The Girl Next Door
TIMES EXCLUSIVE: Ted Danson,
Katie Holmes, Diane Keaton
and Queen Latifah are in Shreveport to film the movie 'Mad Money'
The Shreveport Times
By Alexandyr Kent
Three famous actresses are in Shreveport to steal big money. On the big screen, of course.
"It's three women together, and it's crime. How can that not be fun?" Diane Keaton said.
"I haven't played this character before," Queen Latifah said.
"I'm pumped," Katie Holmes said.
The movie "Mad Money," a heist comedy and thriller, begins shooting Monday in Shreveport.
Holmes and Keaton sat down with actor Ted Danson and director and co-screenwriter Callie Khouri on Friday night for a surprise interview at Eldorado Resort Casino.
Queen Latifah took a break from Saturday rehearsals to speak by phone.
"I loved it from the second I read it," Holmes said. "I love interesting female characters, and this is full of them."
For the movie, the women band together to steal soon-to-be-destroyed money from the Federal Reserve Bank. The characters' criminal motivations are varied.
Keaton's character is married to Danson's. She's never had a job. He's lost his. They've lost their house. And she's decided to take their future into her own hands.
"I've never really had an opportunity to play a criminal mind before," Keaton said, her bright eyes peeking out from under the brim of a gray hat. "Through this horrible adversity comes this other person, this opportunity to change your life."
Queen Latifah was equally intrigued by her new role. "She's smart but kind of controlled. She's the mother of two sons," she said. The star believes "Mad Money" offers a chance to play against type. "Any job that I have where I have to become smaller than I am naturally ... is a challenge to me."
Holmes was drawn to her character from the get-go. "She's funny, she's smart and just a little bit misunderstood," Holmes said while looking mischievously at Keaton. "She's involved in this crime, but she's sort of delighted to just be a part of something and have girlfriends for the first time. She's a type of person who creates a happier environment than she's actually in. ... I like that about her. She's a free spirit."
"When you hear who's in it, the three ladies, you go, 'I want to see that,'" Danson said. "That's interesting." The dapperly dressed and wryly funny actor became famous as Sam Malone on TV's "Cheers." He chose "Mad Money" because he loved the cast, knew the director, liked the script and, he joked, "I'm trying to further my career."
The team sports an impressive list of accolades: six Oscar nominations, including two wins; 13 Emmy nominations, including two wins; 21 Golden Globe nominations, including six wins; 16 Teen Choice nominations, including one win; and five MTV Movie Award nominations, including one win.
What may appear as pressure to perform is secondary to having fun.
"I think you always want people to love everything you do as much as you do, but you can't really go into it hoping that's the outcome," said Khouri, who earned an Oscar for writing the iconic "Thelma & Louise."
"You really have to enjoy what you're doing. We are so lucky to be able to do it. ... You want to rise to the challenge of your peers, and this is one of those rare opportunities where everybody's game is going to be good."
"You never really know what you're gong to learn," Queen Latifah said. "It's always a new experience being around new people and watching them do what they do."
To Danson, the team will work well together because of professionalism. "I think camaraderie is an added bonus. I think being really good actors is what makes everything work well."
The stars haven't been in town long, but they're finding out what makes it tick.
On Friday, Holmes shopped at Target.
"I met some really great people, and it was nice," said Holmes, gesturing with a hand sporting a large diamond ring.
"They did recognize me, and it was a pleasure meeting them. We had nice chats about kids, and it was lovely."
Keaton found the superstore, too. "I've already been twice to Target," she said.
Before coming to Shreveport, Keaton pulled out a map to find out where it was. When she got here, she was surprised by the number of big box stores.
"This has been a big emotional experience for me," Keaton said. "I've noticed that there is a lot of shopping in very large buildings, almost like warehouses. It's pretty astonishing. ... I've noticed that there are not many people in these very large spaces and I keep thinking about the merchandise. I keep thinking, 'Are they selling any of this merchandise?' They must be."
Keaton also looked at the old buildings in downtown Shreveport.
Danson discovered that the four-lane loop around Shreveport keeps confusingly changing names.
Queen Latifah shot "Last Holiday" in New Orleans, and she is enjoying her return to Louisiana.
"Shooting in Louisiana is all right with me," she said. "I find the people to be really warm and they have a lot of pride in the state and the town. They want you to enjoy yourself while you're here."
During the interview at Eldorado Resort Casino, Khouri told her stars to check out Municipal Auditorium.
"This is the home, whether you know it (or not), of the Louisiana Hayride, which was the beginning of Hank Williams," the director said.
"Some of the most incredible country musicians in the world have been passing through Shreveport for years and years. This place is really an incredible seat of some American roots music and country music. You need to go over there."
"I'm going to write that down," Danson said.
"Mad Money" will be shot in Shreveport, but the plot is set in Kansas City, Mo. The movie is being produced by Millennium Films and its partners Big City Films and Lightspeed Media.
Millennium Films already has shot films back to back in Shreveport since October: "Homeland Security" (Antonio Banderas), "Blonde Ambition" (Jessica Simpson) and "Cleaner" (Samuel L. Jackson).