Independence Day: Resurgence is the much-awaited sequel to the original blockbuster, Independence Day (1996), and stars Liam Hemsworth, who takes over from where Will Smith left off. The most interesting casting addition is Sela Ward, 59, whom we love from such roles in Once and Again, and most recently, CSI: NY. We also saw her on the big screen in a small but pivotal role in the award-winning drama, Gone Girl.
Now the brunette beauty is having the time of her life playing the President of the United States in this upcoming action movie. MiNDFOOD goes on the set in Albuquerque, New Mexico to take a sneak peak at what we can expect. In between filming some harrowing scenes, Ward takes a few moments to chat.
Don’t you think it’s apropos that you play a president when next year could be an historic moment in the United State?
Isn’t that cool?
Can you talk about what the president is dealing with at that particular point in time?
Well in her administration, it’s a very different political landscape. Imagine 9/11 on steroids. There are a lot of parallels; living with trauma, fear, economic downturn, recession, two wars and I think we are sort of in that same mode and if you put that on steroids by being invaded by aliens from another planet. As well as that, they have a descriptive three billion people die from the first Independence Day, so it’s a very different climate. And my character’s children and husband were killed so there’s an agenda; it’s all about survival. So having the whole planet together, all the leaders working together, it’s sort of a great moral lesson for the planet under great possibilities of uniting instead of being at odds all the time.
Who leads the other nations? Is it still America? Is there a separate political structure?
No, it really feels like there are many times that I am calling the shots but I am asking the counsel of the leaders of the world, their opinions, whoever is left at any given point in time.
What is it like to experience that much power?
I have only worked for three days so far and so I am just getting my sea legs with this character. But that’s the daunting part; are you going to be taken seriously and does your performance have enough gravitas and power? We are not used to seeing a female president in this country so what does that look like? It’s great that I have Hilary on the campaign trail to be watching, especially for things like how does she approach a podium and how does she approach the press?
What do you admire the most about your character?
Well, I love playing strong women. It’s very hard to play an unintelligent woman, for me. So to be able to play the president of a country is fabulous and everything has to be really heightened when you’re running a country. So I thrive playing those kinds of characters.
Are you very politically minded in your personal life? Do you think there’s a political message in this movie?
I do see a political message. That the state of the world as it is now with so many factions in disharmony, you look at something like this where the entire planet has to come together with the united agenda of survival, right? So it makes ISIS and all the clashes, Russia, all look like petty child’s play. And it is. So the juxtaposition is so glaringly important for our consciousness to really think. That’s why, for that reason, I think the movie is so timely. You hope that in the collective consciousness something as silly as a sci-fi movie could sort of elevate our thinking. And I have always hated politics for all the obvious reasons and I used to feel very apolitical, but being from Mississippi, and having gotten involved in the state government in many aspects, whether it’s restoring 1800s Opera Houses in the town or historical preservation or starting a children’s home for abused kids there and helping a very poor state in the country elevate itself – I found that the power, this sense of being able to really make a difference behind the scenes, is very empowering.
When was the last time you saw the original movie?
I watched it two weeks ago.
What did you think?
Well, first of all, I couldn’t believe how it held up. I mean, I really sat there thinking, ‘Oh my God, this could come out today and I wouldn’t blink an eye.’ It didn’t look dated. There were probably a couple of moments, if I were a sci-fi nut, that I would fault here and there, but as a whole I thought it held up beautifully.
You love to play an intelligent woman and you’re also a classy woman. Have you dealt with prejudices being a strong woman?
Well, I am certainly not a sociologist and I don’t really study that but there is definitely a bias against women being assertive. And it’s the cliché of ‘Well, she’s a bitch,’ or ‘She is really difficult,’ still exists.
Do you still like in Mississippi?
I have a farm there that I go to every summer with the kids. I don’t live there all the time, I live in LA but I have still got a high school kid, so school keeps you rooted.
Is it a working farm that you live on?
No. It used to be a dairy farm, so it’s mostly pasture land. We tried cows which we failed at miserably, and I have a lot of blind horses and rescue horses. And they are all pretty to look at. (laughs) That’s about it. I want to grow hemp for clothes and for everything. You can make concrete out of it but Mississippi hasn’t made that legal and this is that political thing and I am ready to go before the state legislature and give them all the reasons why. There is all that fertile farmland in the Delta, the old cotton land just sitting there.
So has Mississippi given women the right to vote yet?