The Virginian-Pilot
                             THE VIRGINIAN-PILOT 
              Copyright (c) 1996, Landmark Communications, Inc.

DATE: Thursday, November 7, 1996            TAG: 9611070036
                                            LENGTH:   63 lines


SHE'S SOOOOOO cheap! She's so dumb! Jennifer Tilly knows they've been saying these things about her for years. Armed with a voluptuous figure and a tiny little baby-whine voice, she's played a series of gun molls and dimwits.

``In my age range,'' she cooed, ``I always play the ditzy, wacky, vacant girl who is there mainly to show that the guy is heterosexual before he runs off to play all the big action scenes.''

That is, up until now. Tilly earned some respect when she received an Oscar nomination playing a mobster mistress in Woody Allen's ``Bullets Over Broadway.''

With impeccable comic timing, she stole all her scenes, as the world's worst actress who got a Broadway role because her gangster-boyfriend put up the money.

``Everyone seemed to think you have to be dumb to play a dumb blonde,'' Tilly said as she sat for a recent interview. ``Actually, you have to be kinda smart. Everyone said, too, that I use the same voice in every movie. Let them take another look - or listen. The voice is never the same.

``Until I got the Oscar nomination, I, personally, didn't feel anyone thought I could act. It came as a shock to me that the voters got the joke.''

Now, she's playing one of the movie year's toughest women - Violet in ``Bound,'' opening here Friday. It's a film noir with humor about two women who take on the mob. Violet is the resident plaything of Caesar (Joe Pantoliono), a two-bit money launderer for the mob in Chicago. When she teams up with Corky, a leather-clad convict from next door (Gina Gershon), these two seemingly vulnerable women teach the mob a thing or two.

It's the film debut of directing-writing brothers Larry and Andy Wachowski - and it's a dilly.

``The cast is made up of the cheapest actors in Hollywood,'' Jennifer Tilly said. ``We all cut our asking price just to be in it. Violet is the best role I've ever had.

``I probably only got it because I'm a B-level actress. It got down to the B list because the role involves some lesbian love scenes.''

Linda Hamilton (``Terminator 2'') was originally expected to play Violet and Tilly wanted the role of Corky, the tougher, more masculine, ex-con.

``I figured I'd have to work out and get buffed up, but that was the part I wanted,'' Tilly said. ``I figured Violet was just another sexpot. I'd played that part before. Then, the role of Violet became available. Upon reading it more closely, I realized that these two women, Violet and Corky, were two strong, really strong, forces. They are like two halves that make a whole.''

Pantoliono, who plays the sleazy Caesar in ``Bound,'' has fond memories of the filming. ``It was a low budget film but I cashed in on two counts - I got to keep my own clothes and I played cards with Jennifer. The suits are nice, except it's too bad the guy got shot in one scene. For three months, I played cards with Jennifer. She lost $28,000 to me. She sent me a check. This girl has lots of money.''

``He told you that?'' Jennifer gasped. ``Well, it's true. I didn't do so good in cards on the set, but I paid up. I bet he thought I wouldn't pay him.''

As for researching the role, Tilly said, ``I never saw a real gangster in my life. Except, one of my pictures, I won't tell you which one, I think was financed by gangsters. A guy with a machine gun guarded the set. Anyway, all I know is that Violet is a woman who is underestimaged by all the men around her - and I don't have to do any research for playing that.''

She'll next be seen in Disney's ``The Wrong Guy,'' with David Foley of ``Kids in the Hall.'' Currently, she's filming ``Liar, Liar'' with Jim Carrey. by CNB