Jill Ritchie, co-star of the "D.E.B.S." Movie!
Jill Ritchie grew up in Romeo, about an hour north of Detroit. She attended Romeo High School where she did lots of theatre. She attended DePaul University's Theatre School for a year before transferring to USC where she graduated with a B.A. in Theatre. Jill Ritchie is sister of Kid Rock.
Jill Ritchie: All-girl, all-action
D.E.B.S. IS AN ALL-GIRL CRIME-FIGHTING SPOOF WITH A LESBIAN TWIST. STACY FARRAR SPEAKS TO DIRECTOR ANGELA ROBINSON.
Angela Robinson is living every budding filmmaker’s dream. A couple of years ago she received a small grant from a women’s film collective to make a short all-girl crime-fighting team spoof with a lesbian twist, which led to a $5m contract with Sony to turn the short into a feature. That feature, D.E.B.S., inspired Walt Disney studios to contract Robinson to direct the $50m Herbie: Fully Loaded, a Lindsay Lohan and Matt Dillon feature due for Australian release in July.
If it sounds like a fairytale, take a moment to consider the quality of D.E.B.S. It’s slick, it has quality actors doing quality acting and it is genuinely funny. Robinson even manages to buy some stunts and good sets with her meagre (for Hollywood) budget.
It’s also the perfect film for queer Charlie’s Angels fans because, as Robinson says, it brings the lesbian subtext so often seen in girls-go-wild movies onto centre stage.
“I totally do that,” she says. “It brings it to the forefront.”
“I really love girl-power action movies but I always wanted the girls to get together with each other as opposed to with the guys. I decided to write my own because I didn’t see it happening in already existing films.”
D.E.B.S. (the letters stand for Discipline Energy Beauty Strength) tells the story of four high school girls who are chosen through a special section of the SAT exam to attend an elite crime-fighting academy.
The four checked skirt-wearing crime-fighting machines are Amy (Sara Foster), Max (Meagan Good), Dominique (Devon Aoki) and Janet (Jill Ritchie). All four have special skills and weaknesses. Amy is perfect but not sure about whether she wants to be an agent, Max is feisty but jealous, Dominique is a beautiful chain-smoking promiscuous French girl and Janet is sweet but dumb.
Their nemesis is young lesbian crime-lord Lucy Diamond (Jordana Brewster of The Fast And The Furious fame). The four D.E.B.S. are assigned to Diamond’s case but things go awry when Amy falls in love with her hot, evil enemy.
Robinson’s 2003 short film version of D.E.B.S. was funded by Power Up, a non-profit organisation made up of gay and straight women who offer financial support for other women in entertainment.
Sony backed the feature on the strength of the short film and feature script, and Robinson was able to assemble a great cast of up-and-coming actors – for example Devon Aoki, the former catwalk model who appeared in 2 Fast 2 Furious – and seasoned professionals like Holland Taylor, who plays the D.E.B.S. Academy headmistress.
“We had a barrage of great people who wanted to be on the project,” Robinson said.
“It was cool because a lot of actresses really responded to the material and thought the parts were lots of fun.”
The film has screened at Sundance Film Festival and the Berlinale in Berlin. It is also scheduled for cinema release in the US in March, which Robinson – who is currently in post-production of Herbie: Fully Loaded – is very excited about.
“I’m really psyched about it. It was a big labour of love and I’m really happy with how it turned out. I can’t wait for it to hit theatres and for big audiences to see it.”
D.E.B.S. screens as part of the Mardi Gras Film Festival on Saturday 26 February from 7:30pm at the Palace Academy Twin Cinema, Oxford St, Paddington. The Festival runs until Thursday 3 March.
Jill Ritchie: Discipline Energy Beauty Strength
D.E.B.S. opens with quick-fire scene-setting narration by Gravelly Voiceover Man that makes you think you’re watching a trailer; it explains that D.E.B.S. (an acronym for Discipline, Energy, Beauty and Strength) is an underground organisation of secret agents that recruits elite young women through the use of a test hidden in the S.A.T. exam. The current top squad includes “perfect score girl” Amy (Sara Foster), tough-talking group leader Max (Meagan Goode), ditzy goodie-goodie Janet (Jill Ritchie) and chain-smoking French sex-fiend Dominique (Devon Aoki, from < ahref= review_1621.html>2 Fast 2 Furious).
The squad (kitted out in regulation skimpy schoolgirl outfits which include ultra-short plaid skirts) are assigned to stake out Evil Mastermind Lucy Diamond (Jordana Brewster) after the academy discovers she is due to meet a Russian assassin named Ninotchka (Jessica Cauffiel). However, it turns out that Lucy is actually on a blind date and when Amy comes face-to-face with Lucy during a shoot-out, she finds herself more than a little flustered…
Robinson directs with a snappy sense of pace and the colourful production values are impressive, particularly given the film’s relatively low budget. The tone is appropriately campy and tongue-in-cheek but the film is careful enough to keep a straight face throughout and never resorts to mugging or cheap gags.
As a result, it’s frequently very funny and there are lots of nice throwaway jokes, such as Lucy’s inexplicable grudge against Australia, which she once “tried to drown”.
Jill Ritchie: Acting Extremely Good
The acting is extremely good. Sara Foster makes an appealing lead and there’s surprisingly strong chemistry between her and Jordana Brewster (who’s very reminiscent of a young Demi Moore).
Jill Ritchie (who was also in the original short) gets most of the good lines (“Perfect score? Perfect whore, more like”) and there’s also good work from Devon Aoki and Holland Taylor as the school’s headmistress. Also notable is Jimmi Simpson as Lucy’s sidekick, who provides quality comic support and will doubtless go on to bigger things, as he has a bit of a Christian Slater thing going on.
In short, this is a likeable, well made, frequently hilarious flick that has obvious cult potential. It will inevitably draw comparisons to Charlie’s Angels, but it’s a lot more original than that makes it sound, largely because it treats its central relationship seriously and ends up being pleasingly subversive as a result. Highly recommended.
Jill Ritchie plays in ''Seeing Other People''
Sharply scripted, well cast and good-looking on a budget, "Seeing Other People" is a sex comedy full of insights about monogamy, promiscuity and other human endeavors. Husband-wife filmmaking team Wally Wolodarsky and Maya Forbes bring impressive credentials to their first collaboration: He began his career as a writer for "The Tracy Ullman Show," she for "The Larry Sanders Show." The winning mix of outrageousness and understated character observation that characterized those series is in full evidence in this indie project.
Ed (Jay Mohr) and Alice (Julianne Nicholson) have been together five years and enjoy the kind of familiarity and ease that involves shopping together for shampoo. At their engagement party, Alice sees a friend sneak into a bedroom to thrash around with a stranger and becomes obsessed with her inadequate sexual history. Ed's heartfelt reassurances do nothing to quiet her panic over missed opportunities, and she proposes that they see other people during the months before their wedding. Though he has no interest in doing so, Ed finally consents to her plan, and is shocked when Alice brings him news of having made out with someone. At first Alice's dalliance reignites the passion between her and Ed. Before long, though, he's behaving like a sex addict while she, rather than enjoying the "slut days" she dreamed of, is saddled with a clingy boyfriend (Matt Davis).
The leads do fine work as a couple losing control of their experiment, and they receive strong support. Bryan Cranston ("Malcolm in the Middle") and Lauren Graham ("Gilmore Girls") are spot-on nasty as Alice's besotted Brit brother-in-law and cynical sister, a couple bound by money and mutual hatred. Andy Richter plays a sad-sack good guy who falls for a neurotic single mom (Helen Slater); Josh Charles delivers a compelling combo of slickness and vulnerability as sitcom writer Ed's agent; and Jill Ritchie throws a great tantrum as a young crack-smoking waitress Ed is seeing. There are cameos from musicians Liz Phair and Korn's Jonathan Davis and from Mimi Rogers, who seems in danger of being typecast as the lascivious and wealthy older woman. The digital camerawork makes the most of a range of L.A. locations for a lived-in but striking look that echoes the material's heady blend of satire and compassion.
Jill Ritchie stars in ''Breakin' All The Rules''
“Breaking up is hard to do”…unless you have a handbook.
For director Daniel Taplitz, Breakin’ All The Rules evolved from a character study of one of his best friends. “I had a friend who was quite a ladies’ man,” he remembers. “And he had this thing where he would go out with women but was so paranoid about the relationship that he would often break up with them if he suspected they were going to break up with him first. He had all these rules for how he could call, when he could call, when he could break up – and I always thought it was fascinating that he had codified it to some degree.”
Coincidentally, Taplitz came across some employee termination research, which outlined the best possible ways to fire employees without getting into a dangerous situation. “The research is extensive,” he continues. “There are many books written on the subject in great detail – what to say, when to say it, where to say it – it’s a real science. I started thinking about my friend and his rules, and how people are so bad at breaking up with each other. So I combined the ideas of ‘how to fire someone’ with ‘how to break up’ and came up with the premise for the script. It’s basically a ‘how to fire’ a boyfriend or girlfriend, using the employee techniques of how to fire an employee without making them go postal.” And so Breakin’ All The Rules was born.
Jamie Foxx was Taplitz’s first choice for the role of Quincy. “Jamie has so many instincts and he’s sort of a free-flowing brain,” he says of the actor, “but I’ve never seen him do a romantic part and I always thought that he would be great at that.”
Foxx read the script and quickly responded. He not only liked it, but the whole idea of a breakup handbook spoke to him. “I read the script and it got me thinking,” says Foxx. “It’s the hardest thing in the world – when you really love a person, but you know that this is as far as it’s gonna go. So you start leaving all these signs like not answering the phone or not showing up – that’s such a male way of doing things, but that’s how we handle it. A book telling us how to handle a breakup is just what men need.”
Foxx’s interest excited producer Lisa Tornell because she thought it might be difficult to find the actor who could believably play Quincy with a comedic flair yet also have that romantic lead magnetism. “A lot of times you get one or the other,” she says of her search for the perfect fit. “But Jamie is so naturally funny with an amazing comic ability, and he hasn’t had a chance to play the romantic lead yet. His performance in Ali was so committed and so great that we thought ‘if he can do that that believably, and he can be funny that believably, he can probably do anything.’ And in the end, he does – he’s funny, holds the screen and has real romantic guy presence.”
The next role to be cast was Evan, the real hound of the pair – the one who just can’t commit. Or as Jamie describes his co-star character, “the young black, smooth brother who wants to be a player but does it all wrong.” Morris Chestnut quickly won the role. “Morris seemed like the right person for the role and hadn’t been used in that way, which I found refreshing,” says Taplitz. “He has such natural sympathy to him – you look at him and want to take him home to meet your parents! So putting him in the stronger, more arrogant role and coupling that with his natural appeal would allow the audience to connect with him.”
For Chestnut, he was attracted to the free-spiritedness of his character of Evan. He liked the fact that he says what’s on his mind, lives for the moment and is just having fun; yet his professional life remains very structured. “I know a lot of Evans,” says Chestnut of his character. “One of my close friends is an Evan. He can’t stay with a woman more than two weeks. This is pretty common among men because a lot of them get bored easily with women for whatever reason. Then it’s hard to break up with them because they think they’re in this serious relationship, and then suddenly, they’re being let go.” Working with longtime friend Jamie Foxx was another motivator for Chestnut since they have a close off-screen rapport. It was a great opportunity to bring that to the screen. “I really looked forward to working with Jamie,” he says. “I like to just sit and watch him work and see the process that he goes through. I have a lot of respect for him. He’s a true professional.”
The role of Nicky seemed tailor-made for Gabrielle Union. “Gabrielle is gorgeous and has a center to her, which is a perfect foil to Jamie,” says Taplitz. “Off screen, you can see him actually sitting up straighter and having better manners when he’s in the same room with her!” Says Union, “I was like Nicky about fifteen years ago, but all it took was getting broken up with one time and it never happened again. I vowed I would never again be the victim.”
Union feels that many women go through the ‘if I just change something about myself or about my life, I’m gonna keep this man,’ and that is exactly what Nicky ends up doing – cutting her hair to shock Evan. But it backfires. “Women often will make excuses for men,” says the actress. “They become obsessed with keeping that man, no matter how badly it’s going as opposed to being alone
With the three leads in place, the film was coming together. The filmmakers next approached Peter MacNicol for the role of Phillip, the owner of a magazine publishing company that he inherited from his father. He is a weak, helpless man who is trying desperately to break up with his barracuda of a girlfriend, Rita. But no matter what he says or how he says it, his girlfriend just won’t have it. So he seeks the advice of Quincy to help him find just the right way to break up with her. “This movie is a romantic comedy but very old-fashioned in its structure, very classical and elegant,” says MacNicol. “It’s a throwback feeling to movies of another era, complete with mistaken identities and smart wit. That’s what drew me to this project. It was really the script.”
Jennifer Esposito was cast in the role of Rita Monroe. “Rita is a very aggressive woman who is going after exactly what she wants,” says Esposito. “It happens to be money and she has no apologies for that. And when she finds out that Phillip has paid someone for advice on how to break up with her because of her overbearing nature, Rita tries to intercept and creates a hilarious triangle.”
Rounding out the cast are Bianca Lawson, who plays Helen, and Jill Ritchie, who plays Amy. “Helen is fun, dramatic and over-the-top,” says Lawson of her character. “I haven’t done this kind of comedy before so I thought it’d be fun to just let loose.” For Jill Ritchie, playing the role of the best friend attracted her for many reasons. “Amy thinks that Nicky and Evan should be married and that they’re a beautiful couple, and she just lives her love story through them because she has no love life of her own. Amy is one of those people who loves love, and I related to that.”
Set against the backdrop of the magazine publishing world, Breakin’ All The Rules was shot completely on location in Los Angeles. And in the end, the cast all took away a little something about how to break up with someone. “There’s no surefire way to break up with somebody. It’s the challenge that we will have for the rest of our existence. How to stay in love and how to deal with it when you fall out of love are both things that we’ll never be able to have all the answers to, but we can offer a lot of suggestions,” replies Foxx. “No matter how you slice it, when you get cut from the team, it’s gonna hurt!”