Interview with Cover Star Courtney Love
Some might say that Courtney Love has been an iconic figure in pop culture even before she was famous. For the past quarter-century, she has evolved from being a rock-and-roll goddess to a movie star to a fashion diva to what can now only be described as a Renaissance woman. Acting, music, writing, art, fashion and, yes, Twitter; Courtney does it all. “I think I’m in a more mature phase of my life right now; I want some privacy.” She gets weekly calls from producers about reality shows, but says that she’d never consider it even for a second. “It’s boring, tired and vulgar,” says Love about the notion of a reality show.
CONTRIBUTOR asked this multifaceted creative tour de force to sound off about a few areas on which she is particularly passionate. Here’s what she had to say:
COURTNEY ON ACTING
“After getting nominated for a Golden Globe for ‘The People vs. Larry Flynt,’ I was offered everything under the sun. My problem was I didn’t understand how the game was played. I had this huge role and I didn’t know what to do next. I was watching how Cameron (Diaz) and Drew (Barrymore, also the godmother of daughter Frances Bean) were doing it, and always felt they had gotten the guidance I needed. I also think I probably didn’t have as much of a desire to act as they did at that time.
“I have my list of should-have-taken-but-didn’t offers, just like everyone else in Hollywood. Then there are some projects that just weren’t the right fit or the right timing; and a few that I really wanted but didn’t get. When I was approached to play Janis Joplin, I was concerned it would eclipse who I was as a rock singer. From what I understand the project is finally getting produced and I think it will be fantastic.
“I was very moved by the script for ‘Girl, Interrupted’ and was moving forward to play the role of Lisa, which went to Angelina Jolie and earned her an Oscar. Winona (Ryder) was a friend of mine and I was scared to do this opposite her because I wasn’t as confident of an actress as she was. When Angelina got the role, I thought they made the right decision because she was able to walk right into the role and did it better than anyone could have ever imagined. I went on and recorded the album ‘Celebrity Skin’ instead.
“The one that got away, which I am still not completely over, is ‘Moulin Rouge.’ Baz thought I was a great representation of tragedy, and I thought I could intertwine that with comedy, which would have been ideal for the role.
“I was once taken to an amazing dinner at Billy Wilder’s apartment and he told me I reminded him of Carole Lombard. I was rather shocked that such an auteur thought of me as funny. I know I’m funny and so do my friends, but my rock-star persona overshadows my sense of humor. I will be forever grateful he said that.
“Anyway, Baz wanted a Marlene Dietrich and Nicole Kidman got the part. After the film, I think Baz was quoted as saying something like he was looking for fire and ice, and that while I was fire Nicole had both. Not getting ‘Moulin Rouge’ broke my heart. After that happened, I stopped reading scripts for a while. It took me a while to get over that. But God, Nicole was magnificent in that role. I really want to work with Baz sometime; he is such a genius.
“During the past ten years, people have been telling me to get back to acting, but it’s very hard to get back in once you’ve been out of the game for a while. And I wasn’t really sure I wanted back in until a couple of years ago when Sean Penn invited me to see his film ‘This Must Be The Place’ while I was in Cannes. Seeing Sean in that film made me want to act again; he was magnificent. The film, the performance; it was exhilarating. I have always felt that if I were a man, I’d be Sean Penn. He and Gwyneth (Paltrow) are probably my two biggest inspirations when it comes to acting. They are both so uncompromising and consistently amazing in their work. After the screening in Cannes, (CAA agent) Bryan Lourd told me the three keys to getting back into acting were to go away for a while, get a good agent and then find a great publicist.
“Acting tends to be very structured, and I gravitate towards that. I’m sure people will be surprised to hear me say that, but it’s true. I grew up acting, and trained for a short time at the Royal Shakespeare Academy, so it’s somewhat in my blood.
“I’ve started to reconnect much more with the business, and gotten an amazing agent (ICM’s David Unger) and manager (Untitled’s Jason Weinberg) who both believe in me and have been very proactive in trying to get me back into this. I think I’ve grown-up a lot in that I can handle the rejection that comes with acting much better than before.”
COURTNEY ON FASHION
“I’m not into the dress wearing me; I’ve always tried to wear the dress. Right now I am going through somewhat of a transition with my style; I guess I would describe it as East Side simplicity. I think clothes tell a story of who you are and what you’ve done. I also think it is appropriate to be age-appropriate in how you dress; a lot of people don’t get that at all.
“I designed a line of clothing with Pippa Greenbank, who has become my partner in the venture. Its called Never The Bride, and it’s a niche line that is Edwardian, Victorian, clothing that is repurposed, while at the same time very timely. It’s for women in their 20s and 30s. Basically it is the clothing I would like to wear but can’t anymore because I’m in my 40s. It’s about being independent and having a very distinctive look that tells your story. I was designing and making these clothes for myself for several years, and then realized they were for women younger than me, but I wanted to continue to design and be expressive, so we went into business.
“I am extremely fussy about cut and texture, so my line is not inexpensive to make, but it brings together all the elements that I think are important to bring out the unique characteristics of the woman who wears it. Chloe (model for this feature) is a perfect example of this and looks fantastic in these pieces.
“Right now, my favorite designers are Michael Kors, Calvin Klein, Chanel, Givenchy, Marchesa, Bally, Oscar de la Renta, Issa and Erin Featherston.”
COURTNEY ON ART
“I always did my own album art and visuals, so art has been a part of my life from early on. I consider my eyes to be my ears, which I guess if a funny thing for a musician to say, but that’s how I look at it. The thing about being an artist is you have to keep going no matter what. I think I ignored pursuing art for so long because I wanted the glamour of being a rock star. Also because that’s always what my mother wanted me to do so I naturally fought it as a child. My parents forced me to attend the San Francisco Art Institute, and all I did was form a band and play music. I resisted pursuing art for many years and now it has become such an integral part of my life.
“I train myself as I go along, and much of my art is based on where I am in my life and how I feel. It represents the truth of where I am at the moment. And I don’t want my art to be based on being a celebrity in another arena; it needs to be pure and real and speak to people.
“They say an artist’s net worth doesn’t kick in until after they die, but I guess that’s if you’re just looking at it from a financial perspective. I like to enjoy my own art and I like to see other people enjoy it as well.”
COURTNEY ON MUSIC
“Generally speaking, this generation of musicians has absolutely no sense of real rock and roll. Music has become very teenybopper and artificial. Look, I pick-up my guitar everyday and I am going to do what I want to do, musically speaking. I like playing some of my songs from years ago but I will never do the oldies circuit. NEVER.
“I think music should somehow be contributive towards culture and society. Many of my friends, like Michael Stipe and Bono, understand this and I look towards them as mentors in that way.
“I like to mentor young women and encourage them to play music. It’s like teaching someone to play a sport; it doesn’t matter if they grow up to be a professional athlete. It is a skillset you can use for the rest of your life and it keeps people out of trouble. Every girl should know how to play three chords on a guitar; it should be mandatory. It will keep them out of trouble, and they’ll get any guy they want (laughing).”
COURTNEY ON LAWSUITS
“I think I was a pretty big target the past few years because I had no protection. People take advantage of that. Out of necessity, I’ve had to put attorneys in place so I do not fall victim to meaningless lawsuits that waste money and tie up the court system. I had a lot of exposure in the past, but no more. I hate even talking about it because it’s negative energy. That’s all I have to say.”
AND YES, COURTNEY ON TWITTER
“When Twitter first started, I was mad at someone and I said something on Twitter and got in trouble for it. And then I kept doing it. I think we all agree I am not made for social media. I even get jittery when I go on the Internet and I never Google myself. Talk about driving yourself crazy.”
CONTRIBUTOR asked Courtney for her top five tips on using Twitter, which, by her own admission, she has not always followed:
- Never tweet at night or from bed
- No one cares what you are doing right now
- Don’t tweet after taking an Ambien
- Have a sense of humor
- If you’re a celebrity, keep it real; don’t take money for tweeting stuff
COURTNEY’S FINAL WORDS OF WISDOM
“A headmistress at a boarding school in England once told me that everyday I should teach one thing to one person, do one thing I don’t want to do and make someone laugh.”
Courtney Love has been around the block, as they say. Once a poster child for the wild life, she has grown; both as a person and as an artist. She looks at the past as her graduate school of life, and the mistakes she has made as lessons learned. Throughout everything, her desire for excellence has been a driving factor in whatever she does. And now, the actress-fashionista-artist-writer-musician is ready for whatever is next. Whether it is a successful fashion line, great movie roles, another album or some combination of everything, one thing is for sure. Courtney Love will never let the fire burn out.
Photography by Magnus Magnusson, fashion by Courtney Love and Brittany Berger, Creative Direction by Martin Sandberg, Executive Producer Heleina Buzzeo, hair and make up by Lisa Caccavalle, production assistant Pol Balsebre Montilleo and photographer’s assistant by Karim Chehimi.