In "Olympus Has Fallen," her Secret Service director, Lynne Jacobs, is part of the crisis team on the outside when the White House falls to a terrorist attack. When the president (Aaron Eckhart) is taken hostage, Jacobs is the one to inform Speaker of the House Allan Trumbull (Morgan Freeman) that he's acting as Commander-in-Chief. And though she might not outrank him or the generals, she is the line to Mike Banning (Gerard Butler), the only person who can save the president and the country.
Moviefone recently sat down with Bassett to talk about the hard-charging role (originally written for a man); being intimidated by "teddy bear" Freeman; and her upcoming musical project, "Black Nativity."
Was it disturbing to see how easily the White House could be taken over? There were parts of it that were, yeah, kind of frightening -- that this is in the realm of possibility. This is a fiction, but there's such a heightened sense of reality. And I think that's what's going to grab people.
Your character is a female head of the Secret Service. What attracted you the role? It was written as a man, and then Antoine came on the project and was thinking about casting ... I know I've wanted to work with him, but he always tells me he's been wanting to work with me forever. So this was an opportunity for him to do something and make a decision to change that character, who's usually a man in this world. That world is just testosterone and male-driven and male-populated, but we wanted to add layers and interest and shake it up. It's good to have different voices.
She really takes charge in the crisis room by standing up for Banning. I believe in him. She stands up to them for him. But you see early on, they have a relationship. It's more than just a job. Maybe she's not be working directly with him anymore, but she's remained in contact with him. She cares about him. And she's very discerning; she knows his character, she knows who he is. She knows his weaknesses, she knows his strengths.
How was it working with Morgan Freeman? Wonderful! I didn't know what that was going to be like, because he's so [sighs happily]. He's such a heavyweight. But it was great. You're sitting, he's right there -- I was just intimidated. Sometimes you just build something up in your mind. But he's just a teddy bear and I almost tackled him and told him, "I had such a great time working with you!"
You must've spent a lot of time in that crisis room. Did you bond? Absolutely. Oh yeah, so we got to have conversation and sing songs together while you're waiting for them to set up the next shot. Like, oh yeah, I know that tune!
At one point, when he comes in and I have to tell him that he is now the acting president, I had this monologue. He gave me a look and he said, "Before you say this line, just give me a moment." I was like, "Ooh ok! I get it! Great!" It was just giving him a little air so he could have this reaction. He is a pro at knowing how these things go ... so I really appreciated that.
Gerard Butler mentioned how collaborative the set was. Absolutely. Antoine was just preparation to the hilt. He was just our general and ready to go to war.
You got to work with Antoine and with Morgan, so what's next? Always just to keep working! I definitely would like to work with [Fuqua] again. The next thing I'm working on is actually a musical, so I get to sing and dance. It's called "Black Nativity," and I get to work with [director] Kasi Lemmons, who I've always wanted to work with. I enjoy her work and it's an opportunity to work with a woman, and a fellow actress. Also I get to work with Forrest Whitaker, who I've worked with as a director but always wanted to work with as an actor. It's opening November the 27th, I just heard.
Would you like to step behind the camera as a director or producer? Directing, yes. That definitely is something I'm interested in. But it always goes back to the script and the story. Looking at Antoine, looking at this film, it really takes all of you.
"Olympus Has Fallen" hits theaters March 22.
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