, I think. And
the rest is history. It was an amazing, amazing
Q. As a tomboy, how did you deal with all the glitz
and glamour that come along with the role.
A. What was so funny is, after I got the part, and I
first went in to meet with everyone, it was just such a
surreal moment, because we were talking about bleaching
my hair, and the prosthetic boobs, and the dress, and
the heels. Up until this past year, I maybe owned two
pairs of high heels just because I needed to. The funny
thing is after working on this and becoming Anna, I
actually took a little piece of her away with me, and
she made me realize that it's okay to be somewhat
girlie. It's fun to play with it; it's fun to be a girl.
It kind of changed me. I came back, and I was fixing my
hair before we went out, and everybody was like, "Who
are you?" It's really fun. She was such a fun person, I
really did take a little bit of that away with me.
Q. What would you tell your soap opera fans about the
acting growth that you've experienced since you were on
A. It was my first job as an actress, and it was a
really, really incredible and fun experience for me. It
really did teach me about memorizing lines and working
with directors and working with actors, being
professional, but still having fun and developing who
you're gonna be as an actor. It was an amazing beginning
stomping grounds for me, and I still have pictures from
when I was on the show, and it's so funny to look at
them, but it was a great experience.
Q. Do you still get recognized as Bridget today?
A. You know what? I don't. I remember getting
recognized when I was about 16 or 17 from a couple of
different people, and there were actually a lot of
people from Europe, also. There was a French couple at
Universal City Walk who came up to me and recognized me
as Bridget Forrester, and it was so weird. I didn't even
know it played in France. But not these days.
Q. What do you hope viewers will take away from this
A. I really hope that people will enjoy and
appreciate the different sides of Anna, about her family
and her love for Danny and J. Howard's relationship with
her. I just want people to enjoy it and understand that
the way she grew up and what happened in her life, made
her the way she was.
Q. What was your favorite scene?
A. It's so difficult to say, because working with
Adam Goldberg was just amazing, because he's so funny on
and off camera. He's such a creative person, so the
scenes with him where we're partying and drinking were
so much fun to play, but I also did enjoy my moments
with Graham and Caleb and Lucas, who played the Dannys.
And also all the scenes with Martin were just so amazing
Q. Anna Nicole was criticized for marrying such an
older man. If it'd been reversed, would there have been
such a media frenzy?
A. I'm not sure. It's interesting when people bring
that up, the relationship between them. It's always that
Anna wanted something out of him. She wanted his money
and everything, but playing Anna and doing the research
and thinking about it myself, I really thing that they
had something for each other. I think that he wanted
companionship, love, and joy in his life, and she gave
that to him with her charisma and her love of life, and
the way she was. She never really had a father figure.
She never had a good relationship with her family, and
here's this guy who's treating her the best she's ever
been treated, showing her love and loving her. I think
they had something for each other and it came together.
I think there was more to it than her just marrying him
for his money.
Q. What do you look for in a potential partner?
A. Just someone that is honest and fun, but when you
meet somebody and that click happens, a lot of things on
your list just disappear. At the end of the day, it's
just that strong feeling that you have when you're with
somebody that you love is what matters.
Q. How do you handle being a celebrity?
A. You know, I'm not really a celebrity, I don't
think. I'm nowhere near the celebrity that Anna Nicole
was. I've had a great experience so far being an actress
and having my fans that really support me and love me,
and all my Twitter followers, and people in my Facebook
who show me so much love. It's been a great experience
for me so far, so I hope it stays that way.
Q. Who is your greatest support system?
A. My family, my mom, my dad, my sisters, my brother,
my nephews -- they are huge inspirations in my life.
People that keep you grounded. We have a lot of fun. I
love my family very much.
Q. What was her relationship with her son?
A. They had such a special, strong bond. I'm not a
mother, but I'm very, very close with my nephews. I
don't think you can really know what it is to be a
parent unless you are one, but I do have a really strong
bond with my nephews and I just tried to bring that into
playing Anna with Danny. It was such pure love, and even
when she was going through hard times, or she relapsed,
there was always love for him. I just think that having
a child so young and then being thrust into this crazy
business, there was no real support system, because she
didn't have a relationship with her mom or her dad. She
came from such a small town, and I think that, right off
the bat, she was thrown into this whirlwind of
craziness, which is hard for someone who doesn't have a
kid, but to have a kid that you're responsible for and
you're very close to, because you were so young when you
had him, it just brings the relationship to a whole
different level. I also think that she was with Danny as
two kids are with each other. I think that a lot of the
times, she was like a kid with him than she was a mother
with him, so I think that that might have had a little
something to do with it, also. At the end of the day,
she just wanted to have fun, be happy, and be loving,
but you can't really live life that way. You have to
have a balance, which she didn't have, but she still
loved him so much, which was definitely something really
fun to play for me.
Q. When she grows up and watches this, what will her
daughter think and say?
A. I hope that she sees her mom in a very positive
light, but also learn from her mistakes. I think that
that's really important. I don't think that anybody is
perfect and being a parent is so difficult. There is no
rulebook or guidebook on being a parent, but at the end
of the day, I know that Anna really, really, really
loved Dannielynn. I just hope that she knows her and
learns from her mistakes. I hope that what she looks at
and knows from the people around her who talk to her
about her mom, 'cause I think it's important.
Q. As an actress, how do you stay away from enablers?
A. I'm not perfect, and I've made mistakes in my
life, but as long as you learn from them and realize
what they were and move on in a positive way, it's
great. But, you know, it's out there. Temptation is
always around you, but it's up to you if you want to get
into it or if you wanna back away from it. I definitely
stayed on my course and never really fallen off the
wagon. I try to remember that my health and my happiness
are number 1 and more important than my career. It's
really hard and there's temptation everywhere, but you
just have to stay strong. You have to believe in
Q. Is this a movie for children, as a cautionary
A. Yeah, maybe for a little older kids, but I don't
think that, until you're at a certain age, you really
understand all the things that are going on in this
movie. I think that as long as you communicate with your
child and let them know what some of these things are,
but later on, because I don't think that younger kids
need to really get involved with all the information
that we have in this movie, but I definitely would say
it's more a movie for adults.
Don't forget to watch the Lifetime Original Movie,
Anna Nicole, premiering Saturday, June 29th
at 8pm ET/PT.
Review of the
Agnes Bruckner is no stranger to being in front
of cameras, having begun acting at the age of
12. In 2002, she earned the attention of
critics nationwide for her leading role in
Blue Car, an independent drama about a
gifted teenager whose world of turmoil becomes
increasingly complicated after a unique
relationship forms with her English teacher.
For her work in Blue Car, Bruckner was
nominated for an Independent Spirit Award in the
category of “Best Female Lead.”
had a successful run on the silver screen during
the past several years. After the triumphant
debut of Blue Car, she went on to star
alongside Sandra Bullock and Ryan Gosling in
Warner Bros.’ Murder By Numbers. Soon
afterwards Bruckner starred opposite Val Kilmer,
Carrie Fischer and Rachel Leigh Cook in Samuel
Goldwyn Films’ Stateside, before
appearing in 2007’s MGM fave Blood and
Chocolate with Hugh Dancy. Other film
projects include Dimension’s Venom,
Sony Pictures’ Dreamland, and Sony
Pictures’ The Woods. Bruckner also
starred in a number of successful independent
films including Home Room with Busy
Philipps and Erika Christensen; Rick
with Bill Pullman and Sandra Oh; Haven
with Orlando Bloom; Peaceful Warrior
with Nick Nolte and Amy Smart; Kill Theory;
Breaking the Girls; The Millionaire Tour;
The Pact and The Citizen.
In 2011 Bruckner starred in the Lifetime
Television movie The Craigslist Killer,
a crime thriller about a seemingly normal man
who lived a dark and secretive online life.
Also on the small screen, she has had
significant roles on Covert Affairs, 24,
Private Practice, Fairly Legal, Hawaii Five-0,
Dirty Sexy Money and Law & Order:
Criminal Intent, to name a few.
Bruckner currently resides in Los Angeles,
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