With Her Latest Role, Blond Beauty Kim Basinger Goes from Bond to Bondage

UPDATED 08/05/1985 at 01:00 AM EDT Originally published 08/05/1985 at 01:00 AM EDT

Wipe the steam from your spectacles and look again. The beauty in chains is Kim Basinger, getting into the part for a controversial, as yet unreleased yuppie sadomasochistic flick titled 9½ Weeks.

Director Adrian (Flashdance) Lyne has cast the blonde from the 007 caper Never Say Never Again (1983) as the distaff twist of a kinky pair of lovers hooked on danger. These are Manhattan fast-trackers—John, a broker, and Elizabeth, an art dealer. They wear trendy threads, exercise daily, have nifty apartments and shop at Bloomingdale's for the bed on which Elizabeth is trussed. But 9½ Weeks most prominently features bizarre sex, including S&M, and that's the rub.

Since the film script, based on Elizabeth McNeill's 1978 cult memoir, was shopped around Hollywood, the project has been vigorously debated. Tri-Star Pictures agreed to produce the movie, then pulled out over "creative differences" with Lyne three days before shooting was to begin in March 1984. Producers Sales Organization, a film sales and production company, stepped in as a major investor and the $15 million film began rolling.

Basinger and co-star Mickey Rourke have also had qualms about 9½ Weeks. "I didn't want the part, I didn't want anything to do with it," insists Basinger (though it earned her a $400,000 fee). "I didn't want to go that far in life, ever. It is one thing to be an actress, but another to do this film." Then why did she? "Because the role is powerful, would get up each morning and think, what I am doing will be phenomenal, and phenomenal for me from the standpoint of self-confidence."

What happened, according to some who watched Lyne directing Basinger, was that he would terrify her to get the performance he required. "There was yelling, screaming and crying," Lyne admits. "Reality and the movie sometimes became a blur." Rourke says, "I can't say I enjoyed doing the film, but it was such an unlikely part for me—the character interested me."

Last spring when test audiences were shown the film, some viewers were repelled by the explicit scenes. The producers and the director agreed that Lyne should take to the editing room says British producer Lord Antony Rufus Isaacs and "make the film more accessible for the audience." After further screenings, Lyne decided to put back the steamy stuff, reshuffling the scenes. "It had become a movie that didn't have a point of view anymore," he says. "It was benign." The producers have the final cut but claim they will go along with Lyne's edit. Meanwhile the distributor, MGM/UA, has dropped the movie from its 1985 release schedule.

Lyne insists that when 9½ Weeks is released (possibly next February), S&M Hollywood-style will find its audience. "The challenge," he says, "is to get couples in Des Moines to see it and they will argue about it all the way home. Then," he concludes with an impish grin, "maybe they'll do some of the stuff they've seen in the movie."

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