Belle Of The Ball
Rachel Leigh Cook Steers One Critic Toward The Bright, Feel-Good Cinematic Light
By James DiGiovanna
FEBRUARY 1, 1999: THIS WEEK MARKS the premiere of She's All That, which is significant in being the first teen film with the basic plot from Pretty In Pink, Can't Buy Me Love, etc., since the '80s ended. It's an homage to the John Cusak/Molly Ringwald era, made by people who grew up watching 80s' teen films, and it has all the charms and flaws of that genre. Basically, it's a somewhat less-sexist Pygmalion, with Freddie Prinze Jr. playing Zak, the popular kid who takes a bet to transform the dorkiest girl in the school into the prom queen. Hijinks, of course, ensue. We talked with Rachael Leigh Cook, who plays Laney, the aforementioned dorky girl, and got her opinion on teen films, skin care, and standing on your head while singing "Yankee Doodle."
RLC: Yeah, that's it. But the truth is, even with the salary, I couldn't really swing it for the sex-change operation in time for the movie. That kind of stood in my way. I think that's what really kept me from the part.
RLC: Well, um, he uh, has hair, and so do I. He's been to a soccer game, and so have I. Pretty much no.
RLC: No, not really.
RLC: Well, no one really has skin like that...that's the movies. No one looks like that. I've seen a lot of "movie stars" up close...nobody looks like they do. Anyway, they really mess me up in the beginning...I've got the glasses, and the eyebrow, you know, a whole lotta stuff going on. But the DP was still too kind to me. The director was yelling at him after he saw dailies. He's like, "We're not supposed to like her yet...You're hurtin' my film."
RLC: They put her in glasses...
RLC: Oh, yeah, right.
RLC: Yeah, but to tell you the truth, that's not really part of the movie. It's not supposed to be that she's that unattractive, it's just supposed to be that she's kind of scary and "inaccessible," as they call her. She's staunchly anti-social, she wants no part of it, she's completely suspecting, she's screaming "conspiracy" at the slightest word spoken to her. It's more on a personal level than on a physical level that she's...sort of a challenge.
RLC: Oh, all the time. And She's All That is a total '80s movie. I love '80s movies. I mean, everything from Breakfast Club to Some Kind of Wonderful, Say Anything...I think those were the best movies ever made.
RLC: I disagree with his whole shot-for-shot thing, but....
RLC: Yeah, but doesn't that seem ridiculous? I mean, you and I could do that, with the right crew. It's no problem.
RLC: They did the same thing. They went back in the archives, got the story boards, got the exact original script. It's...I have a friend who met with him and said to him, quite honestly, "Aren't you afraid people are going to say you're lazy?" And he said, "Well, if you want to know the truth, I am, and I just got all these Academy Award nominations, and they said, 'What do you want to do next, Gus?' And I said, this is what I want to do, and they can't say no."
RLC: ...A conceptual art piece of someone else's work.
RLC: Well, he'd be glad you're out there.
RLC: Why? Do you ever want to stand on your head and sing "Yankee Doodle"? It's like, "Maybe."
RLC: Well I've already done that.
RLC: It's a good movie. Don't take it at face value as being just some silly movie. It's a movie that you can actually just go and feel good, and just...it's just a good, solid little movie. It's worth it.
RLC: Well, yeah. In the other teen films, a lot of people die. Nobody dies in this film. That's reason enough to go see it.
RLC: ...or cheerleaders, or just people getting decapitated. So go see this movie because no one dies in it.
RLC: What?! And what does it have to do with him being Leonardo di Caprio? To (do) what? Eat a worm sandwich? I need to know the question now!
RLC: Never. He's too pretty. He's not my type.
RLC: Yeah. Tell him I'm washing my hair.
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