Rosario Dawson, actress

ShoWest 2007 supporting actress of the year

Rosario Dawson was recruited from the streets of Manhattan to make her screen debut in Larry Clark's audacious film "Kids" in 1995. In the intervening decade, she has appeared in an eclectic array of 30 indie and blockbuster films, including 2004's "Alexander," 2005's "Rent" and 2006's "Clerks II." Next up is the Quentin Tarantino-directed half of Dimension Films' "Grindhouse," a horror film he directed with Robert Rodriguez, which is set for release April 6, as well as MGM's upcoming "Killshot" and the Weinstein Co.'s planned 2008 release "Sin City 2" (which is co-directed by Rodriguez and Frank Miller). The New York native also has been busy behind the scenes as a producer under her shingle Trybe Films and as a co-creator of the new comic book "O.C.T.: Occult Crimes Taskforce." During a break from the editing room, where she was working on Trybe's maiden effort, the intense date-rape drama "Descent" for distributor City Lights Pictures, Dawson spoke with Irene Lacher for The Hollywood Reporter about her different ventures.

The Hollywood Reporter: You're a producer on "Descent" as well as the star. What prompted you to form your own production company?
Rosario Dawson: My friend, Talia Lugacy, who's the co-writer on the project and directed it and is one of the co-producers. She and I have known each other for going on 12 years. We met at (the Lee) Strasberg (Theatre Institute). And we always talked about how she was going to write and direct, and I was going to act and produce. We've done several short films, and this is our first feature together, the first of hopefully many.

THR: Did you form the production company to make her films, or do you have a longer-term interest in being on both sides of the camera?
Dawson: Both. I have other films I want to produce as well, which I might do under Trybe, which she won't necessarily be affiliated with or that I might put under another name.

THR: What kinds of films?
Dawson: One is a coming-of-age story of a young boy in the '60s. Then we have another one based on the life of my friend, who's transgendered, that deals with HIV and family. And another takes place on the Lower East Side of Manhattan. It's just stuff that I grew up with that I think are great stories that I haven't seen.

THR: Are you also attracted to films with a message, like 2005's "Rent"?
Dawson: It's different when I'm just showing up as an actor than when I'm showing up as a producer. If I'm showing up as a producer, and I'm going to be there from the inception to the end, I usually want it to have something that resonates with me on a higher level than just pure entertainment. As a producer, I tend to want to have a little more invested in it. Like I'm producing for Bob Weinstein at Dimension, (a film based on) a comic book I started last year.

THR: That was my next question.
Dawson: We're going to release our fourth issue soon. And we're signing up with Dimension to make the film version of it, which I'm also going to be producing. It's the spectacular story of a woman who works in a unit that polices magical crimes in New York City. It's got that nice kind of sci-fi, fun, cool thing. What I love about it is that it's trying to get people to see things that they look at every single day with a different perspective, looking at New York City in a different way. It's my home. I moved out here to California, but I'm still a New Yorker at heart.

THR: You're a co-creator of "O.C.T." How did that come about, and how did you get into comic books?
Dawson: My uncle, Gus (Vasquez), is a comic book artist. I grew up around comics, so I feel really comfortable in that world. It's cool because it opened me up to a lot of other people. Quentin (Tarantino) is a big comic fan, and Kevin (Smith) is a comic fan. And I've been able to do a lot of comic-based movies, from (2001's) "Josie and the Pussycats" to (2002's) "Men in Black II," (2005's) "Sin City" and now "O.C.T.," which is kind of exciting.

You mentioned Tarantino, who directed you in "Grindhouse." Do you feel aesthetically simpatico with him?
Dawson: Quentin is someone who I really admire a lot. I've always respected him. When I first started acting -- I had done "Kids," and I decided I wanted to keep acting -- my dad gave me (1992's) "Reservoir Dogs" to watch. He said that would be a great movie for me to watch to know what good acting was. And I watched it five times in one week and ordered the soundtrack. I remember it being really a big deal to me.