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Saturday, 15 July, 2000, 08:19 GMT 09:19 UK
Janet goes nuts for Hollywood
Jackson and Murphy in The Klumps
Janet: Back on the big screen after a seven-year absence
By BBC News Online's entertainment correspondent Tom Brook

Janet Jackson, best known as one of America's most successful female recording stars, is making a high profile return to the big screen playing opposite Eddie Murphy in his new sequel Nutty Professor II: The Klumps.

Jackson is portraying the pretty colleague and fiancÚ of the oversize Sherman Klump in this high-spirited comedy in which Eddie Murphy, in a dazzling display of acting, plays six different roles.


I wanted to do something different in a whole different area

Janet Jackson

Jackson's last venture into movies was seven years ago as a beautician and poet in the title role of Justice, in director John Singleton's romantic drama Poetic Justice.

Jackson has definitely made her name through her songs. She has more gold certified singles that any other female recording artist in history.

But she also has a long track record of acting that pre-dates her music stardom - she appeared in a number of American TV sitcoms during the 1970s and early 1980s.

Challenge

Jackson maintains she finds inspiration for her acting from some of today's screen idols. She says: "I'm crazy about Meryl Streep, Glenn Close, I love Angela Bassett. As far as the men go, I'm crazy about Denzel, DeNiro. I love Al Pacino."

Jackson says she never intended to stop making movies after Poetic Justice but found that the scripts she received were either similar to the film, or like Justice the character.

Eddie Murphy
Challenge: Murphy's multiple roles
"I wanted to do something different in a whole different area but often if there was a script that I liked, there was a scheduling conflict, or something else going on."

Jackson is clearly pleased to have been cast in Nutty Professor II. But, because Murphy plays multiple characters - often several in the same scene simultaneously - it presented the actress with unusual challenges.

On several occasions she found herself performing opposite a tennis ball representing one of the Klump family that Murphy was playing.

Jackson found in those scenes, where Murphy was present playing a specific Klump family member, it made all the difference.

She says: "When he was that character he made it so easy for myself because he brought each and every character to life."

Scrutiny

Janet Jackson comes from one of America's more eccentric show business families.

Largely as a result of the antics of her brother Michael, the family has often been the subject of intense media scrutiny.

Jackson found herself the subject of a minor media storm last month when it was revealed that she had been secretly married to her longtime collaborator Rene Elizondo.

Michael Jackson
Michael Jackson's fame has put all the family in the spotlight
It only came to light after Elizondo filed for divorce and revealed that he had been married to Jackson since 1991.

In a statement at that time she said: "It pains me greatly that despite my sincere efforts, my marriage to Rene did not work out.

"Since I was a child, my personal life has been lived in the public eye. At times, this has been very difficult."

Jackson admits that there are pluses, as well as minuses, in coming from one of the best-known show business families in America.

"It made it much easier for me to get my foot in the door," she says, recalling how much her family name helped when she was trying to develop her career.

But Jackson admits the disadvantages are there too: "Wondering what you truly can do, or if you are as talented as the next person in your family, or if it is just a fluke. It was tough at times."

Jackson wants to pursue acting, but being a R&B diva is very much the focus of her life.

Janet Jackson
Janet: Not giving up her music career
"I would never give up my music and as a matter of fact I'm working on an album now, but I will continue to do films because acting is definitely a passion as well as my music."

Jackson's appearance opposite Eddie Murphy, although high profile, is not going to win her an Oscar.

But it will bring her attention, the original Nutty Professor with Murphy took in some $270 million, and it's expected that the sequel will be one of the summer's bigger hits. Janet Jackson seems very much at home in the role.

On screen she is the most normal looking person amid the hugely dysfunctional Klump family clan -for many moviegoers it will no doubt remind then of Jackson's relationship with her real-life family.

See also:

01 Jun 00 | Entertainment
Jackson's secret marriage ends
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