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Interview: Pam Grier takes trip down memory lane, with fans' help

Luis Gomez

About Last Night

3:35 PM CDT, September 4, 2012

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Pam Grier plans on taking a break from fan conventions and autograph signings for a while following her many movie theater and autograph show appearances in the Chicago area this weekend. It's not that the blaxploitation movie legend doesn't enjoy meeting fans. She calls the interaction “rewarding.” It's just that Grier appears to be next in line to get the Hollywood biopic treatment.

“My memoir (‘Foxy: My Life in Three Acts') is being turned into a film,” Grier said over the phone Monday from her Denver-area ranch. “I'm a consultant on the project. It should start filming in January. My story is funny, formidable, dangerous and edgy. It's kind of Forrest Gump-y.”

Grier, who said the lead role has yet to be cast, has lived quite the life. In addition to a film and TV career that spans 40 years, Grier was sexually assaulted, she faced Jim Crow-era racism as a child and she dated NBA Hall of Famer Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and comedians Richard Pryor and Freddie Prinze, the latter of whom she met in Chicago while on “The Irv Kupcinet Show.”

But at 63 years old, Grier doesn't seem ready to retire just yet.

Grier will appear in “The Man with the Iron Fists,” in theaters Nov. 2. The martial arts film stars Wu-Tang Clan rapper RZA, who directed it and also co-wrote the story with Eli Roth. Co-stars include Oscar-winner Russell Crowe and former WWE Superstar Dave Bautista.

“I play RZA's mom in the mid-1800's,” Grier said. “We're slaves. If you know the story, the mother is given her freedom but instead wants her son, who is in trouble, to be free.”

Quentin Tarantino directed Grier in 1997's “Jackie Brown” and is a producer on “Iron Fists.” Fans ask Grier often about the eccentric Tarantino and if he's, well, a little off (“He's just extremely talented,” she says she tells them). They also want to know why she no longer sports her trademark afro (“If I'm in a movie theater, people wouldn't be able to see behind me with my big ‘fro,” she jokes).

Grier will meet with fans Friday at Hollywood Blvd Cinema in Woodridge and Sunday at Hollywood Palms Cinema in Naperville (both of which will screen her films “Foxy Brown” and “Jackie Brown”). She also will appear Saturday and Sunday at the Hollywood Show autograph convention at the Hilton Rosemont/Chicago O'Hare hotel. Also slated for the show: actors Martin Landau and Loni Anderson, both of whom will make Hollywood Cinemas appearances this weekend as well.

“Sometimes you get caught up in the moment and your health, family and some deal that's on the table, and you're thinking ‘Where will I be in five to 10 years?'” Grier said. “But (fans) never get tired of you and always want to know what you're doing next. They know everything you've said and when you said it. For me, it's rewarding and fun. They help you revisit your journey.”

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