Rosario Dawson Tackles Domestic Violence In New Thriller

Rosario Dawson Tackles Domestic Violence

In New Thriller

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Ever since starring in her first controversial movie Kids, Rosario Dawson has taken on complex roles that challenge her. It’s no wonder why the talented actress chose to star in the new thriller, Unforgettable, which deals with the troubling theme of domestic violence.

Part of her choice to join the cast was personal, Dawson told SWAAY at the movie premier, as her own mother worked at a women’s shelter when Dawson was just 10 years old. “This (subject matter) is something that’s always been in my life, that I take very seriously,” says Dawson, regarding the subject of domestic abuse. “There were women and children who came in during the  middle of the night with only the clothes on their backs.”

That experience infused her with activism; Dawson has been a board member of V-Day, an organization which helps stop the violence against women and children around the world. “I didn’t want this to be used in a film for some minor character note, I really wanted the film to say something,” says Dawson.

In Unforgettable, Julia, (Dawson) is a newly engaged writer who has emerged from a personal dark period, in which she was being abused by an ex-boyfriend. While Julia is excited to start her life with her fiancé, David (played by Geoff Stults), a divorced father of one, she still hasn’t shared with him the emotional scars from her past.

Dawson says that while filming, an important part of her process was having an open dialogue about the movie’s subject matter with producer, Denise Di Novi.
“We wanted to be really honest about it…when one in three women are being raped, killed or beaten in their lifetime, that’s over a billion women on the planet,” says Dawson. “I loved that this was an opportunity to play a character who had gone through that and had sought help. [My character] is a survivor–she got her perpetrator in custody, went to court, got a restraining order, and she checked herself somewhere to get psychological help. While that’s something that happened off camera, you see how much that has affected her. These tools end up saving her in this film.”
About her character, Dawson says, “You’re catching Julia at that ‘pinch me’ moment when she’s happy and in love. She is excited about the steps she is taking to build a new life, but because of everything she’s gone through before, it’s hard for her to trust in it and not wonder when the other shoe is going to drop. I was rooting for her because I know how that feels, and I think anyone could understand what that might be like.”

In the movie’s Dawson’s Julia is also dealing with her partner’s increasingly manipulative ex wife, Tessa (Katherine Heigl).

“She’s definitely stepping into this new experience with excitement, but also some trepidation because she didn’t have the kind of upbringing that makes her feel secure about being a parent,” Dawson says. “That puts her at an obvious disadvantage when she meets Tessa. At first, Tessa appears to be doing her best to make the transition as smooth as possible, but you see pretty early on that she’s actually not as welcoming as she pretends to be and is trying to gaslight Julia.”

To be sure, both women in this film are suffering trauma. This theme is explored through detailed character development, Dawson says.
“Amazingly, my character, who has the least resources of all of them, has actually gotten some emotional help and given herself a leg up,” says Dawson. “While these other women, who should have access to everything, don’t use it, because they keep the skeletons in the closet and don’t talk about it.”
“We need to really look at the ugly, in order to get it out of our lives,” Dawson says. “That’s a really important lesson.”
In her own life, Dawson says that thankfully she hasn’t had to deal with any crazy ex-boyfriends, but that she has had many experiences with stalkers and “all kinds of crazy things,” she says. “That was scary to reflect upon and think about.”
In terms of relationships, Dawson said she’s in fact, very timid. “I have been really lame in my breakups, writing really sad little handwritten letters that I dropped off at their house,” she says. “Those are the moments that I look back and think, ‘yea I could have been a little bit classier and taken that a little bit better.'”
The first film for director, Di Novi (Crazy, Stupid, Love, Focus), Unforgettable explores the notion of the self, and how important it is to feel whole without a relationship as well as with one.
“Tessa’s entire life has been geared toward having the perfect life—the right marriage, the right husband, the right house,” says Di Novi. “Julia escaped an abusive relationship and has worked hard to move past it, yet she is still hiding it from David. So it is kind of a cautionary tale for women about what can happen when your whole identity rests on your relationship with a man, good or bad.”
Di Novi says that working with Heigl and Dawson was inspiring, as both inherently possessed similar characteristics that their respective characters did.

“The thing that got me about Rosario when I met her, is that she has an inherent goodness about her and a huge heart and I knew that would work for the role,” says Di Novi. “Julia also has a kind of joie de vivre and Rosario nailed that part of the character. You see why David fell in love with Julia: she’s funny, sexy and spontaneous and doesn’t care about being a little messy, and that’s a breath of fresh air to him after being married to someone like Tessa, who is very good at keeping that perfect veneer.”

Samira Panah

Samira Panah Bakhtiar is attuned to the powerful relationship that can be forged between digital media and technology.  As sales manager for the Media & Entertainment Operation at Cisco Systems, Samira leads a team of highly passionate engineers and sales team members who evangelize this every day. Over the course of the last decade, her work at Cisco has led to strategic alignment and business transformation, with some of the world’s largest media conglomerates—focusing on introducing innovation and enhancing operational efficiency in the areas of production, contribution, post production, and primary & secondary distribution.  

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