July 30, 2010

Pornstar Going Mainstream

Porn starlet Sasha Grey was a very surprising casting choice by Steven Soderbergh - an Academy Award winning director - last year for his film The Girlfriend Experience, though when it was discovered she would playing a high-end call girl, the casting seemed less radical.  After all, casting a woman who has sex with men on camera for money to play a woman who has sex with men for money (and filming the performance on camera) isn't that earth shattering.  That being said, whenever actresses cross-over from adult film business into mainstream Hollywood films, it's worthy of notice, and when it happens with an acclaimed director - and the actress is starring in the film, not playing a bit part as a stripper - it's even more noteworthy. I was skeptical when this news first filtered out, chiefly because Soderbergh is known to mix in low-budget experimental films with his bigger budgeted more mainstream fare, and I suspected he might have seen the casting of Sasha Grey as another experiment. The film itself was a forgettable Soderbergh experiment though Miss Grey's work in the movie didn't seem out of place at all and even drew praise from film critic Roger Ebert, who also enjoyed the film itself.  There's also reason to believe that Grey has a better chance out cross-over success because she possess one thing many of the women in her industry, unfortunately, do not: brains.  Grey, who was profiled last year year by Rolling Stone magazine (fittingly for their 'Hot' issue) came across as slightly full of shit, a common weakness in any person in their early twenties, but, much more surprisingly as being dramatically more intelligent then the usual bimbo brigade that making up the gaping masses of the porno industry.  The author of that article, Vanessa Grigoridis, described her as "the smartest person I've ever met in the industry." So, perhaps not so surprisingly, Miss Grey has managed to spin-off the Soderbergh flick into another high-profile gig appearing on a multi-episode arc on this seasons 'Entourage,' (which, I believe, should begin unfolding with this weeks episode) though, much like the Soderbergh venture, the performance shouldn't be too much of a stretch, she's playing herself - and star Adrian Grenier's love interest.

Jenna Jameson did a lot to drag the porn industry into the mainstream - and made an absolute fortune for herself in the process; which is impressive in an industry known for using up the female talent then discarding it while everyone but the woman herself gets rich - so it seemed only a matter of time before a smart young woman - with, shall we say "liberal" leanings - would find away to exploit this business rather then be exploited by it, and Sasha Grey may very well be that woman.  Her cross-over into the mainstream entertainment field is continuing. This week word filtered out that she is in serious talks to appear in director Mark Pellington's new film I Melt With You.   Pellington, who directed the under-rated Arlington Road and the creepy and interesting Mothman Prophesies (as well as the excellent IMAX 3D concert film U2 3D) wants to cast her in a role, that, at least from what little we know about it, doesn't have her playing a whore.  She will play Raven (okay, admittedly that's a whorish name) a "free spirit who helps one of the male leads realize nirvana can only be achieved by death."  I have no idea what that means, but I think it's interesting that she's continuing to get work, and high profile work at that.   It's worth noting that while other porn starlets, like Traci Lords, Ginger Lynn Allen and Jenna Jameson have crossed over in the past, none did so with much success and usually these efforts were undertaken after they finished their "adult" careers.  Grey continues to work actively as a porn actress while simultaneously pursing legitimate acting work in Hollywood, a career path that would have been rejected as absurd until she successfully pulled it off.   That she can go from a seedy film set in the Valley where she films a gang-bang sequence then onto an Academy Award winning director's set in the same week is really kind of staggering and definitely unprecendented.  Her mainstream career - if nothing else - should be interesting to watch develop.  The new film would see her join a cast that should make her fairly comfortable.  It includes Thomas Jane - who plays a man-whore on the excellent HBO series 'Hung,' is familiar with doing sex scenes every day on the set - and then there's Rob Lowe - a man with some history of video taped sex himself - and Jeremy Piven who should make her feel at home in terms of filing the role of "sleazy dude" that I'm sure she's accustomed to on the sets she usually works on.


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