24 star Elisha Cuthbert next plays seemingly innocent Danielle in the romantic comedy The Girl Next Door, opening on Friday. Eighteen-year-old Matthew Kidman (Emile Hirsch) is a straight-arrow over-achiever who has never really lived life until he falls for his new neighbor. When Matthew discovers this perfect “girl next door” is a one-time porn star, his sheltered existence begins to spin out of control. Ultimately, Danielle helps Matthew emerge from his shell and discover that sometimes you have to risk everything for the person you love.
Elisha told ComingSoon.net that she has no trouble playing an object of desire. “It’s not natural but it feels good. Feels really good.” She says she was glad to see that the poster from the film shows a different Cuthbert from her character Kim Bauer on 24. “I think most people recognize me from that. Just in general. To do this film I wanted a part that was going to be aside from that and something completely different. So when I saw the poster, I went, ‘That looks nothing like Kim Bauer.’ So I felt good about it.”
With her playing a porn star, she had to do some research for her character’s look, of course. “Yeah, it was tricky because I didn’t know much about the world of porn and probably if it wasn’t for this film, would’ve never known anything about the world of porn. But we went through a lot of ‘Playboy’ magazines and different kind of dirty magazines that little boys hide from their moms, because we needed a look for Athena. We needed a look for that side of the character who kind of went out to the porn convention and does the little movie, so we kind of went, ‘Oh, that girl’s got nice red hair, let’s do that,’ and the fake eyelashes and blowing out everything is kind of what we aspired to do. Then I actually sat and met with some of these girls and it was the total opposite. It was like talking to Danielle as opposed to Athena. So it was kind of a surprise. I had, unfortunately, a stereotype of what I had imagined a typical porn star would look on a day to day basis and it was the exact opposite, actually.”
That really changed her perception on the film’s character. “It did, I could’ve played it like the two friends in the film that I have. I could’ve done something completely different with it, but I went whoa, this’ll be good. Mentally she stays the same throughout the film, but physically, the appearance changes from crazy glam and all this make-up to more of the girl next door.”
So what was it like wearing the sexy attire? “Very uncomfortable,” she says. “That was the tricky part of playing Athena, was that I had to walk in these shoes that were like inches high, and wear this bra thing, and uncomfortable pants, and it was just like somehow I have to pretend that I’m confident and comfortable in this stuff. So that was a little bit of a feat. But that was during the convention. There were some girls there – ‘You can do it, you can do it!’ I was like, ‘Oh my God, I’m going to break my ankle.’ Elisha says it was toughest pretending she was confident. “All that stuff with Emile in the car and in the swimming pool, and what’s the craziest thing you’ve done lately, that was tough, because I had to feel confident enough about myself to kind of feel like I could somehow overpower him and make him do things, and it was like wow. So that was tricky, but Emile helped because he brought a very nice vulnerability to his character also. So it was definitely the two of us that made those scenes work, I think.”
She tells us that she was never shown a high school sex-ed film. “You know it’s so funny, because when I first read the script, I said to Luke, the director, ‘I never saw a sex-ed video. Is this true to life? I mean do people really experience that?’ I remember a teacher having a diagram of how to put on the condom properly. That was the extent of my sex-ed. Everything else was like, obviously, conversations with my mom and those uncomfortable moments where you’re like ‘Birds and bees? Okay, I’ll see you later.’ And Luke said, ‘No, no, I swear, I saw one when I was a kid,’ and a couple of other people were like, ‘No, we saw them too,’ and I went, ‘Alright.’ I guess it worked. But I never had that experience at all.”
Director Luke Greenfield mentioned that Risky Business was an inspiration for this movie. “That’s a beautiful comparison. That was one thing we kind of kept in mind. One of the many movies we kept in mind before we started shooting this,” added Cuthbert. “‘Risky Business,’ ‘True Romance,’ for me it was a little ‘Fight Club’ actually, because that chemistry between Brad Pitt and Edward Norton, the bad and the good, for me was like oh, I can use that a little bit – even though it was a male character. ‘Sixteen Candles,’ ‘Ferris Beuler’s Day Off,’ I mean fun movies that were made in the 80s that were really teen comedies but had a truth behind them, and it wasn’t all fun and games, and when Ferris Beuler’s buddy throws the Ferrari off the garage and goes, ‘My dad is going to kill me,’ those moments made those teen comedies a reality for me. Things happen, you know. When you’re in high school you’re either grounded, or you’re having a really good time, or about to be grounded. So I think ‘The Girl Next Door’ brings that to the table.
She did have a little apprehension when she heard they wanted her to star in a teen comedy. “Yeah. I was coming off of ‘Old School,’ I was coming off of ‘Love Actually,’ just little small parts that were great for me, and everyone else had to carry the film on their shoulders and I just got to go, ‘Oh, I’m in the movie. Right on. Cool.’ But I was looking for a movie that I was going to do, and that was going to be my film, and when they said to me, ‘What about a teen comedy and you play a porn star?’ And I went, ‘Guys, we’re heading in the wrong direction here. I don’t know who briefed you guys, but this is not the right film.’ But then they said, ‘No, you gotta read it.’ And I said, ‘Okay.’ And I read it and I kept an open mind about it. Then I sat down with Luke and went, ‘This could be really cheesy, or this could be really amazing.’ And he goes, ‘It’s going to be amazing.’ And I went, ‘Okay.’
Would she go see this movie if she hadn’t read the script for it? “I’d probably have apprehensions about it. That’s why I’m here to tell people that it’s a hell of a lot more. But yeah, it does freak me out. I think what I’m most proud about is the fact that you can be an actress in Hollywood and do a teen comedy now and not show complete nudity. That was one thing I wanted to prove to everybody. It was a hard thing to come over because I think initially that’s what everybody was expecting. It’s a teen comedy, it’s catered to guys, it’s about a girl who used to be a porn star, how much more sexual can you get with this character. And I said, ‘We can make this tasteful and we can make this good for everybody.'”
Elisha says she’s not ready to do nudity in a film at this point of her career. “I don’t want to throw it out there and go, ‘I’m never going to do nudity.’ But I can definitely say that for the next couple of years, no. I agree with some choices that other actresses have made with nudity and that’s fine if they’re comfortable with it. But I still think I’m a little too young. I still don’t think it’s necessary.”
She says it’s appealing to stay with a character like Kim Bauer in 24. “I’ve never had an opportunity to be a character for this long. I’m literally in the mall shopping and someone will go, ‘Hey, Kim Bauer?’ And I’ll look around. Not because someone’s recognized me, but because I actually respond to the name Kim, which is frightening. But when you’re playing someone 10 months out of every year, and this is my third year, you put on the clothes and you get out there and it’s that easy. It’s that easy because you get to be it and do it and live it like a real person. It’s kind of scary in a way.”
In comparison to the TV series, she gets to do lots of costume changes in this film. “The beauty of having ’24’ is I don’t have to think of wardrobe. There was a thought process for this wardrobe, for this movie. I mean, 18 wardrobe changes, and not just changes. Like, porn, and then girl next door, like Juicy sweatsuits, fun, comfortable, girl next door, who cares, nice tank tops too. Just like, stockings and bras and all of a sudden my rack went really tiny. It was like, ‘Wait a minute, that’s just bra and underwear! Where’s the clothes?’ So yeah, it was really complicated, but it was fun too, to get to change and feel different and to do that.
While The Girl Next Door looks like it may have more appeal to the male crowd, there’s actually quite a lot for the females. “I mentioned to someone else that this is the perfect movie to get your boyfriend to go to where he’s thinking he’s going to see some really great teen comedy for guys, but really it’s like a chick flick. So all those girls out there can fool their boyfriends into thinking they’re going to see something really raunchy but they’re not. Because the movie is a lot more than that. I think girls will be able to relate to my character, hopefully. That’s what I kept in my mind. The one question I kept asking the director was, ‘Am I relatable with women? Am I losing the girl audience? Am I losing the older audience?’ That was one of my concerns.”