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Dawson finds character’s backstory ‘Unforgettable’

April 18, 2017 GMT

LOS ANGELES — For Rosario Dawson, “Unforgettable” is more than a thriller in which an unhinged ex goes gangster on her successor.

“What I loved about this was the opportunity to tell a very multifaceted story about women that didn’t have to have them be perfect,” she said of a scenario that sees her character, Julia Banks, increasingly threatened by her fiance’s tightly wound, still possessive ex, Tessa (Katherine Heigl).

“I like,” Dawson, 37, continued, “there wasn’t, ‘She’s bad and this is the good person.’

“What was interesting was watching these two different women struggle with the idea of perfection and how, striving for perfection, each gets lost — the miscommunication and just the opportunities and possibilities because of knee-jerk reactions, the heat of the moment or the distraction of anger.”

As Julia becomes enmeshed in Tessa’s sick mind games, the horrors of her earlier, abusive relationship are resurrected. That toxic cocktail sent her to psychiatric treatment and saw her lover incarcerated.

Julia keeps this destructive past secret from the man she loves, but the actress grew up learning about the issue. For dec­ades Dawson has been actively campaigning to end violence against women.

“When I was younger, my mom worked at an organization called Women’s Inc. in San Francisco,” she recalled.

“My character doesn’t have family or a lot of friends. Oftentimes when you get into an abusive relationship, (your abuser)cuts you off from others and you end up being more and more desperately needing that abuser.

“To know my mom was on the other side of that door for a woman like my character was inspiring.

“When (Julia) is finally ready to knock on that door and say, ‘I want out of this, I need help,’ that there are people, strangers, willing to do that, was always so power­ful to me.”

No wonder Dawson sees a positive point amid the terrors of “Unforgettable.”

“My character had some very distinct moments: a father who was an alcoholic, a boyfriend who was very abusive physically. The reason she can now have love in her life is because she sought psychological help.”

Moviegoers are, she believes, “seeing a woman who was a victim and survivor really putting all those tools to work to become someone who’s thriving.”

(“Unforgettable” opens Friday.)