Pyrotechnic and pretty, Selma Blair sets "Hellboy II: The Golden Army" aflame.
And now the acclaimed actress lights up the small screen with her turn as a vacuous vamp with mother issues that would have Oedipus putting his eyes out all over again in "Kath & Kim," a new Thursday-night NBC comedy just given an extra order of episodes.
Extraordinary with that certain X factor that has made her the "It" girl on screen, Blair bewitches and bedazzles even as she once claimed to be "an unlikely leading lady."
Lead on, Selma: Still believe that? "You know, either way I'm going to sound yucky, whatever way I answer that," she hedges.
Yucky? Yup, part of the appeal of this yuppie-ish actress whose every good intention to showcase her talent paid off in "Cruel Intentions" (1999) and whose ability to raise hell had her hellbent to do the sequel to her starring role in "Hellboy." (Both are now out on DVD.)
Or was that raising … Hillel? The youngster once known to her Michigan mishpocah as Selma Blair Beitner was raised in a proud Jewish family, which sent her off to Hillel Day School packed with a pareve lunch.
Now, at 36, the blazingly pretty Blair — Selma's alabaster skin clearly caught the eye of Vogue earlier this year — maintains her mitzvah ways. Hers was a traditional Jewish ceremony when she wed Ahmet Zappa in 2004. (The chupah did develop a tear or two; she and the rocker zapped their vows, divorcing in 2006.)
There is nothing traditional about her choices, however. Isn't trading an image as "The Sweetest Thing" for a flame-thrower (the "Hellboy" series) akin to tossing a match at your career?
Obviously not, as this maverick seems well-matched to stretch and, in the case of "Hellboys," be incendiary.
Blair with flare? Make that flair, and no less likely a place to show it than in "Kath & Kim," on which her daughterly duties include taking out the white trash.
But her portrayal surely has curb appeal. "For some reason, I find Kim kind of lovable," says Blair. "I mean, irritating for sure.
They love me, they really love me — trumpeting Blair has been a movie-trade-magazine mantra. Blair has been bringing in fans, too. Besides her silver-screen honors — she was a standout in "Legally Blonde" — there's the golden-girl greeting she gets by being named to this year's "Rosh Hashanah Hotties: The Top 12 Jewish Hollywood Beauties" — 12 for 5769, a very hot year — by scandalist.com.
Scan the list and see she's in good company, this Jewish actress who's on a first-name basis with her Jewish appellation of Batsheva.
Golden Rules Rule
Judging by what she says — and acts — it's no coincidence Blair grew up acknowledging that the golden rules rule; hellgirl, too? Nope, after all, her mother was a judge.
And Mom was the mother of all mothers — in a good way, unlike Kath (Molly Shannon), whose mother smothers with day-old leftovers of advice.
While Blair was the cool kid on the block in Southfield, Mich., Kim is the blockhead of the trailer park tradition that trails her in what may be called "The Philadelphia Story," only with unsightly excavations.
Blair, which project projects the inner you? "Kim is nothing like what I was growing up," relates Blair. "I am close with my mom."
Close call to call Kim the anti-daughter? "I don't think Kim's completely the anti-daughter," she muses.
"I think, at the heart of it, she really does love and support her mom and really wants to be with her so much. She just depends on her mom too much, so it's a little tricky."
Trick or treat — it's certainly a change from her roarin' fire of a role in "Hellboy" (and two straight-to-video DVDs), in which Blair's Liz Sherman has to learn to temper her temperature from Fahrenheit 411 to a cooler calm.
(Though, in the flicks, Liz is romantically linked to the title character — pregnant with twins — there is no basis in fact that Blair's former husband was a hellboy of his own; she has nothing but the best of praise for Zappa, whom she has called "a lovely man.")
In a way, the whole career has been picture-perfect, reflecting, perhaps, that Blair earned her degree in photography from the University of Michigan. Maybe that's a snapshot of things to come in Kim's "career"?
Negative. "I think Kim wants to be in front of the camera for sure; I don't think she'd be a photographer."
Wrong frame of reference? "She'd do something probably a little" — is that the sound of trash cans clanging in the back? — "louder."