Call it the curse of having startling good looks: not being taken seriously as an artist. Gretchen Mol was poised for stardom a few year’s back, but instead of glitzy Hollywood fluff, she chose to go the route of live theater and little films of enormous substance that would stretch her considerable acting talents rather than raise her profile. Her first-rate turn in Neil LeBute’s THE SHAPE OF THINGS, is an example of both.
Playing the title role in THE NOTORIOUS BETTIE PAGE, as the 1950s pin-up queen of the universe will seem like a misstep, but is instead a subtle and complex performance that depends little on flesh and a lot on spirit. When I chatted with Mol on March 22, 2006, the conversation concentrated on Page’s unique religious outlook, at least unique for her time and her upbringing, and on the unexpected challenges of wearing the fetish apparel Page posed in with such aplomb.