Monday, September 10, 2012

Frances Fisher Talks 'Titanic,' Motherhood and Clint Eastwood

When Titanic hit theaters in 1997, I was living in Hamburg, Germany. I remember going to the movie theater next to the Hauptbahnhof (or main train station) and catching what would be my first of four times watching the film (in English as well as dubbed in German) very far away from home.

I was hooked. Not only were the effects amazing, but I fell in love with the love story -- and a little bit with Leonardo DiCaprio. (I mean, who wouldn't after the way he looked at Kate Winslet's Rose?)

Frances Fisher in Titanic
Fifteen years later, the Blu-ray 3D edition (SRP: $54.99) has arrived in stores, and I had the chance to talk to Frances Fisher (who played Winslet's character's mom, Ruth Dewitt Bukater, in the film) about making the movie, motherhood and former love Clint Eastwood (who also happens to be the father of her only daughter, Francesca).

L.A. Story:  What part of the filming of Titanic had the biggest effect on you personally?

Frances Fisher: When I read the script, it's always a good sign when I read it from beginning to end without putting it down. I know it's something that caught my attention. And I have tear stains on my script, in two places, one where the old couple lay down in the bed to drown together and also the mother putting her children to bed. When I read those two sentences, I burst into tears, and I knew that this was going to have an impact on audiences.

And this was such a laser beam into the times, where a mother is trying to protect her daughter in the only way she knows how because she only has a certain number of tools. And she's trying to protect her daughter and give her as much as she can by saying, "Marry the boy, and then go do whatever you want," which was my (character's) subtext. I just thought it was such a powerful scene to show the older generation and the new generation.

L.A. Story: Being the parent of a teen, do you have any advice for moms who are parenting their own teen girls?

Frances Fisher: My advice would be not to take anything personally that your daughter says to you because she's trying to define herself, she's trying to individuate. And as close as you are to your child as they're growing up and you're their whole world, there comes a time when they see past you to the rest of the world, and you have to give them that ability to thrive and step out and become who they are. And the best thing to do that I've discovered is just to be there, hold on to your own values, and love them. Just continue to love them. As much as they fight you and try to do things that might horrify you, they need you more than ever

L.A. Story: Do you have any advice you've given your daughter that you're proud of?

Frances Fisher: I have learned that whatever I say, my daughter will do the opposite, so now I'm using reverse psychology on her. I'll say, "OK, do that," and she'll say, "Well, maybe I won't."

I think loving them unconditionally and hanging on to your own values is the most important thing -- and not falling into the trap of trying to become friends with them too early.

L.A. Story: When your daughter looks back at Titanic or any of your other movies, does she see you in your characters?

Frances Fisher: You know, kids don't care about their parents in that way. I'm her mom, and I've done a bunch of movies.

When (the filming of Titanic) was happening, she was 3 years old, and I brought her to the set. She was so enthralled with Titanic, she would watch it all the time. She would throw all her Barbies into the pool and pretend she was Kate. We would do the scene where Kate walks down the stairs and greets Leo. I would kiss her hand every night before dinner. I made her a little dress that was a copy of Kate's dress, and she was enthralled by it all. She loved it.

L.A. Story: With Francesca being on the reality show Mrs. Eastwood & Company, is that strange for you to have her be in that world?

Frances Fisher: Well, that was one of the times when she didn't take my advice, and I thought, "OK, well, go do that, spread your wings, and I'll be there."

L.A. Story: Speaking of the Eastwoods and Clint Eastwood ... for parents who are no longer together, I know it's hard to keep up a relationship when you have kids. How have you been able to stay positive about your former relationship for your daughter?

Frances Fisher: I think the most important thing is to not say anything negative about the other parent because the child has both sets of blood running through their veins. And it's very important, too, to remind them that at one point, Mommy and Daddy loved each other very much. And circumstances beyond one's control places you in a different direction.

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