Celebrity Then And Now
Posted by Jake Frost
Celebrity Then And Now
Publication: Stanton Daily. Posted by Jake Frost
December 8, 1953
1983 - Present
Currently Known For:
Actress, Singer and Former Fashion Model
Never Say Never, The Natural, Batman, and L.A. Confidential
“I started doing one comedy after another before I was ever even allowed to do a drama in this town. Now I’ve done so many dramas in my life, and people don’t even know I came from comedy.” Getting her start on the runway in New York during the 1970s, Kim Basinger left the Big Apple behind for Los Angeles in 1976 where she pursued her dreams of taking the stage as an actress. She appeared in a string of television films before snagging her first feature film role in Hard Country in 1981. Two years later, she became a household name when she starred opposite Sean Connery as James Bond in Never Say Never Again and followed up the hit with her award-nominated performance in The Natural. Enjoying similar success over the last two decades in flicks like 9 ½ Weeks, Batman, L.A. Confidential and 8 Mile, the 63-year-old continues to stay busy today with recent credits including The Nice Guys and Fifty Shades Darker. So, how does she manage it all?
Kimila Ann Basinger came into this world on December 8, 1953 in Athens, Georgia where her father was a big band musician and former soldier in the United States Army while her mother was an actress, model and swimmer. Although she was incredibly shy as a child, Basinger was in awe of both her father and mother’s professions and attributes that as inspiration behind her own venture into modeling and acting. “Something was in my soul since I was born. In life, there are no certainties, but there are certain things that are just there and you can’t deny them, and I knew that I would leave Athens when I got older,” she recalled.
Growing more confident by her teens, Basinger fell in love with performing and eventually earned a spot on her school’s cheerleading team before she surprised her parents and herself by entering the America’s Junior Miss Scholarship pageant. Singing “Would It Be Loverly” from her favorite film, My Fair Lady, Basinger’s performance stunned everyone in the audience. “I was so shy at school that I hardly ever talked, so everybody thought I was kind of a hermit,” she said. “And that night, I walked out on the stage and sang in front of the whole high school. You could hear a pin drop because they said, ‘We didn’t know she could talk, much less…’ So, they were a little surprised I had this big voice… You know, with all I’ve accomplished and all the things I’ve done in my life in a professional sense, I’ve never been as thrilled again in my entire life because it had to do with music, and because it was what I deeply love so much, and because my father was in the audience that night.”
Channeling the adrenaline of her performance to pursue her passions for music, Basinger initially turned down a modeling contract with Ford Modeling Agency to attend the University of Georgia but realized her mistake and returned to New York where she signed the deal. Taking acting classes in the evening, Basinger never enjoyed modeling despite her success as the face of Breck Shampoo throughout the 1970s. “It was very hard to go from one booking to another and always have to deal with the way I looked,” Basinger admitted. “I couldn’t stand it. I felt myself choking.”
Basinger left New York in 1976 and moved to Los Angeles where she launched her career as an actress with bit parts on series like McMillan & Wife and Charlie’s Angels. She starred in a string of made-for-television films and made her feature film debut in Hard Country in 1981, the same year she posed nude for Playboy magazine. Two years later, Basinger skyrocketed to fame and became a household name when she played Bond girl Domino Petachi opposite Sean Connery in Never Say Never Again. From there, she joined Robert Redford in The Natural and Mickey Rourke in 9 ½ Weeks only to find her biggest success at the end of the decade when she starred as Vicki Vale in Tim Burton’s Batman in 1989.
“It was just an ongoing belief and faith that this is where I was supposed to go, where I was headed, because I had to do this thing,” Basinger said of her growing stardom in Hollywood. “It was really just an intuitive knowing, and you don’t back down from that. I don’t care if fear is involved—and there has been a tremendous amount of fear at times.”
Putting that fear aside and going on to find mainstream success throughout the 1990s and new millennium, Basinger earned an Academy Award, a Golden Globe Award and a Screen Actors Guild Award for Best Actress for her performance in L.A. Confidential in 1997. Since then, she’s wowed audiences with projects like I Dreamed of Africa, 8 Mile, The Door in the Floor and Cellular with her most recent credits coming in The Nice Guys in 2016 and in Fifty Shades Darker in 2017.
Apart from her work on the silver screen, the 63-year-old stays incredibly busy at her home in Southern California where she spends much of her time with her 20-year-old daughter, Ireland, from her marriage to Alec Baldwin from 1993 to 2002. Sharing neighboring homes and a family of 13 dogs, Basinger says she couldn’t be happier with where life has taken her. “I’ve been very blessed having traveled all over the world and meeting lots of wonderful people,” Basinger says. “My boyfriend and I spend a lot of time in Hawaii, our favorite place on earth. I have always loved writing and I’m getting more into it these days, especially children’s books. The most important thing I do is work with four wonderful animal protection groups to helps top the cruelty that goes on in every country on this planet.”
Still terribly shy today despite her incredible success over the last four decades, Basinger doesn’t have any regrets… then again, why would she? “I’ve been so blessed because I’ve had such longevity,” she says. “I’m not a big red-carpet girl, but I love the work.” And the work definitely loves her!