Halfway through our interview, Selma Blair’s one-eyed dog Buster climbs on to the restaurant table at the Chateau Marmont in LA and happily devours an entire plate of leafy greens. Strangers are staring. I’m staring. “Are you disgusted that I’m letting my dog do this?” Selma asks, her face serious, her tone as drily hilarious as it has been for the past hour, even when discussing the state of Hollywood for women and her fears that she’ll never work again. In fact, I’m just amazed that, here in Hollywood, even rescue mutts with part of their face missing seem to enjoy rocket salad with a blue cheese dressing. “I wonder if it’s possible to overdose on arugula?” she thinks aloud. “We’ll see when the dog dies tonight.”
Blair made her name with Cruel Intentions, a 1999 mean-teen remake of Dangerous Liaisons, and has since acted in Legally Blonde, the Hellboy films directed by Guillermo del Toro and in the US remake of Kath & Kim, where she played the hysterically funny and spoiled daughter. More recently she played Kris Jenner in an episode of American Crime Story. Now she’s in a comedy-ish horror film called Mom and Dad, which isn’t going down too well in America, what with its theme of parents overtaken by the urge to murder their own children, though Blair’s performance has been praised by the Hollywood Reporter, which describes her as a “chronically underused talent”. Nicolas Cage plays her husband, and they spend half the movie trying to end their two kids with an assortment of homemade weaponry.
“I happen to love it,” she admits, “because I had such a good time on it, laughing. It was funny to me. Isn’t that terrible? I can’t bear horror movies usually – my mom took me to see American Werewolf in London as a kid and I couldn’t be alone for two years after that, not even to tie my shoelace. So I would have said a film like this doesn’t help anybody, we have enough problems with killing. But then there was something so refreshing to me about saying, aaaah, fuck it all! And the premise is so much more horrible than the film itself.”
Her real son Arthur came out to the location and played with her son from the film. “He was really taken with Zach [her son in the film, Zachary Arthur], he was like: ‘I finally have a brother!’ I was like: ‘Er, not real, and I’m trying to kill him?’ He hasn’t seen the film, but when he misbehaves I’ll show him.” Also coming out soon is a remake of Heathers, in which it’s not the traditionally beautiful girls who run the school at all, but the outsiders who’ve taken over. Blair, who rose to fame as part of the young Hollywood of the original Heathers generation, is now 45 years old, and plays “a diabolical stepmother who turns out to be the only sane person in it, because she’s the one who gave zero fucks and didn’t have a conscience to begin with”.
Blair grew up in Michigan, one of four sisters in a Jewish family. Her parents were both lawyers – her mother a judge – and they sent her to Cranbrook Kingswood, a private school that Blair speaks about with great affection. Yoko Ono was a guest; Keith Haring designed their yearbooks, and Blair still has her best friends from there because, apparently: “It wasn’t cliquey, there were no mean girls. It’s still one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever seen.” She remembers the glamour of her mother power-dressing in Ungaro suits, with “the looks of Sofia Loren”, and also the formalities. “She had us all by C-Section at 8.45am on a Friday so she could be back to work by Monday.”
Blair began acting at school and, after encouragement from a teacher and various TV and film parts, her breakout role was in Cruel Intentions, a film she now describes as “pioneering for teens. It was the first time two girls kissed onscreen in such a mainstream movie.” She was actually 25, but playing a 14-year-old, “because this was before HD so you could still look somewhat young on screen”.
Full interview: theguardian.com