Beautiful, crazy woman meets handsome, successful man, gets a little delusional and becomes Obsessed. Ali Larter, known for her role on Heroes, wants to put a new spin on this old tale of love and stalking in her latest movie Obsessed, which opens April 24. The film follows newly-promoted manager and happily married man Derek Charles (The Office’s Idris Elba) after he hires temp worker Lisa (played by Larter). In a Fatal Attraction-esque move, Lisa begins stalking Charles, clearly pissing off his wife (Beyoncé) and threatening his idyllic way of life.
North by Northwestern had the opportunity to talk to Ali in a conference call that touched on everything from her famous costars to the famed whipped cream bikini she sported for Varsity Blues.
When you first read the script, what immediately attracted you to this character?
The first thing that attracted me was the idea of getting a chance to play a femme fatal. The movies that I loved were Barbara Stanwyck in Double Indemnity, Rita Hayworth in Gilda, the real classic femme fatals are one of the reasons I always wanted to get into this business. And this movie is really a kiss more to that kind of sexy thriller genre of Rebecca De Mornay in Hand that Rocks the Cradle and Fatal Attraction. So, you know, getting the chance to play that really delicious, female villain was my first draw.
How does this role compare to some of the others you’ve taken? You’re most well known for being on Heroes and Final Destination. What was it like to actually switch over and be the villain for once?
Well, I’m usually the one beating people up, so this movie really humbled me a little bit. I had to take one for the team. Also, the fact that she really gets lost in her psychosis, and to understand what happened to this woman and how she could kind of go down this path of believing one thing, when another thing is probably true. For me, it was really just kind of interesting to figure out the complexities of her and what makes her tick.
Now it was what, a little over ten years ago that you were in Varsity Blues.
And then the whipped cream and all that.
And now, ten years later, you’re kind of in similar states of undress, from what I’ve seen in the trailers. Is it tougher now to get in shape?
You know what? I love playing sexy characters. This character is definitely in the vein of the classic femme fatal. And, for me, this woman kind of uses whatever she has to get what she wants, and she’s in love with this man, and she has fun with herself. She doesn’t take herself that seriously. For me, that was just a really fun role, and I loved playing her.
What did you find to be the most difficult aspect of your character, and what did you like best about portraying her on screen?
The most difficult thing was that probably I was shooting Heroes at the same time. So for a couple months, I was working seven days a week, like 12 hours a day, and that was by far the most trying thing because I’d be going from one character and kind of one tone and hopping into another one and sometimes I would be driving from one set to the next.
She’s really a character that is delusional and…for her, it was only about love and how things that people say can be misinterpreted. And to me, that’s really the point of this movie. It’s this imaginary office romance that has disastrous consequences, and we really try to dissect the three different points of view and how each person reacts to it.
David Loughery, the writer, described Obsessed as a cautionary tale. What kind of message do you think Obsessed is trying to give the audience?
This is more of a modern take on it because we take it into an office, but it also we’re in a new world of technology where the different ways that you can have an affair have just grown and grown. Is it inappropriate to send an e-mail? Is it inappropriate to i-chat with someone? It’s the different kind of levels that technology has taken us to, and there’s also a different form of intimacy that has become of them. I think that’s something that we tried to explore a little bit. I mean, people go to work, and they spend more time with their co-workers at the office sometimes than they do with their family, so it kind of draws on those fears that live in some of us about what’s really happening when they leave the house and go into that office.
Did you ever find it difficult to act out any of the crazy things your character did?
Every time I go into this, and I have those scenes coming up, I am petrified. I’m sure I can’t do it. I break myself down, and it’s just this terrible cycle. Then you just show up that day, and you bring everything you have. For me, it’s like I am such a normal human being, like I have the same fears and kind of stresses, and so I just try to take those and really focus them into what this character is going through. Even though it may not be a linear line, I can use substitution to make it rational for the character that I’m playing.
You talked about you liked playing femme fatal characters. I want to know how that correlates in your plans for the future. What are you working on right now?
I’m about to actually go start a movie with Ed Burns, which I’m really excited about. She’s not a femme fatal, but, actually, she could in a way … there are slices of it. For me, it’s like I just love intense women. I love strong women. I love women that go after what they want and don’t always worry about the consequences. There’s a free spirited nature in that that I really am drawn to and a driven side of it too. In the future, there are lots of different things I want to. I actually would love to do a comedy. I would love to laugh.
Do you have any obsessions or, alternatively, have you been on the receiving end of any obsessions?
I definitely remember when I was younger. I remember, and I think a couple of other girls I’ve talked to have been through this where you’ll sit by the phone all night long waiting for the guy to call you. I mean, this is more when I was in high school. And if you could will that phone to ring, I tell you, I would have done anything. And so those games that you play in your head, and that’s something that we’ve really tried to tap into in this movie.
Do you have any obsessions of your own?
I love Wheaton Terriers. I love to cook. I love to watch old movies. You know, for me, it’s like what am I obsessed with? I’m obsessed with just trying to live every moment to the fullest.