Providence Sunday Journal (Parade) - August 27, 2000
In Step with Rachael Leigh Cook
by James Brady; transcribed by Hel¿Atropos
Everyone kept telling me how young, delicate and shy the actress rlc was. So, as I waited for her in the lobby of Manhattan's SoHo Grand Hotel, I didn't know quite what to expect.
Well, Rachael is small (her own take is, "I'm not small, I'm space-efficient"), quiet rather than shy, and absolutely lovely, with deep brown eyes and dark, dark hair framing the kind of face Florentine painters put on Madonnas centuries ago.
Ms. Cook is just 20 and looks younger, but she already has made 17 movies, worked in TV and posed (with a dog) on a Milk-Bone dog-biscuit box as a small child in Minneapolis. Last year came her breakthrough film, She's All That, co-starring Freddie Prinze Jr. It was one of the few teen flicks which was not only a hit but also got respectful critical reception. "That film really made a lot of money," said Rachael, "so it gave me a lot of opportunities. And it's a sweet story." What's Prinze like? "He's the antithesis of every actor. He likes to play lazer tag and read comic books. Freddie is the reigning prince of romantic comedies." Rachael's next film is Blow Dry. It has a mostly Brit cast and is set in England against the unlikely background of a hairdressing contest. "I have a really good feeling about it," she said. The director, Paddy Breathnach, was great. I don't want to jinx it --but, yes [eyes widening as she spoke], it could be my best film. I have such high expectations." When did she decide to pursue acting? "When I was in a small film, 26 Summer Street," Rachael said, "a beautiful, simple story. I was enigmatic and shy, and it was only an 11-minute film. A manager heard about it. She was looking for kids in Minneapolis who could act."
Does she choose a film project by reading the script? "No," said Rachael, "the genre, the people involved or the character-- if any one of those is strong enough, wow! I jump right in." Has she ever written anything? "I wrote a one-act play in high school, A Broom With a View, a black comedy," she said. "No, I didn't act or get to direct. I was away. But when I saw it, I knew I could never be a director, because I nitpick. I want everything to be as I see it in my head." But Rachael has become a producer. She'd just returned from Toronto, where she was shooting a film with the working title Tangled. "It's a $3 million independent film and my first co-producing venture," she said. Does that mean Rachael put up some cash? "No, I invested by attaching myself to the project early. I had to fight with the investors to get the actors we wanted." Now, I ask, does this young star sound particularly shy?
Personal: Born Oct. 4, 1979, in Minneapolis, Minn.
Films: Include The Baby-sitter's Club, 1995; Tom and Huck, 1995; Carpool, 1996; The House of Yes, 1997; Living Out Loud, 1998; She's All That, 1999; The Hi-Line, 2000; The Bumblebee Flies Anyway, 2000; Blow Dry, 2000.
Television: Includes Country Justice, 1997; The Defenders; Payback, 1997; Dawson's Creek, 1999
Rachael Leigh Cook's parents sound like an interesting pair: Her dad is a social worker who once took a shot at standup comedy; her mom is a weaver and a former professional cooking instructor. "People like my dad-- he's really neat," said Rachael. "I live in an apartment in L.A. They live in Minneapolis, but I see a lot of my family. They may move to California. My brother Ben, is 18, and he's going to college next year in California." Rachael was wearing a peasent blouse, blue slacks and a crocheted hat shaped like a bag. "I got it in Rome," she said. "Here try it on." So I did. It looked better on her. Did she like this hotel? "It reminds me of the Bruce Wane mansion in one of the Batman films. "Do they have to honk their horns all the time?" she asked of the usual New York din outside. Rachael gets to play guitar in an upcoming movie, so she's taking lessons. "Here, feel my callus," she said, holding out a finger. I asked if it would be rude of me to say, "You're a skinny little thing." She replied, "It's OK. That's what my grandma always tells me."