Cameron Diaz for “Vanilla Sky”

Despite the box office disappointment of his Almost Famous, Oscar winning writer/director Cameron Crowe remains one of Hollywood’s most unique voices, always striving for something new and challenging. Cameron Diaz remains one of Hollywood’s busiest and hottest stars.

The 29-year old will be seen in next year’s anticipated Gangs of New York, but in the meantime stars opposite Tom Cruise in Cameron Crowe’s provocative Vanilla Sky. Diaz was born in 1972 in San Diego, the daughter of a Cuban-American father and an Anglo-German mother. Self described as “adventurous, independent and a tough kid, “

Cameron left home at 16 and for the next 5 years lived in such varied locales as Japan, Australia, Mexico, Morocco, and Paris. Returning to California at the age of 21, she was working as a model when she auditioned for a big part in The Mask (1994) To her amazement and despite having no previous acting experience, she was cast as the female lead in the film opposite Jim Carrey.

Over the next 3 years, she honed her acting skills in such low budget independent films as The Last Supper (1995); Feeling Minnesota (1996); and Head Above Water (1996). She returned to mainstream films in My Best Friend’s Wedding (1997), in which she held her own against veteran actress Julia Roberts. She earned full fledged star status in 1998 for her performance in the box office smash There’s Something About Mary (1998).

With her name near the top on virtually every list of Hollywood’s sexiest actresses, and firmly established as one of filmdom’s hottest properties and most sought after actresses, Cameron Diaz is on a roll.

Paul Fischer was fortunate to spend some time with the alluring and frequently giggly star, who talked fame, Cruise and will there be another Charlie’s Angels?

Question: So that ass kick you gave Tom in the movie, was that left over from Charlie’s Angels training?

Answer: Actually that was MIT training because Tom gave me little tips on how to sort of fully kick.

Question: What was the hardest part of getting playing a character like this?

Answer: I think that you know, obviously, emotionally there was a lot of sort of opening up that had to happen. The hardest thing probably was doing that on what we call the Vanilla Sky float which was a car put on the back of a truck with a bunch of lights sort of towed around New York, when the sun’s going down and leaf branches are pulling on the car and you know you can’t get a break and you’re trying to be you know emotionally available for a scene? That was probably the most difficult part for the element, along with trying to be just open, raw and fresh too.

Question: Did you see the original at all? Or did you try NOT to see it?

Answer: I didn’t see it and I still haven’t.

Question: Cameron is famous for playing music and so for those opening, raw scenes did he give you some music to use?

Answer: Most definitely!

Question: Like what?

Answer: A little REM, a little Fiona Apple; we had a lot of things happening on that set. There were bits and pieces that would just sort of open up and start to ‘texturise’ the atmosphere and a lot of it is in the film. It was sort of like little snippets and sound bytes of our soundtrack that ended up being in the movie. Some of that’s because they were rolling the music up until we’re rolling the film and some times it went over and they needed to keep the music.

Question: Could you identify at all with some of the thematic elements of this film? I mean, was there any aspect of the movie that you could relate to in any way?

Answer: Yeah. I think that’s what brought me to [my character] Julie. I sort of understood Julie because I feel that she’s someone that we’ve all been at some point in our lives. We’ve all been with a person who had these feelings for someone and found that they weren’t reciprocated. You thought that person MIGHT be there with you but then you find that they are not and that is heartbreaking.

Question: That hasn’t happened to you, surely?

Answer: Of course not. [Sarcastic tone] You know there’s lots of experiences in life like that.

Question: You haven’t been the stalker on the other side of the room then?

Answer: Many times. Lots and lots and lots and lots of times. [Joking, feigning a menacing stalker]

Question: Do you feel like a different person when you’re playing ‘Julie’ then with ‘Sophia’? In the movie, were you thinking of the Sophia character or were you thinking of a different interpretation?

Answer: Well, we actually had a lot of fun with that because I hadn’t seen what Penelope was doing and of course we had several different ways that we wanted to try that. We wanted try being Julie Gianni sort of not understanding what the situation here was. You know, how come he’s all freaked out. Why does he calling Julie? I’m Sophia, but Julie not acknowledging anything. Then we wanted to play it also as Julie tricking him, KNOWING that she’s Julie Gianni, but pretending she’s Sophia and sort of letting him know like she knows. You know she’s kind of winking at him and we do a couple of winks where it’s like yeah, I know it, but I’m not going to give it to you. I’m going to make you go crazy over this and then you know there were times when we wanted to play it just like Sophia. So there were times when we had Penelope come in and have her kind of act the scene and then I would go in and I’d act it just like her, so that I could. So I could just be how Sophia would be in the scene. So we got to play it a lot of different ways. That’s why it’s just so much fun to work with Cameron, because we got to like, it was like all, it was like hot potato. As soon as you have a hot potato in your hands you’d try to keep it in the air as long as you can and pass it. So, it was really, really a lot of fun. I’d do the accent in some of them.

Question: A lot of that stuff was shot?

Answer: Yeah. There’s a little bit of everything in it. And it’s just sort of texturizing you know making it even more crazy for David to figure out. One minute I’m like so earnest like: Are you kidding me I would never do that, to: Are you kidding and winking at the camera, so it’s constantly screwing with them.

Question: If you had the opportunity to live your life all over again, you know to make a contract with LE, as in the movie, would you do it?

Answer: I don’t know. I mean I mean they say that we’re going to live to be 150? Like with all this stem cell research you know that’s going on, but we just had the technological revolution, but we’re entering now the medical revolution? And that you and I will maybe live to be 100, 120, if you can afford it of course. Or that our children will live to be 150 and what that means is that our lifetimes are going to be so much longer. I mean we’re already trying to figure out how, I mean women are already struggling with having kids in their 30’s instead of their 20’s. We’re going to keep expanding this social sort of view of what’s the norm is by expanding our lifetime. So, at 50, that’s not even midlife. That’s like, that’s like, that’s like still, you know, just after the mid 20’s. So you know we’re kind of building this place for ourselves where I think we’re going to constantly going to be re-defining who we are and where we are as a society and what our roles are. But my point is for bringing this up is because I know it’s longwinded, but there is a point. My point is I don’t know if I want to live that long even to say I want to live until 150, man that’s painful. It’s already hard enough. Who wants to come and endure it for a triple dose? So I don’t know if I would like to you know bring my life redo my life over and over again.

Question: But you’re young, so —

Answer: Yeah. Well I know. I’m not that young anymore. I know poor me, Oh God. [LAUGHTER]

Question: A lot of people think that celebrity is kind of a dream existence? Is it sometimes dreamy? Do you some times feel: Am I awake? Am I dreaming?

Answer: Well, you know it’s a funny thing because of course it’s going to be different. Everyone’s going to look at it differently and experience, and what they THINK it’s like, but you know you’ll never know what it really is until you have experienced it. And you can’t ever tell somebody what it’s like because you never really understand until they experience it themselves. So, what I pinch myself over is when I get to work with people like Cameron Crowe and Tom Cruise and these are the people who and what I’m doing as an actor. I really would love to work with Cameron Crowe. I would love to have that experience because I think he’s amazing and I would love to work opposite Tom Cruise because I think he’s amazing. So to have that opportunity and to actually be able to take advantage of it is like such a huge thing. You know, I may never have that opportunity again in my life. So, I’m just thankful to have that.

Question: How DO you deal with the celebrity aspects of your life? I mean the tabloids, the paparazzi and all that stuff?

Answer: I just do. You know you just find a place for everything in your life. I mean you figure it out as you go along. You know it’s just like anything.

Question: Do you read what’s written about you?

Answer: No I don’t.

Question: Can I talk to you about the song I Fall Apart? What was it like working with Nancy Wilson? How did it come about that you ended up singing?

Answer: Well, that was Cameron’s request that I sing it.

Question: I guess he must have seen My Best Friend’s Wedding.

Answer: He missed it apparently. No, it’s funny because for that movie, when I psyched myself up to be scared to sing in front of people, I really did a number on myself because I’m MORTIFIED now, like I am TERRIFIED. I get sweaty, I shake, I’m in tears, I’m like a nervous wreck so it was it was a huge fear to conquer even just standing in that booth in front of Nancy Wilson who is my goddess since I was a child; my sister and I would just sit with their Heart albums and just be like these beautiful creatures making rock -n-roll; are you kidding me? If we could ever dream? You know? So when Cameron said Nancy wrote a song for Julie. I was like. I couldn’t. I had chills. I was so excited to sit in front of her and she just sat there and sang and strummed a guitar and I was just like: I can’t believe this is happening. I couldn’t wait to jump up and call my sister which I did afterwards and she was like no way, no way! So, we were so excited about that and then to actually go into the studio and record with her which was a huge fear to do but she was so wonderful and totally gave me direction and then of course had to lay down her own voice underneath mine to help carry it because there was no way I was surviving on my own. It was-

Question: Was it scary doing that recording?

Answer: Yeah.

Question: Will you sing for Shrek 2?

Answer: I don’t know what they have in store for me. I just guess I just keep trying to overcome my fear about putting myself out there over and over again.

Question: What about Charlie’s Angels 2?

Answer: Well, that’s something that we all really want to do and we’re just trying to like hoping that everything falls into place and we’re able to get everybody back and be able to do it. So it’s very exciting.