Tara Reid for “Van Wilder: Party Liason”

Tara Reid wasn’t in the best of moods when she met the press to talk about her latest film, Van Wilder. Clearly upset, Reid has often been the victim of tabloid journalism, much of her own doing.

There was her much-publicised break-up with TV host Carson Daly, not to mention her involvement in an incident in New York when she was partying with Manhattan celebrity publicist Lizzie Grubman, just hours before Grubman slammed her Mercedes SUV into a crowd of club-goers, seriously injuring 16 people.

As the tabloid writers take careful aim at the American Pie star, Reid admits to having no time for us members of the press. “I don’t like them and I’m pissed off, especially right now,” she exclaims in no uncertain terms. It’s tough, she adds, being in the media spotlight. “You want to be human, you want to be nice, you want to be normal and honest. Then they take your words, they spin ’em and you’re dying. The whole world knows your business, it sucks and you have no personal life left then you get targeted as a poster child party girl or you get targeted as being in places you’ve never even been to or hooking up with guys you don’t even know. It just blows,” she says, waving a copy of a tabloid mag featuring the actress on the cover of the magazine.

The article in question is ‘My Love is Carson Daly.’ “I’m pissed right now and I want to call them on the phone. I cannot have that be in the title, like I want THAT to be on the cover. That is so behind me. I want to just get over it. Anytime someone breaks up with someone, you want to get over it and move on. It’s been a year, it’s behind me, now it’s time to move on. I don’t want to be reminded of it. Now everybody’s gonna look at me like, ‘Oh, poor girl.’ “

Reid also denies recent press reports which had her and pop icon Britney Spears sitting at the bar in a public lobby getting drunk together and crying. “That whole Britney thing is just bullshit. I was in Mexico.” Reid craves her privacy, but she also wants the media to become more responsible, she says angrily. “People need to start talking about my work, too. They act like I’ve never even been in a movie or something. I’ve done 15 movies so I work a lot more than I party. I don’t even care about that. Then, if I’m out, all of a sudden now I’m throwing cake. Or I’m right here at the Four Seasons Hotel in LA, but I’m really at the L’Ermitage. You know what I mean? It’s just getting to a point where it’s just stupid. If you are going to write something, at least say the truth or don’t say it. It’s just hurting me.”

Reid relaxes more when discussion shifts to the work she speaks of. Herb latest work is in the farcical comedy Van Wilder, the latest in the long-running National Lampoon films. Ryan Reynolds plays Van Wilder who might be starting his seventh year at Coolidge College, but graduation is the furthest thing from his mind. Armed with a personal assistant and a coterie of admirers, Van has reached the status of living legend on campus, throwing bashes that make geeks popular, raise money for charity and generally “inspire the uninspired.” But when Van’s father refuses to pay any more of his son’s tuition bills, Van must turn to party planning for profit in order to continue living in under-graduate bliss, thereby becoming the subject of an expose¬ĀL by disapproving school journalist Gwen Pearson (Reid).

For Reid, who found success in the likes of American Pie, doing another teen comedy was not a risk, the 27-year old actress insists. “I don’t think it’s a risk at all. I play the straight girl, which is probably good for me right now. She’s a journalist, which I wanted to play because I do in that story what they did to me, except I, at the end, make it up. The first time I write a bad story about him. I know it’s gonna sell and it does, it’s big, it’s the cover and everyone’s making a big deal about it but I pegged Van wrong. Then I redeem myself and I write a good article.” In the film, Reid explores an ambitious side to this character, which the actress feels “was very important to me, because it was a big part of what I am going through right now.”

Born in the small New Jersey town of Wyckoff, Reid recalls her initial love affair with the movies. “As a little kid I would sit in the mirror and make faces and when I would cry I’d watch myself cry. I was just fascinated imitating people and making up stories to see if people would believe them. If they did I was excited. Acting is my escape, my getaway. my therapy and my boxing bag. Without that, I would go crazy.” It’s that need to escape that will help the actress put to rest the media intrusion into her private life. “I just need to get back to work and go somewhere like France. I need to do a movie like ‘Lord of The Rings’, and spend three years in Australia; that would be perfect for me. Sign me up now and find me a period piece for 17 years somewhere; I’ll be just fine,” she concludes smilingly.