Kim has developed from a modest girl into a hollywood star and a sex icon over a period of more than twenty years. Even beyond her middle age years, she still maintains her lovely appearance, and she's still one of America's favorite actresses. The beautiful model turned Oscar winning actress was born and raised in Athens, Georgia, to a jazz musician father and a champion swimmer/model/water ballet performer mother. Kim was so shy as a child that her parents had her tested to see if she was autistic. One thing was for sure; even with her bashfulness, Kim knew she was going to be an actress and she always told her parents so. Since performing is in both her parents' genes, this was not so hard to believe. Basinger took diving, dancing and gymnastics lessons in high school. She was sixteen when she entered the Athens Junior Miss contest, and won by singing a number from My Fair Lady. She later won the Junior Miss Georgia title and moved on to compete in the national Junior Miss pageant held in the Big Apple. It was in New York where Eileen Ford of the Ford Modeling Agency met Kim Basinger and offered her a modeling contract. At first, she refused the offer since her heart was in singing or acting, but she immediately returned to New York after changing her mind while in Georgia.
Basinger had to make quite an adjustment when she moved to New York, as she found that the people there wore a lot of makeup and knew many languages. The different culture and lifestyle of such a fast-paced city like New York was intimidating for a small-town girl such as Basinger, but this didn't stop her from adapting to her new career. She graced dozens of magazine covers and hundreds of ads throughout the early seventies, and was mostly known as the Breck shampoo girl. Kim moved to Los Angeles in 1976 looking for a fresh start where she could break into acting, since she was afraid her acting skills were not being practiced. Though her modeling career was successful, she never ceased to dream of performing, and always made time for acting classes and open-mike-night singing performances at different New York clubs under the stage name "Chelsea".
Her first six months in the city of angels were not so glamorous, as Basinger lived at a motel overlooking the Hollywood Freeway. She finally broke into television with roles in episodes of Charlie's Angels and The Six Million Dollar Man. After a year in L.A., Basinger landed her first role in the short-lived series Cat and Dog, where she was the female in a male-female LAPD patrol team.
Thanks to her performance in NBC's Katie: Portrait of a Centrefold, Basinger won the female lead on the network's 1980 remake of From Here to Eternity and made her feature-film debut in Hard Country. Although she was getting roles, Basinger felt that a spread in Play.boy was necessary to increase her status in the public eye. It definitely did not do harm to her film career. She took on the role of Bond girl Domino in Never Say Never Again opposite Sean Connery, and was a notch in Burt Reynolds' belt in the remake of The Man Who Loved Women.
The roles with Hollywood sex symbols started pouring in. In 1984, she starred in The Natural with Robert Redford and in the sexy box office smash 9 ½ Weeks with Mickey Rourke. It was this film that made Basinger more than a hot property; she was now the key to high ticket sales. In 1989, Basinger starred as Vicky Vale in the huge success Batman, where she was casually involved with the Artist Formerly Known as Prince. Batman was to be her last box office hit for the seven years that followed.
1989 was also the year Basinger purchased the burg Braselton, in Georgia, for $20 million. In 1993, she was sued by Main Line Pictures and had to pay them $8.1 million, which forced her to file for bankruptcy. Even though she reached an out-of-court settlement with Main Line, Basinger was forced to sell her interest in Braselton.
At least she had finally found love in her life, after her marriage with makeup artist Ron Britton failed. In 1994 she married Alec Baldwin after a three-year courtship since meeting on the set of The Marrying Man. In 1995, their first baby was born, which prompted Basinger to take a few years off from her career. She still kept busy with her activism in animal rights organizations such as PETA. She returned to the big screen with a vengeance, which resulted in an Oscar winning performance in L.A. Confidential, co-starring Kevin Spacey and Russell Crowe. She can next be seen in the upcoming summer movie I Dreamed Of Africa, the story of an Italian woman who moves to dangerous Africa.
How Kim Basinger deals with panic
WITH her long blonde hair, porcelain skin and super-fit body, Kim Basinger looks anything but 50.
By the time she takes her seat and says hello in her Southern accent, the Academy Award-winning actor has single-handedly lit up the room at this Santa Monica hotel.
But it soon becomes apparent something is not quite right about Basinger. It's not her golden locks, her manicured nails or impeccable black jacket and matching pants. They are all perfect.
It's her eyes. They are closed.
The veteran of 34 films, former Ford model and 1997 Oscar winner keeps her eyes completely shut.
Not just shut for a blink, or because she has a piece of grit in them. They are tightly closed, and that's how she will keep them for almost the length of the interview.
All the professional polish fails to hide the fact all is not well with Kim Basinger. She is afraid.
It is well known that Basinger has suffered from agoraphobia for most of her adult life. It's a battle she is still fighting.
At their worst, the panic attacks keep Basinger inside her home for up to six months at a time.
So severe was her anxiety as a child, her parents thought she was autistic.
But Basinger has refused to let fear beat her. From the age of 17 - when she left home in Georgia for a modelling career in New York - Basinger has always confronted her demons. And she says acting has been her key to survival.
"Acting has always been so therapeutic," she says. "It has made me face my fears.
"Sometimes I go, 'God, why did you make me an actress?' And all my crew say, 'God, why did you make her an actress? She is a mule'."
Clearly, that's not a view shared by the Hollywood powerbrokers who have kept Basinger in work. And with great reviews for her role in the dark The Door in the Floor and new thriller Cellular, there is no sign of Basinger disappearing any time soon.
In Cellular she plays a mother who is kidnapped and locked away in an attic. She has no idea why she has been taken and spends much of the film frightened and in tears.
All she has is an old phone that she repairs and uses to call a stranger on a mobile (cellular) phone. Their connection is the one thing that keeps her alive.
The harrowing emotions she displays on screen are not unfamiliar to Basinger in her own life, and she readily admits she used them as inspiration.
"If you have been through some pretty horrible experiences with people and if you have ever been threatened in any way . . . I have a very great memory bank. You can go back and grab some of that," she says.
"It takes years to learn to be an actress, to learn how to act, but if you have been pretty savvy through your life, it's all about not wanting to forget, daring to not forget."
There's no doubt Basinger's life is a rich source of material. She has been through a great deal: panic disorder, bankruptcy, legal fights over movies, two divorces, and a bitter dispute with second husband Alec Baldwin over custody of their daughter, Ireland.
That would have been too much for many, but for Basinger the pain has become valuable fuel.
"One day you wake up and go, 'I have the button, I know where I can go to get this emotion'," she says.
"It happened rather quickly for me – I literally woke up one day and knew where the buttons were.
"You come to a place in your life where you really learn what makes you tick as an actress. You find these buttons and you just push them."
Basinger's acting debut was in an episode of Charlie's Angles in 1976. She was a Bond girl in Never Say Never Again in 1983, and 14 years later won a Best Supporting Actress Oscar for LA Confidential.
And she's not finished yet. Basinger wants to do Broadway -- because she is afraid of doing it.
"I have to tackle that because it is a fear of mine," she says.
"I would love to do it. I have been asked many times if I wanted to come to Broadway and do something. So it might be one of those steps in the near future if I could find something I really wanted to do. It would be mortifying, but I have a tendency to go toward anything I fear.
"By the end of my life I want to overcome a long list of challenges."
Kim Basinger's "Cellular"
Kim Basinger is quite the radiant vision. At 51, the Oscar winner has aged beautifully, her tanned skin having shown no sign of aging. All smiles, with her Georgian accent in toe, the stunning Ms Basinger is happy to dish out exercise and dietary advice prior to talking about her intense role in the thriller, Cellular. "Well, if you want to lose a few pounds but you want muscle, you have to fight it with weight, you really do, and you have to do cardio or whatever your favourite is. Mine's running with the elliptical. Everybody loves the elliptical, because they think they can get on it for an hour and watch TV and read, but that's not the key to the elliptical: It's how fast you go because, you're not really running." Basinger, who is obsessed with exercise, says that she goes "really, really fast and I sweat. Usually an hour on, an hour or a little longer on the elliptical. I also lift weights as well as the stability ball."
Looking fit, the actress says that no matter how much exercise and fitness regime she undertakes, when working n a film such as Cellular, nothing can prepare her for the eventualities of injury. "Knowing you're going to do this type of film, there is no way in the world that you're not going to get injured if you're not in shape. I had cuts, I had bruises, and I had everything all over me. You can't be slammed against a mirror, slammed down on a table, or thrown in a room, unless you're somewhat capable of handling that entire balancing act."
In the fast-paced thriller Cellular, Basinger plays Jessica Martin, mysteriously and viciously kidnapped. A random call to a stranger's cell phone results in a furious race against time to save her and her family from imminent execution. While Basinger spends much of the movie alone, she does eventually get physical with her kidnappers, and Basinger certainly wanted those scenes to be as realistic as possible. "Blake Edwards, who loves slapstick, taught me something. I got to be crazy in his films, as I got to fall down, get up, and I knew that I could do that by early on. He was sort of my teacher and you use the same kind of thing in this kind of film. So, in the fight scenes, I told our director, to tell Jason [Statham] I did not want to know what he had planned. Jason and I would come in, kind of look at each other and say hmm, because we didn't know what was about to happen. And I told him to please tell Jason I want to be surprised, because it would make it more real."
For Basinger, the key element in this film, she says, is to make her character and situation identifiable to an audience. "God forbid I've never been in one of these situations before and I think that you know we're at a time in our existence on this planet where we have heard the word, especially as a Mom, kidnapping and that has become such a big word. This is just a movie, thank God, but kidnapping is a very real thing and I just try to make it as real as possible. I was thrown in the attic, and I wanted you to be thrown in there as an audience." Basinger, who can still afford to be selective, says that she was drawn to Cellular because she "loved the isolation that character had. It was more like a play for me and that's a challenge I've never done. It's one of my biggest fears, to do a play, and maybe one day I will because I love to face my fears, but I thought that was great."
While Basinger gets down and dirty here, there is no sign of the sexy, glamorous film star on screen that we are used to. Basinger says that she has her own philosophy on being a sex symbol and sexiness in general. "I don't have a thing about sexiness at any age. I think the Europeans taught me more about that than anything in the world. They have a great appreciation of sex, and sex symbols, and they taught me not to be ashamed of it. When I first came to this town, and they threw me in that kind of image, it's a very difficult place to be put and it's twice as hard to prove yourself as an actress. It takes a long time to be taken really seriously, especially in America. I mean beauty is in the eye of the beholder and what's beautiful to him may not be beautiful to her, or whatever. But whenever you are put into a category like that, of course it's different, and it makes for other problems within you. If you start getting complexes that you won't look the role, you can't play the chancellor of a University or a head of this, you can't do this, and when that's put in your head long enough you, it becomes a hurdle for you."
Basinger has learned to overcome such hurdles, now that she is a member of that elite Oscar club, but says that as she becomes older, how she chooses a role clearly changes. "I think you get more opportunities in different ways. I think as I've got older, I've got more interesting opportunities. I wish so much that America would have more of a European take to aging." The actress even admits that there are times when she is ready to put acting and Hollywood behind her. "I think I've gone through that every month, since I started, and every month that's gone by."
Basinger is more content being a single mother, doting as she does on her nine-year old, a brown belt at karate. "You know, the funny thing about my daughter, is she's such a sweet girl that she has to go through this thing where she's sparring and she has a tough time with that. She doesn't want to hit anybody. She doesn't want to BE hit, but they don't want to hit either, which is a tough part of karate to get through." But Basinger's daughter has more on her mind than getting physical or following her mother's footsteps on the screen. "My daughter has wanted to be one thing only since she was probably two years old, and that's a veterinarian." Given her mother's passion for animal rights, the actress is delighted. "I am thrilled to death and she's got her school picked out. I think she's had enough of this business, really. I love it because she'll be nine in October and if you're not into Chad Michael Murray or Hillary Duff, you're left in the dark."
Basinger is still very much into her animal activism. "It's consuming and is never over unfortunately, with the pain and the things that happen." While Basinger appears confident as we speak, she finally reveals that is in fact relatively shy and insecure. While she may have gracefully accepted her Best Supporting Actress Oscar for LA Confidential, when it comes to speaking at her daughter's school, fear sets in, but at least she has her child to help her face those fears. "She really pushes me out of that shyness, and once when I had to speak at her school, I wore the jeans, got up there and made the speech. I was quite proud of myself when I walked out."
Kim Basinger calling...
While TV's "24" simply could not exist without the cell phone, that wonderful invention is the actual plot hook in "Cellular." The suspense thriller starring Kim Basinger underperformed at the box office in September, but it deserves better and gets another chance when it hits DVD on Tuesday (New Line, 95 mins., PG-13, $27.95).
For once, Basinger's nervous, uncertain screen presence is appropriate. She plays a dutiful mother who is snatched with her little boy from their home. The brutal kidnappers want something from her husband, but she has no idea what.
While locked in a strange attic, she manages to wire up a smashed phone and make a Hail Mary call to anyone out there. She reaches the Nokia of a 20-ish girl-watcher (Chris Evans of "Not Another Teen Movie"), who shifts from skeptical to heroically helpful when he realizes the woman crying for help is not kidding. He must race to find her without losing the signal.
First-time director David R. Ellis was second-unit director on the first "Harry Potter" and the second "Matrix," so he knows how to keep the action moving. He and writers Larry Cohen and Chris Morgan lay out their strategy in a joint commentary. (Cohen previously explored his telephone fixation with the 2002 hit "Phone Booth.")
The disk also has deleted scenes and three featurettes. One of them takes a look at how cell phones work.
Kim Basinger Jumps into Gambling Ensemble
Kim Basinger, Danny DeVito and Forest Whitaker have been lured into the world of addiction.
The trio has signed on for the indie ensemble drama "Jump Shot," to be directed by "On Golden Pond" helmer Mark Rydell, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
Based on a script by Robert Tannen, the project centers on three intertwining stories of strangers who are brought together as gambling and drugs destroy their lives. Nick Cannon, Carla Gugino, Jay Mohr, Kelsey Grammer and Ray Liotta also star.
"Jump Shot" begins shooting in Los Angeles on Tuesday, Jan. 18.
Whitaker, 43, last appeared in "Phone Booth" and is currently filming another ensemble drama, "American Gun," which revolves around unconnected people who are affected by the proliferation of guns in the U.S.
DeVito, 60, last appeared in "Big Fish" and is currently filming the indie comedy "The OH in Ohio." He next stars opposite John Travolta and Uma Thurman in the "Get Shorty" sequel "Be Cool," which will be released in March.
The Oscar-winning Basinger, 51, starred in both "The Door in the Floor" and "Cellular" in 2004.
Kim Basinger Conducts White House Affair
"Cellular" star Kim Basinger is about to get a booty call from Michael Douglas.
The 51-year-old actress will play the First Lady, who has an affair with a Secret Service agent played by Michael Douglas in "The Sentinel," according to The Hollywood Reporter.
Based on the book by Gerald Petievich, the 20th Century Fox thriller centers on Douglas' character becoming a suspect in a plot to assassinate the president when another agent is murdered. Kiefer Sutherland also stars as another Secret Service agent whose loyalty is questioned.
"S.W.A.T." helmer Clark Johnson will direct the project, based on George Nolfi's script.
Basinger won a supporting actress Oscar for "L.A. Confidential" and next will begin shooting the ensemble gambling drama "Jump Shot" alongside Danny DeVito, Forest Whitaker and Nick Cannon.