She survived an alien attack in Independence Day and battled Beatrix Kiddo in Kill Bill. In Home Run (which opens in limited release today), Vivica A. Fox is up against a different kind of adversary. Fox stars as the agent of a hotshot ballplayer (played by Scott Elrod, who had a bit part in Argo in the script-reading scene) whose alcoholism and memories of childhood abuse are threatening to derail his career. In an interview with Rotten Tomatoes, the versatile actress shared her favorite films, as well as her love of sports and the wide variety of parts she’s played over the years.
Terms of Endearment (James L. Brooks, 1983; 87% Tomatometer)
Terms of Endearment. I absolutely love that movie, with Debra Winger, Shirley MacLaine, and Jack Nicholson. One of my first tearjerker films. It was so good to see that mother-daughter dynamic, the love story kind of playing out, and just to see their love, and dealing with men. Shirley MacLaine — the acting between her and Jack Nicholson was just awesome. It was just really one of my first tearjerker movies. I remember going, “Oh my God! I love that!” That was a good movie.”
Independence Day (Roland Emmerich, 1996; 61% Tomatometer)
I hate to say it, but it’s one that I starred in — is Independence Day. I was so happy about that film, because, first of all, it grossed close to $1 billion worldwide back in the day, and it really was a great film. To see Will Smith and Jeff Goldblum — to see an African-American and a Jewish guy save the world — I just love that. It was so cool. And the fact that I was a stripper that got to save the First Lady. It just had so many elements of people that normally don’t become people’s heroes save the world.
RT: You know, I’ve had a beef with you for that movie for 15 years. There’s that scene where you’re talking with Bill Pullman, who plays the president, and you say, “I voted for the other guy.” And I’m thinking, “Who’s this other guy? Did he have much better policies? Did he give better speeches?”
I think that was just a line, because if it was Mitt Romney I would have never voted for him. [laughs]
And then Memoirs of a Geisha. First of all, so beautifully shot. A wonderful love story. I cried. My friend who took me — she said, “This movie’s great.” And it took me 10 to 15 minutes after the movie to calm down because it was just such a beautiful love story that was so wonderfully shot, and the actors… It was just gorgeous.
And then Marley & Me. I know, what a surprise. I went to the movie because it stars Jennifer Aniston and Owen Wilson, and thought, “Oh, I’m going to laugh. It’s going to be a comedy.” And I own animals. Four cats. Once again, tearjerker. I’m such a sucker for a good film, and it was a great message that I absolutely loved.
My last one is… I’m torn between He Got Game and The Shining. Can we say that those two came in a tie?
RT: You’re Vivica Fox; you can do whatever you want.
So it’s a tie. He Got Game with Denzel Washington and Ray Allen, which I thought was just a wonderful movie. I’m an athlete, I love basketball. And then The Shining with Jack Nicholson, where he just kills it. And that’s probably about the only horror film you’ll ever see Vivica Fox love.
Next, Fox talks about being a sports nut and working on smaller films like Home Run.
RT: I understand that you’re a big sports fan. In Home Run, you can tell that Scott Elrod had played baseball before. That’s part of what makes it convincing.
Vivica Fox: He did such a wonderful job. Let me tell you something; I was so impressed that I said, first of all, not only did they get a guy that looks he could actually be a baseball player, but someone that can act. He had good heart. I think he’s got a wonderful future ahead of him. My makeup artist said, “Oh my god, I couldn’t take my eyes off of him. He’s stunning.” So it’s gotta be somebody that draws you in, that has heart, his comedy was great. He just had all the wonderful elements that were needed.
RT: In addition, you were absolutely convincing as an agent. Have you hung around with a lot of sports agents in the past?
VF: Oh, not even sports agents. They just told me that my character was a female version of Jerry Maguire. That’s another of my favorite films — sorry it didn’t make my top five! I [watched] Tom Cruise, and I was like “Show me the money!” And then I’ve got a lot of friends that are athletes, former athletes, and I was an athlete growing up myself — played basketball, volleyball, track — and I was a cheerleader, so the world of sports isn’t foreign to me at all.
RT: Home Run is a small indie drama, but you’ve also been in big blockbusters, and recently, you were also in Hitman Absolution, a video game. It seems that would be a much different type of acting.
VF: Well, they put those little knobs all over you, so what they do is great. They’re making video games now more like movies, which is beautiful to me, and another reason why I was really interested in it. So, it’s got a whole storyboard, they’ve got all these knobs all over you on this black suit, so they get every essence of you when you’re acting it out, and you go onto a sound stage, and you act it out. So now I’m immortalized in a video game too, hey!
VF: Yeah, Curb Your Enthusiasm, that’s a tad bit different, especially working with Larry David, who, you know, you gotta have on your big girl boots to get in the pond with him, because you are your [own] actor, director, writer, producer. It makes it a little more difficult, but I love working on Curb Your Enthusiasm because it got to show people me raw. Like, he would be like, “No makeup.” I’d be like, “Alright, I got you. I look good without makeup. I’m cool.” But literally, I would come to the set, and he’d be like, “You have on makeup?” and I’m like, “No, I have on lip gloss.” But I got to show people that I could be raw. It wasn’t about the glam, it wasn’t about special effects. It was raw and in your face, and they loved it. Now when I come to New York, everyone knows me.
RT: But that’s not the role you’re most recognized for.
VF: Nooo… I’m going to be honest with you. I’ve been so blessed to have a career with so much versatility that I get recognized from Set It Off, Independence Day, to Curb Your Enthusiasm, to Kill Bill, from hosting things. That’s been the key to my success, I believe, has been versatility.
RT: Obviously Home Run is a smaller project than those movies.
VF: Yeah it is, but indie films are great films where you get a chance to act. Like this part, Helene, was originally for a guy, and they decided — Carol Matthews, the executive producer, decided — “You know what? We’re going to go with a girl, and I want Vivica Fox. Not only do I want to go with a girl, but I want to go with an African-American woman, because I love her and I really think that she’s the right one for this part.” And I was so honored by that. I didn’t have to audition; they called me. It’s a wonderful little indie film, down in — of all places — Oklahoma. And I had a great time. I did. So smaller films — sometimes you get to do those roles that people don’t normally see you in.
RT: Home Run is a faith-based film, and I read that you said you felt that movies needed more positive messages.
VF: Yes. Well, can I also say that too about independent film? Like, I’ve done two Christian films. Christian films are making a big comeback this year, as well. So hopefully faith is being restored in our country, which we need right now.
Home Run opens in limited release this weekend.