Q and A With… Rosario Dawson

The Seven Pounds star talks about life, love and why we really need to go easier on ourselves.

Since your character is ill in Seven Pounds, she seems to cut right to the chase. That’s a great quality to have when you are dating.

I felt that the sincerity of every single bit of dialogue was something really remarkable and something we could all probably learn from. If we really were that real all the time, we’d save ourselves a lot of time!

You had great chemistry with your costar, Will Smith…

He was amazing! The chemistry between these two characters was so important, and we’d do the scenes over and over and over again, trying to find our place. We really fell in love with these characters. I was very grateful to be working with someone as committed and as great an actor as Will!

I had worked with him before, but I was blown away by this experience. The way he plays Ben, with his emotions hidden away, was an incredible choice. I just appreciated the level of commitment Will was willing to put toward this character.

It’s a beautiful love story. What do you think audiences will take away from the film?

I hope compassion—for themselves. Honestly, I think that’s the thing that I was so moved by. You can be so caught up in yourself that you forget the people around you and even the choices you have in front of you. Sometimes it takes a stranger talking to you in order for you to be honest, because you don’t have any of those things going on, like “Well, you think of me as your boyfriend or whatever, and you’re not going to allow me to say what I’m really thinking and feeling… ”

So just being honest and truthful to yourself. Life is too short and precious to not try that and to give yourself that opportunity. So, when couples walk out of the theater, I hope they really look at each other and open the door for each other. I think we really need to have a sense of community around us, which we haven’t had for a long time.

I see Seven Pounds as being about a lot of different kinds of love: the love that you hope for, the love that you have to accept, love for yourself, love for strangers and, most of all, love for life itself.

How was it to do those steamy love scenes?

It was really funny. Will is shockingly shy about intimacy with strangers—I guess that’s not too bad! But it was really unbelievable how he pushed our kissing scenes for weeks, to the point at which I started getting really nervous about my breath! It started to get down to the little details, like, “Seriously, I mean, it’s not that bad, we don’t have to totally do tongue, I mean, we can work on this… !” It was such a big deal—he was talking about having Jada there. It was kind of getting awkward at a certain point, and I was like, “I can’t believe that you’re shy, and that you’re nervous!”

I remember we actually go into the scene where we’re kissing at the printing press, and it’s toward the very end—it’s a very emotional scene. The way we revved up into that was Will standing outside going, “Yeah, we’re gonna get this scene… Woo! Yeah, I’m ready to go today!” And I said, “You haven’t done that for the past 55 days. Why today? You’re kind of freaking me out—I need a little bit of calm to go into this, I need some candles and nice music, and you’re screaming like we’re playing football or something!” It was so sweet, and everyone could tell he was really, really nervous. So I was very gentle!

Did you really see a heart surgery?

I did. I was at home. I put the tape in; I was eating popcorn. My boyfriend was, like, “Yeah, I’ll see you later!” I wasn’t allowed to watch a live surgery. But I was ready to watch it!

Your characters played that cute “what if?” game, where you talked about your futures together. Have you ever done that with a guy?

I have! I’m the one who came up with that for us to play. That’s what made it so beautiful. It was one of the favorite things we discovered in our rehearsal period. It’s such a fun thing to do with someone you really like!

Contributing entertainment editor Susan L. Hornik is based in Los Angeles.
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