Jesse Metcalfe for “John Tucker Must Die”

While the words ‘teen heartthrob’ tend to get bandied about all too easily, they certainly apply to Jesse Metcalfe. The young actor who turned gardening into an art form, however, seems dismissive of the label. “I guess there are worse things you can be called. I don’t know if it’s something you become totally comfortable with, for me anyway, I’m not totally comfortable with it, but it’s fine. At the same time it’s a label that can keep you away from the kind of roles that an actor would want to play further on in his career or a label that I’d try to get away from or shed over the next few years of my career, but for right now, I don’t have a problem with it,” Metcalfe explains in a Beverly Hills hotel room.

Metcalfe is doing the rounds promoting his first film, the new teen comedy John Tucker Must Die, in which he plays a three-timing womaniser and the object of revenge by the young girls in question. He ads that there are “worse things you can be called” than a sex symbol. Relaxed and upbeat, the young actor happily admits that bedding the older but desirable Gabrielle Solis [played by Eva Longoria], in Desperate Housewives in the show’s first season, helped land his first film gig. “Everything to do with being on Housewives helped me get this role,” the actor concedes, emphatically, and even admits to identifying with facets of this brazen teen character, basketball jock and jerk, in John Tucker. “I think every actor can relate to the characters he plays. I wouldn’t say that’s me right now but maybe me two years ago, there might have been a few similarities,” Metcalfe says, smilingly.

While John Tucker and Desperate Housewives are distinctly different, both afforded the actor to work with an ensemble group of women, an experience which taught him a fundamental lesson, he recalls laughingly. “I’ve learned to adapt and learn my place; sometimes a man needs to learn his place.” As for the difference between working with older women and those of his own generation, Metcalfe adds that “I think they both teach it equally in different ways. I think definitely coming into Tucker I was a little wary coming onto a set with five beautiful women and what’s this going to be like? Are they going to be divas? Are there going to be a lot of long days with me just sitting in my chair twiddling my thumbs? But they were all really cool and all amazing girls in their own way. They all have very distinct personalities and all gorgeous and all talented. I had a great time shooting the film but there are definitely times when the girls are in conversation and you just gotta go, ‘I’m going to step out of this one.'”

While Metcalfe plays something of a womaniser, in his own life, he remains ensconced in a relationship with popular British singer, Nadine Coyle, from the popular group Girls Aloud. The pair met in Australia while on separate promotional visits earlier this year. Despite his on-screen conquests, Jesse says his new girlfriend has no qualms at seeing his intimate moments on camera. “She’s not the jealous type at all and I think any secure person does.” Though the pair became a couple after just one date, Metcalfe says that he does not believe in love at first sight. “I believe in lust at first sight. I mean, I was mesmerized at first sight. I don’t know if I believe in love at first sight, I don’t think I do. I think you can feel strongly about someone after a first meeting but if that evolves into love it’s kind of coincidental.”

But clearly, this actor must be feeling something since he now deals with a long distance relationship. “So far it hasn’t been too tough. There are moments when I miss her but I’ve been flying back there three times in the last two months and she was just out here and is coming back in for the premiere, so we’re making it work.” And the actor has no bones about explaining the fundamental differences between European and American girls. “I think European girls are more confident, more laid back. They let things flow a lot more, while American girls are more uptight and insecure.”

When Metcalfe is not looking for the right acting gig, he says that in his spare time, he likes to play guitar. “I also sing a little bit, write a little bit of music; it’s something I do on the side and something I may like to do professionally some time in the future.” Perhaps he could do a song with Girls Aloud? “Maybe I could write something for them. I was thinking it could be kind of cool if I came out as a guest guitarist.”

As for his career, Metcalfe says he’s looking for the right, next project. “I’ve turned down half a dozen things and I’m being really cautious as to my next move and I’m trying to be patient too. You gotta be patient in this business sometimes.” As for more Desperate Housewives, “there’s talk of me coming back but it’s still up in the air.” Personally and professionally, life is good for this reluctant sex symbol who says that he’s handling his new found fame with a degree of reality. “I’m just a grounded guy, which is just the way I was raised. I don’t internalize it, but you always have to be nice. If a fan comes up to you and wants a picture, or an autograph, I almost always oblige but I think there was some old famous actor who said you can’t believe the negative press and you can’t believe the positive press. You can’t believe any of it because none of it is real. That’s how I stay grounded.”