I’m pretty sure, everyone was wondering the the same thing after watching The Girlfriend Experience, is Sasha Grey really like that? Was she acting or is she really THAT cold. In fact, I was fascinated with this idea for some time after I saw the film. One has to wonder about a girl who threw herself at the adult entertainment industry on her 18th birthday with a business plan to dominate the business. Is she cold and calculated or is she simply someone who enjoys sex and power? She wouldn’t be the first, although she might be the first to make a successful cross over from porn star to mainstream actress. Having your first film be a starring role in Steven Soderbergh film is never a bad place to start.
So what is she like? I found her rather somewhat guarded but for the most part rather light-hearted. She surely wasn’t intimidated by what any of us had to ask her. She even laughed off a number of questions related to her porn life and then continued to talk about her work in the industry and seemed completely confident that she will be the woman to make a successful cross-over.
So let’s see what she had top say…
What did you know about Steven Soderbergh, before you started shooting this movie?
Sasha: I knew I was a big fan. I’m not 14 anymore, so I don’t necessarily know every little detail about the people I admire.
How was your first meeting with him?
Sasha: My first meeting was still really exciting, and I felt like a bumbling little kid. It was just a 45-minute meeting at the Warner Bros. office. It wasn’t a traditional audition or casting session, or anything like that. We just talked about The Girlfriend Experience and where he wanted to go with it, and that was pretty much it.
Did you have a chance to talk to any high-end escorts, prior to filming?
Sasha: Steven and the writers met about eight women, and I met two. But, interestingly enough, the real-life tendencies of the two women that I met, heavily played into the film. One of the women we met really does screen her clients with personology books. The fact that Christine, or Chelsea, buys pre-paid phones came from one of these women, who was very, very paranoid. The whole thing about writing in a diary about what the date came from one of the women. Her whole idea behind that was that, if she’s really supposed to care about these guys, but she has a long list of them, she has to remember what their dogs’ names are and what their favorite color is because those are the little things that your girlfriend would know.
What did the script for this actually look like? Because it wasn’t a traditional script, what were you given to work with?
Sasha: It was a 15-page outline that I got the day before we started shooting. I would say each scene was there, but it was really just described. It might say, “Sex scene with Client B,” but there’s no sex in the film. We would get to set, look at that outline and sometimes, we would pick up the daily newspaper and, if there was something that jumped out to us, especially because we started shooting, literally the day before the economy crashed, we would pick things from current events that we felt related to our characters. Or, sometimes Steven would say something to one person, and then tell the other character in the scene the exact opposite.
Working on a film like this, how much of what you did was just a total surprise to you?
Sasha: For me, it was that struggle of trying to create a character with a limited amount of information. I would go to my hotel room every night and think, “Okay, there’s these 10 probabilities, and it’s going to be one of these,” and I’d prepare in my head, “This is what I’ll do. This is what I’ll say. This is how I’ll react.” And then, you’d get to set and Steven would come up with the 11th probability that you wouldn’t have thought of, in a million years. He’s like a mad genius, and he’s just so methodical in what he does. You could see the wheels spinning inside of his head, on the set. So, it was a surprise, every day. It was a struggle, creating this character and also giving those honest reactions.
With this film, are you going to transition out of the porn industry and concentrate on mainstream?
Sasha: Right now, I want to do both. I think it’s unprecedented that a woman from the adult industry has been able to really juggle both at the same time, and play a non-eponymous character, in more than just one film. I think the climate is right, and I think that, if people enjoy what I do outside of adult films, there is room for growth and opportunity. I’m locked to shoot a film in August, where I have the lead role and I don’t play a sex worker. I also have two other scripts I was just offered. They’re not in pre-production yet, but they’re looking for casting. They’re in the very, very beginning stages. Again, they’re both very challenging, different roles, which I’m really excited about. That’s the next obvious, evolutional step.
What’s going on with your script?
Sasha: I am shooting my directorial debut, inside of the adult world, in a week and a half, so I’m finishing that up right now. It’s called The F@%k Junkie, but I can’t tell you what it’s about.
Are you looking to do both mainstream and adult with your production company?
Sasha: I’d like to do both. It really hasn’t been done, to the fullest potential. I enjoy the challenge of people saying no to me and me proving people wrong. That’s just my natural personality. So, if I continue to get opportunities, like the one Steven gave me, to not just be Sasha Grey and have a cameo in a film, then that will be a wonderful thing.
Has it been hard for you to cross over, or are you finding people to be accepting of it?
Sasha: I’ve been taking it in baby steps, right now. My manager and I agreed that we should wait for the film to actually come out before we go knocking on people’s doors, so that process will start very soon. But, from a level of people just offering me stuff, I think people have been very accepting of it, just because they hear Sasha Grey alongside Steven Soderbergh. They’re like, “Okay, if he took this chance on her, then maybe we can.” But, I’m sure that’s out there, and I don’t think I’ll be cast as Zac Efron’s girlfriend in his next movie. I’m not going to be in a teen movie, and I’m okay with that.
Being a big film fan, what is your cinematic background?
Sasha: I studied acting from the age of 12 to 18, and one of my most influential theater teachers said, “You should be watching one film per week, minimum.” I said, “Okay, what film am I supposed to watch, fuckin’ Street Fighter?” And, he said, “No, that’s not gonna build your character or hone your craft, as an actor.” I was like, “Well, you’re telling me to watch these films, but I have no idea what you’re talking about.” So, he gave me a list of films and I had to go and hunt those down.
So, which directors do you admire, and which ones would you like to work with one day?
Sasha: Obviously, Jean-Luc Godard, but everybody knows that. I really like John Cassavetes. I don’t know if I’d like to work with Godard. Sometimes, the mystery is better than the truth. In the case of Steven, it was all good, so I was lucky to get that opportunity. Out of all people, and this is kind of left field, but I have a weird obsession with John Carpenter. I think it would be really fun to work with him. And, David Gordon Green.
It’s surprising that there isn’t a sex scene in this movie. Was that something that was intentional? Were you opposed to that? And, were you relieved to not have to do that, in this film?
Sasha: Steven never really said whether there would be a sex scene or not, but in the outline I think it did say, for three different scenes, “Sex Scene with Chris,” “Sex Scene with Client B,” “Sex Scene with the Hobbyist.” I never really knew. But, by the fifth day of shooting, I was like, “I really don’t think there’s gonna be sex in this ‘cause I think, if there was, it would have happened by now.” But, if there was to be one, I trusted Steven, so I knew he would do it so the sex scene itself would be in context of the story. It wouldn’t just be sex for the sake of sex.
Was I relieved that there wasn’t one? Yes and no. Again, because it was Steven, it would have been done well. If somebody would have approached me that doesn’t have his resume and said, “You’re going to play an escort in this movie, and you’re going to have five sex scenes,” I probably would have said no.
How did you feel about getting to play a lead role that was emotionally demanding?
Sasha: It goes back to the whole notion of, do I want to just stay in adult, or do I want to do both, and I go back to the fact that there’s been very few women to do both, at the same time. They usually quit and say, “I’m a redeemed sinner. It’s okay that I hate porn now. You can all accept me.” I think that’s bullshit.
Do you have any further comments about your 2007 appearance on The Tyra Banks Show (watch now) and how the show portrayed you?
Sasha: That little video I did (watch now) was kind of a joke within itself. Obviously, there were a million things I had wrong with that show. It’s just funny how people still don’t get how the media works. It’s like, “No, they have five cameras and they edit? No! They changed your clothes? Then why did you do it?” They wanted to use me, and I wanted to use them, and I was okay with that. I was still pissed off, but I got what I wanted out of it. Did Tyra run up to her producers and ask what to say because she was stumped by an 18-year-old? Yeah. I did have somebody from AVN, which is our trade magazine in the adult industry, with me who told it how it was. But, had I known, in the green room, they had a live feed on the TV, so I could have brought a video camera and taped what really happened. I kind of kicked myself in the ass for not knowing that, but what can you do?
Did it feel good to have Tyra running to her producers?
Do you think your role in this movie is going to bring adult more into the mainstream, being that you are the lead?
Sasha: I don’t think it’s just this role. The mainstream, or the media, is very fascinated by the adult industry. So, whether it’s because I got a legitimate role, or because putting a porn star on a talk show gets ratings, people want to see it. We don’t want to talk about it, but we want to see it and listen and spy and vilify it. So, it’s not just this. It’s just the plain and simple fact that people are fascinated by the adult industry.
The Girlfriend Experience is now available on HDNet Ultra VOD and opens in New York and Los Angeles on Friday, May 22, 2009.
To see the film through Video On Demand online ahead of time, head on over to Amazon.com and watch it now.