The Girl Next Door
Katie Holmes on Directing and her Connection to an Iconic Toy Store
By Jeryl Brunner
Katie Holmes has a special connection with the iconic toy store FAO Schwarz. (Remember the toy mecca in the scene from Big where Tom Hanks dances on the giant piano?) “I have such fond memories being a kid shopping there,” says the actress and director. She remembers when she saw FAO Schwarz for the first time during a visit to New York City when she was 10 years old. “It was so magical. The toys are so original and well thought out,” says Holmes, who is getting ready to begin shooting the action film Doorman. “It makes kids feel really special and happy to be a child, happy to dream and happy to play and imagine.”
On that trip she came home with toys that gave her lasting memories. “My dad got me a teddy bear which was really special,” she shares. “I was a big Barbie doll person so I got some holiday Barbies.”
This past week, when the toy retailer launched its new holiday collection at a special event at Bergdorf Goodman, Holmes got on board to celebrate. Best of all, the evening benefited KaBOOM!, a non-profit organization that builds playgrounds and brings play to children, particularly those in underserved communities. “Playgrounds are so vital,” says Holmes, who is a mom to 11-year-old Suri. “Kids need to be outside. They need to be climbing and jumping and interacting with each other—not on a screen but in person. It’s part of being a kid.”
At the event, Parade had a chance to chat with Holmes.
What do you like to do when you have a day off?
I love wondering around the MoMA [The Museum of Modern Art]. It’s just relaxing. I like to go, not knowing what the new exhibit is, and just explore and take it all in.
Next year you will be directing another film, Rare Objects. What does directing give you?
I’m going to direct Rare Objects this spring in New York. I like storytelling. And my experience making All We Had was exciting because I also enjoyed working with the actors and putting the puzzle pieces together. I like visually experimenting with the composition of certain shots and how to tell a story in a certain way. I have been acting a long time, and it’s nice to take on another responsibility and be a part of what stories are being told.
You have also acted on Broadway. Would you like to do another play?
I would love that. I’m getting ready to start shooting Doorman next week and then I’m directing Rare Objects. But I love doing theater. Performing on Broadway was one of my favorite times. The rehearsal process is my favorite because you transform as actors. The play transforms and becomes alive. You get close to your castmates and are doing something all together. You’re creating every single day and it’s really pure.
What advice would you offer people starting their career?
I feel very fortunate with my career. I have worked with a lot of actresses and actors who have been very inspiring and kind. Different great films helped me grow as an artist. I tell people who are starting out as an artist to watch as many movies as possible. Develop your taste and figure out the kind of stories that you want to tell and then go forward with that. [For me], it’s hard to pick one great film, but my favorite filmmakers are François Truffaut, John Cassavetes, Cameron Crowe and Jean-Luc Godard, just to name a few. You learn something with every single shot. Their films are so poetic. Also, have fun with what you do.