In the spirit of Valentine's Day, I dedicate this list to the small collection of famous women who, often for inexplicable reasons, I have crushes on. You can have your Charlize Therons, your Jennifer Lopezes, your Angelina Jolies. I don't want them. These nine ladies might not make most frat boys' top ten babe lists, but... well, I guess that says it all right there.
- Kim Deal. The lead singer-guitarist for '90s alt-rock band The Breeders (and her one-time offshoot, The Amps) is so cool. Independent, tough, with a high scratchy voice and pixie-ish look (what do you know, she was also in The Pixies), she even smiles as she plays guitar! She's apparently a big-time pothead, but Kim Deal is still AOK with me.
- Jennifer Tilly. Notorious for her nasal voice, and commonly cast in annoying comic sexpot character roles, Jennifer Tilly's allure is still hard to deny . Anybody who's seen her in Bound would agree. I got the opportunity to stare at her for a few minutes while she was on stage emceeing a theatre presentation in Hollywood a year ago. What luck!
- Emily Watson. This two-time Oscar nominee from England is best known for tackling some pretty intense roles (Breaking the Waves, Hilary and Jackie, etc.) while still coming across as unusually charming. Not only is she a fine actress, but I also dig her cute accent, intensely blue eyes, and obvious intelligence. And one of the most expressive faces in the movies today. (That pixie look again!)
- Björk. Speaking of pixie-looking... Do you sense a trend here? Icelandic music singer/genius Björk needs no introduction - and, in my opinion, no explanation as to why she's on this list. If you don't agree that she's one of the coolest people on earth, I will fight you.
- Alex Kingston. We leave the land of elfin-looking women now and pay tribute to this interesting British actress, best known from the TV series ER. I have actually never seen this show, nor many of her other movies (Moll Flanders, et al), but I really dug her in the film Croupier - and it's not just because of her nude scene, either. (Though it was nice.) But I like her husky voice, and she looked really cool playing tennis in Croupier. And okay, maybe she reminds me of a girl I once dated.
- Maggie Cheung. This Hong Kong superstar was just another Jackie Chan heroine to me, appearing in scores of rather forgettable HK comedies, until I saw her in the amazing French film Irma Vep and fell head over heels. Her face is actually my desktop pattern (Björk previously held this honor - as did Jack Nance in Eraserhead, come to think of it). A terrific actress and a gorgeous woman. Rush out and see her latest film, In the Mood for Love, if you doubt. You will doubt no longer.
- Natalie Merchant. I've had a crush on this lady since I was a teenager and first heard about her old band 10,000 Maniacs. (They were new then.) I never really got into her music, but I still respect her as a musician. As for her looks? I can't put my finger on it. Maybe I just like her style. She seems like she'd be a fantastic dinner party guest.
- Elizabeth Peña. I've had a small crush on her for a while, so I think it's interesting that some have noted that Yelena Danova, one of the stars of my film Foreign Correspondents, bears a slight resemblance to Ms. Peña. I didn't think about it at the time I cast her, but maybe it was unconscious? Anyway, it's a shame this woman doesn't have a fan site out there on the Web; I had a devil of a time trying to dig up a photo of her.
- Cecilia Roth. This Argentinean-born actress has been a long-time favorite of Spanish filmmaker Pedro Almodovar; I only discovered her somewhat recently in his Oscar-winning All About My Mother. Her performance in that film is so appealing, I wanted to hang out with her immediately. Too bad I don't speak Spanish. And by the way, I'd like to use this entry to give credit to all the other wonderful crushworthy women who have achieved some sort of fame (as opposed to the countless not-so-famous women who I love, including my jealous girlfriend of course): Kate Bush, Nia Long, Ingrid Bergman, Geena Davis, Harriet Wheeler, Gloria Grahame, Malinda Williams, Michelle Yeoh... The list goes on, but I shall not.