Latifah's 'Last Holiday'

What would you do with your time if you found out you only had three weeks to live? That's the difficult question posed in the comedy "Last Holiday" starring Queen Latifah.

Latifah plays Georgia Bird, a timid cookware saleswoman who bumps her head in a tragic work accident and finds out she only has three weeks to live.

"She decides to go off and explore all the possibilities that she had been holding herself back from exploring," Latifah said. "And a lot of comedy, a lot of humor comes from all of that. But she also teaches people some lessons just by being her outgoing self."

Her character sets herself free. With nothing to lose, she cashed in her 401(k) and lives like a crazy, rich woman.

"That's probably what many people would do if they found out they only had a few weeks left to live," she said. "Many of us are kind of just living in fear or not taking advantage of those dreams we always had or not telling the people that we love that we love them. So it's just like you wonder, 'What would you do if you only had a few weeks left to live?' "

A review says from "The Hollywood Reporter," says "one of the most likable performers in the business, Queen Latifah, finally gets a vehicle that gives her formidable talents and expansive spirit plenty of blooming room."

Is it hard to find roles that fit?

"It's always a challenge to find roles that are interesting. I mean, yeah. I'd say, yeah, it is," she said.

Queen Latifah has played a number of diverse roles in films like "Chicago," and "Beauty Shop."

"A lot of them are trying — some you have to create from scratch and it takes time, like 'Beauty Shop,' and others — you have to kind of get people in Hollywood to think differently, which is what we did with 'Last Holiday' and 'Taxi,' " she said. "Both of those roles were written for white guys. Now you have to put me in their minds. Once it was suggested to them by my agent, they were like, that could be kind of interesting. So it's just a matter of time trying to make things happen."

In the movie, Queen Latifah is a frustrated chef. She says, "My character loves cooking. She loves eating, too. So it's like her not really living. So it's kind of fun to see the transformation."

Emeril Lagasse makes an appearance in the film, which was shot in New Orleans before Hurricane Katrina.

"The first time I saw it I was like, ah, man, because there's an opening scene where my character is, you know, buying some things from the grocery store and giving up these coupons," she says. "But the guy I'm handing these coupons to really owned the store. He was really the son of the owner and I'm thinking, 'Gosh, that store had to have been flooded.' There's no way it wasn't. It was right there at ground level. You think how many people's lives were affected. We're trying to help as much as we can. Hopefully they'll bounce back."

The movie star from New Jersey was the first hip-hop artist to get a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

"It was, like, amazing," she said.

So what else does she want to achieve in her lifetime?

"There's plenty left to do," she said. "I mean, there are pilot lessons, skydiving, kids — actually paying off some houses that I own. There's a lot of stuff I still would like to do, places I'd like to go. You know, as long as I'm alive, there's going to be something interesting to learn everyday, I'm hoping."

"Last Holiday" opens nationwide Friday, Jan. 13, 2006.
  • Michelle Singer

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