Here’s a quick history on Angela Bassett. She was born in New York City, grew up in Florida, earned a BA from Yale and got her big break in 1990 playing Tina Turner in “What's Love Got to Do with It.” She earned an Oscar nomination for that powerful performance and cinched a Golden Globe.
In "Olympus Has Fallen" directed by Antoine Fuqua ("Training Day"), the White House is under siege by North Korean terrorists. It's up to Bassett and the rest of the team of officials to save the President (Aaron Eckhart) and our great nation. Gerard Butler plays Mike Banning, the hero. The other A-Listers in the movie are Dylan McDermott, Melissa Leo and Morgan Freeman.
Angela Bassett’s skin is flawless. She is so exquisite you have to stifle a gasp to avoid embarrassing yourself. The woman ignites the room. We met at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel last week. After interviewing Susan Sarandon last summer, it was hard to imagine meeting another actress with that much grace and aplomb, and then came Angela Bassett.
Examiner Dorri Olds: What attracted you to this movie?
Angela Bassett: I was intrigued. The script was interesting and sometimes a project just lines up. This film was one of those.
How was it working with such an incredible group of actors?
I was pretty amazed. On the first day there was Gerard Butler. There was Aaron and Dylan and Melissa Leo. Wow.
How was it doing your scenes with Gerard Butler?
From day one it was interesting; just lovely. We were all nervous and starting this journey together. Gerry was gracious and he was one of the producers. I believed in our project and our director so it was just time to step up to the plate and do our best.
Do you have any interest in playing an action hero?
Oh, yes, if it’s not too late. [Laughs] Yeah, it’s never too late and that would be fun. I think I’d be believable.
Is Antoine Fuqua a demanding director?
If he’s demanding I think it’s before we get there or after we’ve left for the day. On the set he’s nothing but charming. He would ask, “Would you like some Green tea?” Then he’d ask Morgan [Freeman], “Do you need anything?” He’s easy to trust. He’s strong, disciplined, detailed and capable. Antoine has it all under control.
How much time did you spend researching the Secret Service?
I didn’t have to go searching for Secret Service people to learn from; it was all in the script for me. In terms of my character I asked myself, ‘What did she have to do to rise through the ranks and become a respected woman in this high position?’ I wondered what sacrifices she had made in her life to get where she was. I thought about Sonia Sotomayor, the first Latina and third woman in the Supreme Court. What did she go through?
How did you psyche yourself up to yell at your cast mates?
Oh, that was the easy fun part. I don’t get to do that in real life. I’m calm and composed and nice, but it was fun to really let loose and let ’em all have it.
Did you feel patriotic during filming?
Yes, when you see that monument [the White House] crumble you can’t help but think about how it was for us as a nation during 9/11 and how we banded together and knew we’d survive and rise to the challenges.
Do you go on Twitter and tweet?
Oh yeah, a little bit. But it’s almost like a voracious monster that needs to be fed. Sometimes I’m in feeding mood and sometimes I’m not.
Can you talk about your upcoming projects?
Sure, I just finished, about a week ago, “Black Nativity” by Langston Hughes. It’s directed by Kasi Lemmons. Forest Whitaker and Jennifer Hudson are in it. It’s a full on musical with singing and dancing. I get to have a duet with Jennifer. [Laughs] I lip-synced.
Rated R. 100 minutes. Release date in New York City is Friday, March 22, 2013.