This isn’t your typical girl on girl thriller. The highly successful producer Denise Di Novi steps into the role of director to bring audiences this complex look at mental illness, relationships and demonstrates a genuine meaning of female empowerment to theater goers everywhere in this fast paced and stress-inducing production, which brings together two powerhouse female actors: Rosario Dawson and Katherine Heigl. The movie delves deep into the sometimes trivialized and sometimes marginalized abuse of women. It profiles the dangers of not treating and getting help for a mental disease, and the horrible after effects if the disease remains untreated. No one woman or man want to be labeled “crazy,” and for that reason, alone, many never seek treatment for past traumas or current mental problems that they can’t seem to deal with on their own. Vegas Smarty got a chance to sit down with the two stars of this project and ask them about what drew them to their respective roles, and what they hope audiences will take away from it once they have seen Unforgettable.



VS: So, let’s start with your character— can you tell us a little about her?

DAWSON: I play a woman named Julia Banks who has a very dark past. She had an alcoholic father and an abusive relationship with her ex-boyfriend. She even sought psychological help afterward. Her best friend is her boss; she doesn’t have a lot of friends or people in her life. And that often happens times with women from that type of background. But now she is in a new chapter. She’s fallen in love with this wonderful man who is a father of an eight-year-old little girl. They are going to get married, and she is going to co-parent with him. And everything is looking very rosy and amazing, and then the ex-wife shows up. It becomes very clear that everything isn’t going to go as smoothly as she would have hoped. (laughing) To put it nicely.

VS: What attracted you to this role?

DAWSON: At first I had actually turned down the role. I think I was nervous about it. About how tense it was and the darkness of it. I’m on the board of V-Day an organization dedicated to stopping violence against women and children. And I’m on the board of Lower Eastside Girls Club, and I’ve done so many campaigns with anti-violence organizations, and I play a lot of these types of characters. And I didn’t know if I wanted to go there again. It was just really clear that what we were doing something really special. It wasn’t just like a lot of the other thriller films. It wasn’t us using these different things to be exploited. We really wanted to investigate these moments. And then I got super excited about it. Because of the range of these women. It wasn’t just she’s the bad guy, and that’s the good guy. It was kind of like the real spectrum of us and how we can all go a little bit crazy. My character I got help. It wasn’t like I didn’t have mental issues or trauma in my past, but I got help for it, and that’s what we all want, deserve, and need. And because we don’t communicate it we end up having these insane dramatic moments. But in reality, you know these women could actually have so much more in common, and I just loved that. I loved that it wasn’t just hitting the tropes of a thriller but really showing compassion for all these characters the humanity of it, the difficulties of it all with co-parenting and all that kind of stuff. So, I just got super excited about all of that, and I think it really works. When I watch this movie I’m just really moved by everybody, and I love everyone’s journey, and I 

can relate to everyone.

VS: Speaking of relatable, how relatable do you think this is to modern relationships dealing with divorce and everything?

DAWSON: I think it’s very interesting, and we were talking with Allison about it; she’s one of the producers. She was saying that when they first came up with the story, they were really like they didn’t want to do that the first wife was just neglected or under appreciated. And it’s like the new wife coming in, and she’s young and this and this. It was like we’ve already seen that before let’s show a different kind of dynamic oF a woman who is unhinged and people around who are not communicating properly with her and the loss that is there. Because here is this little girl lost in the center of it somewhere and if we aren’t communicating properly with each other then we are just not taking it seriously. I just really loved the approach of this whole movie.

VS: Do you think people are going to watch this and think, what would I do if I was in that type of situation?

DAWSON: If people recognize that and see it and just kind of go ugh, I’ve been there, and I knee jerked reaction. I did that, but if I had done this then maybe this could have happened. And if you want to end that cycle of violence whether it is physical, emotional, spiritual, verbal those traumas we have to finally look at, not dismiss not, deny not ignore, but really look at that man in the mirror kind of thing. Really look at it, and then you can move on. When you see Julia’s journey the only reason that she is able to thrive in the way that she can is because she has actually looked at what had not worked in her life. She went, and she sought psychological help, and she learned tools to use. If we don’t use those tools properly, not as crutches or as weapons, then they are really useless, you have to learn how to really use them. It’s just an incredible ride, it is super entertaining, and there is some real heart in this film. I just really hope that it sparks conversations with people. I can hear the people yelling at the screen, but I really hope it translates to after with them to talk to each other about it. Because I feel it could be really enlightening.



VS: Let’s start with your character: who do you play, and can you tell us a little bit about her?

HEIGL: I play Tessa, and she is, um, oh man there i, just so much about Tessa. She is a very complicated woman. And she is a very damaged woman. But she was very fun and juicy to play. It’s always fun as an actor to play these really complicated characters.

VS: What attracted you to the part? Was it that she was this very complicated woman?

HEIGL: Exactly! That was exactly what brought me to Tess. It was just the levels and the layers. And she wasn’t just this one-dimensional villain or just the monster. She is very human, and I think what she is going through and what she is feeling the heartbreak and the fear is all relatable. It’s just that she goes a little too far with it.

VS: You do so much in this role without even saying anything. Did you go into any deep preparation to prepare for it? How did you get into this woman’s psyche? Because you did so well.

HEIGL: Oh well thank you. That is very nice of you. I think for me to get into it I almost always start to see if I can emotionally understand the character. If she was just too much of just a bad guy, I have to have some sympathy and some compassion for her, and it’s sort of weird but as I am playing her so I have sympathy for myself. I think Tessa is heartbroken. She is so incredibly terrified of being alone. All of her value for her she has decided that all that makes her valuable is this man and whether he loves her. And that’s a terrible position to put yourself in, especially when that man has moved on. I could get into it by first starting with feeling compassion for her.

VS: Let’s talk about where this all came from: her relationship with her mother. They do show a little bit of backstory, and I thought that was very interesting and said a lot with a little. Can you talk about that?

HEIGL: Right, I think the relationship between Tessa and her mother is just incredibly important. There are just those few brief scenes, but they are very important to inform the audience on why Tessa is the way she is. And it’s not all the mother’s fault because we always blame the mother. But certainly, her mother is very responsible for where Tessa has ended up. And she is obviously not well. She has had mental illness issues since she was a little girl that were not treated that were not taken care of in any way, that were not even addressed at all, so that I do put on her mother. But at this point, she is just like a pot that is about to boil over.

VS: What did you think Tessa’s first impression of Julia was?

HEIGL: I think her first impression of her is just what she says to her in that scene over margaritas. She is just so effortlessly beautiful. She is so vivacious in her own way, and I think Tessa admires her for that in her own way. I think she is intrigued by it. But that turns very quickly into being threatened by it. Because Tessa is so not that she can’t conceive of the man that she loves moving on with someone that is so different than her. It just makes her feel like who she is, is just wrong. It would almost have been easier for her to see him move on with someone just like her. Then she would feel like, oh he is just trying to replace me great, he can’t replace me. But to see him with someone so completely different makes her think, oh did he ever really love me? Am I not even his type? I certainly think that by the end she really respects her because she doesn’t play the victim and she brings it just as much. (Laughing) And Tessa, she needs to be challenged.

VS: This is obviously a very female-driven film directed by a female director. Can you tell me about working with Denise De Novi?

Denise De Novi is just such a powerhouse of talent and emotional evolution. I just loved working with Denise, and I just trusted every moment of it. Because she knew exactly what she wanted she was so prepared, and she had really thought through very carefully how she wanted this story to unfold, down to details like the little necklace that Tessa wears with her initial on it. No charm for her daughter— that’s Tessa— and all of that was Denise. That level of detail and preparedness gives me as the performer so much freedom it is such an odd juxtaposition that you know the rules, you know what you are doing, and now you can play and explore and kind of break the rules and go for it. Denise was just so amazing about supporting that and allowing that collaborative. And obviously, she is just an incredible talent. She has been such a successful producer for years, and she just stepped into directing like it was no big thing. What a great inspiration that is for us all, if you just walk into it with passion and confidence, maybe you can rock it. You know? (laughing)


VS: The film has a lot of deeper things going on when you watch it. What do you hope that audiences will take away from viewing this film?

HEIGL: I think from my perspective, I hope women walk away from it knowing that their value has nothing to do with the man that they are with or their partner in life. It is about you have to be just as fine alone as you are with someone else. In fact, you probably have to be better at being alone than who you are with somebody else. Because you can’t evolve emotionally if you are so concerned about what other people think, or whether you are loved if that’s your value by a man. That’s sort of a very unconcise way of putting it. (Laughing) But I hope women walk away from it thinking, I will never let a man define me.

Member Login