Jacqueline Bisset is keeping busy. The 74-year-old British actor has six film productions being released this year, including "Here and Now" and "Asher."
Bisset has faced ageist casting bias, but it has only made her work harder. She has no intentions of slowing, saying it's much better to be "part of the river" than to be "off on a side."
Her acting river has been flowing strong since the mid-'60s, starring in such films as "Casino Royale," "Bullitt," "Airport," "Under the Volcano" and "The Deep." Since the mid-'80s, Bisset has been making as many television appearances as working in feature films from the TV miniseries "Napoleon and Josephine: A Love Story" to "Nip/Tuck" (a villainous role that earned her great praise from fans).
In "Here and Now," Sarah Jessica Parker plays Vivienne, an established singer with a successful music career who gets some life-altering news that causes her to re-evaluate her priorities. As she crisscrosses the busy streets of New York City, she tries to balance her upcoming music tour, family and friends. The biggest conflict comes when Vivienne returns home to find her overbearing mother, Jeanne (Bisset), waiting for her.
Bisset has seen some early reviews of her work in the film and believes the character is being unjustly vilified.
"I will give you that she's self-centered, but she hasn't been given this important information," Bisset says.
"Here and Now" is the first feature film from documentarian Fabien Constant, but you would not know it from the actors involved. He was able to assemble an A-list cast including Sarah Jessica Parker, Renee Zellwegger, Simon Baker, Common and Bisset.
Getting Bisset to agree is noteworthy both because she's extremely busy and because she's worked with such noted directors as John Huston, Roman Polanski, George Cukor, Francois Truffaut and Sidney Lumet. She was willing to work with someone as inexperienced as Constant because over the years she has found she has been able to learn a lot from both veteran and novice directors.
In the case of "Here and Now," the learning schedule was very tight, as the movie was shot in 19 days. Constant says there was also little money, so it meant he had to be "rough and tough" on his cast, but in the end it worked because every actor committed to the project because they believed in it and him.
"It was a little daunting to be directing Jacqueline, but she was such a great lady on the set," Constant adds. "She was a little shy to meet me. It ended up being such a joy to make a movie together and to have her in my cast was a dream come true for a movie lover."
Bisset had two reasons she agreed to be in the feature despite the director's lack of experience: She liked the script and was equally delighted with the casting.
"This was a nice little role and I got to meet Sarah Jessica Parker. She was lovely and I liked her a lot. I have watched her a lot in that TV series she did," Bisset says. "Her work is very, very good and she really goes for it.
"This role is a more serious role for her. A lot of people don't know about acting. They think when you are depressed and looking bad they think it's more quality than a comedy. Even in a comedy, you have to be right in the role. I don't think some comedy actresses don't get the respect for what they are putting into the work."
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