Life Is Hot for Kerry Washington

She's gone gay on film twice, stumped for Obama, and held her own with Bill Maher. Now Kerry Washington tackles her toughest role to date: as a transsexual, heroin-addicted prostitute in Life Is Hot in Cracktown .

BY Ross von Metzke

June 26 2009 12:00 AM ET

KERRY WASHINGTON RED CARPET XLRG (GETTY) | ADVOCATE.COM

Which I think a lot of people needed right about then. Yeah, yeah! I'll be honest with you. There were places where, I looked on the schedule, and I was like, "That scares me." [ Laughs ] "I'm a black woman going there? Why are we doing that?" [ Laughs ] But it was great -- it was just great.

What's your take on his job so far? Are you happy? I am -- you couldn't pay me to do the job [ laughs ]. I would say for the first 100 days [this interview took place in mid May], I think it's pretty good. He has a huge task ahead of him to fix all of the problems that were created ...just to fix the problems that have been caused in the last eight years, never mind the issues that existed before that. So, yeah, I don't envy him, but I do support his journey.

You've played gay at least twice -- that I know of. You're carving out quite a little gay niche for yourself in terms of a following. Is it that the characters interest you? Are you particularly drawn to those characters? You know, I'm just drawn to real people, and I think most actors are scared to play real people, so I'm privileged to play characters sometimes that I think other actors are nervous to play. I don't see my job as a job about playing it safe. I think the task in front of me is to tell honest stories about humanity. So I get to do what I think other actors are sometimes reluctant to do.

Kristin Chenoweth was talking about her planned Dusty Springfield biopic and said that she would love to have you play her lover. That's got to be flattering. Oh, yeah, especially coming from her -- she's the cutest human being on the planet. She knows I'm a huge fan of hers and she actually is sweet enough to have mentioned it to me beforehand. She's like, "I'm going to be talking about it, so I just want you to know." I adore her and I think she's massively talented, so yeah -- and what an important story to tell.

Well it's out there in the universe now, so we can hope. Exactly.

How many languages do you speak? OK -- I don't know where this got started.

So is it true, or not -- that you speak eight languages? No, it's not true at all. I speak acceptable English, I think -- on a good day. I speak fluent Spanglish. I speak very little French.

Your accent is great, though [Kerry speaks French in Life Is Hot in Cracktown ]. Thank you. I'm learning French because when I became a L'Oréal girl I started spending more time in Paris and in Cannes every year, because L'Oréal pays for the festival. So I bought my Rosetta Stone because I wanted to learn more, and I try to learn more when I'm there, but I can't hold a conversation in French -- I can fake it really well. If you count the Bronx as a world unto itself, then that dialect may count for something [ laughs ].

Yeah, so the interview that says you speak Russian and Swahili is a lie? That would be so hilarious. It's a fun rumor but -- sadly, sadly -- not true.

Tags: film

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