Kim Basinger is best known for a handful of movies that were both commercial and critical hits. But as her bread-and-butter roles became fewer and farther between, she began taking on different kinds of characters.
Starting out as a model, she later starred in erotic films like 9 1/2 Weeks and a role as Vicki Vale in Tim Burton’s Batman. She also teamed up with director Curtis Hanson for the crime film L.A. Confidential.
Hard Country (1981)
Basinger, who began her career as a model, is a welcome sight in this underappreciated Texas drama. Her performance as a factory worker whose fiance dreams of leaving town is strong and convincing. Jan-Michael Vincent, Michael Parks and country music star Tanya Tucker also appear.
After guest appearances on such TV series as “Starsky & Hutch” and the short-lived police drama McMillan & Wife, Basinger made her feature film debut in this 1981 Western. Her blond beauty and acting ability elevate this otherwise rote story. Later, she starred as Bond girl Domino Petachi in the 1983 James Bond film Never Say Never Again. She also appeared in the erotic romance 9 1/2 Weeks and the satirical crime drama L.A. Confidential.
The Natural (1984)
After her brief run as a centerfold model, Basinger turned to acting. She made guest appearances on television shows like Charlie’s Angels and McMillan & Wife, before making her solarmovie film debut in the little-seen Texas drama Hard Country (1981).
In The Natural, directed by Barry Levinson, Basinger stars as Iris, the wife of baseball star Roy Hobbs (Robert Redford). Bernard Malamud freely mixes mythical metaphors in this story about dogged pursuit of dreams that sometimes make no sense — the bat Roy carves from a lightning-struck tree is at once King Arthur’s Excalibur and Shoeless Joe Jackson’s Black Betsy. The Natural is a masterpiece of underdog cinema. It also features one of the most famous baseball climaxes in movie history.
9 12 Weeks (1986)
After years as a model and frequent face of Breck shampoo, Basinger decided to focus on acting. She made guest appearances on shows such as Starsky & Hutch and Charlie’s Angels. In this David Lynch neo-noir, she plays a seductive lounge singer in the midst of a dangerous and violent relationship with a wall street hustler. Basinger’s intensely vulnerable performance is a key reason why the film succeeds.
Mickey Rourke, who starred opposite Basinger, was notorious for his method acting, which included living in a basement apartment without windows to get into character. The infamous food scene, where she is blindfolded and fed a variety of foods, was also largely improvised by the actors.
Never Say Never Again (1983)
After a run of minor film roles, Basinger was cast as Domino Petachi in this 1983 James Bond thriller. It was one of two non-Eon productions (the other being Octopussy) to be released in the same year as a Bond film; critics credited it with lowering takings for You Only Live Twice.
After a spell out of the spotlight due to her acrimonious divorce from Alec Baldwin, Basinger was rediscovered in a string of critically acclaimed films, including 9 1/2 Weeks with Mickey Rourke and Nadine with Jeff Bridges. She also starred as Lynn Bracken, a 1950s-era Hollywood call girl with a resemblance to screen siren Veronica Lake, in 1997’s L.A. Confidential.
The Door in the Floor (2004)
The drama is a powerful depiction of love, loss, and the lingering effects of tragedy. Featuring stellar performances from Kim Basinger and Jeff Bridges, this film is an unforgettable cinematic experience. The talented actress is a natural at imbuing even her most extroverted characters with a subtle vulnerability. She displayed this skill in Curtis Hanson’s neo-noir crime drama L.A. Confidential, as well as in the erotic 9 1/2 Weeks and the lighthearted My Stepmother Is an Alien.
Basinger’s work has earned her nominations and awards from prestigious organizations, further affirming the quality of her acting. She also starred as Eminem’s troubled mother in 8 Mile and the PR-minded scandalmonger in People I Know.
8 Mile (2002)
In this gritty change-of-pace role, Basinger acquits herself well as an emotionally shaky and uncertain woman. Her raps in the film are scripted but uttered with such strength and conviction that they come across as authentic.
The movie depicts a young blue-collar factory worker who tries to launch a career in hip hop, a genre that is predominantly dominated by black artists. The story is based on autobiographical elements from Eminem’s life.
In the late 1970s, after a short run as a centerfold model, Basinger decided to focus on acting. She made guest appearances on a number of television shows including Starsky & Hutch and Charlie’s Angels. She also starred in the TV movie Katie: Portrait of a Centerfold (1978). She then acted in the three-part miniseries From Here to Eternity.
People I Know (2003)
Director Curtis Hanson saw no other actress but Basinger for the role of Lynn Bracken, a call girl with more than a passing resemblance to screen siren Veronica Lake in his neo-noir crime drama L.A. Confidential (1997), for which she won both an Academy Award and a Golden Globe.
Her more recent films include a troubled mother in the Eminem vehicle 8 Mile (2002), and a kidnap victim in the thriller Cellular (2004). Throughout her filmography, Basinger has delivered well-rounded performances while maintaining the allure that made her a sex symbol of the 1980s and 1990s. She is a former wife of actor Alec Baldwin and has one child.
L.A. Confidential (2004)
From the sexy femme fatale in the film version of From Here to Eternity (1979) to the weeping widow in the John Irving adaptation The Door in the Floor (2004), Basinger’s films offer viewers unforgettable cinematic experiences. In a change of pace, she delivered a fine turn as a pushy fashion reporter in Robert Altman’s overblown yet meandering Pret-a-Porter (Ready to Wear).
She won an Academy and Golden Globe award for her role in Curtis Hanson’s neo-noir crime drama L.A. Confidential (1997), which explored police corruption and Hollywood celebrity in the ’50s. More recently, she starred as Eminem’s downtrodden mother in the 2002 movie 8 Mile and as Vicki Vale in Tim Burton’s blockbuster Batman (2003).