Photos — Maurice Haas, Illustration by Berto Martinez/Unit.NL Date — 15 October, 2011
No one can accuse the modern earth mother actress of laziness. She may not be the very best actress ever to stand in front of a camera, but she is certainly the most industrious woman of her generation in the movie industry. She has done a few dull but worthy art house films and any number of stage productions of Shakespeare and Chekhov. But you are most likely to have seen her in the role of kick-ass martial arts heroine of the cult sci-fi, action franchise: Elimination, Elimination II – Return of the Nihilists, and Elimination III – Nihilist Apocalypse. This CGI-led schlock was never going to win an Academy Award. Although, in a slow year for the Academy, it was once nominated for an Oscar for make-up.
However, the franchise made everyone, including the earth mother actress, a shed load of money; while box office receipts were only ever respectable, the second film in the series was the highest grossing DVD title of its year of release and the video game spin-offs have ensured financial security for the earth mother and her children. What is also remarkable is that this trilogy has acquired a cult following with conventions around the world and even spawned an academic community who debate the film’s “message” in online forums. Once when asked what the films have brought the modern earth mother, the actress quoted Don McLean’s answer to the same question about American Pie: “It means I never have to work again.”
It is a remark that has come back to haunt her, especially as it is not true. She may be financially secure, but she remains fiercely driven and you only have to look at her website to see that films are just one part of what she does.
Describing herself as mother, wife and gardener (with no mention of her career in special effects-led films) the modern earth mother actress’s online world is a totally different place to the bleak planet of the Elimination films: it is a bright and cheery place filled with bright and cheery messages of self-affirmation, leavened with a little bit of practical wisdom on topics like breastfeeding, dealing with dyspraxic children, trying to maintain a healthy work-life balance, ideas on how to stay married, hints on how to get divorced and still be the perfect mother as well as best friend to your ex, suggestions on how to use spelt flour, musings on the beauty of Native American basketwork, clever things to do with leftover organic blueberries and plenty of homespun wisdom that teeters on the brink of Deepak Chopraism. There is a weekly newsletter full of bright and cheery recipe ideas and eco-tips, fashion hints and beauty tips. There are mini-reviews of inspirational books she has read (usually things in the Eat Pray Love idiom).
But most of all the website is big on gardening: she has expanded the gardening metaphors from Being There into an entire life philosophy and regularly exhorts her 1.7 million followers on twitter to live their lives in tune with “the gentle rhythm of mother nature’s seasons”, as expressed in the changing flora of her large garden (more of a small estate really) in Topanga Canyon where she lives with her marine biologist husband and their two children: Sky and Moon.
Truth is that she is rapidly becoming as famous for her online “brand” as she is for her cinematic oeuvre. What people like about her is the accessibility, even though she is well into her thirties she has never had Botox®* (and it shows), seldom wears makeup and is something of a blue jean and “boyfriend watch” wearing pin-up on the chic farmers’ market circuit.
Nicholas Foulkes is an author, historian and journalist. Over the last 15 years his writing has appeared in most of Britain’s national newspapers at one time or another. He is a columnist on Country Life and the Luxury editor of GQ. His most recent book, Gentlemen and Blackguards – Gambling Mania and the Plot to Steal the Derby of 1844, is published by Orion Publishing Group
Since she saw david de rothschild wearing his Ingenieur Mission Earth, she simply will not take it off and it goes everywhere with her
Think of her as a 21st century Oprah/Martha Stewart with a splash of lightly worn Hollywood glamour and her husband’s IWC on her elegant wrist. She bought her husband his Ingenieur Mission Earth to celebrate his professorship in Marine Sciences at Stanford’s Hopkins Marine Station but so far he has not been able to wear it as she has not let it off her arm for a moment.
Truth be told, she has the very smallest hint of a crush on gorgeous eco-hunk David de Rothschild (who is, by the way, a great admirer of her husband’s pioneering research) and since she saw him wearing his Ingenieur Mission Earth, she simply will not take it off and it goes everywhere with her … but she has promised her husband to get him one of his own for his birthday.
*This trademark is not owned by IWC Schaffhausen.