Brace Yourself for Impact
By James E Brooks
ASK 1,000 people what they would do if they knew the end of the world was just around the corner and you would probably get 1,000 different answers. Téa Leoni's response is a carefully considered one.
"If I had two days notice," she says, "I'd do something really silly like jump off a building. But not sober. If it were two years, I can definitely tell you I would pick smoking right back up," she says laughing before taking a more serious tone. "I think it would put having children in an odd light. I can't imagine that I would show up on set for even the greatest of movies. I would still be sexually responsible now that I've got David [Duchovny] in my life, but I might experiment with some very, very serious drugs!" she jokes.
As news producer/anchor Jenny Lerner, Leoni has the chance to act out that hypothetical scenario for real in Deep Impact. Accidentally stumbling upon a far smaller news story, Lerner figures out something that the government has been keeping secret - that a comet is approaching Earth on a collision course. Thrust into the limelight, she is charged by her position as a reporter to bear witness to the planet's death. In the time left before the impact, Lerner comes to realize that it is not enough to observe life, but you have to live it. In Jenny's case, this meant a self-sacrifice that allowed her to reconnect with her estranged father (Maximilian Schell).
"What I particularly respected in the script was that my character wasn't mad at her dad; it wasn't a volatile relationship. If it had been that way, it would have been so obvious. Instead, the challenge was to play that she just didn't care in most of the film and then take her to the point that she decides to find some intimacy with him. When things reach the crisis point, she is able to say to him, 'I know that you know I love you, Dad, but I want you to know that I know that you love me'.
"You know, you can only be an 'iron lady' throughout as long as there isn't a comet coming. If you've got a comet bearing down on Earth, you have to ask yourself, 'What good is it, anyway?' So we come to the idea of this woman of the '90s. She knows exactly what she wants, but more than almost anybody else in the film, she needs this comet."
   
Read the full interview with Téa Leoni and Deep Impact director Mimi Leder in the June issue of Film Review

"If it were two years [until the end of the world], I can definitely tell you I would pick smoking right back up."

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