TAKEN 2 The calm before the firestorm: Bryan Mills (Liam Neeson) and his ex-wife Lenore (Famke Janssen) enjoy their reunion in Istanbul. Ph: Shanna Besson © 2012 EUROPACORP – M6 FILMS - GRIVE PRODUCTIONS. All rights reserved. Not for sale or duplication.
Updated: November 1, 2012 6:11AM
She has been a Bond girl and the love interest of one of the “X-Men.”
At age 48, Famke Janssen is still a gorgeous Hollywood beauty, but one who is mulling over what it takes to stay on the A list.
“Gravity will work against you,” she says. “You can try to fight the process, but you’re not going to win the battle.
“I’d rather focus on writing and directing than trips to the dermatologist or to the hospital, which frankly terrify me.”
It’s easy to see where the “Taken 2” star stands when it comes to the age-old plastic surgery debate. “There is something about plastic surgery that doesn’t make people look younger. It just makes them look stranger,” she says with a laugh.
“I think you should make the process of aging look graceful,” she says, adding, “I work in a tough industry known for being brutal to women who get older, but I have to say I’m busier than I have ever been in my life.”
In “Taken 2” (opening Friday), she plays Lenore, ex-wife of Bryan Mills, the retired CIA operative and concerned father played by Liam Neeson. He lands in Istanbul, where he and Lenore are taken hostage by the father of the kidnapper Mills killed while rescuing his daughter in the last outing.
She originated the role in 2008’s hit film “Taken.”
“I actually think this film is going to be a bit more well-rounded. We’re in Istanbul, which looks stunning on film. And we have more of a family dynamic involved between Liam, Maggie Grace as our daughter and myself. That adds a whole new level to the film,” she says.
“It’s not just about exploding cars.”
The film was also a welcome job for Janssen, who spent the last two years writing and directing her own project. “It cost me three years in front of the camera because I spent so much time behind it, so I was thrilled to do this movie,” she says. “It was one of those things where I wondered if I would ever work again as an actress, because I stopped working at such a pivotal time in my career to direct.”
It was worth it to direct the upcoming “Bringing Up Bobby,” starring Milla Jovovich, Bill Pullman and Marcia Cross. The film is based on a screenplay and story by Janssen.
“Milla plays a Ukrainian immigrant who imagines herself to be in a movie living out the American dream. The message of the film is how many ideas of the United States are formed by media and movies,” says Janssen, who adds that she “relied on my favorite films from the ’70s to inform the movie. ...
“It’s one of those movies where you really enjoy seeing things done illegally, although you know it will end badly,” she says with a laugh. “It’s a time-bomb situation told in a lighthearted way.”
Getting behind the camera was a lifelong dream.
“In the beginning, I struggled so much as an actor, so I applied to film school at the AFI 15 years ago,” Janssen says. “Then the Bond movie came along that I did and I acted in a lot of films.
“I always knew that I’d go back to writing and directing at some point.”
Janssen was born in Amsterdam. She studied economics in her home country before moving to America in 1984 to become a Chanel model while majoring in writing and literature at Columbia University.
Ask about another “X-Men” and she says, “With those things, you never know. I have died a few times in these films, but I seem to make my way back.”
Next up is “Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters,” due out next year and starring Jeremy Renner. She plays the main witch, a role that required four hours of prosthetic makeup prep each day.
“I look as hideous as I have ever looked on screen,” she says, laughing. “I thought, ‘Oh well, so much for trying to battle the whole aging process.’ At night, I’d have to rip my prosthetic face off with strong alcohol. I felt that alcohol on my skin, looked in the mirror and said, ‘Ok, now the aging battle is really lost!’ ”
Big Picture News Inc.