Director Bille Woodruff is known for helming projects featuring strong female roles, like HONEY, BEAUTY SHOP and countless music videos starring today’s biggest female pop stars (Toni Braxton, Britney Spears and TLC). Now the talented director returns with the sexy, stirring, sleek drama, ADDICTED. Based on the best-selling novel by Zane, the film follows Zoe Reynard (Sharon Leal), a successful businesswoman who appears to have it all – a perfect family, a healthy sex life with husband (Boris Kodjoe) and a booming PR agency. However, all of that changes when sensitive and talent artist Quinton Canosa (William Levy) enters her life and causes her to stray. She’s tempted further by another man, Corey (Tyson Beckford), who exposes her to a dangerous side of desire – lust. As risk is starting to outweigh the reward, Zoe’s therapist Dr. Marcella Smith (Tasha Smith) hints that she may be wrestling with a greater monster – the beast called addiction. And gurl, that’s when things start heating up.
At the film’s recent Los Angeles press day, Zane, Woodruff, Kodjoe, Smith, Beckford and Levy shared a few fun facts from behind-the-scenes of the steamy flick.
Though the film differs slightly from Zane’s novel, the message still remains in tact. Woodruff explains, “There’s a real story at hand; it’s a real issue – the story of addiction and honesty in relationships. Especially in the African-American community, there’s a stigma of going to get help/ seeking help. I loved that this is something that can entertain people, get them excited, but at the same time, there’s a message underneath that can get people talking and help people.” He continues, “Zane has her finger on the pulse of women. When I wanted to change Quinton to a Latin character, a lot of people would just hold onto something. She said, ‘I think that’s great! No they’ll love it!’ without any second thought.” Kodjoe was in tune with this message. “There was no doubt for me that they had a great relationship – on all levels. I didn’t want people to cop out. I wanted them to understand this was despite. When you feel that demon go, you can’t help it.” Zane says, “It was very hard for me to envision going from a 95,000 word book down to a script, because I was given the opportunity to write the script. I opted not to do it. I don’t think I could have seen losing what we lost and seeing the overall message still being effective. Now I get it.”
Tasha Smith and Bille Woodruff researched sex addiction. In the name of research the pair attended sex addicts counseling groups. Woodruff states, “We did the research on the therapy because we wanted to make sure we were saying the right things and dealing with it in the proper way.” Smith says that was integral to her part. “It was interesting. At first we were going in the direction of hypnotherapy, so I went and got hypnotherapy. I wasn’t really a believer in it. I went to a lot of group sessions – sex addiction anonymous sessions. I did a lot of one-on-ones with therapists who dealt with sex addiction and addiction. It gave me such compassion for addiction. At first we might have that judgmental perspective. To see the root of her addiction, to help this character find a place of redemption and recovery was great.”
The steamy sex scenes were anything but for most of the actors. In order to make his actors more comfortable before shooting, Woodruff took them through what he planned to shoot. “I went over the storyboards with the actors so they’d know exactly what to expect when I shoot it. They got to see and live with how I would approach doing it. On the day, I try to make it not a big deal as possible. I roll into it like the dentist sticking a needle in. It’s like the big elephant in the room and you want to keep the organic energy.” Beckford says, “He’ll [Woodruff] will tell you it’s not sexy but even to be the actors in this, you think, ‘this is kinda sexy. I’ll have to try this at home.’ He plans it all out. We just went with what he wanted, if it was too much, he’d pull us back.” Levy concurs, “There was a line each character had. We had to be different from each other. I couldn’t be so aggressive. I had to be sensitive.”
Strong women are at the forefront of ADDICTED. Woodruff states, “I love that this is a female doing things that you think of a man doing, because women and men do have similar desires.” Smith loved that this was a female-driven story. “I really give kudos to Zane for writing the book. To have this subject be told from a female perspective was wonderful. I feel like Sharon Leal did a great job. [It also] bridged that whole Latina, Africa-American gap.”
Each love scene has a distinct, unique look. Woodruff took great care into making sure each of the sex scenes had different aesthetics to match the heroine’s feeling. He says, “I definitely wanted the sex scenes in the film to tell a story. It depicts her journey. The stuff with her husband is supposed to still be sexy – it’s not like they have a boring marriage or the sex isn’t good. It’s warmer – I wanted this warmer, sexy thing going. This kind of golden thing going, but there’s some shadows and edge. With William [Levy], I wanted it to be like it’s a romantic escape. I wanted it to be like one of the paintings – like she’s escaping into one of his paintings. I tried to approach the lighting and production design to be rooted in reality but have a painterly, fantasy quality. By the time she gets involved with Corey, she’s really unraveling and gone over the edge, so I used a lot more blue lighting and hard edges and much more dramatic crushed blacks. I wanted it to feel like she was coming undone. I shot with a skinny shutter, so it gives it this more frenetic feeling and it’s cooler in tone.”
ADDICTED opens in theaters on October 10.Read More »