Usually ferociously guarded, Cameron Diaz has learned to relax in front of the press. Arriving with minimum make up, her blonde hair now dark brown and tied in a simple bob, Diaz was in a cheerful mood and surprisingly talkative about a range of subjects, from the art of romantic comedies to the environment.
Her latest film is The Holiday, a holiday romantic comedy in which she gets to snuggle up to Jude Law, as she plays an American tired of love, who escapes to a small English town, house swapping with the equally morose Kate Winslet. Diaz spoke to Paul Fischer in Los Angeles.
Question: You seem so comfortable with this genre. Why is that?
Diaz: I’ve tried to think of other romantic comedies that I’ve done. They’re all so different. Yes, I guess there is an idea of a romantic comedy, but my brain always thought of romantic comedy being like Meg Ryan or Tom Hanks. You know those kinds of romantic comedies. What I loved about this one and why I was so comfortable doing it was because of Nancy Myers. I felt like her vision of what it was, was so clear and when something is clear like that and when something is right there for you and you have such great partners like Jude and Nancy to make the movie with, it’s all about chemistry. It’s all about making the right movie with the right people.
Question: Is this movie identifiable for you?
Diaz: Yeah, I think that was another thing that I loved about it so much was that it’s highly relatable to everyone. I mean I can relate to Iris and I can relate to Amanda. I think that we’ve all been through these relationships before. Judging by the age in this room we’ve had relationships before. That’s life. It’s the journey of love. This lifetime is to try to figure out how to make love work and nurture relationships. There’s definitely something that I think everybody can see a bit themselves, maybe not the exact same experience, but certainly the human aspect of it.
Question: In the film, Amanda is smart so does that automatically mean she’s going to have trouble with romance?
Diaz: I think everybody has problems in romance. Who doesn’t? The great thing about romantic comedies I think or just love is that it’s imperfect. People spend a lot of time on it. What would we do if relationships were perfect? What would we do with our time? People spend their time trying to figure out whether it’s going to a movie to be entertained by it or have a catharsizes, learn something from it like there’s a certain level of energy and attention that we give to that so I think in these movies the women are smart because it’s more fun to watch a smart woman than a not very smart woman. I think most people want to go and see something that they consider themselves smart and they want to go watch somebody that they can relate to. I left it up to somebody like Nancy Myers to write somebody smart and I just act it. It doesn’t mean anything. It’s just an act.
Question: What was it like doing the love scenes with Jude Law while you’re in a personal relationship?
Diaz: Well it’s a funny thing we do. It’s a weird job. I’m not going to say that it’s not. You guys have all been around it long enough. You’ve asked these questions every time I’m sure to other actors. As actors we commit ourselves to certain emotions for the movie and for the sake of telling the story. That’s what we do. We’re storytellers. I’m sure as you ask every other actor, they’ll all tell you it’s uncomfortable first off to think about having to be intimate with somebody who isn’t the person that you’re intimate with. But, you’re acting and it’s your job and there’s certainly a level of professional that is essential to do that kind of work. You’re in a room with 50 people and the camera is right here. It’s about making people believe it’s something, but it’s never that. For some people, I’m sure it’s happened, but it’s just not that for me anyhow. We’re acting. Jude Law is a wonderful partner in these things. Kate and I talk about it and she says, ‘the level of professional with him, it’s just not weird.’ He’s totally respectful. He’s a very nice professional guy. He’s the perfect person to do something like this with.
Question: This holiday what gift are you hoping to get?
Diaz: I don’t want any gifts. I really don’t. Maybe a coffee maker. I took up coffee again after 15 years and I kind of like it. I like a cup a day.
Question: What would you give people?
Diaz: A backhand. Just kidding. From me to you, here. This year a lot of my friends have been sponsoring a family so we’ve all kind of said hey I’m sponsoring a family if you want to give me something for Christmas, give me some money for this. So everybody has just sort of passing cash off to each other going give it to the family. You just get to the point and I think most of us are way past the point of needing anything else materialistically. Anything I get, I hope is useful that I can have for a long time. I told my family don’t get me anything.
Question: Are you going away for the holidays?
Diaz: No, I’ll just be here while everybody else goes away, which is awesome. It’s my favorite time of the year.
Question: Have you ever gone away by yourself like your character and did you enjoy it or was it lonely?
Diaz: I love being alone. I love it. I just love being by myself. I’m good at it. But, not in weird way. Not like leave me alone. I’m very comfortable by myself.
Question: Do you think this is a movie for guys as well?
Diaz: I think so what do you think?
Question: Well I’m romantic so I think so.
Diaz: Yeah well I’m glad to hear that because I feel that way too. Like I said, it’s a relatable story. Jude and Jack are not the dudes in this film. They are going through their own issues. They need to reconcile things for themselves and get to understand themselves in a certain way and know what they want and go after it. There’s a moment where you have to be with them as well and they make the decision of what they don’t want. I think that guy’s will definitely relate to it.
Question: What role do you think the entertainment industry plays in getting important messages out like what happening with our environment? Do you think this is a way to get through to people?
Diaz: I think as we’ve seen sort of the trend of celebrities being the main thing that draws attention to anything these days, I think that definitely celebrities are something that can bring people’s attention to it and it has. I also think when you watch movies like “An Inconvenient Truth” which is really geared towards an educational aspect through sort of documentary style. It’s not “Happy Feet.” It’s not the underlying message going to entertain and learn as well. “March of the Penguins” where you get so much information. I actually just saw “March of the Penguins” for the first time and I don’t know why it took me so long to see it. But, I was amazed that it was really a story about the filmmakers as much as it was about the penguins. Then it was about the environment at the same time it was about two stories as well. People go to the movies. Look at how much time we devote to two films. It’s got to make some sort of difference, I’m sure.
Question: How’s Shrek 3 coming along?
Diaz: It’s going. It’s working. It’s happening. It’s about to land in your guy’s laps I’m sure. I think that certain characters they have down like “Shrek” and Fiona. Every time I think they really strive to make a good statement. A solid, informed, good statement that’s uplifting and I think the characters are all really rounded in this film.
Question: What role are you dying to play?
Diaz: I’m sure there are a lot of really great roles out there, I’m really bad at commitment. I hate committing myself to anything. So I’m really bad at saying yeah I’m going to be there in three months and I’m going to show up and going to stay for three months. It’s really hard for me. It has to be something that I’m really sure that I’m going to be able to get there, be there and be happy that I am there.
Question: Where does that lack of commitment come from?
Diaz: It’s probably the lack of discipline honestly. It’s probably being a spoiled brat and getting my way every time. I’m sure that’s probably what it is. It’s a way of life. You know I just don’t want to do it. I’m sure I’ll suffer for it later, but I’m happy right now.
Question: Did you ever get used to driving on the wrong side of the road in the film?
Diaz: The great thing about that was the streets were shut down, blocked off. Nobody could get on the street that didn’t know I was behind the wheel of the car. Everybody could look over their shoulder and make sure that nothing was happening. But, it’s crazy. Driving on the wrong side of the road, on the wrong side of the car both things. She’s like, ‘I can do this, I can do this.’ Like really I can do it, I can do it. I can barely walk properly in England. It’s crazy because you step off the curb and it says look right. Every time it says to look right, but you always only see that when you look left first.
Question: This is a story of a vacation that goes wonderfully right. Have you had any bad vacation experiences?
Diaz: No, knock on wood. I haven’t had any catastrophes. It’s one of those things if anything goes wrong, you make it work another way. It may not have worked out the way you thought it was going to work out, but it works out the way it’s supposed to so you just go with that.
Question: Would you exchange houses the way your character does?
Diaz: No, no, no, no. Don’t want anybody in my house. I mean friends of course, but not a total stranger, no. But, I’ve stayed in total strangers homes. I’ve rented total strangers homes and I’m very serious about leaving it exactly the way I found it. Be very respectful of that. But, I’m always afraid that somebody wouldn’t be as respectful to my house as I am to theirs. I don’t take the chance.
Question: Are you going to be taking any time off?
Diaz: I’m sure I should probably work some time soon.
Question: So you’re looking to do something?
Diaz: Eventually when I find it. Not anything too soon. At the very least, I’m going to get through all of the “Shrek” stuff first.
Question: So you are taking time off?
Diaz: I’ve got a long list of procrastinations that I need to catch up with.
Question: Where are you now musically? I know you come from a musical background.
Diaz: Music has always been a big part of my life. My dad loves music like always music playing in our house no matter what. If the television was on, there was music still. Music is a huge part of my life and I’m all over the place. I love everything. I appreciate all kinds of music. I even appreciate gospel or country.
Question: Do you two talk about different music?
Diaz: I think that you rely on all of your friends to bring in different influences definitely. I talk about music with everyone, total strangers.
Question: How would you look at 2006 for you?
Diaz: Well I was doing this movie most of 2006. This was like the first six months of the year. It was really fun. I had a great time. 2006 wasn’t too bad. It’s been really hot. I would really like to have a little bit of a temperature drop here in LA. I like my 10 degree difference in weather for our season. It would be nice.
Question: Are you ready for kids to come back and see you as Fiona?
Diaz: Yeah. I love that people enjoy those films. It’s wonderful. I’m just thankful for someone like Jeffery Katzenberg who has this spirit and the drive to bring those movies forward and dedicate themselves to all of the people who work on it to bring it forward and bring it into the world. I think it’s amazing.
Question: You’ve been public about your political views so how you do feel about the results and the recent election?
Diaz: It’s great. It’s exciting. So exciting. Change is great. I think it’s important to change especially when something’s not working. You gotta take a chance don’t you and I think it’s great that we all have campaigned. Everyone has certainly on the last presidential election, the message of how every vote counts and how important it is to vote you know everybody sort of really hammered that out there and it didn’t feel like there was much of a change. People went out and voted and there was quite confusion as to what all of it meant. I think that by this election such a drastic change in people’s choices from the last time is I think that goes to show it sort of secures that idea of we do have the power to change things. We can make a difference and our voices can be heard and people are speaking out right now so it’s good.
Question: So you’re optimistic?
Diaz: I’m a complete pessimist. It’s not if the end of the world is coming, it’s when.
Question: Your character in The Holiday has to decide if she wants a ready made family with Jude Law’s character. Are kids something you see in your future?
Diaz: I thought this was about my character. I think everyone wants at some point to have that responsibility and be involved in that, but not at the moment.
Question: It goes back to your fear of commitment.
Diaz: Exactly. The commitment. I don’t even want a dog. I don’t. My cat just died. I don’t even want a cat. Oh great I just opened a freaking can of worms. Here we go.
Question: Are you dealing better now with being a celebrity?
Diaz: The last couple of years were hell. I can’t even tell you. It was so hard. It was really difficult. I didn’t know how to handle it and I’m sure as everyone can agree it’s changed and it was really difficult to deal with it, but I think I’m in a much better place now. Much better.
Question: You seem more comfortable.
Diaz: Probably because I just stepped away for a second and took a breath.