now-reconciled boyfriend wakes up in bed one morning to discover that that’s not Allie offering a spot of wake-up fellatio, it becomes abundantly clear that something is psychologically sadly awry. The scene is set for a terrifying confrontation that’ll change both the women’s lives forever.

Both intriguing character drama and rousing genre piece, Single White Female is one of those rare movies that packs a visceral punch without neglecting to keep one’s grey matter engaged. ‘In these pictures there’s supposed to be a good girl and a bad girl, but we worked hard to make a confusion between the two characters,’

‘There’s no genes thing where you’re born knowing how to act. You only learn about periorming by exploring who you are.’

explains oddball French director, Barbet Schroeder (Reversal of Fortune) , and they’re sentiments that his leading lady is clearly in tune with. ‘In conventional terms, Jennifer’s part would be seen as the juicy one,’ reflects Fonda, ‘but I wanted to do the other role because it wasn’t really that clear who Allie was. I thought I could take the traditional victim type and show how she’s not entirely blameless in this situation. There’s a series of things she does and doesn’t do that sort of brings all this on herself.’

Certainly the film’s ‘flatmate-from-hell’ scenario will send shivers down the spine of anyone living in the rented sector, and even though Fonda herself reckons she’s a pretty good judge of character (‘The warning lights go off fairly early’) she felt an instinctive understanding of the skewed inter-personal dynamics the movie so painfully articulates. ‘When girls form quick friendships like they do in the movie, they really get into intimate details quite quickly,’ she helpfully explains, ‘you just go on blind faith and hope that the other person will be normal and think the same way as you. This unwillingness to confront the problems that arise gets worse because often that other person is there for you when you need them. You become dependent so you’re prepared to overlook the things that might bother you about them.’

While she was a spirited young poutstress in Shag and a not too embarrassing Mandy Rice-Davies in Scandal her complex and finely- judged performance here is certainly the highlight thus far of a movie career that’s boasted one too many interesting failures David Hare’s Strapless , the J apan-baiting drama Iron Maze, the Michael J. Fox light comedy Doc Holly wood to name but three. An avowed fan of both Julie Christie (‘a goddess’) and Barbara Stanwyck (‘I watch her again and again to figure out just how she does it’), she traces her desire to be an actress right back to a certain moment while rehearsing a high school play. ‘It all fell into place all of a sudden and I knew I had a seed inside of me that could really be something if I worked at it. My family wanted me basically to do what I wanted, but I think my dad was faintly proud when I decided to follow in his footsteps.’

While the ‘Hollywood dynasty’ tag hanging over her has both its plusses and

minuses— ‘The great thing is that people in my family have done all this terrific work I really respect, but the pitfall is that I end up getting asked about them all the time’ Fonda appears refreshingly straightforward in her down-to-earth approach to the whole thing. ‘Look’, she addswith a touch of firmness, ‘I don’t want to avoid it or ignore it or put it in a back room, I want to go through it. That stuff always comes back at you if you don’t deal with it up front.’

‘The expectations people always placed on

, me almost became a burden standing in my


Before and IR": JenniierJuon Leigh turns chameleon with Bridget Fonda in Single White Female own way. When I started out I had problems with stagefright and it was like I was rejecting myself out of hand before I even tried to prove myself. Once I got over that, I gained the freedom to fail because even if it did go wrong it was my own failure. You know, there’s no genes thing where you’re born knowing how to act. You only learn about performing by exploring who you are.’

Single White Female opens across Scotland on Friday 20 November.

The List 20 November 3 December 1992 9