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November 2004
After the Sunset: An Interview with Naomie Harris

After the Sunset: An Interview with Naomie Harris

By Todd Gilchrist

After giving one hell of a performance in the dark thriller, "28 Days Later", Naomie Harris is making a change in scenery by going the opposite route for her next film, "After the Sunset". In the film, she plays Sophie, a cop who's being romantically pursued by Woody Harrelson's cop character as he chases Pierce Brosnan. In speaking with blackfilm.com, Ms. Harris spoke about filming in the Bahamas and having fun with family and friends.

What was it like to make love to Woody Harrelson?

Naomie Harris: Great fun. Woody is a very, very good kisser. He's got nice juicy pumped lips. I enjoyed that. (She laughs.)

How many takes did you do for that scene?

NA: A lot of takes actually; more takes than necessary because Brett (Ratner) found it a bit amusing. He kept making us do it again and again.

What was it like being in the Bahamas?

NA: That was really, really wonderful, especially because I got a 3-bedroom apartment and all marble and I got to fly out my friends and family, so I was really spoiled and I only worked 3 days a week, so it was more like a holiday than work. It was so much fun.

Did you actually scuba dived in the film or was that a stunt double?

NA: Yeah, it was me actually, but what happened was that they forgot about me and they thought Selma, Pierce, and Woody how to scuba dive and everyone was going scuba diving in the Bahamas, and I was like, "Why's everyone so into this scuba diving thing?" and one week before we had to do all the scenes, they said "You know how to scuba dive, don't you?" and I was like, "Umm, no". He said I was supposed to learn in the Bahamas and so in one week I had to be certified. So, I was a bit in a rush.

Did everyone have to be certified?

NA: Yeah. They had 3 months to be certified and I got one week.

Did you enjoy it?

NA: I did enjoy it. I enjoyed more as a recreational thing, but when you have to work doing scuba diving, it's not so much fun, because you have to spend a lot of time down there, and with the communication things underwater, it gets really tough actually. It was my least favorite part I would have to say.

How do you think you mark when you are floating?

NA: I had two people hold me down literally on my mark until they would say "action" and then they swim away. I wasn't very good at the scuba diving thing I have to be honest.

Did you enjoy the island life? Did you get into that?

NA: I really got into that because I made some good friends on the island, some of whom are flying out here to be with me for the premiere. It was really, really great. I liked just the whole laid back nature of things. In the Bahamas, they have this very strong sense that there is no hierarchy. Everybody's treated the same. It doesn't matter how much money you have or how famous you are, or what have you, and that sort of spilled over to the set, because there normally there is a very hierarchal level thing going on a film set. Because the Bahamians don't believe in that, it affected everybody and everybody mingled together from the cast to the crew. They got together in the evenings and went out. That was wonderful.

You are known for being laid back, but the cops in the film also seemed laid back.

NA: The police officers are really laid back. I went down and interviewed two women at the local police station. They said that it was difficult to police someone from America because if someone commits a crime and you know there are from a good family and they normally wouldn't do that, you are not going to throw them into jail. You just use your sense of humanity and judgments and instincts which I prefer rather than just throw the book at them and use the law with no sense of discretion.

Were there enough female officers on the island?

NA: They do actually. They have quite a few. They are definitely in the minority but there are still quite a few.

Were you able to get the dialect correctly?

NA: It was really hard because my family's from Jamaica so I can do a Jamaican accent. At first I thought the Bahamian accent cant be do different from the Jamaican accent, but they are very, very different and I kept telling people that my family's from Jamaica and I can do a Bahamian accent, and they were like, "No, please don't make Jamaican". I felt it was a huge responsibility to be faithful to the island because there are a small collection of islands that not are generally represented on films before whereas Jamaica has been represented so many times, and I wanted to make sure I was representing them faithfully. I worked very hard on that and had accent coach flown over America.

Did you and Don Cheadle get to hang out? What is he like?

NA: He is amazing. I really love Don Cheadle. He's so funny and he was one of those people who is so totally unaffected by all the success he's had. He's just a real family man and very, very down to earth. He was grateful to work with him. I was going to work with him on another film as well but because of doing "After the Sunset", I couldn't work on that. I was going to do another movie back to back with this one and go ahead and work with him because we had overran on this film, I couldn't do that, so it was a shame. I only got to work with him for a few days and less and I was supposed to work with him for months.

What is Pierce Brosnan like? Did you get go to parties with him?

NA: Yeah, we did because I brought my family over and Pierce is a really big family man and he brought his family over and so did Woody and Selma brought her best friend over and we all got together in the evenings and Woody would throw parties at his house. We all really mixed and it was lovely.

That sounds like a drastic change from "28 Days Later".

NA: Hugh. It couldn't have been more different. I was very pleased with the results of "28 Days Later" and it was an amazing movie and I think Danny Boyle is an incredible director but it was a hard shoot. It was not fun and it was uncomfortable physically the whole time whereas this film was a joy.

You mentioned that you worked three days out of the week, which would equate to a lot of free time. What did you do?

NA: I got to know people on the island so I would hang around with them and my family and friends came over so I was just having a ball. My landlord who I happened to rent the flat from, he would take me out on his yacht. I was very spoiled during the movie.

Did it feel like work being in the Bahamas?

NA: No, not really a hard job at all. I have to be honest. It just felt like a gift and I was being paid as well and I thought it was a bit too much. I didn't feel like work, especially when you get on set because Brett Ratner is funny and is always trying to make you laugh and do practical jokes and things, so you just feel like you're having a ball the whole time.

How did a political science major who graduated with Honors from Cambridge University get into acting?

NA: I always knew that I wanted to go on and act. I've been acting since I was 9 years old so I've always known that is what I wanted to do but I was actually at school and I hated school and wanted to leave school at 16, but my mom beg me to go on and do my A levels and so I went on and did my A levels and had an inspirational and social and political science teacher and he was the one who inspired me and told me I had the ability to go on to Cambridge and he would love to see me do that. It was because of him that he inspired me to love my subject and I ended up at the university.

Were you bullied in school because you were pretty or because you were smart? Or both?

NA: I think it was because people don't like people being too smart in school and also from the age of 9, I had been on TV and things children my age knew but didn't like that as well.

Didn't you do theater as well?

NA: What he did was go to the university and when I graduated from there, I went to drama school and 3 years and post-graduate course at the place called The Bristovic Theater School and I trained in theater. My first work outside drama school was in theater. It was when Danny Boyle cast me in "28 Days Later" is when things started to change and I was in film and television.

Do you feel roles for minority women are opening up?

NA: Definitely.

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