INTERVIEW: Rosario Dawson as Artemis in "Wonder Woman"

INTERVIEW: Rosario Dawson as Artemis in "Wonder Woman"

INTERVIEW: Rosario Dawson as Artemis in "Wonder Woman"

Actress and fanboy favorite Rosario Dawson delivers a knockout punch as the voice of strong-willed Amazonian warrior Artemis in Wonder Woman, the next entry in the popular series of DC Universe animatedoriginal PG-13 movies due from Warner Premiere, DC Comics and WarnerBros. Animation on March 3, 2009.

(See Rosario's Superhero Hottie Gallery HERE)

Warner Home Video will distribute the all-new film, which will also be available OnDemand and Pay-Per-View as well as available for download day and date, March 3, 2009.

Dawson, whose voiceover experience was previously limited to a single
episode of Robot Chicken, completely immersed herself in the warrior
mindset to bring Artemis to animated life. Dawson’s resonating take on
the focused, powerful tones and dry, no-nonsense (and thus,
unintentional humor) approach of Artemis perfectly complements the
work done by the rest of the stellar voice cast, which includes Keri
Russell, Nathan Fillion, Virginia Madsen and Alfred Molina.

Fans in the San Francisco Bay Area will have a chance to see the West
Coast Premiere of Wonder Woman at WonderCon on Friday, February 27 at
6:00 p.m. in the Esplanade Ballroom of The Moscone Center. The
premiere will be followed by a panel discussion of the film led by
Virginia Madsen (the voice of Hippolyta, Queen of the Amazons),
producer Bruce Timm, director Lauren Montgomery, writer Michael
Jelenic and moderated by DC Comics Senior Vice President of Creative
Affairs Gregory Noveck.

In a career spanning just over a dozen years, Dawson has managed to
seamlessly glide between fanboy features, big-time Hollywood epics,
charming independent and “smaller” films, and even a musical. She is
constantly in demand by the hippest of today’s filmmakers from Frank
Miller and Robert Rodriguez to Quentin Tarantino, Spike Lee and Kevin
Smith., Her on-screen resume includes Sin City (and its upcoming
sequel), Eagle Eye, Grindhouse, Clerks and Men in Black II, as well
Rent, Alexander, 25th Hour, He Got Game and the recent Seven Pounds.

Dawson is every fanboy’s fantasy: a stunning beauty with a greater
love and knowledge of comic books than your average
Wednesday-at-Golden-Apple geek. She has her own comic book series
(“Occult Crimes Taskforce”), she hosted Saturday Night Live just a few
weeks ago, and she once spoke Klingon as a guest on Late Night with
Conan O’Brien.

An interview with Dawson is only challenging for your tape recorder –
because she has the capacity to answer a question for three minutes
without taking a breath. She is more impressive and endearing than
you’d ever hope to find, and she offered a significant stretch of time
to discuss her role in Wonder Woman, the intrinsic attributes of a
great super hero, an absolute adoration of Neil Gaiman, some deleted
The Devil’s Rejects scenes, a hankering to play the live-action
version of Harley Quinn, and her love for anything in the comics

Enjoy the thoughts of Rosario Dawson …

QUESTION: Would you describe the challenges of bringing this
character to life with this particular voice?

ROSARIO DAWSON: I haven’t done that much voiceover work., so it was
interesting to prepare for a character like Artemis who’s so strong
and so powerful. Then you have the language, the pronunciations, the
Greek mythology involved, the kind of accent they want. She’s from a
different land and such a different time. I’m a New Yorker, so there
are some aspects of being a tough woman that I thought I could bring
to the role – but it’s such a different world as a woman who’s like a
warrior. This medium is very dependent on understanding what the
filmmakers want – so, ironically, listening is really important part
to doing voiceover work.

QUESTION: Did you have preconceptions about doing this role versus
how you ended up doing it?

ROSARIO DAWSON: I think it was her deadpan humor that I didn’t
anticipate. She’s definitely not one-dimensional. She’s very
one-track-minded about her strength, and about her opinion. She’s
very okay with the fact that the Amazons have cut themselves off from
the rest of the world – she’s happy and secure in the way they live,
and she takes a lot of pride and honor in being an Amazon and being
Hippolyta’s right hand woman. But she’s so steadfast in her ways all
the time that it does lend itself to moments of humor. That’s always
an interesting thing to kind of play with, especially for a character
like Artemis – she doesn’t have a funny bone in her body, so it’s
actually funnier just to play those lines straight. I like the
consistency of that.

QUESTION: What are the joys and the challenges of playing a role like this?

ROSARIO DAWSON: Again, I’m a New Yorker, so I have this sort of tough
vein that’s naturally bred into me. In general, I’m a nice person, and
that seems to surprise people sometimes. I’ll be at Comic-Con and
people will say, “I’ve been watching you for three days and you seem
really nice – but you were really scary in Sin City. How did you do
that?” And I’m like, “Acting!” (she laughs) I’ve played so many
different roles that are very strong minded women, and I think
ultimately the key to that is (A) because I come at it from such a
different outside perspective that I’m able to kind of appreciate
exactly what that looks like, and I savor the opportunities of being
able to play that in a character;; and (B) I think ultimately that the
key to it is not just playing strong, but to understand the reasons
that she’s strong, and the situations in the world she lives. It’s
about knowing why she adopts that kind of behavior or personality.
For someone like Artemis, it’s very different from someone like Gail
(in Sin City). A different background lends itself to different
nuances. It’s kind of interesting to play someone who is so strong,
but also very feminine. These Amazons are women are very proud to be
women. Artemis is strong, but she’s not trying to be masculine. If
anything, she just really fully believes she is superior because she
IS a woman. So I tried to keep my voice very strong and sometimes
very gravelly, but still have a little bit of warmth. It’s not like
she hates men. It’s just that she believes ultimately that the choices
they’ve made as women in protecting themselves are the best choices
that could possibly made. I like that it’s embracing womanhood, and
the strength that a woman has – as opposed to maybe feeling like she’s
lesser than men, and that’s why she tries so hard to be strong.

QUESTION: Did you have a favorite moment or line?

ROSARIO DAWSON: Artemis has a few really great lines because she
plays everything – even the humor – very straight. The one that made
me laugh out loud when I read it was when she tells Hippolyta that
they shouldn’t have let Diana go out into the outside world.
Hippolyta asks, “What could we have done to have stopped her?” And
Artemis says, “Well I could have shot her in the leg with an arrow.
Not in an artery, of course.” It’s just so deadpan – she wouldn’t kill
her, but she would’ve shot her. It’s so dry, and it’s so honest. And I
love that.

QUESTION: What are your overall impressions of the character of
Wonder Woman in perspective with this script?

ROSARIO DAWSON: I really liked the change to present day, with nuclear
missiles and all that kind of stuff. I think it really ups the ante,
bringing real discussions of what it would be like to have a super
hero in our world right now. We’re really delving into so many
stories that are comic book based, so I like that we have a woman as
part of that production. We haven’t really explored that too much.
Wonder Woman has had so many different connotations over the years
because she’s so beloved as a character, and it’s been interesting to
see how she’s evolved – to see how her outfits have changed, and going
from having her invisible plane to starting to fly herself, and sort
of be on par with the physical attributes of Superman. She is like
the female Superman. She has represented so much for women and
everything women were not traditionally allowed to do, like embracing
your sensuality and being strong at the same time. They’re supposed
to be in contradiction, but she holds it with dignity and with class.
She didn’t look like princesses that you normally saw, but she was a
princess. There were so many great things about her, and I’m very
excited to see that all of that is maintained.

Wonder Woman has really evolved, and her character has been unique in
many ways. She was raised with this backwards perspective about men,
and she learned to kind of evolve her mind past that. She’s able to
separate and unite concepts – that these are my lessons as a child,
but these are my experiences as a woman, and I can put the two
together and make sense of it all. She’s a great balance to Superman
and Batman. She has a very clear understanding of everything, so
she’s not afraid to maybe take it as far as Batman would, which is
very different than Superman. She does understand that sometimes war
is necessary, and to that end she is like an angel with a flaming
sword. That’s an amazing character, and it makes sense that we keep
going back to her because she really does resonate with each

QUESTION: Were you modeling your present character on any of your
past performances?

ROSARIO DAWSON: No, partly because I’ve never played a character like
this before. Plus, I’m used to using my body a lot more, Even with
Sin City, as we were doing everything with green screen, at least we
still had costumes and certain markings, and other people to work
with. So being in an environment where there’s just a script in front
of you, and you’re not really working off of someone, you try to milk
it for the mike. It’s a different kind of experience. Mostly I was
pulling from thinking of the warriors in my life. My mom is six feet
tall, and she was raised with four brothers, so she’s the toughest
woman I know. She was in gangs when she was younger; she used to be a
plumber; she’s a singer and a great cook. It’s like that song says,
she’s a Brick House. It was an interesting thing as a young girl
growing up, to know that song and think of that as your mother. So
when I told her I was doing this film, she was really excited because
she’s our Amazon. We’ve even gotten her a Wonder Woman mug in the
past. It’s nice because I know my mom will always be taller than me –
so when I have a bad day, she always envelopes me in a great warm hug.
I always feel like my mom’s there. Even as she gets older, she’s
always gonna feel like a warrior woman who can handle anything. She
can take care of me. She can protect me. That’s a wonderful thing.
Ultimately, that’s what I wanted to bring to the character.

QUESTION: Have you always been a fan of comic books, and what
characters or writers/artists do you gravitate toward?

ROSARIO DAWSON: To some degree, peripherally if not always 100
percent, I’ve always had comic books as part of my life. My uncle Gus
(Gustavo Vazquez) is a comic book artist who dabbled with DC and
Marvel, and he’s been a tremendous influence in my life – he was an
actor and a singer, and he’s still doing all of that. I looked up to
him as an artist, and a performer. He was always into comics – I think
he’s been drawing since he was 4-years-old – and he always took his
comics very seriously. I couldn’t even breathe on his comics. I could
never touch his comics. I read his comics, but only over his
shoulder, and I would nod to him so he could flip the page when I was
done reading. He gave me the feeling that comics were sacred texts,
and my grubby little fingers weren’t allowed to touch them. So I’ve
always had this really strong love and respect for comics, and the way
that the storytelling comes across. The kind of characters that are
developed, the issues that are addressed, and the great stories. In
the same way that we can look at wonderful films and the journeys they
take us on, I’ve always really believed and trusted in the same
concepts with comics.

I know what a collaborative effort it is between writers and artists
to create a comic. I’ve always had a true respect and admiration for
it. I love Alan Moore and Neil Gaiman -- I freaked out when I got to
hear Gaiman speak for 15 minutes at Comic-Con, just because it’s like
real literature when he writes for comics. It’ll sound silly, but I
take such pride in the fact that I even know to read them, and I’m so
grateful that I have that as an influence. It’s so interesting to me
that there’s a huge world of comic book fans, but it’s also still very
small. But it’s definitely reaching out and touching a wider
population today, especially with all the comics being made into
films. The influences of people like Robert Rodriguez and Frank Miller
are reaching new audiences, and that’s exciting.

Honestly, any success that I ever have in doing anything with a comic
means more to me most of the time than anything else, because I know
if people in comics are approving, then it’s actually really approved.
There’s a fine toothcomb that goes through any work in the comic book
industry. Because people within this world, if they don’t like you or
what you’ve done, they really have no problem telling you that you
suck. (she laughs) I don’t mean they’ll say they weren’t interested or
they didn’t like it, I mean they will stand in front of you and tell
you, “You suck!”

I’ve been co-writing this comic book for a while, and it’s been going
really well. And it makes me feel really excited because it was a big
risk for me. I think that was probably one of the scarier things that
I’ve ever done, co-writing on the Occult Crimes Taskforce. You don’t
do that very often, especially as an actor. You act in this sort of
vacuum, then it gets edited and put into the theaters, and maybe you
hear how it does. But doing a comic resonates with people.

QUESTION: As active as you are in fantasy films, do you actively seek
out roles in that genre?

ROSARIO DAWSON: It’s funny – I was at a producer meeting for this
really big movie and the guy was saying, “I’m working on all these
projects, and … I did Rob Zombie’s first movie and I’m gonna do a
second one.” He said it like he was apologizing, like he just
automatically assumed it wouldn’t be something I’d be interested in.
And I’m saying, “Oh my God, Rob Zombie! I love him! House of Thousand
Corpses – I love that movie! Are there any parts in (the new film)
for me?” So while we were filming Sin City, I ended up doing a day of
work on The Devil’s Rejects. I ended up being one of the rejects of
The Devil’s Rejects, because I only made it to the DVD deleted scenes,
but I got my throat torn up by Dr. Satan and it was really awesome.

I think it’s great to have very varied experiences, because that makes
me who I am. I grew up listening to Bowie and Queen, but also Billie
Holiday and Joni Mitchell and Jim Croce. But people don’t know that.
They watch one of my films, and think I am that character. Most of
the time they’re going to be surprised that that’s not me. I’ve had
some really interesting experiences in my life, and luckily it’s been
able to be reflected in my work. Big budget or small budget films,
Spike Lee to Robert Rodriguez to Frank Miller, and I’m excited to
continue doing that, The fanboy stuff will always be prevalent – it
really has added to my life. I can appreciate it in pop culture in a
deep way. It’s a cool thing to be a part of.

QUESTION: Do you realize what a hit you are in the sci-fi comic book
fanboy arena?

ROSARIO DAWSON: That’s only because I spoke Klingon on Conan O’Brien!
(she laughs very hard) I love Star Trek. I just bought my brother all
the series, every single disk, full of Star Trek: The Next Generation.
We will sit there and go over all of that stuff, and my brother
remembers everything right down to the code that Data says in episode
114. It’s bad. So it’s great when I get to kind of do anything in
that fanboy/fangirl world. The fans are totally passionate about it,
and I get to let my inner geek out.

QUESTION: If you could play one comic book character on screen, who
would it be and why?

ROSARIO DAWSON: Harley Quinn. Now THAT would be fun. I’d have to
really transform myself, which could be really, really fun. You don’t
see too many female villains that aren’t like Poison Ivy, where
they’re just really sexy but not much otherwise. Harley is such an
off-base kind of girl, she is in that same sort of Batman/Joker

I love playing women who are strong, and characters that have these
great convictions and do the right thing. I’m always 100 percent
behind that. But I also like to challenge myself to kind of go in the
other direction and really explore what the opposite sort of
incarnation would be, to look at a situation and think, “What’s the
way I can reap the most harm.” You hit the most conflict when you’re
approaching a situation trying to be good, and it would be really
interesting and I think really freeing and liberating in some ways.
The physicality of doing it would be an interesting exploration
because you really can’t be too big or too full or too expressive when
you’re creating mayhem and embracing chaos. There’s a flow that evil
characters seem to get into sometimes that would be fun to play with,
like when you’re playing a video game and you choose to be the
character that’s most destructive. I wouldn’t want to be that in real
life, I don’t want that legacy, I don’t want that reality, but it
would be interesting to explore it in a manner like that, to see what
it would feel like when that inner voice shuts off and you just kind
of go with it. That would be a safe environment to explore the darker
sides of myself.

QUESTION: How do you think fans will react to the final film?

ROSARIO DAWSON: I was really excited when I was reading Wonder Woman.
Michael Jelenic wrote these long paragraphs every once in a while in
the middle of the action sequences, things about Wonder Woman beating
up a villain in the mall and her destroying the mall being a metaphor
for women who are only supposed to just look cute and kind of parade
themselves around but actually feeling like being superior to it and
showing their strength and femininity at the same time. And then he’d
write, “Okay, I’ve said my peace, back to the story.” There were all
these little moments where he kind of spoke out to the people who were
reading it about just how serious he was taking it, not just the
origin stories but really getting the characters across and really
setting up Wonder Woman for the next projects. That was cool and it’s
a great set-up. The whole story has a strong resonance, the dialogue
is very strong, the violence is very real, there’s great strength in
the characters and the issues that they’re facing, and there’s all
this Greek mythology and the parallels in the two worlds. It’s a very
strong script and I really liked it. It’s very respectful to the
legacy of the character. I want to see these characters again, I want
to see where they’re going to take this next.

Please visit the film’s official website at
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