Newsweek: Angela Bassett On Turning Down Chance For Lead Role In 'Monster's Ball': 'I Wasn't Going To Be A Prostitute On Film ... It's Such A Stereotype About Black Women And Sexuality'

Thought She Had Lead Opposite Connery In 'Entrapment'

'I Guess Hollywood Wasn't As Progressive As Connery Thought'

Jun 23, 2002, 01:00 ET from Newsweek

    NEW YORK, June 23 /PRNewswire/ -- Hollywood actress Angela Bassett tells
 Newsweek that she turned down a chance for the lead in "Monster's Ball,"
 because  "I wasn't going to be a prostitute on film. I couldn't do that
 because it's such a stereotype about black women and sexuality."
     (Photo: )
     In the film, which won Halle Berry an Oscar, a black waitress has a
 graphic, tortured-and, Bassett believed, demeaning-affair with her husband's
 executioner. "It's about character, darling" she tells National Correspondent
 Allison Samuels in the July 1 issue of Newsweek (on newsstands Monday, June
 24). Bassett says she's not criticizing Berry -- just the way Hollywood views
 women in general and black women in particular.  Several actresses, including
 Vanessa Williams, passed on "Monster's Ball."  "Film is forever," says
 Bassett. "It's about putting something out there you can be proud of ten years
 later. I mean, Meryl Streep won Oscars without all that."
     Bassett hasn't headlined a movie since 1998's, "How Stella Got Her Groove
 Back." In 1999, she read with Sean Connery for the romantic thriller
 "Entrapment." "Sean told me he would love what our being in the film would
 mean across the board for black and white," recalls Bassett. "I remember him
 saying how beautiful our skin would look next to each other's, and how I was
 perfect. I left the meeting thinking, 'It's mine.' But a few weeks later, they
 cast a lesser-known actress at the time." (That "lesser-known" actress,
 Catherine Zeta-Jones, went on to become Mrs. Michael Douglas).  "I guess
 Hollywood wasn't as progressive as Connery thought," she says. "I think I
 really could have added spice to that role."  Connery couldn't be reached for
     Bassett had her one shot at an Oscar 10 years ago for her portrayal of
 Tina Turner in "What's Love Got to Do With It."  "I remember sitting at the
 Oscars and thinking, 'This is great! This is the beginning of something big
 for me,'" she says. "But I didn't work again for another year and a half. I
 guess was pretty naive to think it would be different-that it was just about
 the talent-particularly for someone who looks like me. You forget that
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