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Angela Bassett
Angela Bassett
Angela Bassett at a press junket for Olympus Has Fallen | Paula Schwartz Photo

History was made yesterday when a woman was appointed as head of the Secret Service.

In that way, director Antoine Fuqua’s “Olympus Has Fallen” is prophetic. My first reaction when I saw the film, in which Angela Bassett plays the Secret Service chief, was that could never happen in real life.

But this was not Bassett’s reaction, who noted at the movie’s junket that art can show you “what the world can look like,” she said. “You know, it doesn’t have to be one particular thing. We saw that in [1998’s] ‘Deep Impact’ with Morgan as our President. Whoo? What? … Well, a director of the Secret Service can look like a woman.”

Bassett’s role is intriguing because she plays such a very strong woman. When asked if Hillary Clinton inspired her, Bassett replied, “Take her definitely as inspiration … It’s women who have a strong voice and stepped out.”

Bassett was also inspired by Shirley Chisholm, who ran for president In 1972, and brought up Barbara Jordan, the first African-American congresswoman elected to the Texas Senate in 1966.

While there’s a lot of hand to hand combat and gunplay in “Olympus Has Fallen,” Bassett’s role is a cerebral one with no fight scenes. This is unlike Melissa Leo, who plays Secretary of Defense and gets beat up and kicked around by terrorists.

Was Bassett jealous that she didn’t get to do any fight scenes? “I would have liked too but, yeah, it’d have to be the fight scene because I certainly wouldn’t want to be Melissa Leo,” Bassett laughed.

She was also asked her first reaction to the script and the story of kidnapping and attacking the President. What drew her to the role?

“That he [director Antoine Fuqua] was going to turn this character, make it into a woman,” she said, adding that she was also intrigued by her relationship with Gerard Butler’s character, a disgraced Secret Service agent who tries to redeem himself and who Bassett’s character never loses faith in.

“A lot of times, I’ve been drawn towards the relationships or the heroic aspects of it, of humanity, of going through something and then rising to the challenge in spite of it,” she said. “Those are the characters I like, that I’m drawn to. I don’t know if it’s my history, or growing up or whatever, but going through something and being resilient, fighting that, back against the wall, that’s what I’m drawn to.”

She added, “And not so much just blowing up and make believe or whatever … I like people and I like humanity and us rising to the challenge … that was part of this world, so that’s what attracted me.”

Read more of Bassett’s thoughts at Showbiz411.

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Paula Schwartz
Paula Schwartz is a veteran journalist based in New York who is passionate about the movies. Her idea of heaven is watching three movies in a row. She’s written for various outlets, including the New York Times, Showbiz411, More and MovieMaker Magazine. For five seasons, she contributed to the New York Times seasonal movie blog, Carpetbaggers, where she covered major awards events and interviewed stars like Angelina Jolie, Brad Pitt, Gary Oldman and Helen Mirren.

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