"Rebecca's an intelligent woman who understood where she was when she walked onto this movie," says Godsend director Nick Hamm, who has served as resident director of England's Royal Shakespeare Company. "She's a very beautiful woman in an industry that punishes that and oftentimes doesn't credit the abilities that go along with it. You can name several models-turned-actresses-Charlize Theron is one-whose career line has been progressively more interesting as people have gotten used to the fact that these girls can really act."
In Godsend's bleaker-than-standard take on a psychological thriller, Romijn and Greg Kinnear are the parents of an eight-year-old boy who’s killed in an accident, and Robert De Niro is the doctor who offers to clone him. The medical experiment will go awry, with substantial cinematic chills (Hamm and the producers were fretfully juggling endings until late in the editing process). But much of what the actress undertakes as a grieving mother is straight-up naturalistic acting. "When things start going wrong," says Romijn, "and he [the clone son] starts getting a little nutty, she becomes like the protective lioness; she's in full-on denial, because she doesn't care about anything except that she's gotten her son back. She's just got blinders on."
"Part of the job of the director is to make actors equal," says Hamm, taking a coffee break outside an editing suite in the Hollywood "flats." "You ain’t hugging De Niro the first day." But, he adds, "Rebecca is somebody for whom this is just the beginning. Because no one has seen her act in something so deep. She had a couple of complicated scenes with De Niro that were straight acting, no scariness, nothing to help out other than the situation. And she and Bob were wonderful onscreen. They very much clicked."
Romijn appreciated costar Kinnear's accomplished underplaying ("he's the king of subtlety," she says), and he reciprocates: "In some ways, coming from the modeling background that she did, she probably has to work harder to break these preconceived notions . . . and she worked really hard on this role, but never in a way that looked affected. She has a really strong, natural ability that makes an impact without feeling forced."
That knack as well as her stamina were tested one weekend when Romijn had to depart Godsend's Toronto set to shoot some final scenes for X2 director Bryan Singer. "She [was] amazing," says Singer. "She had eleven hours of travel, went out into zero degree weather in her makeup-which is like being naked in the snow-in the Canadian Rockies with no sleep, did her scenes, and then traveled back to work on the De Niro film the next day. And she was giggling and telling Brian De Palma stories the entire time."
Singer's tribute brings a chortle from the actress: "He conveniently forgot the moment where I was bent over a chair and they were spraying paint between my ass cheeks, and he handed me a glass of white wine and told me to stop crying."
Original article: Premiere Magazine April 2004