Actress Virginia Madsen talks ‘The Hot Flashes’

Actress Virginia Madsen, whose film credits include “Sideways” and “A Prairie Home Companion,” recently spoke with “Breakthrough Entertainment” about her role in the new sports comedy “The Hot Flashes.”

In “The Hot Flashes” – which opens Friday, July 19 exclusively at Harkins Camelview 5 – Madsen, Brooke Shields, Daryl Hannah, Wanda Sykes and Camryn Manheim play an unlikely group of middle-aged women who challenge the high school girls’ state basketball champs to raise money for a mobile breast cancer screening truck to continue its work.

Question: What was it about this project – and this character in particular – that appealed to you as an actress?

Answer: It really appealed to me working with this incredible group of women. As you know, there are not a lot of movies about women and you might be the only woman in the movie if you get a part in one of them. To work with this cast, I almost said, “Yes” without even reading it. And when I did, I loved the role. I loved that she was kind of the town tramp. She was a lot of fun to play. She was very sassy.

Q: So, then, which of your castmates were you most excited to work with?

A: There is no way that I can answer that question because they were just so incredible. The only person whom I had never met was Wanda. I had worked with Camryn. I had worked with Brooke. I knew Daryl from years ago and just sort of knew her socially; she, of course, worked with my brother on “Kill Bill.” But I had never met Wanda so she was a surprise. And she was wonderful.

Q: What is one surprising thing that playing this character taught you about yourself?

A: I didn’t know how to play basketball. And even though I studied dance for years, was physically fit and was up for the challenge, I felt very self-conscious about playing a sport. I just did not think that I could do it. I was really scared but I found out that I was pretty good at something that I had never done before. I could really do it and that was a huge surprise to me.

Q: So, then, is that to say that there were no stunt doubles used for your scenes on the court?

A: Oh, no! They could not have afforded that! And, really, there is no way that you can have a stunt double in basketball. It is too fast-moving. You cannot just cut to somebody else’s hand shooting the ball. You are always going to see your face. And we were all up for the challenge. We were all strong and in shape. Of course, we had various aches and pains, but we got through it just fine. Obviously you want stunt doubles if you are doing something dangerous. But in a film like this, there was no reason why we could not do it. And, of course, that made the games more realistic and gave [director Susan Seidelman] a lot more freedom in the way that [she] could shoot it.

Q: What, in your opinion, is the theme of this film? In other words, what do you hope is the ultimate takeaway for viewers?

A: Don’t ever let someone discourage you. I think that happens a lot when you are a teenager. People spend a lot of time discouraging teenagers and telling them that they cannot spread their wings and fly. And they start doing it again when you are in your late 40s. People start saying, “Oh, you can’t do that! You can’t dress that way! You must be frightened that you are getting old!” And you say, “No I’m not!” But they discourage you from still having adventures in your life. A friend of mine recently decided to change careers. She retired from her business, moved to another country and people were like, “You can’t do that! You’re 45 years old! What if you fail?” There was so much discouragement. Of course, I told her to go for it. And she made a great success of it because she believed in herself. That is another thing that you can take away from this movie. Believe in yourself against all odds.

Q: Finally, you have several more movies coming down the pipeline. Which of them are you especially excited about sharing with the world?

A: I am pretty excited about these two indie films I made – “The Wilderness of Change” and “Walter.” I think that these two movies are going to be so beautiful. It is going to be a while before they come out so I am probably premature in saying that but I had a really good feeling when I was shooting them. Of course, because of their subject matter, they will probably be film festival fare. But I am realizing that the only places that you can ever seen good movies anymore are film festivals and on the plane. I saw two amazing films on the way here. One of them was “Salmon Fishing in the Yemen” and the other one was “Lawless.” They were excellent movies. I hope that these movies will have more of a success than the plane.

Joseph J. Airdo

Joseph J. Airdo is a film critic, producer and on-air personality for Breakthrough Entertainment, a talk radio show airing 10-11 a.m. Saturdays on KPHX 1480 AM and BreakRadioShow.com that shines a spotlight on the practical perspectives of the topics and themes explored in movies. He has a pet duck named Frozen who is as opinionated about movies as he is. E-mail him at joseph.airdo@gmail.com.

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