COOL ON THE SURFACE, STEAMY UNDERNEATH
an interview with monique parent
(from the archives of Ziggy's Video Realm)
For fans of erotic thrillers, Monique Parent needs no introduction. Dubbed “the thinking man’s sex symbol” and with over 100 film credits to her name, Monique has truly established herself as La Crème de la Femmes Fatale. In this interview conducted near the end of 2003, she discusses everything from her career to the differences between what’s “erotic” and what’s “sexy”… along with her personal theme song.
I must admit that out of the thousands of pieces I did during the days of Reel Criticism and Ziggy’s Video Realm, this interview is my absolute favorite. Without a doubt, Monique Parent is one of the most refreshingly genuine entertainment industry people I’ve ever had contact with, and one of the coolest. She shies away from nothing, takes no shit, and calls it like she sees it with naked honesty. She’s a true professional who knows her business, and as it turns out, she has great taste in music, too!
Check this out...
When you're done here, you can visit Monique Parent's official website at www.uniquemonique.com.
Ziggy: What brought you into acting?
Monique Parent: No other marketable skills.
Ziggy: Why primarily erotic films?
Monique Parent: No other marketable skills.
Ziggy: You've had an extensive career with many dozens of titles to your credit over the course of a decade plus, whereas many actresses working in the same genre seem to "burn out" pretty quickly. What keeps you in the game?
Monique Parent: I think many of the "actresses" in the B-movie world are not really actors. That's not to say that they can't act. What I mean is that they don't get involved in film because they love acting. They get involved because they are pretty and like the attention, or that they want to be stars or whatever. I love to act. That's all. I spent many years doing community theater for free. I still act in theatrical productions on occasion, just for the pleasure of it, regardless of the money. I don't burn out because I love what I do.
Ziggy: In the many roles that you've played, you have of course shown that the physical side isn't the whole story with regard to your talents, and that you work the dramatic side of things just as well. Which do you find the greater challenge, the sexual material or the dramatic scenes, and why? Or do you treat it all the same?
Monique Parent: I pretty much treat it all the same. It's all acting. Of course, some things are a little more challenging than others... Like it's really tough to kiss someone that you don't even like. Or crying. I always have a hard time crying.
Ziggy: Of course, given the films you've done, a significant portion of the audience isn't watching you because you can act. How does it feel and how do you handle being looked upon as a sex symbol, or to some who take a baser view, a sex object?
Monique Parent: I am so not a sex symbol. I'm really glad this is an e-mail interview, because I look like the Bride of Frankenstein right now. No, really... If anyone views me as a sex symbol, I think that's great. I'm inevitably going to age myself out of that category and into another, so I'll take what I can get! And as for being a sex object, well, I don't really think I fall into that category all that often. I think the shallow, mindless people who objectify women (or men for that matter) go for a different type. I read somewhere once that I'm "the thinking man's sex symbol." I love that!
Ziggy: When you're playing an erotic role, what do you hope the audience takes from watching you?
Monique Parent: You know, I don't really think about the audience. I just try for a little honesty in everything I do. Sometimes just doing that is really difficult.
Ziggy: What do you think makes for a good erotic film? What does it need?
Monique Parent: I think it needs romance. And I don't necessarily mean the hearts and flowers mushy kind of romance. It needs to feel somehow special, better than everyday life. It needs to have the audience longing. "I want that..." I think 9 1/2 Weeks is a great example of an erotic film. God, I love that movie.
Ziggy: What about a good sex scene?
Monique Parent: Are we talking about a good sex scene in a porn film or a regular (or softcore) film? I think they are two really different things.
Ziggy: How about both? And why do you draw the difference?
Monique Parent: Frankly, when I watch hardcore porn, I want to see down and dirty. I don't require the build-up, just get to the good stuff. And please, hold the acting (gag). For R-rated movies, I want the build-up, the tease, the anticipation. I want to feel each of them, but in very different ways!
Ziggy: What is your definition of the term "erotic thriller"?
Monique Parent: Isn't that a little redundant? I think if it's erotic - it's thrilling!
Ziggy: Is there a difference in your view between "erotic" and "sexy", and if so, what is it?
Monique Parent: I've never really thought about it, but yes, they are different. I'm not certain how to explain it. I think something that is erotic has some essence of danger, or at least the forbidden; whereas sexy can just be... well, sexy.
Ziggy: In your view, what is erotic?
Monique Parent: Desire. Wanting. Needing. Aching. Trembling. Anticipation. Heat. Rain. All that stuff. I think eroticism is everywhere. Or at least the potential. Hell, even the word 'potential' is erotic. I'm getting way too worked up here...
Ziggy: As a member of the audience, what would you consider to be the most erotic scene you've ever played, and why?
Monique Parent: There are scenes that I didn't think were at all erotic when we were shooting them and yet on film they are really hot. And of course, there are scenes I thought were incredibly erotic while we were shooting and it doesn't read in the finished product. Look at Playtime (the bikini scene) or Dark Secrets (the rain scene) for examples of what works. Danger. Forbidden.
Ziggy: On a personal level, what has been your favorite film that you've worked on so far, and why?
Monique Parent: I can't really say that I have a favorite. I really enjoyed working on Bloodthirsty. Everyone on that film gave a shit and really tried to do their best. We had a very close, family feel on the crew that makes working a joy. We had that same sort of feel on Stripshow. I think I did some good work on Married People 2. I worked on a short film (The Frog, The Bird, and the Pig) that has disappeared from the face of the earth that I think might be pretty terrific, but I'll never know...
Ziggy: You have the natural look of a femme fatale; is that you favorite type of role to play, or, if not, what is?
Monique Parent: Yeah, I really do love to play the femme fatale. It just comes so naturally to me, and I have so much fun being bad... I do, however, get bored playing the same type of character too many times in a row. This is going to make me sound like a total nutcase, but here goes -- I tend to take on some characteristics of the characters I play. Scary, huh? I don't mean I think I'm somebody else or anything like that. Like, if I play the bitch too much, I start responding the same way in my real life, I get a little more sarcastic and, well, bitchy. So I like to play different characters. I like to do comedy and drama and keep my psychosis at bay...
Ziggy: In terms of character, what is your favorite role that you've played thus far?
Monique Parent: I don't think I have a favorite. I have enjoyed so many for so many reasons. I can never quite separate myself from the filming process, so I may have had a great time on set and that may be my reason for loving a film. Or the role might be great, and the film does well, but if I hated every day on set, I'll never get past that. What do I think I did good work on? I'm never happy with my work. Maybe a moment here or there, but I always feel I could have done more. Sigh.
Ziggy: What was the biggest challenge you've had to overcome on a set?
Monique Parent: I don't know why, but like anything in life, directors have favorites. It's tough to work when another actor gets special treatment. Doesn't that sound petty and childish? But it's true. I am frequently not the director’s/producer’s first or even second choice for a project. But I get hired because I sell. Many times directors/producers would much rather hire an actress that is a) younger, b) malleable, c) date-able, d) larger breasted, or e) all of the above. I am none of these things. It's tough to work in an environment where my presence is somewhat forced. Though, I do have to say -- crew loves me. I have a great working rep.
Ziggy: Over the course of the past decade, in many instances, "softcore" erotic films (and also "thrillers" with just a sex scene or two in the middle of whatever) seem to have been getting steamier and pushing a few more envelopes. As someone close to the action, so to speak, is there anything in particular you see that is behind this trend?
Monique Parent: I really find this trend disturbing. Producers are trying to compete with hard-core porn and I don't really know why. I think that we are talking about very different markets. Many women are simply not comfortable watching porn and yet they do enjoy watching something erotic. If "softcore" gets too explicit, where do they go? Not to mention the horrible practice in recent years of hiring hard-core porn actors to act in R rated films. For God's sake, these people are not known for their acting abilities! At least not as far as dialogue is concerned. It's tough enough to make a decent low budget movie with a cast full of good actors - impossible with the majority being unable to act. I really believe it's killing the industry. I predict that in a few years (like ten) the erotic thriller will be rediscovered. I think women will have to make them though. I don't think men "get it".
Ziggy: What do you do when you're not acting?
Monique Parent: I'm probably the most boring person in the world. I sew. I garden. I'm remodeling my house, so I pretty much live at Home Depot. A Lowe's should be opening in my town soon; I'm pretty excited about that. I have way too many pets and I love them all. I'm a dork, basically.
Ziggy: What's next for Monique Parent?
Monique Parent: I wish I knew...
Ziggy: If you were drawing up a soundtrack for yourself, what music would you pick for your own "theme" that best expresses you and what you're all about, and why would you choose that?
Monique Parent: I actually have what I call my theme song! The Blue Hawaiians' title track from "Savage Night". Why? Well, it's very Noir, naturally. A little surf. Very lounge. And then there's that James Bond sort of thing... Many layers to it. Lush. Cool on the surface, steamy underneath. Not everyone's taste, of course. Just like me.
Ziggy: Yourself excluded, as a member of the audience, who is your favorite actor or actress to watch on the screen, and why?
Monique Parent: Vivien Leigh (so beautiful, but with a sort of madness underneath), Cary Grant (“why” just isn't an appropriate question in his case), Johnny Depp (he makes some really wild and out there choices and by golly, it works ).
Ziggy: Final question I always ask... your own work excluded, as a member of the audience, what are your favorite films?
Monique Parent: Gone With The Wind, Heathers, Body Heat, A Streetcar Named Desire.
- Interview conducted by Ziggy, November/December, 2003
- copyright 2001-2013, Ziggy Berkeley and Doom Cheez Cinema, all rights reserved.
Promotional/still images copyright their original authors. If you're going to drink, please do so legally and responsibly. Thanks.