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Actresses recount career challenges

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It’s an annual question during Hollywood’s awards season: Why are there so few great roles for women? But this year that query has disappeared.

The Hollywood Reporter recently invited six of the most buzz-worthy actresses, Amy Adams (The Fighter), Annette Bening (The Kids Are All Right), Helena Bonham Carter (Alice in Wonderland, The King’s Speech ), Nicole Kidman (Rabbit Hole), Natalie Portman (Black Swan), and Hilary Swank (Conviction), for a discussion of their careers.

What is your toughest moment as an actress?
Helena Bonham Carter: It’s every time you start a job.

“What am I doing here? I can’t actually act. Someone employed me again?” I think for me, the most excruciating thing is watching myself. It’s like painting a picture blind and then taking the blindfold off, and unfortunately it’s nothing at all what you intended.

Amy Adams: My hardest moments have a lot to do with being unemployed, which I’m very familiar with. I was in Los Angeles for about six or seven years before Junebug.

Is there a time you thought about giving up?

Adams: Oh yeah, absolutely. That’s what is great about being an actor: You really do examine every type of life. So I fantasised about, what if I became a teacher? But the good thing is that I get to embody all these different characters and get to experience a different life. So I think I’ll stay.

How involved are you with the filmmaking process? For instance, Annette, for The Kids Are All Right, I read that you encouraged the director to move the film in a much lighter direction.

Annette Bening: I wouldn’t say that. I just didn’t want it to be earnest. She’s too generous when she talks about me and my contributions. I do remember not wanting it to be too earnest, and that’s very hard.

It’s easier to do that, and that’s why we’ve all made that mistake. I didn’t want it to be idealised or the “noble couple” rising against the situation they’re in.

It’s such a serious subject, and the more serious it is, the more hilarious it can be. And the writing is really good. There are just little things that I kind of knew that maybe we could tweak a little bit. We could take it out of it trying to be noble.

Natalie what did you think when you got the script for Black Swan?

Natalie Portman: I was actually committed to the film before the script. Darren (Aronofsky) and I had started talking about it about nine years ago when I was still in college.

He had the whole idea for everything, but that was really an instance where the script was very much a blueprint.

Nicole actually said something to me when we were doing Cold Mountain, and I totally remember.

She said, “always choose by director because you never know how the movie’s going to turn out and you’re always guaranteed an interesting experience.”

I’ve always had that in my head. Really, it does take a visionary, and if your experience is worthwhile, you always have that no matter how it turns out.

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