INTERVIEW: Bijou Phillips

By John Esther, Film Editor on December 13, 2008

Thin and silk skinned pawed, Bijou Phillips amicably sits across from me. Looking kind and being busy, Philips has had no fewer than three films out this year.

Philips starred opposite Sam Rockwell in the amusing independent film, Choke, and portrayed Lorna Doom of the seminal, yet quite silly, punk band, The Germs, in What We Do is Secret.

In her latest film, Dark Knights, Phillips plays Crystal, a woman who is addicted to her boyfriend, Chaz (Gabriel Mann), the struggling owner of a nightclub with more cultural anachronisms than a Kevin Costner film.

The daughter of songwriter-singer John Phillips of The Mamas and the Papas (“California Dreamin’”; “Monday, Monday”), Philips took the role to heart and song, writing some and performing all of her songs for the role.

JEsther Entertainment: Why did you want to be a part of making this film?

Bijou Phillips: When I read this script I thought it was so great. It doesn’t have the traditional happy ending. They needed a couple of songs so I wrote “Let’s Be Nice Some More.” That was fun writing some music for it. It was an awesome experience.

JE: In what ways do you identify with your Crystal?

BP: It’s not so much that I identify with her, but like my parents used a lot of drugs. I drew on a lot of my family. I have been that girl who likes the guy but it’s not going to work out. He likes someone else and it’s sort of like that unspoken thing. I’ve been there and it sucks. It’s not hard to figure out what that’s like. It’s unrequited love. I got to flush that out with Gabe. A lot of acting is just flushing that stuff out.

JE: You have been busy with three films released this year. How has that been for you?

BP: It’s been fun just spending a couple of years making movies. Now I have spent this year just promoting them. It’s hard work.

JE: How do you feel about promoting your work and these interviews? Do they serve the work? Should the work speak for itself?

BP: That’s a good thing to think about. I don’t know. What do you think?

JE: It depends on what the interviewee has to say but, generally speaking, films, like any art, are texts given to a certain time and place. What the intentions behind the text are important, certainly not the final word.

BP: That makes sense, too. The important part about this is that someone who may never have heard about the movie will run by this interview and go, “Oh, this sounds interesting; I’ll go check that out.” Normally, they would have never heard about it.

JE: There is a marketing value to the interviews.

BP: Yeah, it’s getting people to know about it.

JE: What do you think the film says about the politics of the time?

BP: It’s sort of similar to the time we are in now. There are the people who are in power. There are the people who have money. There are the people who run everything and everybody else is just sort of suffering. It’s like what we’re especially going through now.

JE: To borrow a “proverbial” theme from Dark Streets, do you see a light at the end of the tunnel?

BP: No. I definitely voted for Barack. I love Barack. I’m totally for him. I just don’t think the president has really any control over what’s going on. The countries are not the United States, England, Germany and Russia; the countries are now Wal-Mart, IBM and other corporations. Those are the powers that be. We are not. It’s all smoke and mirrors.

JE: Perhaps to change to a light subject, what do you have upcoming?

BP: I got a movie called “Made for Each Other” coming out. It’s a really, really funny sex comedy movie about this couple.

JE: And what are your upcoming plans outside of work?

BP: I got a bunch of horses so I’m at the barn every day doing my horses. You know, riding and cleaning, mucking their stalls and giving them their buckets, and loving on them, taking them for walks and making sure they’re okay, wrapping their legs and the whole thing. So I’m like heavy into that and I love that. It’s my favorite thing.

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