News for 12/23/2006

Dawson's 'Descent' Eyes Spring Release, NC-17 Rating

Sex and violence may scare the MPAA

In spring, Rosario Dawson's fancy turns to thoughts of violent revenge.

The producer-actress' date-rape drama "Descent" will get a domestic spring release by City Lights Pictures, but the rating is still up in the air, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

The film centers on Maya (Dawson), a college student who is recovering from a brutal date rape. While she's picking up the pieces of her life, she decides to take revenge on her attacker Jared (Chad Faust) in a way that City Lights CEO Danny Fisher describes as "equally shocking, controversial and graphic."

Because of the nature of the material, which Fisher doesn't want to compromise, the film might face a restrictive NC-17 rating or perhaps no rating whatsoever.

"This is not a revenge thriller, and we're not planning to market it as such," says Fisher, who plans to spread awareness of the subject matter through the Internet and to rape and women's organizations.

With the NC-17 tag, anyone aged 17 and under will be denied admission to the film. Occasionally, some newspapers will refuse to run ads touting an NC-17-rated film. In recent years, films that have been stamped with the rating include Michael Winterbottom's "9 Songs," which features unsimulated footage of the two leads having sexual intercourse, "Young Adam" starring Ewan McGregor and John Waters' raunchy sexfest "A Dirty Shame."

Other films that were initially rated NC-17 went back to do some creative editing to get the less prohibitive R rating. Matt Stone and Trey Parker's action film spoof "Team America: World Police" was first tagged for a scene between two marionettes simulating the sex act. Similarly, the remake of "The Hills Have Eyes" had to pull back on the gruesome violence to get the friendlier rating.

Dawson is producing "Descent" under her production shingle Trybe Films. Her film resume includes "Clerks II," "Rent," "Sin City," "Josie and the Pussycats" and "Kids."

News for 12/10/2006

The following article appeared in the September 2006 issue of InStyle Magazine

The following article appeared in the July 21, 2006 issue of Entertainment Weekly Magazine

News for 9/27/2006

Dimension Joins Dawson's 'Taskforce'

Actress would produce film based on her comic series

Dimension Films has snagged the Image Comics series "O.C.T.: Occult Crimes Taskforce" as a starring vehicle for Rosario Dawson.

It's not surprising that Dimension would want the "Clerks 2" star to topline a possible "O.C.T." film. Dawson co-created the comic series and the main character's resemblance to the "Kids" star also isn't a coincidence.

In addition to Dawson's ties to the comic series, which premiered this July, the actress has also become something of a good luck charm for Dimension. Her other films with the company have included "Sin City" and the upcoming "Killshot" and "Grindhouse."

Dawson created "O.C.T." with David Atchison and Tony Shasteen. The "Night Stalker"-esque series focuses on a police officer who gets recruited for a special taskforce that handles occult crimes. You probably could have figured that out from the title, eh?

In addition to starring, Dawson will produce the "O.C.T." film. Her first full-on producing effort, the drama "Descent," is currently looking for distribution.

News for 7/25/2006

Dawson shows geeky side with comic book

AP Entertainment Writer

Rosario Dawson, the butt-kicking babe from "Sin City" and a star of "Clerks II," has gone geeky. On Thursday, the 27-year-old actress appeared at Comic-Con, the country's largest comic book convention, to discuss her foray into the genre.

Dawson is the co-creator of "The Occult Crimes Taskforce," a new comic book series that tells the story of the supernatural gone wild in New York City.

Dawson was the inspiration for Sophia Ortiz, a detective who "deals with crimes of the magical context," she said.

Writer David Atchison described the series as "'CSI' meets Harry Potter."

During a question-and-answer session with fans, Dawson said in many ways working on a comic book is more fulfilling than film.

"This really is the most exciting thing I've been doing," she told the crowd. "As an actor, you're only a third of the production. With this I get to be so much a part of all of it."

Working with Atchison and artist Tony Shasteen, Dawson contributes story lines and character development to the four-book series that she hopes to see adapted into a film and video game.

Unlike Hollywood, the comic-book world doesn't deal in false flattery, she said.

Comic reviewers offer "very intelligent criticism, which is really sorely lacking in film reviews right now," Dawson said.

Her other upcoming projects include Quentin Tarantino's "Death Proof" and "Sin City 2," which begins shooting next year.

'Clerks' Sequel Is Right Up Dawson's Creek

Young actress helped Kevin Smith get sequel into production

By Daniel Fienberg

The script for "Clerks II" arrived in Rosario Dawson's hands with a level of secrecy usually reserved for M. Night Shyalaman-style twist-heavy projects.

"My agent, my manager had to go to the office to read it because they couldn't get a copy," recalls Dawson of the level of precaution taken to keep the "Clerks II" script off the Internet. "So, this messenger came over with the script and was like, 'OK, I'll be back in three hours.' So, I'm like speed-reading it and trying to get it all, and I'm cracking up hysterical. There's a Bollywood moment, a donkey show -- there is pretty much everything in there. I was excited I was going to be in the movie."

One person who was just excited to have Dawson on board was "Clerks II" writer/director Kevin Smith. Although most of the cast was drawn from Smith's 1994 indie hit, studio execs told him that the $5 million budget would come easier with a recognizable female star in the newly added role of Becky, a fast food manager whose relationship to original clerk Dante (Brian O'Halloran) deepens as the film progresses. After well-received turns in "Sin City," "25th Hour" and "Rent," Dawson was on the list of viable actresses.

"To be in a position where he's grateful for me to be a part of it is so odd for me," she says, obviously just a bit humbled. "Because I'm so grateful to be a part of it myself. So, I think It's something I'm proud of that I've worked hard enough to be in this position. But, it's also something I think is really funny, because he as well as on the first day realized, this doesn't fall to far from the tree as far as much as I think it does. I think for a lot of other people, at least my friends and family who watch this movie, will see that this character is a lot closer to my personality and this movie is than anything I've done before."

Indeed, Dawson is strikingly chatty and intelligent, which shouldn't be surprising, given that at only 27, she's been in the industry for well over a decade (since 1995's "Kids") and she's already shifted her career to include production duties through her Trybe shingle.

"I've seen too many things where the product was not important and nobody cared or was passionate about it and everyone was just dialing it in," Dawson says of the complacency that led her into producing. "This is not one where this is happening. These people are friends with each other, this is a family, this is something that's really important and they are actually making really good stuff."

Although it's a pretty low-brow comedy on its surface, Dawson makes a pretty convincing case that "Clerks II" is quite socially progressive.

"It breaks the barrier between things that are untouchable or not, because, between friends there are no untouchable subjects and you can go there," she says. "And I think people they are also going to be in that experience, but I also think they are going to step back and go,'Whoa.' And it's better than never touching on those subjects at all and always being sweet and perfect all the time and pretending that everything will be perfect in the world."

"Clerks II" opens wide on Friday, July 21.

News for 2/20/2006

The following interview appeared in the November 28, 2005 issue of Newsweek Magazine

News for 1/2/2006

The following interview appeared in the December 2005 issue of Marie Claire Magazine

The following article appeared in the November 2005 issue of Essence Magazine

The following article appeared in the November 28, 2005 issue of Jet Magazine

The following article appeared in the November 6, 2005 issue of Parade Magazine

News for 12/6/2005

Rosario Dawson Pays the Rent

Source: Edward Douglas

When Chris Columbus was given the task of bringing the hit Broadway musical Rent to the big screen, he decided to go back to basics, bringing in the original cast to reprise their roles, even though many of them had already moved onto other things in the time since starring in the stage production. Since two of the original cast members weren't able to do the film for various reasons, Columbus called in a ringer to play the role of HIV-positive junkie stripper Mimi, and her name is Rosario Dawson.

A very busy actress, who has appeared in literally dozens of movies in the last year, Dawson was seen earlier this year in Sin City and last year in Oliver Stone's Alexander, but she had never sung or dance on screen. Surprisingly, she stands out among the cast, especially in her two featured musical performances of "Out Tonight" and the ballad "Without You" which will bring many viewers to tears. was among the dozens of reporters who had a chance to ask Dawson questions about the role at a press conference for the film in New York City. Oh, and just for the record, I think she might talk even faster than I do.

CS: What gave you the chutzpah to take on this role?
Dawson: I have a lot of incredible family members who take on everything. It is the same kind of attitude that made me go running with the bulls in Pamplona even though it was probably the dumbest thing I have done in my life. I don't usually get scared of something until I try it and then I go "Oh. That was really scary." It's kind of how I approached this, but I was really nervous when I went into the audition because it is one thing to go against some other actors for a part but I was going up against people who had originated these parts, people who had either been nominated or had won Tonys for these parts, people who know it inside and out and who knew Jonathan Larson as well and had the inside track. I had never done it before, but I was really excited, even if I could very well have been delusional.

CS: So were you a fan of the musical before hearing that they were looking for someone to play Mimi?
Dawson: I had seen it before; I just didn't see the original cast. I was 17 when it first opened and definitely couldn't see it even if I had wanted to. Also, with it being a similar mirror of what I had seen growing up. "A bunch of Bohemians living on the Lower East Side starving and dealing with HIV. Hmm. I know that really well. I don't see that there is anything there to sing and dance about. " So I just felt they had said, "Let's make an interesting show about all these interesting characters on the Lower East Side." I was actually quite insulted by it. We specifically didn't see it. When I finally came across the soundtrack that my uncle owned, I was so moved by the articulation of these characters and finding out, when I did get to see the show, how beautiful and respectful it was, what a human story it was and about the relationships. Not just an exploiting of characters like we have on our TV shows today where it's "We are going to have a little drag queen and a little Latino who will be spicy and have funny little lines." It is not like that at all. He wrote it about his friends and there is this resonant truth in it that really moves people. I dare people to watch this movie and not be moved when you see SPOILER die. That's a lot of human being to lose and that's something that can breed conversation and tolerance, which I think is a really powerful thing. [Jonathan] made it to celebrate his friends and that really comes across, because it's a celebratory movie even in the midst of heartache and death and sadness and being broke and being hungry and cold there is beauty between these people because they supported each other. They didn't just survive together, they thrived together and that is a beautiful thing. It's why we watch "Friends" so much, because we want to have relationships like that where people are going to be there for you good, bad and ugly and I think that was what is going to be so moving about it. That was what was so moving about it for me. It gave me the articulation to look at my past. I am very excited to talk about it and to bring it to more people. (Read More...)

News for 11/21/2005

Rosario Dawson, Exercising Squatter's Rights to Mimi

By David Segal
Washington Post Staff Writer

NEW YORK Rosario Dawson pined so hard for the film role of Mimi, the HIV-infected strip club vixen of "Rent," that she nearly skipped the audition. It just meant so much to her that the idea of vying for the part and not getting it seemed crushing.

"I got freaked out because what if my voice broke while I was dancing because I was out of breath or something," Dawson says, sitting cross-legged on a couch in the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Battery Park.

Why the anxiety? Because Dawson, like Mimi, hails from the Lower East Side, and she, like Mimi, lived there in an apartment without heat or electricity. Nobody expects the cast of any musical production to have firsthand knowledge of the world they are pretending to inhabit, and it's no knock on anyone else in the film that he or she is guessing at what it would be like to dwell in poverty-stricken New York in the mid-'80s. But those are Dawson's roots.

"We had a big, gaping hole in the middle of the floor when we moved in," she remembers. "Sheets of plastic on the windows. At first there was no running water, no heat, no electricity. My mother learned to be a plumber and put in all the pipes in our place."

The way Dawson describes the experience, it all sounds kind of exciting. Then again, this woman could make a tax audit sound festive. Dawson, 26, is enthusiasm incarnate and speaks in gushers, bouncing from topic to topic, with barely a pause to inhale. She smiles, flips back her short black hair every few seconds and talks, a few paragraphs at a time.

Which is what she's been doing all day. The publicity operation for "Rent" has taken over a suite and a bunch of rooms in the Ritz-Carlton and the whole scene -- a combination of walkie-talkies, sofas and finger food -- looks mildly paramilitary, like a SWAT team from the Pottery Barn. A handful of women are carefully coordinating the arrival and departure of stars and journalists.

"Seth, you copy? Go to XM in two minutes," one barks.

"Take Adam back to 1233," says another.

At 3 p.m., Dawson is in Room 909 and looks likes she's just getting warmed up.

"I don't really ever lose my voice," she says. "I'm actually lucky about that."

Whatever that mysterious quality called "it" is, this woman has by the heaps.

"When I saw the first cut of the movie," recalls "Rent" director Chris Columbus, "I remember seeing this close-up of Rosario and thinking, 'This is the birth of a new movie star.' "

Well, not exactly new. Over the past 10 years, Dawson has appeared in more than a dozen movies, starting with "Kids" in 1995, a brutal and unforgettable indie about a group of skeevy Manhattan teens, released when Dawson was 16. Since then she's turned up in "Sin City," "25th Hour," "Men in Black II," and "Josie and the Pussycats." And she's made her share of stinkers, like Oliver Stone's "Alexander" and "The Adventures of Pluto Nash," an Eddie Murphy flop.

"I was like, 'Uh, I've only been acting a few years but, and not to be obnoxious or anything, but do you really want me to say the same line in every scene?' " she says, recalling the script for "Nash." "They were like, 'Don't worry, we'll fix it all later.' The story definitely needed work."

Her screen debut went a lot better. She was recruited for "Kids" right off the street, in an urban version of a Hollywood fairy tale. At the time she was living in that squat, and her dad noticed that a camera crew was working near the apartment.

"There was a Vibe commercial being filmed on my street that day and my dad said, 'Go down there and get discovered,' " Dawson says.

She wheedled her way into a couple shots as a dancer, and during a lull in shooting she noticed two men staring at her. One was 19-year-old Harmony Korine, who wrote the screenplay for "Kids." He and director Larry Clark happened to be passing by, scouting locations.

"Harmony was like, 'Oh my God, you're exactly what we've been looking for!' I'm looking at the two of these guys and thinking, 'Yeah, right.' "

Within days, Dawson was perched on the front of her father's bicycle ("That's how we traveled back then") and the two pedaled to Clark's office at Broadway and Houston. There they read the script, the account of a violent, druggy and sexually depraved day in the life of some New York teens. There's rape, AIDS and lots of nauseating amorality.

"My parents and I read the script and it was . . . heavy," says Dawson. "My mom and dad were like, 'You can do the movie as long as you don't smoke!' "

She didn't smoke. Once the movie was made -- it was shot in four days -- she assumed it would quietly sink into oblivion. (Everyone involved was new to the movie biz, after all.) With the funds from her part, Dawson and her family took a two-week vacation to Texas to visit her father's relatives. Her mother liked the town so much, she bought a house and moved the family.

Months later, the phone rang. "I got this random call saying 'Where have you been? We can't believe you're in Texas!' "

"Kids" had been shown at Sundance and was on its way to becoming a somewhat notorious hit. Harper's Bazaar flew Dawson to New York, first-class, for a group shoot with the rest of the cast. An acting career suddenly seemed possible, and eventually she moved back into her parents' apartment, this time with roommates, and enrolled in the Lee Strasberg Theatre and Film Institute. Spike Lee cast her in his 1998 movie "He Got Game."

She lives these days in Los Angeles with her boyfriend, "Sex and the City" star Jason Lewis, and a pair of Rhodesian Ridgebacks. Relocating to the West Coast, she says, had a lot more to do with giving the dogs a back yard than it did with promoting her career.

But if she seems less than eager to call herself a Californian, she'll happily admit that Los Angeles was the scene of one of the most satisfying moments of her life. It was her second "Rent" audition for Mimi, this time in a dance studio with Chris Columbus watching. Dawson remembers being so terrified she forgot to sing and dance at the same time, pretty much required skills in a musical. When she was through, she thought she'd blown it. Columbus, though, was awed.

"We had a situation where we had six of the original cast members in the movie, so I needed to find someone who would fit into this group of people who'd done the show for 16 months," he says. "When I met her, I had no idea she could sing or dance, and at the audition she sang 'Out Tonight' and just the way she moved, and her voice, which has this fragile beauty about it."

When Dawson was finished, Columbus and his collaborators huddled briefly and then told her the good news.

"I walked out the door and I told her, 'It's yours.' "

Dawson later heard the details from her manager. Yes, she'd made some mistakes during that audition, but it didn't seem to matter.

"They told my manager, 'You know, even when she was screwing up she seemed perfect.' "

News for 9/21/2005

Dawson Joins Both Killshot & Clerks

Source: Variety

Rosario Dawson (the upcoming Rent) will star in both Killshot and Passion of the Clerks for The Weinstein Co., reports Variety.

The Weinsteins are near deals with Johnny Knoxville and Joseph Gordon-Levitt to join Diane Lane, Mickey Rourke and Thomas Jane in Killshot, the John Madden-directed adaptation of the Elmore Leonard bestseller. Quentin Tarantino is executive producing.

The film involves a couple who flee to the witness protection program, with a gangster in pursuit. Dawson will play the girlfriend of the gangster's dangerous sidekick, a role that went to Gordon-Levitt. Knoxville will portray the FBI agent trying to keep the couple alive.

Dawson starts Killshot next month and will seque from that film to Passion of the Clerks, the sequel that was written and will be directed by Kevin Smith.

News for 6/20/2005

The following article appeared in the June 15, 2005 issue of People Magazine