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Interview with Nora Dunn at the Premiere of "Runaway Jury"


Former "Saturday Night Live" cast member Nora Dunn plays one of the jurors impaneled to sit and hear evidence in 20th Century Fox’s "Runaway Jury."

This was actually the second time I’ve had the opportunity to interview Dunn at a movie premiere and once again she proved to be a gracious, quick-witted interviewee. Here’s what the talented actress had to say about working with the large "Runaway Jury" cast and changing the subject matter from tobacco to guns:


You play the role of a juror with a bit of a drinking problem.
Yes, I do. I prepared for the part by drinking, but I was sober when I was performing (laughing). It was a fun role; it was fun to be in a drama. It was fun to be with a lot of great improvisational actors. We were pretty much locked up together, which was great.

I understand director Gary Fleder allowed a lot of improv among the actors who played the jurors.
He did, and I’m sure it’s a lot of stuff that isn’t in the movie. We sat around that table in the jury room and it really gave us a lot of rehearsal time. A lot of stuff that we shot was really rehearsal stuff. It was fun to see the characters emerge from everybody.

And you get to work opposite John Cusack?
Oh, God. He’s a dream. He is something. I’ve always thought he was a great actor but I’d never gotten to work with him. I did one one-on-one scene with him and we got to shoot it so many times and he did it different every time so I got to do it different every time. It was like a great acting exercise.

Were you familiar with the book prior to filming?
I read the book after I read the script. No movie should try to make a novel, and I think the script was faithful in that it really, really developed and got the characters of the jury. The book is very much about the jury. They did a good job and as an actor, you have to have your history. You have to bring your history with you. It was in the book. My character was in the book pretty much as she was in the script, only in a condensed form.

What do you think about the change from the tobacco to the gun industry?
I think they probably did that because of "The Insider." The gun issue is a big unresolved issue in this country right now. I think it’s out of control. I think the gun manufacturers should start being afraid. You can’t open an aspirin bottle if you’re a kid but you can fire a gun at someone.

Do you like doing dramas?
I love drama. I started out doing drama. I did classical theater. I did a lot of theater before I started doing performance art/comedy stuff. I never thought I was funny but I enjoy being funny. I’m hoping to do more drama.

You really never thought of yourself as funny?
Well, not funny funny. I’m a writer so I like to write and then perform it. When I’m with my friends I’m funny, but I don’t feel like I’m a funny clown. Actually, years ago I was a runway model and I used to get laughs. They would laugh and at first I was offended, then I thought, "Hey, maybe there’s something to that." I thought it was a joke anyway.

Next up you've got "Laws of Attraction." What's your character in that movie?
I play a judge in that, and actually there’s a little history to her. That is a wonderful script. That is kind of an homage to "Adam's Rib" with Julianne Moore playing the Katherine Hepburn part and Pierce Brosnan - oh my goodness. It is a wonderful cast: Parker Posey, Michael Sheen, it’s wonderful. We shot it in Ireland and it’s beautiful.

John Cusack ('Nick Easter'), Rachel Weisz ('Marlee'), and Dustin Hoffman ('Wendell Rohr')
Bruce Davison ('Defense Attorney Cable')
Cliff Curtis ('Frank Herrera')

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