Whether you've been following her career since her acting debut in Larry Clark's searing 1995 film 'Kids', remember her collaborations with filmmakers Spike Lee ('The 25th Hour', 'He Got Game'), Oliver Stone ('Alexander'), Quentin Tarantino ('Death Proof' from Grindhouse) or Kevin Smith ('Clerks II'), or whether you'll always remember her as Gail in 'Sin City', you know that Rosario Dawson is one of the most talented and versatile actresses of her generation.
With writer David Atchinson, artist Tony Shasteen and 12 Gauge Comics, she's unleashed 'O.C.T.: Occult Crimes Taskforce', the first volume of which was just released in trade paperback through Image. Ms. Dawson spared a few minutes to talk about the miniseries, its upcoming sequel, her acting career and what lies ahead.
Q: So you're here with 12 Gauge Comics and the newly released trade paperback of 'Occult Crimes Taskforce'.
ROSARIO DAWSON: Yes. Our very first trade paperback. It's very exciting. It has a number one on it. Many to come. I love going to comic stores and seeing like 'B.P.R.D.' and seeing the one two three four and you have to get all of them. I'm really excited to be able to have a whole section of a shelf to ourselves someday.
Q: Where is the next miniseries right now in terms of production?
RD: We have the next miniseries completely written pretty much and we're just finalizing some of the art for the first issue and we'll be putting it out in the fall. It takes a while because the illustrator Tony does all of it, the cover and twenty-three pages an issue: the penciling, the coloring, the inking. It takes a while. And that means it definitely keeps it closer to the vest for all of us. We're very on top of all the details. So if you hate it, then it's us, and if you love it, then it's us.
Q: Do you like that kind of control over a project?
RD: Well personally I don't get that in other fields of my field. At least with acting, I've been doing that for thirteen years and no one ever asked me about how I wanted to edit it or how I wanted to market it or how to do any of that stuff. I've learned a lot of really great things and I've also seen a lot of things that I would never want to do personally and I've learned from that.
It's interesting being able to take those lessons and apply them to another medium but something that's quite similar. It's still storytelling. It's still creative and artistic and still needs marketing. It's still my face so in a lot of ways I'm still acting. Doing the dialogue and working on all that, it feels like a lot of the preproduction stuff. We never actually say it out loud but at some point we do want to make it into a film and do the video game and maybe some anime online so I guess I will fulfill all that as well. It's been really amazing to transition all that I've learned in the past thirteen years into something that I'm really in love with now and I think it helps. I'm not formally trained in writing, but I've been reading comics for a long time and working with really great storytellers for a long time, so I feel excited to put out my own.
Q: Is writing something want to do more of?
RD: Yeah. It's really exciting to find that I have a voice for that. It's interesting reading something and going, that doesn't sound right, something feels wrong here, I think we need another scene for us to clarify that, I think we're making a leap here, I think we could cut this out completely. It's been fun to do that with David. David is really amazing and he's wonderful to work with and collaborate with. It's phenomenal just throwing ideas around and stretching our imaginations and I want to continue collaborating with him and maybe some other people. I also know that I can do that with my scripts with the things I'm producing that I do know what I'm talking about. Or even if it just means hiring the right writer, which is really difficult and if you don't know about it and it's not something you're comfortable with it can be something you can daunted by if someone puts up a good show. But I feel like I'm definitely through this experience anyway I've really figured out the person who can talk the talk and walk the walk and I feel like that's really great. Sometimes it's giving that person who doesn't have the experience the benefit of the doubt. David's never really done this before so much and neither has Tony but this is a really great project specifically because all of us are newbies and we're really struggling to make it really great and we're passionate about it. It's not something that's just rote for us. So we're definitely going to make some mistakes but it's a growing process through that for us too.
A lot of where I've come from in film is through independent filmmakers and people who had never really proven themselves beyond a video or a short film. If that. Larry Clark only had photographs. Well, not only, he had amazing photographs, but it's amazing how he made that leap. Dito Montiel who did A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints had never written a book before, never written a screenplay before and never directed a film before, all three of which were remarkable. So I've been really blessed and lucky to have this openness to meet people who are passionate and just push themselves.
I think that's what we love about our favorite comic characters. People who kind of go beyond. They have these amazing powers or strengths that because they apply them make them so great. Superman's wonderful and he can do anything and everything but what makes him Superman is because he decides to use it every single day for good. He doesn't have to. How many of us have superpowers - wealth or time or energy that we don't give to other people because a, we don't know our own power or b, we're just lazy or don't care or we're apathetic.
I'm drawn to coming to events like this because I find that there are people who use their imagination, who look at the world in the same way I do and there's a wonder there. And wonder is the salt of the earth.
Q: You mentioned 'Kids', which was your first movie and your first time acting. Did that shape your work and how you approach it?
RD: That really set the bar for me about how I approach acting, how I approach art, how I approach work. Of just being open and finding things that I just didn't necessarily know were there. I'd never wanted to be an actor before. I'd never had any inkling for it. But it was after seeing myself in it I thought maybe I could do this for a while. And it's been my career ever since. That same sort of yes quality that I have to life I think is what's kind of opened me up to being a producer and doing a comicbook and having a voter organization and traveling around the world.
I've run with the bulls in Pamplona, I've gone skydiving, I've gone scuba diving. I'm like, sure, I'll try that. I'll try pretty much anything once. It's exciting. Sometimes like in Pamplona I walk off going what an idiot, I'll never do that again, what were you thinking, but at the end of the day as much as all this work is so important, it's about being alive and I want to do things before I die. I don't want to have 'played it safe' on my tomb.
Q: So what's next for you?
RD: Well right now we're working on this deal for 'O.C.T.' and we're working on a card game and a video game and just continuing with the stories. We've got the next miniseries coming out, we've got an idea for the next miniseries after that, continuing to just push it. We want it out there. We think it's really great and strong, we've gotten a really beautiful response so far and it's been a nice slow build which I'm excited about it.
It's been nice actually having this kind of contact with the fans. I don't necessarily have that all the time with acting and having people come up going I saw you last year and having it be a repetitive thing. I think it's going to be really good. I'll be really excited to have this book be something that's a mainstay. I feel like it has that potential. I'm really looking forward to continuing to develop it and getting better. We're all getting better--and faster, which is also really good cause, you know, it took us a year to put four issues out. (laughs) Which I understand is not so unusual with independent projects, but still.
I also just produced my first feature called 'Descent' which opens August 10th in LA and NY, limited release. I have this film 'Killshot' that's supposed to be coming out in the fall, I think. I'm not sure exactly when. But it's a John Madden film from the Elmore Leonard novel with Mickey Rourke and Thomas Jane and Diane Lane. I'm about to start working on this next project which I can't say yet but I'm kind of excited about. It'll be a little more on the big blockbuster side, I haven't done one of those in a long time but it's a really cool story. I'm really excited.
Q: Any talk of reuniting cast for 'Sin City 2'?
RD: They have. They've been talking about it for a while, but I don't know what's going on. I think everybody's going off and doing different projects. Which kinda sucks. But that's awesome, too. Frank Miller's directing something. Robert's always directing something. So we'll see.