Katie Holmes: The Treasure from Toledo
Fifteen years ago, Katie Holmes saw the light at the end of the tunnel. She only had one season left of Dawson’s Creek and then she could concentrate on her movie career. Up until that point, Holmes hadn’t had much success in movies. When she was interviewed for the cover story of the October 2002 issue of Movieline magazine, Holmes was optimistic about her first real leading role in the movie Abandon. It didn’t work out the way she probably hoped. Knowing what we know now, the second-to-last question posed in this article is hysterical.
The thing you notice right off about Katie Holmes is just how much the Joey Potter from “Dawson’s Creek” has grown up. She must be 5′ 9″ now, and with a natural tan set off by her white sleeveless shirt and pants, she’s a knockout, what hasn’t changed are those eyes–could they be any larger? “On my desk I still keep the very first photo of Katie when she came to ‘Dawson’s Creek,'” says Kevin Williamson, who created the show and directed Holmes in Teaching Mrs. Tingle. “Those eyes, they anchored the show for the first two seasons. The editors called her ‘Cut-to Katie,’ because whenever we were having problems compiling footage we cut to those eyes. It always worked.”
Stephen Gaghan, the Oscar-winning writer of Traffic who makes his directorial debut with Abandon, the film that gives Holmes her first important starring role, gets nearly rapturous on the subject of those eyes and all that goes with them. “As I was living with her image for so many days during postproduction, Katie obliterated every other actress in history for me. In preproduction I’d noticed something amazing happening to her– that time in a young woman’s life when the balance tilts and she goes from a girl-woman who’s mostly girl to being a woman. I saw it coming on video from month to month. I feel very privileged to have done my first film during this time in her life. I think she is the real deal.”
Up until now, Holmes has been all about potential. She grew up in Toledo, Ohio, and, with almost no formal training, suddenly found herself first in the small, brilliant movie The Ice Storm and then in the big TV series “Dawson’s Creek.” While working nine months a year on the series, which is filmed in Wilmington, North Carolina, she smartly elevated her standing by leaving most of the teen films to other stars and choosing instead to spend her time accessorizing hip ensemble pieces with distinctive directors like Doug Liman (GO), Curtis Hanson (Wonder Boys) and Sam Raimi (The Gift). She held her own in each of these challenging films.
Holmes’s true test on the big screen comes with the new film Abandon, in which she plays a troubled college coed who is being haunted by an old boyfriend who went missing, and who is falling in love with an equally troubled alcoholic detective (Benjamin Bratt) who’s investigating the disappearance. After Abandon, there will be Phone Booth, Joel Schumacher’s film in which she has a small part opposite Colin Farrell. If either of these movies does well, she’ll finish what could be her last year on “Dawson’s Creek” in an excellent position to shift into a new phase as an adult actress on the big screen.
MICHAEL FLEMING: Is this your North Carolina beach tan?
KATIE HOLMES: No, this is my Ohio tan. It was 95 degrees all week and my family has a pool, so on the fourth of July we had 30 people over and my dad decides we’re having a belly-flop contest. Then relay races. Quite fun.
Q: This is Movieline‘s “Money” issue, so I wanted to start out with a money question. It must be heady for a young person to be making so much money. Are you fiscally savvy?
A: I shop too much, I know that. My dad manages all of my money. His buddy does my taxes every year for free. It’s done out of Ohio and every six months I’ll sit down with my dad and go through it. I have no idea what he’s talking about. I let him do his thing.
Q: What are your extravagances?
A: Besides shopping–I have about 50 pairs of shoes–I take a lot of nice trips. But I have the same townhouse I bought a couple of years ago in North Carolina, and I don’t even have a place in L.A.
Q: You haven’t bought a mansion?
A: Are you kidding? It would be a pigsty. I’d have to have three maids. I have a little Honda and a bike. No Mercedes.
Q: You’ve taken on your first adult starring role after doing mostly supporting roles. Was it a conscious decision to wait?
A: Yes and no. When I first began on “Dawson’s Creek,” opportunities were thrown at me and I did some movies in which I was almost carrying the picture, and I felt overwhelmed. I had no idea what it even meant to “carry” a movie–I’d think, “Wow, I’m number two on the call sheet.” These were wonderful experiences and I wouldn’t speak badly of them. But then I worked with better scripts and really good directors. I felt ready to try Abandon.
Q: Your costar Benjamin Bratt is another person who’s emerged from TV and is finally testing himself after doing good supporting work in film. What quality about him do you think might make him a star?
A: His kindness comes off on-screen. He’s warm, a really good actor. I immediately felt comfortable with him. He’s got a peace and confidence about him.
Q: In an interview with this magazine, John McTiernan said Bratt’s strength was an edge that had just begun to show and that once he stopped trying to be nice all the time, he could be a big star.
A: There is so much going on inside of him. He’s got a lot of experience and has been pigeonholed.
Q: Your other new movie, Phone Booth, was an interesting choice–about a guy, played by Colin Farrell, stuck at a pay phone because the caller at the other end of the line is aiming a gun at him from afar.
A: I wanted to be part of something that was different. It could go either way, but the idea of doing a movie in one place in 20 days sounded cool to me.
Q: How many days did you shoot?
A: Only five. I play a young actress who Colin’s character is after, but she’s smarter than he thinks.
Q: What did you think of Colin?
A: The amount of dialogue I saw him deliver while standing in that phone booth, I couldn’t have imagined doing it. The days I was there, he was really doing a good job. Now, he might have been really bad on the days I wasn’t there…
Q: Your director on Phone Booth, Joel Schumacher, said you’re unusual because most young actors are “inappropriate” and you’re not.
A: I’ve never seen inappropriate behavior from other actors because I’ve spent the last few years in Wilmington and fortunately the cast and crew I work with are well-behaved.
Q: “Dawson’s Creek” hit just as the teen craze was starting. Did the whole cast feel lucky?
A: The show was like lightning in a bottle and we caught it just when the teen thing exploded.
Q: “Dawson’s Creek” got you into the movies, but now it is probably keeping you from doing as much as you want.
A: We went through that period of, “It’s not fair, we have to be down here, we can’t get to those meetings.” That was my immaturity, I won’t say that for everybody. At this point, we all have done a lot of different things. There have been ups and downs. We know we are going to miss certain opportunities. But we wouldn’t have those if we didn’t have the show.
Q: Has it ever caused anxiety when one of you does well in a movie, as James Van Der Beek did with Varsity Blues?
A: We’re hard on ourselves. I don’t know that we’re that competitive with each other. We’re very different actors. So you can understand that if they’re going to cast Michelle [Williams], then they want someone like Michelle. Good for her. If we’re the one not working when everyone else is, that’s when it gets hard.
Q: How did you get your very first movie, Ang Lee’s The Ice Storm?
A: It was before “Dawson’s Creek.” I got discovered in New York at a modeling convention and a manager asked me to come to LA. One of his clients had an audition, so I got in the door, too. I thought I had no business being there, but they were nice. At first I tried out for Christina Ricci’s part and I was too old. So they said, “Why don’t you look at this other part?” Then they wanted to put me on tape. It was a long shot, the first movie I’d ever tried for. I remember that morning well–we went down to get something to drink and there were all these young people talking about auditions. I thought, “Nothing is going to happen.”
Q: Weren’t you intimidated by the cast of The Ice Storm–Kevin Kline, Sigourney Weaver, Joan Allen? Even Tobey Maguire was pretty experienced.
A: I didn’t know who anybody was. Coming from Ohio, I knew about Steven Spielberg, but no other directors. I did know who Kevin Kline was, and thank God I didn’t have scenes with him because I would have been nervous. I met Tobey and I thought, He seems nice. I remember having lunch with him and he told me he was good friends with Leonardo DiCaprio. I was like, “Oh, my God!” I had a crush on Leonardo. I owe a lot to Tobey–he helped me. I was lucky to have that as my first movie because I was surrounded by so many artists. I didn’t know what I was doing and I’m sure I had to do many takes, but Tobey was so good to me that I started to understand.