Rosario Dawson, left, as Roxane in Alexander Photo: Supplied On her first day on the set of Sin City, Rosario Dawson initially wore a robe over her costume. When it came time to act out her scene with co-star Clive Owen, she dropped the robe, revealing a skimpy black leather outfit that left little to the imagination. Owen's eyes popped out of his head. The year-old Dawson has been making movies since she was 15, when director Larry Clark saw her sitting on a stoop in a tough section of New York City and cast her in his controversial film Kids.
Those small roles parlayed into bigger roles after her stunning appearance in Alexander, and she now has a major role in the upcoming film version of the hit Broadway musical Rent. But her coolest role to date is in Sin City, a stylish film noir based on the graphic novels of comics guru Frank Miller. Co-directed by Miller and Robert Rodriguez, with one scene helmed by "special guest director" Quentin Tarantino, Sin City combines live action and computer-generated graphics to tell three seriously violent tales, each starring a different main character played by Bruce Willis, Mickey Rourke and Owen.
How off-the-wall is this movie? Sweet little hobbit Elijah Wood plays a mute serial killer. The movie's in black and white, with occasional splashes of colour.
Two prominent actresses appear topless, and neither is Rosario Dawson. We sat down with the actress and she explained why she did not agree to perform topless, even though the script called for her to do so. She also told us of her reaction to being approached when she was a teen by a strange man offering her a role in his "movie," and what a man has to know to date her.
Dawson, who is an ethnic mix of Puerto Rican, Dominican, African American, Cuban and Irish, spells out why she doesn't want to be the "next big Latina actress. Does this movie fit into your career plan, or did you just want to be in a really cool movie? It's more about being a big comics fan. When I heard about this movie, I ran in to audition for it. But what about the cool element? I've always known it was cool because my uncle Gus is a comic book artist so I've grown up on comics.
Believe me, I already knew that Frank Miller is a god. I know you saw the movie for the first time last night. What did you think?
I can't believe what it looked like, considering that there was nothing there when we shot the movie most of the scenes were filmed in front of a blank screen with the special effects added later. Do you get a sense that you're part of something groundbreaking? It's like being in Pulp Fiction. But I didn't know for sure it was going to turn out that way.
I've been in films with great directors and perfect casts and everybody thought they were going to successful but they weren't. You just have to do it for the experience and hope for the best. Based on the costume you wore in this film, and the nude scene in Alexander, I assume that it's safe to call you fearless?
Yeah, I guess I am. And the nudity doesn't bother you? Because I don't feel exploited. It was called for in Alexander, the same way this costume was called for in Sin City.
I won't do it just for sake of doing it. My character was supposed to be topless in this movie but I didn't think it was necessary, and Richard was totally cool with that. I realise I'm pretty much half-naked, but I liked my character's attitude that she was the head prostitute and she didn't need to be naked.
Besides, it would be distracting. Do you feel any pressure from the community to be the next Latina superstar? In a sense, but they've been saying that for the last 10 years.
I'm not even sure what that's supposed to mean. There are a lot of woman around my age with varied ethnic backgrounds, and they're playing diverse roles that have nothing to with ethnicity.
I'm trying to do that myself with my career. After He Got Game, I was offered every hoochie mama role in town. It wasn't something was interested in. I did that already. I don't want to get caught in that trap of being called the next this or the next that. Some actresses try too hard to be what the audience or the media wants them to be.
So, the secret is to accept roles that could be of any ethnic background? Were you disappointed that Alexander didn't do well at the box office? Actually, it's doing very well internationally, but we had a feeling that American audiences wouldn't pick up on it, which is a shame. But it was still an incredible experience, and it put me in a position to do big movies like this and Rent.
So, it was a good experience after all? Yes, but it was disappointing in that you do this huge movie and expect that everybody will see it, and they don't. Is the front stoop story about Larry Clark offering you a role in Kids true? And explain to me why you didn't think he was a pervert? I didn't know if he was a pervert or a genius. I looked at his book of photographs and it was filled with these images of young drug addicts and crack houses. He's obviously obsessed with that culture, and it could look exploitative, but I think it's just that he's shining a light on something that people don't want to see.
My mom's a real kick. She walked up to Robert and said, "I love your movies; you need to have my daughter Rosario in your next movie. What did he say? He said, "Sure, tell her to come in. Are you anything like your mother when it comes to working with your hands? My dad is a carpenter and I've been around construction work my whole life.
I'm totally into working with my hands. Trust me, if you don't know how to put up drywall, I won't date you.