Elisabeth Shue: I'm Drawn To Damaged Women
Let it be known that Elisabeth Shue was as much a part of my childhood as Sesame Street, OshKosh B'Gosh and pureed carrots. In retrospect, my parents should not have let Cocktail and Adventures in Babysitting become such VCR staples (oh yea, I went there), but to this day both remain two of my most beloved films ever.
So I was thrilled when I recently had the chance to chat with Elisabeth about her latest movie, the must-see Janie Jones, because it also afforded me the opportunity to sing Babysitting Blues to Chris Parker.
Insider.com: I loved this movie, Elisabeth.
Elisabeth Shue: Oh, I'm so happy to hear that. It's always worrisome when you have a great, small movie without much money behind it that kind of comes and goes. But even if it's a few years later, these kinds of movies have a way of finding an audience. Just to have one person come up and say, "Oh my god, I loved that movie" makes it worth it.
Insider: When people approach you, does one movie get brought up more than others?
Elisabeth: It's always different – I always love when someone gushes about a movie I'd written off or secretly didn't like so much [laughs]. But either way, it's always nice -- believe me, I never stop appreciating it.
Insider: What was it about Janie Jones that you connected with?
Elisabeth: I really responded to the simplicity and honesty of the script. Also, I loved the character. I loved the agony that she had to go through. The idea of abandoning your child is probably the most dark, awful thing a mother could imagine doing. And yet the complication was that she did really feel like it was best for her daughter to go – she really thought she was helping her daughter by sending her away. That was really intense to feel.
Insider: Your co-stars are both quite deft musicians, both in and out of the film -- for you, it doesn't come up on-screen, but are you musical?
Elisabeth: I'm a wannabe. I can play like three songs on the guitar, and have played them over and over again for 20 years … to my family's chagrin [laughs]. But I really do see a big correlation between movies and music. Music is a place where you're able to feel the deepest emotions. Tons of actors use music to help them feel more in the moment. I've always turned to music to help me get ready for a very dark depressing scene.
Insider: What artists are on current iPod rotation for you?
Elisabeth: I really like The Black Keys. Rufus Wainwright. Foster the People – I know that one song, which we've OD'd on a bit. I hope they have more [laughs]. We're a big Beatles family. We have different age ranges – my son is 13, he loves The Beatles. My daughter is 10, she loves The Beatles. What's great about The Beatles is they appeal to everyone. It's a testament to their childlike connection to their music. They're so pure.
Insider: When you read a script now, what is it you're looking for in a character?
Elisabeth: Somebody who is complicated. I seem to be drawn to people who are damaged. It gives you an immediate complication when they're struggling with demons and trying to overcome their own self to survive the world. I love women who are somehow on the edge – right on the precipice and will fall over if they're not careful. I find them to be the most interesting.
Insider: If you could revisit any of the characters you've previously played to tell the second chapter of their story, who would it be?
Elisabeth: There's a few. I'd play Sera, from Leaving Las Vegas, again. There was a character I did in this Oprah Winfrey Presents movie a long time ago that I loved so much. I wish I could play her forever. She was so complicated and different from anything I've ever done. I loved being her. And then the character in Mysterious Skin.
Insider: A lot of people are wondering if you make a cameo in Jonah Hill's The Sitter, which looks to be basically a remake of Adventures in Babysitting.
Elisabeth: Oh, it's very much a remake. I wanted to play the mother, but we couldn’t work out the scheduling. I have to say, I loved The Sitter though, it's hilarious. And structurally, it's very similar to Adventures in Babysitting, but it's much darker.
Insider: It's funny you say that because I was rewatching the movie recently, and was struck by how dark it was for what has always been billed as a kids movie. Nowadays, you would never get that rating for that movie.
Elisabeth: It's funny you said that. There aren’t too many movies I've made that I can show my kids. Agnes is five and I thought Adventures in Babysitting would be perfect for her -- that she'd love little Sara. No joke, she was scared to death. Really scared. So I watched it, and, oh my god, it is really kind of scary.
Insider: Can you go a day without someone coming up to you and singing "Baby, baby, babysitting blues?"
Elisabeth: [laughs] No, that doesn't happen enough. People always bring up that scene, but no one ever sings it to me. More people need to!
Janie Jones is now playing