The Real Blonde (1998)

Writer/Director: Tom DiCillo
Cast: Matthew Modine, Catherine Keener, Darryl Hannah, Christopher Lloyd, Maxwell Caulfield, Kathleen Turner, Marlo Thomas, Dave Chapelle, Steve Buscemi, Denis Leary, Elizabeth Berkely.
Festivals: Sundance, Toronto, San Francisco, Deauville.
US Distribution: Paramount.
Music by Jim Farmer.

The Real Blonde is my only film financed by a major studio. I had more money than I've ever had for a film and just as many more requirements. That’s not a complaint; it's just a fact. 



A clue to the film is in the title. What is Real? What is Fake; especially in a business where sometimes the biggest battle you ever fight is over your own soul?

Fortunately with The Real Blonde I emerged with my soul but I'd be lying if I said I didn't get a few more scars on it. I had a fantastic time working with Christopher Lloyd, Buck Henry, Kathleen Turner, Marlo Thomas and Darryl Hannah. All of them were amazingly giving and gifted; all of them taught me a lot.

Matthew Modine brings great depth to the film, as the starving artist actor tryng to maintain his integrity at the same time contributing to the rent. Maxwell Caulfield is wonderful as a Don Juan on a desperate quest for the woman in the film's title.

Dave Chapelle has a small but juicy part as Steve Buscemi’s assistant director. Buscemi plays a once-indie icon now directing a Madonna video. This was before Dave had his own show. His brilliance is already massively evident. 



One battle I was proud of winning was having Catherine Keener play the lead role. It was tough for a while with the studio heavily pressuring me to cast Nicole Kidman. Finally I just told them, "Forget it. Catherine is a brilliant actress. I wrote the role for her and I'm casting her."

And Catherine is brilliant in the film. She brings everything of herself; her heart, her strength, her humor and her incredible vulnerability.



One battle I lost was having to cut a scene from the film. It was one of the most beautifully surreal scenes I have ever put on film. The studio demanded I cut it because they felt it would hurt the film’s chances of “breaking through to Middle America.” It killed me to cut it. And after all that?

The film barely made it a mile inland from either coast. I made a vow to myself to never do that again; even at the risk of jeopardizing my career. As a director the only thing that matters is how you see the film and how you feel it should be made. And you can never expect anyone to understand that.  They won’t. But, you just have to do it. Because, only you will live with it forever. I still feel the ache of that one.




One response to “The Real Blonde (1998)”

  1. francesco roder says:

    I absolutely LOVE this film (and I absolutely LOVE “Living in Oblivion” as well). I remember waiting sooo long for this movie to get released. I was 13 and my teen crush Elizabeth Berkley was part of the cast. I remember when I finally got access to the rental video! I ended up buying the video and the sountrack CD, which is to the day one of my fav. Sweet memories!

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Independent Filmmaker & Musician