FHM - March 01, 2000

Rachael Leigh Cook - FHM Interview

When putting together a resume, people will go to great lengths to disguise their limited achievements. Some will award themselves fancy titles to disguise the fact they make ball bearings or shuffle papers for a living. Others will exaggerate their experience and range of skills. Some will simply lie - it seems every hospital has its bogus doctor. Rachael Leigh Cook's resume has no need for such artifice, however, for her movie career alredy makes very impressive reading. At 20 years old, her filmography boats no fewer than 19 titles. It all started at age 11 when she decided modelling would be fun, "and it was." Before long, she was cast as the face of Milk-Bone dog biscuits, a fact that she would now choose to leave out of her life story: "Oh God, they just took them of the shelves a couple of years ago and I was like, "Make them go away!" I'd be trying to have a serious conversation with my accountant or somebody and they'd go, "Okay, so I was cruising the pet-foot aisle yesterday..."" But even an enduring association with Snoopy snacks couldn't dim the lights of this Minnesota-born beauty. Her modelling agency sent her to castings for commercials- not one of which she ever got. Then, by accident, they packed her off to an audition for a short film called 26 Summer Street. "Somehow I got the part. Maybe no one else showed up," she says. Her career was up and running. Her first full-length feature was The Baby-Sitters Club, and then she rattled through a long and varied array of independent movies, including Tom & Huck, Carpool, The Naked Man and Living Out Loud. But it wasn't until her role as geek-girl-turned-popularity-princess Laney Boggs in 1999 She's All That, that Rachael became recognized as one of the hottest young stars in Hollywood pantheon. This has brought her roles in four more films due to be released in this year: Texas Rangers, "a guys, guns and dust Western"; Blow Dry, "a tongue-in-cheek comedy"; Get Carter, "a dark whodunnit thriller" and Northanger Abbey, the only Jane Austen novel not yet filmed. By year's end, it's a safe bet that Rachael Leigh Cook will be a huge international star and household name. That's all in the future thought. For the inauguaral FHM cover shoot-which is astonishingly also Rachael's first cover-she shows up seeming anything but a star. Her dark tresses are hidden behind a red woolly hat that looks like a giant strawberry. "Are you sure it's me you want?" she asks. "I thought you must have meant Rachel Hunter, Rachel Griffith or Rachel from Friends."

Are you ready for superstardom?
No, and I hope you guys are wrong-that would scare me to death, to be honest. It's nice that people want to call me and say, "Hey, we think you're cool", but I recently got a letter saying, "I saw you three years ago in Toronto. You were walking down Queen Street with a girl a couple of years older than you. You caught a cab and bumped your head getting in. You laughed and the two of you drove away." That happened; I remember that day! It's kind of scary to think someone's watching me and knows what I'm doing all the time. The more famous I get, the more of that kind of weirdness is there.

Your Get Carter co-star is Sylvester Stallone. What do you think about the allegation from Sly's staff and they were not allowed to look at him and had to back out at doorways?
I don't think that's true at all. I think anybody will sue anybody these days. It's getting out of hand. There's something to be said for freedom of speech, but it's like, "Moderatin, people!"

And Sly didn't make you back out of anything?
No, Sly is amazing. He can be a scary dude, but not to me. He always messes around. He loves to ad lib, and he has these two teeny cute little dogs named Jack and Jill, both boys, who go everywhere with him. He kept telling me, "You gotta be what you are", and that I should stick to romantic comedies. He kept saying, "People never get sick of seeing the same thing. If they love it, they'll watch it again and again and again." I told him I couldn't just keep doing the same thing.

R&B star Usher was in She's All That with you. Did he show you to your seat?
No, he did not. Although, come to think of it, in a way he did. We took a private plane back to LA from Calgary together. They'd told us it was a Learjet, and then we get there and the smallest plane in the free world is in front of me. Me, Usher, his assistant-slash-bodyguard and two pilots are meant to be getting in this teeny little plane the size of a coffee table. And I suddenly think, "Excuse me? You want me to get in a private plane with a musician. Are you nuts?" I was scared out of my mind, but he was very cool and got me through the flight.

Your get-it-all-together scene with Freddie Prince Jr. in She's All That was voted "the sexiest love scene" of 1999. Was it sexy to shoot?
No, it wasn't. That's so hilarious to me. I've known Freddie for four years, and his girlfriend was on set that day. We're all actors and know you gotta do what you gotta do, but it did feel a little strange, and no, not really that sexy. It's a great scene. I mean, I know it's me and everything, but I still get sucked into the story and think "Oh they got together!"

Have you gone beyond the necking stage and done full-on sex in a movie yet?
No, and I think I'll sort of see what comes up. I am not the sort of a person to say never, because you'll inevitably find yourself in a prison where your mindset changes or the opportunity is too good to pass up.

Do you have a policy on how much flesh you'll show?
You won't catch me taking my clothes off; I get cold easily. I have no problem with actors getting naked in movies, but taking my clothes off makes me uncomfortable. I'm very shy. I won't do nudity, and no body-doubling to make it look like it's me. Although I did a Dawson's Creek episode and I was supposed to be a nude model, so I just pulled the sleeve of my T-Shirt over my shoulder and they used another girl's back. But that's as far it goes.

You starred in a film called The Hairy Bird. Do you wax or shave?
I'm lazy and don't like to shave with a razor. I have a good electric razor, although I do tend to get a bit carried away sometimes. I buzzed all the hair off my arm the other week. That was a bad idea.

Apparently "hairy bird" is 1960s private school slang for male genitalia. What's your favourite name for a man's wedding tackle?
They actually changed the name of the film in the end to Strike, which is too bad; I liked The Hairy Bird. Can't say I do have a favourite word for, um, those parts. I usually just sort of hedge my way around it until somebody else says the word. I'm shy! I'm a nice girl!

In this issue of FHM we have a feature on body hair. Is there any part of a man you don't think should be covered by hair?
You know what freaks me out? When you see the shaved back of the hand and wrist, and there's that thick line of hair starting up the arm somewhere. Ugh!

You went out with an actor named Rider Strong. Is that his real name?
Yes. I kind of sounds like a porn name, doesn't it? His whole family has great names. His dad's name is King Strong.

Are you seeing anyone at the moment?
No, I broke up with my boyfriend in the middle of August, and this is the longest time I've been single. I met a really nice guy when I was working on Blow Dry in England, but he was a bit older and was looking to buy, you know? I'm looking for a rental, maybe a lease if it passes the 12-point inspection and has a good warranty package. I always meet "commitment guy", I don't know why. I'm not a commitment-phobe or anything, but don't ask me to settle down at 20. Are you nuts?

What do you look for in a man?
Three things: smart, cute, funny. I strive for all three, but any combinations of two will suffice. Someone becomes cute if they're funny. And if you're smart and cute, you probably have some funny potential.

And what don't you like in a guy?
I don't like guys who are really nice, but you notice that all their friends are girls. Why don't they have friends that are guys? I like guys who hang out with guys. I don't like guys that are pretty; that's kind of annoying. It's like, "Go away, you're prettier than me, I hate you." And I don't trust any man who a) has a bubble perm; b) has more shoes than me; or c) raises his arm over his head when he dances.

You did a famous PSA spot warning against drug addiction. What's the closest you've gotten to Grade-A drugs?
If someone offers me coke at a party, I assume it's carbonated, but there's a lot of drugs in LA, man. It's so crazy. I thought it was an '80s thing, and that it was over, like, 10 years ago and only the odd stray rat-packer did it, but it's back and it's scary. I haven't been tempted by it at all. I'm not an angel by any means, but wise up.

So you're only 20. Do you have a fake ID?
I used to have one, just like a little souvenir thing I got in Ontario, Canada. I didn't even want to go drinking, honestly. I just wanted to get into this club to go dancing and the bouncer took a look at my ID, took a look at me, took a look at it, held it up and said, "This one is pretty good," to the whole line. I was like, "Oh shit, I'll be leaving now." It was pretty embarrassing.

There's a Minneapolis rock band named in your honour - Budding Hollywood Starlet. Did they want you to be their groupie?
No, and I'd never hang around backstage for anybody like that. Actually, I've never seen them play and I don't know what their music's like.

You're from Minneapolis. Did you ever bump into the Artist Formerly Known As Prince?
The closest I ever got to seeing Prince was this substitute teacher we had in fourth grade who was Prince's limo driver on the side. We thought he was pretty cool. He'd driven Prince a couple of times, and that was the closest I'd come to meeting a celebrity.

How many of the 10,000 lakes in Minnesota have you skinny-dipped in?
That would be a big zero, but actually there are 12,000. I think they've upgraded a lot of ponds to lakes. We never went skinny-dipping; I went to public school, but it wasn't like that. We had a polar bear's club at camp, but we were never naked.

One of you favourite films is The Breakfast Club. If they were doing a remake, who would you be in it?
They should never do that! I mean, what's next, Citizen Kane? My God! That would be so wrong. But if I had to, I would want to play the Ally Sheedy character, and we could put Kid Rock in it. He could be the Judd Nelson part.

And finally, you really love eating at the International House of Pancakes. Have you ever had the Rooty Tooty Fresh'N Fruity?
Don't get me started on that. I love that place; it's like my mecca. You get four different kinds of syrup and the fruity thing is, oh, just so exciting. I want to go right now.

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