I can't hear Lili Taylor, says Suzan Colón.

PHOTOGRAPHY BY CLIFF WATTS

Lili in Jane magazine
"I wrote 63 songs this year. They're all about Joe," says Corey, Lili Taylor's character in Say Anything, "and I'm going to play every single one of them tonight." Her angst was just so real that the moment is indelibly connected to the woman I'm about to interview; never mind that the movie is 10 years old.

Since then, the intense and versatile Lili has been a reluctant bride in Mystic Pizza, a prize-winningly ugly date in Dogfight and a vicious kidnapper in Ransom. Whether the role is large or small, indie or mainstream, she fuels up on coffee and cigarettes and writes pages of notes about who her character should be.

Lili arrives at her favorite bistro in her West Village, New York, neighborhood wearing a pink sweater, a long white skirt and a Hello Kitty watch on her wrist. She speaks like a sandy cross between Marge Gunderson of Fargo and Nat the dog-walker on Mad About You. Because it's such a nice day we sit outside. We never thought it would be so noisy.

So do people come up to you and sing the songs that you did in Say Anything?

They do, yeah. That's weird. I mean, that movie's a real strong one still.

You've been around for a long time, but you never seem to age.

I'm 32 now, so maybe it's my genes. My mom seems pretty young for her age; my dad, too. And I've been blessed with nice muscles and low body fat.

You're the second-youngest of six kids?

Lili in Jane magazine
Mmm-hmm, yeah. I love coming from a big family. It always felt like something was going on. They were a lot older than me, so there was a lot of [sound of car horn honking] and little adventures. My brother would wake me up at, like, 3 in the morning and bring me to Dunkin' Donuts.

Why did you want to become an actor?

I don't know. I just always wanted to. I feel it's like a calling, I do. It's something bigger than me, and I'm just following it.

So what's your situation in your next movie, The Haunting?

Well, my character's a hero, she really is. She starts out passive and ends up confronting stuff and taking charge. That's what really attracted me. And I do think that when scary movies are done well, that's good for us in some way, psychologically.

Have you ever been nervous about acting?

There have been times, yeah. Like when I was playing Valerie Solanas in I Shot Andy Warhol. I'm glad they're not that apparent.

Valerie headed a one-woman group called the Society for Cutting Up Men and was considered a kind of, um, radical feminist. Are you a feminist?

Yeah, though I'm not sure what it means to me. It's interesting, the changes feminism has gone through. There's an insidious backlash [garbage truck rumbles by] new crop of male magazines putting naked women on the cover. It's something you have to keep your eye open for, because the men's magazines must just be one aspect.

In an interview you did with Sharon Stone in The New York Times a couple of years ago, her advice to you to get ahead in business was to wear a low-cut dress and put on makeup. How did you feel about that?

[Smiling] I disagreed. I didn't go into it in that interview because I didn't think it was the right place. But I think that's part of the problem - there's such a limited view of the possibilities that are open for a woman to succeed, and to me, that's diminishing to my integrity. It's sad to think that a woman has to go there as opposed to [a cement truck parks right near us].

I heard you were doing a movie on the life of Janis Joplin. What's up with that?

I'm working on it. I'm combing her biographies, and I feel like we're very close to finishing the script. It's got to be right, though, or it's not worth it.

[Shouting now] What do you like to do besides work?

I hope that putt-putty truck finishes mixing that cement soon! Anyway, I really love hanging out here in New York. I've been lucky to [truck noises] ... gone for six months, y'know. All I want to do is relax, just stroll around the neighborhood.

Are relationships more trouble than they're worth?

No. I used to think so. But I think if you're in the same boat, then they're good. I don't think you have to suffer. If you can both step up to the plate and go through it with some amount of grace, that union can be really nice.

What is your life most full of, and what do you want there to be more of?

My life is full of [police siren wailing] work stuff. I'd like to have more time to do volunteer work. I think [siren comes closer] ... is important for me, and I think that if I could do more of it, I'd be a lot better off. Things can feel, sometimes, too important. I think that some kind of service puts things in perspective--[wailing of siren ultimately drowns out Lili].

If you or any of your loved ones feel cheated by the missing dialogue in this interview, complain about the noise to: NYC Department of Environmental Protection, 718-337-4357.


Jane Magazine
August 1999
copyright Fairchild Publications, inc.

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