Interview: 'Trance' star Rosario Dawson

Author:
Updated:
Original:

It's not often where a script is so mesmerizing that an actor can't help but keep turning the pages, fraught with anticipation of what's coming next. But for acclaimed film star Rosario Dawson, the new mind-bending thriller "Trance" presented the sort of complex twists and turns that most performers could only dream of.

"Sadly, as too often the case is on screen, you feel like everybody knows what's happening next. But these characters don't," Dawson told me in a recent interview. "They're compelled to move forward and they have to. The circumstances are that crazy, they don't know what's around the corner."

The great thing, she added, her character, who exhibits a level of control in the film, certainly has her vulnerabilities, too.

"I loved playing a character who is like a chess player who has a strategy. She thinks 10 moves ahead, yet she is playing with someone who is not predictable," Dawson said. "That changes up the game and makes her think on her feet."

Now playing in limited release and opening wide on Friday, "Trance" stars James McAvoy as Simon, a fine arts dealer who participates in the brazen theft of a $5 million painting with a crew of underworld fencers, led by Franck (Vincent Cassel). But in an effort to avoid making authorities believe there's a connection between the two men, Franck cracks Simon on the head as the auctioneer fakes playing a hero to stop the heist.

The problem is, the blow to Simon's head was so damaging that amnesia has set in, and he's hidden the painting in a place he can't remember. In a guarded attempt to help the information surface, Simon starts seeing Elizabeth (Dawson), a hypnotherapist who quickly figures out there's more to the man's motivations than what he's saying.

With so much money at stake, Elizabeth says she'll help Simon and Franck unravel the mystery in Simon's mind -- but there's more to the woman than meets the mind's eye.

While "Trance" offers up some familiar elements, Dawson said that audience members shouldn't go thinking that they have it all figured out until everything plays through.

"It was really fun to play something that wasn't linear and obvious," Dawson said. "There are things in there that make you feel like you've seen the film before, with the art heist and some thrilling, classic femme fatale elements, but they're all misleads."

See the trailer for "Trance" below.

Dawson said it was a thrill to do "Trance," not only for the chance to work with Oscar-winning "Slumdog Millionaire" director Danny Boyle, but to tackle the captivating subject matter of hypnosis. Once she embarked on her research for the film, she quickly discovered that there's far more to it than anything she's ever experienced before.

"Over the years, I've been at parties where there has been a magician, hypnotherapist or mentalist there, and you try it out because it's fun and you're curious," Dawson said. "But for 'Trance,' I went through the process of going to an institute in Los Angeles and seeing professional hypnotherapists. There's a whole other gravitas to it. It's not a parlor trick. It's not for entertainment. People come in with very real issues that they're trying to overcome, and they trust these people. They come into these places and want help."

Dawson said she was blown away by the level of sophistication involved with hypnotherapy "and the degree of learning how the brain works and functions, and how memories work, how the subconscious works, how habits are formed and broken, and changed and altered."

"All that sort of stuff works into how people overcome phobias, eating disorders or bad habits that they want to get rid of," Dawson explained. "But it's also about the willingness of the person showing up who says, 'I want to break this' or 'I want to deal with this,' and 'I've tried every other thing and I don't want to take medication or any of this other stuff. I just want it to go away. How can you help me?' They also might ask, 'Where did it come from, I wasn't born with a phobia, I learned it somewhere, so how can I unlearn it?"

Plus, Dawson learned, hypnotherapy isn't all about the person whose mind is being explored, but the person who is exploring it.

"The mind is a big, uncharted territory for a lot of us, and it's fascinating to know that you can train yourself to discern if somebody is lying -- or to gauge where someone is born and what kind of upbringing and status they have, just based off of what they're wearing," Dawson said. "And it's because (a hypnotherapist) has been trained to pick up those kinds of tells and signals that people are always giving off, but most of us ignore or suppress. It's fascinating to learn that it's something we can either use to help each other or hurt each other."

Dawson has several nude scenes in "Trance," including one where she goes full frontal. And even though she's as stunningly beautiful as ever at 33, and unarguably has nothing to hide, doing the scenes still took some serious thought.

When it came down to the decision to do it, Dawson said she didn't have to go so far as to put herself in a trance to determine that the nudity was an essential part of the narrative.

"You can do self-hypnosis (to convince yourself to do it) -- it's one of the books I picked up. But no, no, I didn't do it," Dawson said, laughing. "It was difficult to do to a certain degree."

"Would I normally just take off all my clothes and walk across a well-lit room in front of an entire crew of people for any rhyme and reason? Probably not," Dawson added. "But it made so much sense as the character I was performing and the situation that was happening, and the detail and the puzzle piece that was being brought to that situation. Someone asked me how I would describe that scene to someone who is blind, and that was very telling to me. It's not about the nudity."

Bring Me The News film critic Tim Lammers is a member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association and annually votes on the Critics Choice Movie Awards. Locally, he reviews films on “KARE 11 News at 11” and WCCO Radio. As a feature writer, Tim has interviewed well over 1,000 major actors and filmmakers throughout his career and his work is syndicated nationwide.

Next Up

Halloween, trick-or-treating

Osterholm on safe trick-or-treating: 'I would say go ahead with it'

The infectious disease expert's opinion doesn't align with the CDC's guidance.

drop and go ballot plymouth

It's too late to mail your ballot, but you can still vote. Here's how.

Voters can drop off their absentee ballot, vote early in-person or head to the polls on Election Day.

2019-12-11 f1rst Wrestling Hanukka Havok-Darin Kamnetz-154

Dusting itself off after virus blow, F1rst Wrestling returns to the ring this Sunday

Minnesota's premier independent wrestling company was on top of the world before the virus hit.

1024px-McD-McRib

McDonald's is bringing the McRib back in December

It hasn't appeared on menus for eight years.

Apple Valley High School

2 more Twin Cities districts moving to distance learning for grades 6-12

The decision was announced as infection rates in Dakota County rise.

covid-19 testing site sign

Here are the 4 free COVID-19 testing sites in MN for the week of Nov. 2

People don't need to have symptoms or insurance to get tested for free.

minnesota zoo

Minnesota Zoo launches activities to get people embracing nature

The zoo is hosting a pumpkin scavenger hunt and a "Do the Zoo, Not Zoom Day."

teacher, coronavirus, covid-19, school, classroom

25 counties have COVID-19 infection rates associated with distance learning

County-level data is no longer the only source districts have to rely on to make informed decisions about which learning model to use.

Jason Lewis and Tina Smith

Election 2020 preview: Minnesota's Senate race

Incumbent Tina Smith will take on former Congressman Jason Lewis.

President Donald Trump

President Trump railing against capacity limits for Friday's Rochester rally

A contract with the city limits capacity to 250 people, but Trump says they were expecting 25,000.

Related