GRETCHEN MOL'S DREAM CAREER HITS FAST TRACK
By AMY LONGSDORF; Times Leader Correspondent
Friday, May 28, 1999 Page:
BEVERLY HILLS- If the rest of the year is anything like the past eight
months, Gretchen Mol is in for some very big times.
Since last fall, Hollywood's newest "It Girl" has appeared on the cover of
Vanity Fair, partnered with Matt Damon in "Rounders" and Leonardo DiCaprio in
"Celebrity," racked up heaps of movie offers and inspired at least a
half-dozen Web sites.
"I never checked any of the sites out," she says. "I'd be too tempted to go
into one of the chat rooms and write, `Gretchen is really great!' I have a
feeling that's exactly what my Dad does with his free time."
To make things ever sweeter, "The Thirteenth Floor," in which Mol plays a
cyberspace femme fatale, opens today. And later this year, she'll be seen in
Jason Alexander's film "Just Looking" and Paul Schrader's "Forever Mine"
opposite Joseph Fiennes ("Shakespeare in Love").
If that weren't enough, Mol has inspired nearly rapturous reviews from
critics. One smitten reporter described her visage as "a face like a
tournament rose dipped in whipped cream." Another dubbed her eyes "emerald
saucers of light."
Director Abel Ferrara, who cast Mol in "The Funeral," once noted that she
was proof that "heaven exists on Earth. I saw her for the first time and was
transported. A rainbow appeared ... and she was at the end of it."
Today, in her suite at the Four Seasons Hotel in Beverly Hills, Mol doesn't
need a rainbow for back-lighting. Wearing a tight, black sun dress and hair
that falls in perfect ringlet curls, she looks like she just stepped off the
pages of a magazine.
Mol, 25, insists she isn't always so luminous. "I remember when I was on
the cover of Vanity Fair, I'd go to the supermarket and walk right by the
magazine racks, and people wouldn't even recognize me. It's because I don't
look (glamorous) when I'm in the supermarket. My hair is never that perfect."
It was Mol's beauty as well as her sense of mystery which captivated the
"Thirteenth Floor" filmmakers.
"We saw many great actresses," says producer Ute Emmerich, whose brother
Roland ("Independence Day") co-produced the movie. "But Gretchen brought
something special to the part. She has this old-fashioned, almost 1930s-style
face. We always looked for a classic Hitchcockian woman, and she has that
In the movie, Mol is a mysterious femme fatale in present-day and 1940s Los
Angeles who plays mind games with our cyberspace-traveling hero (Craig
Bierko), a computer genius who is being framed for the murder of his partner
Before filming began, Mol rented a stack of Hitchcock movies in hopes of
learning how to be a cool blond the likes of Eva Marie Saint, Kim Novak and
Grace Kelly. "After I watched `North By Northwest,' `Vertigo' and `To Catch a
Thief,' it dawned on me that these women don't come on as the care givers.
They just let the action unravel on them," Mol says.
"They're stoic. They had grace. The presence, confidence and strength they
exude is breathtaking. There's a lot of hipness going on in those old movies."
Mol has mixed feelings when she hears herself compared to the screen queens
of yore. "I've been told I remind people of Grace Kelly and Marilyn Monroe,"
she says. "It's funny to me, because those two women are completely different.
It's flattering, but ultimately you are who you are."
So who exactly is Gretchen Mol?
She's a girl from Deep River, Conn., who grew up wanting nothing more than
to be an actress. The child of a broken home, she was "always interested in
performing and dancing and singing."
After high school, Mol moved to New York City, where she worked as an usher
at the Angelika Film Center and as a coat-check girl at a restaurant called
Michael's, which turned out to be a favorite watering hole of theatrical
One day, Mol took a sabbatical from her job, and one of the high-powered
agents missed her. "I took time off to do summer theater," she says. "And the
day I got back, an agent said, `Give me your picture and your resume!' "
In no time, Mol was cast as Girl 12 in Spike Lee's phone-sex comedy "Girl
6." She got a mere 13 seconds of screen time, but she netted somewhat meatier
roles in her next half-dozen movies, including "The Funeral," "Donnie Brasco,"
"The Last Time I Committed Suicide," "Music From Another Room" and the
unreleased "Welcome to Graceland."
But Mol might have been just another pretty face if she hadn't spotted
Miramax honcho Harvey Weinstein at a "Jackie Brown" premiere. She'd already
auditioned for a role in the Miramax movie "Rounders" but assumed that the
mogul decided to go with his first choice, Neve Campbell.
"I thought I wasn't going to play the part," says Mol, who approached
Weinstein at the party just to say there were no hard feelings. "I wasn't
salty about it. I didn't walk up to him with the intention of, `I'll get this
"I just felt the need to discuss the subject. I assumed because this
audition was a big part of my life, it was also a big part of his."
Weinstein was so impressed by Mol's moxie that two days later he offered
her the "Rounders" role. She hasn't stopped working since.
"The hype has a small portion to do with the dream," she says about the
swirl of publicity that has surrounded her success story. "It really is about
getting roles and having the roles get better."
Her mission in Hollywood is "to make the most of the opportunities I
receive and to keep my eye on the ball. It's all about getting in the door.
"From there, you still have to prove it."
Gretchen Mol plays a cyberspace femme fatale in `The Thirteenth Floor.'