Tanit Phoenix first turned the heads of genre fans last year when she starred in Lost Boys: The Thirst and Death Race 2. But she’s since attracted a much wider audience with her role as Lilith, the hostess of Cinemax’s Friday-night anthology series Femme Fatales (which will return for 13 new second-season episodes in 2012). I had the good fortune to meet Phoenix on the Femme Fatales set earlier this summer, and the gorgeous South African native told me a little about her character, her fondness for The Twilight Zone, her upcoming dinosaur movie, and, of course, her greatest fear. Find out what Phoenix had to say after the jump.
This may be the only first-run anthology series on the air right now. But it’s also unique in that it’s the first anthology series to be hosted by a woman.
You’re right. [Laughs.]
Can you talk a little bit about that? You’re mining new territory here.
They’ve likened me to Rod Serling, which is really funny, because he’s an old dude. [Laughs.]
He’s younger than the Crypt Keeper.
Yes, he is. [Laughs.] I used to watch The Twilight Zone when I was a kid, and I very much liked it. Yeah, it’s empowering. She’s the most favored of all the Femme Fatales. She’s the hostess that knows the mostess about everything that’s going on. I find that interesting about her character, and I would love for them to explore that. Because it seems there’s so much more going on with her, and the reason why she knows everything. But they write each episode as they go. I myself don’t know where this is all leading to. But on the 13th show of the first season, Lilith unveiled herself a little more.
Do you have a favorite episode from among those that have aired?
I like the 13th episode the most, because you got to see more of who she was. It seems to me like she’s been trapping these girls to do her bidding. Again, I wish they could have explored more of that this time around. But we’ll have to wait and see how it turns out.
You get to explore a lot of different genres with this show – crime, horror, sci-fi. Do you have a favorite?
I like the crime stories. I’m a big fan of CSI. Actually we’re doing one next week based on that. So I’d like to explore more of that. I know that we were going into more of the fantasy-horror stuff, but they’ve pulled away from that, because I don’t think that’s the direction that they want to go in. So they’re sticking with the film noir and the crime stuff.
Do you know if, in the second season, Lilith will become a more active participant in the stories?
Should I be honest, or should I lie? [Laughs.] You see less of Lilith in each show than you did in the first season. I’m not quite sure why. She only introduces and ends the show. She has much more to say in her introductions, but the character, in each episode, they don’t explore so much anymore. I think that has to do with timing. Because I know that I’m leaving soon, so they have a certain time with me here. I’m not really sure how they’re gonna play this out. I’m set to film other stuff, so they flew me in and I’ve been here for a month, and they are pushing these episodes so much quicker than they ever have before. So I think they’re really pressed for time, and they’re trying to think of smart ways to get my stuff done so they can carry one with everything else. We’ve been pre-shooting a lot of the stuff, and they’re going to carry on with the episodes once I’ve left.
Can you say what else you’re working on now?
I just finished Safe House with Denzel Washington. I have another film called Latin Quarter based on London and Paris back in the late 1800s, about Pablo Picasso. Then I’ve got another film coming out – I can’t tell you what it is, but there are going to be a lot of dinosaurs involved. It’s an American film shooting in South Africa. It’s The Flintstones meets Clueless. It’s very funny. I was reading the script and I was quite amused.
Is it like Caveman, the Ringo Starr movie?
Everyone’s asked me that! I don’t know because I haven’t seen it. [Laughs.] But this film is a spinoff of a popular series in Britain that’s doing extremely well. So they’re making a feature film based on it.
In real life, what’s your greatest fear?
Okay, well, I was raised in airplanes. I tried to jump out when I was six years old and I had to have my foot strapped it. So I have no fear of heights. I have no fear of death, because my dad was a medic who educated me very well in spirituality and religion and how we’re all made of energy and we’re all connected and how, when we do go, we’ll go to another place and be reborn into something else. I’m not afraid of spiders. I’m a nature girl; I was raised on a farm in Africa. But I am afraid of real-life blood. If I see someone bleeding, I can’t deal with it. I don’t know how I’m going to be a mom. Because if a kid comes to me with a scratched knee I’ll be on the floor passed out. The kid will be like, “Dad, Mom’s passed out again!”