Confused? Well, hold tight and let’s backtrack a little. Janssen isn’t talking about her personal life, but rather her new role as Judy Arnolds in the noir comedy Eulogy, due in theaters Oct. 15. In the film, Janssen – who costars alongside Hank Azaria, Zooey Deschanel and Ray Romano – portrays the stoic life partner of Lucy Collins (Preston), who returns home to attend her father’s funeral and break the news about her lifestyle to the rest of the crazy Collins family. For some, Janssen’s portrayal of Judy will no doubt unveil another facet of her artistic talents. Others, however, may wonder if the actress had any difficulty empathizing with a new character.
“Why would I?” she queries. “When you work on your character, you always work on the material you’ve been given and the character arc to try to develop something [meaningful].”
Evidenced by her complex role in Eulogy – and even by her crazy storyline as a demented life coach in this season’s “Nip/Tuck” – Janssen has come a long way from her early days as a model. Born and raised in the Netherlands, Janssen’s face was introduced to the world in her teens through magazine covers which, in turn, opened up a world of new experiences for the actress, evidenced by the fact that the actress now speaks fluent German, French, English and, of course, Dutch. Well aware that the spelling of her name belies its pronunciation, she enunciates it to help those unaccustomed to reading it in print.
“It’s pronounced ‘Fohm-kah’ in Holland,” she explains. “I was born in a province called Friesland [and] it’s totally uncommon. It means ‘little girl.’”
After working in front of flashbulbs on catwalks all over the globe, Janssen took a step back from the fast lane to attend Columbia University in New York City. While there she was bitten by the acting bug, which led to her film debut in 1992’s Fathers and Sons. A few years later the former model resurfaced onscreen as the femme-fatale Bond Girl, Xenia Onatopp, opposite Pierce Brosnan in GoldenEye, and shortly after, to the role of psychic super heroine Jean Grey in X-Men and its sequel, X2.
Janssen’s roles have been getting juicier since her film debut and director Michael Clancy’s Eulogy is no exception, in which Janssen shares a kiss with costar Kelly Preston. And although some of the Janssen-Preston lip locking didn’t make the film’s final cut, Janssen explains that getting scenes chopped out of a project is a part of show business.
“At this point, I’ve learned that once you’re done [shooting] and you’re done with your performance on set, you’ve got to let go and move on,” she says like a grizzled veteran. “I haven’t watched every movie I’ve done. To me, honestly, it’s the experience on the set that counts. Whatever I’ve done with that character, at that time, was important. Everything after that is out of your control.”
The Eulogy cast includes comedy vets Azaria, Romano and Rip Torn, with the film’s storyline a departure from the action and thriller roles that Janssen has played in the past. The actress, however, still feels as if she had prior experience already under her belt before diving into her new role.
“Love and Sex – [a film] I did with Jon Favreau – was a little comedy. And I always thought GoldenEye, the Bond movie, was a comedy, personally,” she says with a laugh. “I think throughout, I’ve tried to make things funny even if they weren’t [intended to be].
“I don’t have any one movie that can compare [to Eulogy],” reveals Janssen. “I’m just an actress trying to touch on comedy once in a blue moon.”