3 April 2001 (Edmonton Sun)
SPINS HER WEB
Star's squeaky clean image left behind in Along Came a Spider
Seeing fresh-faced Monica Potter all tarted up on the cover of Maxim magazine is sort of like watching an episode of Leave It to Beaver, with June Cleaver cooking dinner in full dominatrix gear.
It's just a little, erm, shocking, is all.
But from her spread in the notorious men's T&A magazine to her character in Along Came a Spider, opening this Friday, Potter is all about stretching out in some different directions these days.
"How funny is that?" Potter said of her Maxim cover and the accompanying saucy photos inside.
"My publicist said that I should maybe try it out, and I said no. Then I said, OK, well, why not?"
From her first major movie role as Nicolas Cage's wife in Con Air to her part as Robin Williams's girlfriend in Patch Adams, Potter's image has been pretty squeaky clean. Plus she still lives in Cleveland - yes, the one in Ohio - with her two young sons.
Her last film role was in the Freddie Prinze vehicle Head Over Heels, for Pete's sake. She might as well start illustrating children's books. But no, Potter signed on for Along Came a Spider, the sequel to the 1997 thriller Kiss the Girls with Morgan Freeman and Ashley Judd.
Freeman reprises his role as police Det. Alex Cross, with Potter playing Secret Service agent Jezzie Flannigan, assigned to the security detail of a Washington, D.C., private school.
It gave Potter the chance to play a bit of a hard-nose, not to mention that her character has certain surprising complexities that aren't revealed until later in the film.
And, needless to say, it was the first time she fired a gun onscreen.
"Totally the first time," she said. "I was so nervous about it."
Potter underwent a few weeks of training to learn to handle firearms and clear a room like a trained Secret Service agent. And that was the easy stuff.
"Physically, I had to get really strong for this film because I knew there'd be a lot of running. And they (director Lee Tamahori and the producers) were hard on me. They didn't let me slack off at all."
Added to that, Potter said, was the intimidation of working alongside Morgan Freeman.
"I lost a lot of weight for this film. It wasn't deliberate, it was just stress and also that I was working out a whole bunch. I think it was the fact that I knew that Morgan had already done a film like this, and I didn't want to disappoint him. It was just the mental stress that I put myself through."
One thing she didn't have to worry about was a love scene with Freeman. In the James Patterson novel, Cross and Jezzie have an affair. For various reasons - not the least of which was the difference in age between the 63-year-old Freeman and the 29-year-old Potter - the affair subplot was dropped from the film.
"I think it was a good idea in the sense that our relationship was more paternal, and I like that," Potter said. "I'm glad they didn't do that. It would have cheapened it a bit."
Which is different from spicing something up, as Potter did with the Maxim shoot.
"I thought it was pretty conservative with some of the stuff they normally have," Potter said.
"My dad saw it and kind of raised his eyebrows. But he's a dad."