Thoms is part of Tarantino's Cannes entourage

The School for the Arts graduate stars in the `Death Proof' half of the recent `Grindhouse'

May 18, 2007|By Chris Kaltenbach | Chris Kaltenbach,SUN REPORTER

Baltimore native Tracie Thoms, one of the featured stars in Quentin Tarantino's Death Proof, is heading for the South of France Sunday to help promote the movie at this year's Cannes Film Festival.

If the name Death Proof doesn't ring a bell, don't worry - the film began its life, and indeed can still be seen in theaters, as half of Grindhouse, the three-hour salute to '60s and '70s exploitation films that also includes Robert Rodriguez's Planet Terror. But for Cannes, which runs through May 27, Tarantino will be showing only his half of the film, in an expanded version featuring scenes not yet available to American moviegoers.

"I'm trying to remain calm about the whole thing," says Thoms, best known for playing Harvard-educated lawyer Joanne Jefferson in the movie version of Rent and Detective Kat Miller on the CBS TV series Cold Case. "But every time I think about it, I get butterflies. I expect it to be crazy."

In Death Proof, Thoms plays one of a quartet of tough-talking women challenging reckless daredevil Stuntman Mike (Kurt Russell) to a high-speed car chase.

"It was sort of fun to make it," says the Baltimore School for the Arts graduate. "It was probably the most fun I've ever had, where I've been able to call it work. It didn't feel like work, it felt like summer camp or something. I mean, they're paying you to drive this car fast and scream profanities at the top of your lungs."

Thoms, who studied at Howard University and honed her acting skills at such local venues as Arena Stage and Toby's Dinner Theatre, will be at Cannes along with Tarantino and co-stars Russell, Rosario Dawson and Zoe Bell.

She says the new scenes in Death Proof include the lap dance Butterfly (Vanessa Ferlito) gives Stuntman Mike. It was "missing" from Grindhouse (a place card appearing onscreen during the movie apologizes for the "lost reel") but has been restored for Death Proof's solo outing.

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