Interview with Agnes Bruckner of "The Anna Nicole Story" on Lifetime - Primetime Article From The TV MegaSite

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By Suzanne

Agnes Bruckner

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, 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?

Agnes: 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 scene, too.

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 shoot.

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 Anna Nicole?

A. No, I did not. I didn't really feel the need to, but there was no communication with anyone from her family.

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 challenge?

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 Nicole?

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 addiction?

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 experience.

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 B&B.

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 film?

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 and powerful

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 yourself.

Q. Is this a movie for children, as a cautionary tale?

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 movie


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.”

Bruckner has 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, California.

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