While the movie itself hasn't gotten the best reviews, Sandra Oh has received praise for her performance in the movie.
The interview was originally published in the Canadian Northern Stars Magazine in 2000/2001-ish, so check it out below:
Getting an opinion out of Sandra Oh is like opening Fibber McGee's closet. They just tumble out.
"I think all women should learn how to strip," she says enthusiastically over tea and cookies at my home. "I do. I really, really do. I'm not saying you should strip for money or for a crowd of people. I think it's a really healthy, extremely challenging thing to do."
Oh spent about four months learning how to strip for her latest film Dancing at the Blue Iguana, which opened in September at the Toronto International Film Festival.
She strips on camera, right down to a G-string. "It's good. I think people should see women with very small breasts," she jokes. "I think it's a noble thing to do in Hollywood -- look, we're real. We're proud A-cup people," she adds, laughing.
"I will tell you, it takes a long time to learn how to take off a pair of panties on six-inch heels." The actors, including Daryl Hannah and Jennifer Tilly, had a pole installed in the rehearsal hall. "I had to do so many push-ups just to pull myself up that pole."
PROUD OF OTTAWA ROOTS
Oh, who is 29 and lives in Los Angeles, is in Ottawa visiting her parents. She's proud of her hometown and takes umbrage that other actors claim kinship to it if she thinks they have no right. She doesn't believe Friends star Matthew Perry is from Ottawa until I show her an old Maclean's magazine with a cover story on him. "Oh, he went to Ashbury (College)," she says as she reads it, and makes a derisive snorting noise.
Oh says she likes Michael J. Fox for the way he's so proud to be Canadian. The irony is that he recently became an American citizen. He did, however, thank Canada when he received his Emmy for best actor for his role in Spin City.
Oh herself has been getting work in L.A. for about five years. The first show she did was If Not For You with Hank Azaria and Elizabeth McGovern. "I did two episodes and it was cancelled." She moved to the city in 1996 when she landed the role of the super-secretary Rita Wu on the HBO sitcom Arliss, but the show won't be renewed for another year.
In 1998, Oh starred in Last Night, the highly acclaimed apocalyptic film from director/writer and co-star Don McKellar. She says that role had little effect on her career. "A lot of my career is in the United States right now and one awful thing you learn as a Canadian is that your work in Canada does not matter in the United States."
She adds that "it's difficult to get leading roles (in the U.S.), especially -- and this is difficult and I don't want to get into it -- but especially if you're not white."
Oh will be seen on Further Tales of the City, the cable show based on the books by Armistead Maupin. A release date is not yet set. Oh was cast the day before she started the shoot in Montreal this summer and spent a week on it. She plays Bambi Kanetaka, a reporter who gets kidnapped and is the nemesis to Laura Linney's character. She laughs and says she found herself thinking one day on the shoot: "I can't believe this is my job because Olivia Dukakis is beating me up."
"AUDITIONS ARE HORRIBLE"
That's the fun part of her job, but she admits acting has a downside. "Auditions are horrible, they're horrible," she says, lowering her voice, "so all you ever want out of an audition as an actor is: one, you want to get the job and two, is to walk away saying, `I actually did some work today.'"
The audition for Dancing at the Blue Iguana turned out to be one of her toughest because it was completely improvised. "It was a terrifically interesting process. ... I swear every single actor in L.A. auditioned for it. You went into a room with eight actors ... and the rehearsal was a two-hour improv.
"It was a nightmare but it was fantastic for various reasons for me. I had never been into a strip club so the night before my audition I thought I should probably go into a strip club because this is what it's about. ... I went with a guy I was going out with. ... I felt so weird, and so out of place there and so awkward and obvious. And then I went to the audition. And it is so terrifying, it is extremely terrifying but at a certain point for me, something kicks in," and here she snaps her fingers, "and basically it's my life here in Ottawa, because I did so much improv growing up that it all kicks in and it's great."
For the audition, no one was assigned a character. Oh had to go in with a character of her creation in mind and then complete three trials. First, she went on stage and talked in character to an interviewer. Second, she had to go on stage "and pray to God, whatever your perception of God is, so you can reveal your inner life and your subconscious." Third was to improv with a group of other actors.
Dancing at the Blue Iguana itself was a process of improvisation for which Oh says the actors should be credited with the screenplay. The film follows the lives of strippers over the course of a week and she found it "a grueling, grueling project."
She describes the film as "raw in that we don't wear that much makeup. And we don't look that great. Do you know what I mean?" But, she adds with a laugh, "We look great in the dance sequences."
By Peg Hill