A Tribute to Joanna Cassidy

»Talk about beauty and the beast – she’s both.«

With this description, the statuesque and fiercely independent Joanna Cassidy was introduced as Zhora, her replicant character in »Blade Runner«. And in this monumental cinematic milestone, Cassidy’s power-house performance secured her immediate status as an icon. Asked how she got the role, she told Ridley Scott he had to give it to her because she was the only actor in town with a pet snake who knew how to handle them, as originally her role called for an erotic stage dance with a live python. And although the scene was never able to be shot due to the film going over-budget, Cassidy nevertheless managed to leave a lasting impression. Going by serial number N6FAB61216, she went searching for the meaning of life, accompanied by Rutger Hauer’s Roy and other renegade androids. And caught on the run, she dies in one of cinema’s most memorable and melancholic deaths- as shards of bursting shop-window glass hail down on her in slow motion. The critically-acclaimed Golden Globe winner has appeared in 100’s of series and movies, and after nearly 50 successful years remains at the top of her game, starring in such recent hit series as »Call Me Fitz« and »Odd Mom Out«. The festival introduces her latest film work with the international premiere of Dennis
Hauck’s neo-noir thriller »Too Late«. Additionally, »Under Fire«, »Blade Runner«, and »Who framed Roger Rabbit?« will be presented as glimpses into her extraordinary versatility as an artist, and her luminous presence in grand cinema history.

The famous red-head entered Hollywood in her late 20’s – not a typical move for a wife and mother, but there is nothing typical about this elegant self-confessed eccentric with a wild streak. Her first acting job was in 1968’s »Bullitt« with Steve McQueen – a small uncredited role in a film that many believe to contain one of the greatest car chases ever. But it wouldn’t take long before her onscreen credits would amass. Initially
working mostly in television, she took on cameos in TV’s »Mission: Impossible« and »Starsky & Hutch«, and played her first big-screen lead opposite George C. Scott in »Bank Shot«. And as Cassidy is one of the very few actresses of her generation that never had a problem working on both TV and cinema projects simultaneously, once her star took off - she hasn’t looked back. Ahead of her time, and fearless, her early work
includes her role in the TV movie »Other Mothers« where she fought the network over their homophobic fears of about portraying a lesbian couple. And continuing to trailblaze, she entered the millennium starring in the ground-breaking series »Six Feet Under« and »Body of Proof«.

The quiet confidence and power she exudes comes from an enlightened woman and artist who is fully aware of the complexity of her being, and perhaps her appeal to millions. She has remarked about herself: »I have some kind of energy that seems capable - with a hint of shivering mass deep down. I think of myself as the Lion in ›The Wizard of Oz‹.« And as to her thoughts about longevity in an unforgiving business, she is
unsurprisingly delightful: »The older I get, the harder it is for me to be normal. I can’t stand the things people say you aren’t supposed to do when you’re older. I’m a dignified and eccentric lady who doesn’t want to quit letting my imagination play out. I like to do silly things, but deep down it’s a statement about not suppressing your creativity.« Painter, sculptor, animal activist, and icon. For most genre fans, she will always be Zhora, but who can say for sure as her creative force continues to surprise and shine.

On screen and off, Joanna Cassidy is a rare gem and a class act. When recently interviewed by Vice Magazine, she spoke with such grace that the reporter wrote: »I wondered if she might be a replicant, because she seemed more human than human«.