Ask Alexandra – March 2005
Have there been times when you regret your choices in movies or TV shows, or do you always take your mistakes in stride?
Among the more than 50 projects I have been involved in, there certainly have been a bunch that ended up being not enjoyable to watch. But I cannot say that I regret doing them. My first manager, Bob LeMonde, said to me once, “You take a job for at least one of several reasons: a good part, a good script, good money, good people to work with or a good experience”. I can safely say that every single one of the jobs I have done delivered on one (and often more) of those reasons. 99% of them have been great experiences.
One thing I have learned is that it is most important to have an enriching, happy time during filming, because after you are done acting a series of folks come in to change nuances and retool scenes through the editing process. I have shot films where I went “What? That wasn’t in the script!” because the editor took scenes and cut them so differently that the meaning is changed. When I shot “8 Million Ways to Die” half of my scenes were deleted which changed my relationship with the Jeff Bridges character markedly (although I think it was wise to delete these scenes, as my character was a secondary one and the emphasis shouldn’t have been on her so much. My character needed to die for the film to move forward).
An editor can choose a bad take – bad to me, but not to the editor: the sound may have been clearer on that one, for example, even though it wasn’t my best performance. He can change my intention by cutting half a second off a look. These things glare out to the actress, but I cant take them to heart or I will be miserable!
Even when a project turns out to be disappointing onscreen, I learn from every job I do. If I have a scene in which I excelled, I consider that a win. If I am terrible in another scene, I see that as a learning opportunity for next time. And I have all those wonderful memories of the experience itself.
Dear Miss Paul,
I read about your recent arrest in a local newspaper here in Tampa, FL. Bravo for stepping up to the plate and taking action. You are an inspiration to my wife and I. We are interested in knowing what other causes you have gotten arrested for, and, if you plan on doing another civil disobedience again?
Kevin & Susan Bergman
Dear Susan and Kevin,
In 1988, I was trained in nonviolent civil disobedience and have been involved with many actions since then. A couple recent ones were during the Iraq War (go to: http://www.alexandrapaul.com/corner/dayinlife_jail.htm). Except for an arrest in 1990 during a sit-in requesting fast tracking AIDS drugs to patients, I have generally focused on peace issues (protesting at the Nevada Test Site, where nuclear weapons are tested, for example).
I don’t know if I will do another civil disobedience. I do know that it is important to speak out in whatever way you feel most comfortable ( marches, letters to representatives or newspapers, checks supporting causes). In the case of GM and the EV1, we had offered $1.9 million to buy the cars but received NO response from GM, and we had vigilled for 27 days straight with NO response from GM. There was nothing left to do but up the ante.
I once read somewhere that you and David Chokachi did most of your own stunts on Baywatch. Have you or any of your co-stars ever gotten injured on the set? If so, what happened?
On Baywatch, all the actors did their own rescues unless it was dangerous – jumping from great heights or something around fire. I can’t remember anyone ever getting hurt because the production was very careful and our stunt team very professional, although I did have a couple scares. One was when a fishing net was thrown around me and it dragged me down and I couldn’t get out. Of course, the stunt men were there to lift me to the surface, but as I hadn’t realized I was really going to be in trouble instead of just acting like I was in trouble, I was shaken. Another time was when I was supposed to do a “Baywatch dive” off a moving scarab boat. The camera boat was tracking alongside and I kept telling the director he was too close and that I would hit it. He was impatient and he kept yelling back, ”Dive, Alexandra!” so I dove and sure enough I hit the boat. Luckily, it was rubber so I didn’t hurt myself but I was angry at the director.
One thing I will say for all my costars is that we did all our own swimming, no matter how cold the water was. And there was never a complaint among us. A tough bunch, we were!
Thank you for writing!