Meet Joe Black: What happened to Claire Forlani?
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Actor Claire Forlani found fame playing the love interest to Brad Pitt at the crest of his late ’90s run as a matinee idol.
In the years since, she has also found her voice, speaking out about her brush with Harvey Weinstein, how the gender pay gap affects her — and just how many mints she and Pitt went through to film their big love scene.
In 1998, every girl in the world wanted to be Claire Forlani.
The actor, then 26, played the lead in the romantic drama Meet Joe Black opposite a very charming, very blond Brad Pitt, who was arguably at the height of his fame.
The three-hour long tear-jerker, about two people who love each other but cannot be together, cemented Forlani as “one to watch”.
But while she did go on to star in a number of movies (among them 2000’s Boys And Girls with Freddie Prinze Jr and 2001’s Antitrust with Ryan Phillippe) and a string of TV shows, the actor never quite rose to the level of fame that she once seemed destined to reach.
Yet things have come full circle for Forlani, as the 47-year-old finds herself starring in Five Feet Apart, a film about a girl who cannot be with the boy she loves.
This time though, she plays the mother of one of the star-crossed lovers. And as a mum of a four-year-old son, Milo, and happily married to fellow actor Dougray Scott, she wouldn’t have it any other way.
You were born and raised in England and your husband was born and raised in Scotland [the couple has homes in London and LA]. Yet both of you imitate the American accent really well in your films. Do either of you need to practice or is it second nature now?
I’ve actually always worked in an American accent. For me, it’s been something I’ve done since my early 20s.
I would say my husband has to work harder at it [laughs]. That’s a joke! A half-joke.
In your new film Five Feet Apart, the lead characters are required to stay that distance from each other at all times. If you had to stay five feet away from your loved ones, what would you miss most?
With my family, we’re very tactile. There are lots of hugs and kisses and snuggling. So it would definitely be physical contact.
You can still use your words, you can still communicate, you can do everything else — but it’s the physical part you would miss.
Most of the cast are in their 20s, playing teens. You were in your late 20s when you played a teen and a college student in Boys And Girls. Did you have any advice to offer them about pulling it off?
I only really worked with Cole [Sprouse]. And Cole is a really interesting cat. He walks to his own rhythm and he seems in control of his being. He’s surprisingly interesting to talk to — and funny.
We were doing such emotional work, it was nice in those moments in-between to let go.
In October 2017, you spoke out about your encounter with Harvey Weinstein, admitting you felt some shame because you didn’t speak up earlier and didn’t participate in Ronan Farrow’s The New Yorker exposé about him. How did telling your story affect you?
It was terrifying. Listen, it was genuinely terrifying. We were so trained to keep our mouths shut. And it was terrifying because we knew they would hit back harder. I was terrified of what it would cost to go up against Harvey Weinstein.
That’s what I said to Ronan in an email because he’d asked me to do the article. I said, “I don’t have the money, I don’t have the resources, to lawyer up.” Rose McGowan had to sell her home. It’s real. The bullies are going at it, full steam ahead.
It took genuine courage for all those girls [to speak out]. I actually feel there were a couple of jobs I didn’t get after I did.
That’s why, when anyone tries to put down the girls and label them as crazy, I think “Oh god, I wish you had the f*cking strength” — excuse me — “and courage to take that on.” I was pretty impressed with these girls. I still am. I think they’re amazing.
You have also made comments about the gender pay gap.
Right after I wrote my piece, one of the first things I addressed was: “What about the money, guys?” Because I’m married to an actor, I got to see [it] firsthand.
I got to see us start off in the same place and then, because I was a woman, get paid less and less, while his salary did not alter.
It was interesting when Patricia Arquette stood up at the Oscars a couple of years ago and went, “Equal pay, guys.”
This river is getting stronger, but now there are all of these estuaries going off into all these different directions and encompassing so many things that we should have just had by this point.
One of your most memorable roles is as Susan Parrish in Meet Joe Black, where you and Brad Pitt played romantic leads. It has been 21 years since its release. What do you recall about making it?
Oh gosh! Well, there were these dinner scenes that we had around a big table with the whole cast: Marcia Gay Harden, and Tony [Anthony Hopkins] and Jake Weber and Brad, Jeffrey Tambor… They went on for days.
They were such a brilliant group of people who were so funny, so good to watch, all so talented.
Do any particular moments with Pitt stand out?
Brad and I literally getting through every brand of mint, having to do that love scene that just went on for days and days and days [laughs]. There wasn’t a brand we didn’t try. Oh, I remember that. I remember not being able to look at mints for about a year after doing that scene.
Five Feet Apart is in cinemas on Thursday.
Originally published as What happened to Claire Forlani?