The actress talks about switching out of comedy and working with Shirley Maclaine in In Her Shoes
Cameron Diaz made her mark with Jim Carrey in The Mask and became a household name. She quickly became one of the highest paid actresses in Hollywood.
Her latest film, In Her Shoes, shows a different side to the normally comedy-driven roles. In fact, in my opinion, she could possibly get a Golden Globe nomination for Best Actress in a Drama!
We spoke with Cameron up in Toronto about In Her Shoes. Just before she walked in to our room, we had been schooled by Shirley Maclaine in how to talk to a legend.
Cameron luckily laughed it off and gave us a great interview:
Cameron Diaz: I know what you're talking about. I've seen it happen. I've never experienced it myself.
She said none of you asked for her stories or advice.
Cameron Diaz: That's such bullsh*t; you don't have to ask her. We talked about all that stuff constantly. That was what we talked about, about everything; you can talk about anything with her. She'll tell you exactly - she'll tell you the truth, she'll tell you straightforward; that's the great thing about Shirley. It's what you expect, what you hope for and I think that's why probably we've been watching her for so long make films because her characters have always been so honest. She's awesome! I love Shirley Maclaine, love that woman.
Did you learn anything about acting by being around her?
Cameron Diaz: She's like a great athlete, like Tiger Woods or Michael Jordan; they make it look effortless, they make it look like ‘Oh, it's so easy, I'm going to sink this 60-foot putt, I'm going to take my six-iron and I'm going to hit it 320 yards.’ It's effortless, but really it's just who they are. It's their abilities, their focus. With Shirley, the truth comes out of her. That's what I've learned - when you're just as honest as you can be that the truth comes out. It's like having a conversation with her. Everyone has a different process, and it was awesome to witness hers.
Do you think you’re exposing yourself in this role? Is that kind of risky?
Cameron Diaz: I don't know how much of myself I exposed; I definitely feel like I exposed a lot of Maggie, who she was. It was fun, it was awesome, it was a great ride, and I loved doing it, especially with the talent I got to do it with. Working with Toni, working with Shirley as actors that you could trust, that you could go into that with. And of course with Curtis, who gives such incredible guidance through it; he's so trusting and trustworthy, to be able to go and have that collaboration.
What attracted you to do this?
Cameron Diaz: I look at scripts oftentimes; it's funny because the first time I really articulated it was in the next room. Somebody said ‘Was it Maggie that brought you in?’ I realized I don't pick films based on characters per se; I look at a script as a whole, I look at the full content, and oftentimes that gets me in trouble. Like how many times have I done a film where I've gotten tied up or I've had to get into cold water or I'm in a wedding dress. Those things are like ‘Oh, right, I'm going to have to spend all that time tied up.’ I didn't really realize that because I was looking at the whole script. Do you know what I mean? So I do that often times. I wasn't looking at Maggie going ‘Oh, she's dyslexic, she's a whore. Yes; I want to play her.’ I looked at the whole picture and the whole arch of all the characters in the story that they were telling, and I knew my place would be Maggie. I knew that I would be playing Maggie, but in this incredible story about these three women telling a universal story. You got to witness life, human experience and it wasn't like glorified. It was just honest and so that's what drew me to it, the whole story and the story that was being told and the fact that those stories don't get told so often on the screen.
There's been a lot of discussion with people who see the film about whether they're a Maggie or a Rose; Toni said she was actually more of a Maggie. Who do you relate to more?
Cameron Diaz: I think that I'm a mixture of the both of them certainly. I can get things done if I need to, but I can really be completely irresponsible and procrastinate until the very, very, very bitter end. In fact sometimes I work better under pressure - the deadline. So yeah, I think that I'm kind of both; I can be the very nurturing one or I can be the one that doesn't really help. Well, that's not true; I like to figure things out; I like to help find the solution. I don't really like being the problem, in fact I hate being the problem.
What do you mean by that?
Cameron Diaz: I hate causing trouble. I think that it's because I spent so much time as a child causing trouble (laughter) that now I don’t want to.
Since this role is probably going to open you up to roles that you haven't done before, what kind of other roles would you like to play? Is there anything out there that you'd really like to do?
Cameron Diaz: I want to play a Sasquatch! Do you think this'll open that up for me because I might be able to do Bigfoot. No, I don't know. It's amazing what they can do with prosthetics these days, I don't know, it's weird and bizarre. I probably should go ‘I would like to play this character and this character and this character,’ but I can't do that and I don't. For me personally, the way that I make decisions it's all about making the decision based on what's best for me right now. Where I'm at right now as a person at this point in my life as myself and what is in front of me at the moment that looks like I can put myself into is what I do. So it's not thought out. I can't really map that out and have never really been able to. And that's the kind of question I've always gotten - what kinds of roles I'd like to play - and I'm always like ‘Uh, I don't know.’ And I don't. After twelve years I really don't know what I want to do; I'm just doing it as it comes long.
Do you feel that there are misconceptions about you that have gotten you typecast in Hollywood?
Cameron Diaz: Honestly, I really just do not pay attention to it, I don't, I'm sure that there are. You can talk about actors all day and go ‘She's too this or she's too that.’ I'm sure that people do, but I wouldn't know what they are as I really do not pay attention to them. I wouldn't know what they are. It's really hard to see yourself as other people see you. So it's probably really hard for me to guess what it would be because I would probably not guess those things about how people see me. So I don't really worry about it and it's kind of a waste of energy. I'm not really worried about whether I'm going to be able to go and get that part. I feel, and I've always felt this way even before I started acting, when I was modeling, because there was a lot of competition so to speak in modeling. There were hundreds of girls in one job so I always felt like if it was my job I'll get the job and if it's not my job then I won't get that job. That's not like a lack of ambition because I've auditioned for things that people probably wouldn't consider me for and I've gotten some of those parts and I didn't get other parts. Either way that it turns out I figure that's the way it's meant to be because of course really in life you can't do that. It's not like you can go ‘If I get this job it's going to lead to this and I'm going to achieve this in this place;’ it's so random.
Does that help you sort of stay grounded because you've always seemed so real and grounded?
Cameron Diaz: Yeah, I think so, I don't have any expectations. If you just want to be really laid back and not be stressed out and just cruise through life, just have no expectations whatsoever. When you don't have expectations you're not worried about whether or not you're going to reach them or if you fall short of them or if something is better than it could or worse than it could be. You just kind of have what it is and for me that works best.
So you've figured out the secret to success in Hollywood?
Cameron Diaz: (laughing) Yeah! Don't want something. I never wanted to be famous, I never wanted to be rich, I never wanted to be the top actress or paid the highest in Hollywood, I never wanted any of the things that people think that they're supposed to aspire to; I've never wanted those things. All I've ever wanted to do was to make movies and have fun and work with people that I love working with and learn from them and collaborate and make product that people enjoy watching that make them laugh and cry and have an experience with. That's all I've ever wanted to do and I feel incredibly fortunate that I've gotten to do that because I look at my career and I go ‘Those things exist in it and I've done it; I've learned from people. I've worked with great people and we've made movies that people have enjoyed watching.’ So, to me, it's just an incredibly great thing. That's the greatest fortune that I have in my career.
What impressions do you have of Florida?
Cameron Diaz: Isn't it the best! I loved those places, those places give me hope. I love it because at that age, I look forward to being that age. I can't wait to be that age and hanging out with a bunch of people hanging out all day playing golf and going to the beach, all my own age, we're laughing and having a good time and getting loopy on our prescription drugs, driving golf carts around; I can't wait. If you're at that age and you're not hooked up to a machine laying in bed with your loved ones around you asking if you need anything, to me I hope that when I get to be that age that I'm on the other side of that and I get to hangout with my friends. So when I see that I go ‘Wow! These people just really have it made, it's great, it's awesome.’ They were also really lovely people who got to be extras on the set; they were so great. There was this one couple, and I'm so bad with names. I don't remember their names, and I don't think that they made it into the film, but there was this couple who had been married for like sixty years and they were, I'm telling you the light in their eyes was wondrous. She was really tall and long and had this beautiful sparkle and she was flirting with her husband. They were flirting with each other from across the room. They were flirting and me and her were talking, and she said ‘Look, he's so cute.’ I was like ‘Oh my G-d, that's awesome.’ They had a little part in the movie that I don't think made it in.
Any of the older men try and flirt with you?
Cameron Diaz: Of course they did; I flirted with them, I love it, I love older men, oh my G-d. Totally!
Do you have any siblings?
Cameron Diaz: I'm an older sister.
Have you ever had one of you steal the other's boyfriend?
Cameron Diaz: No, no, that never really happened. I always wonder, like the British are really good at that. Do you ever realize that? They are so incestuous. They pass around partners as if it was like popcorn at a movie. 'Do you want some?' It's just bizarre. Like all of their - it's always like someone is cheating on somebody.
And you know this how?
Cameron Diaz: Well, I saw ten minutes of Love Actually the other day and I was like ‘Oh my G-d, he's in love with his friend's wife. He never talks to her but talks to his friend all the time so that he can stare at his wife.’ It's like this weird obsession with each other's boyfriends and wives and girlfriends. And also I have English friends who I'm always like every time that I show up it's like that person is now with that person and that person is now with that person, I'm always like shocked, I don't get it, I don't understand it, I don't know. I just go ‘Okay, what's the situation?’ But they are comfortable with it. It's ok I guess, but no, I think that one time a girlfriend of mine had a crush on a guy who had a crush on me and I had a crush on him and I actually dated him for a little bit. I think that her feelings were hurt a little bit and I felt really bad about it, but we were only like nine or something. So I think that those are those learning experiences. That's when you go ‘When I'm thirty I'm not going to take the guy that my girlfriend is in love with.’
How is your relationship with your real life sister?
Cameron Diaz: I'm really lucky; my sister is sent from heaven, she is an angel. If our partnership was any different, if I had someone else and she had someone else to go through this life with as siblings I'm sure that we'd be totally different people, but having her as a sister made me a stronger person and gave me the ability to be who I am with her support. She's just awesome, she's hilarious, hilarious; she's just an awesome, awesome person. So I got really lucky because I think that not everyone is so fortunate. I have girlfriends who's family members are just complete nut jobs. It's sad if you get partnered up with those people in your experience in this life, but I figure that we probably did something really good in our past lives that we have each other now.
There were so many outfits in this film; what kind of ordeal was that? Were you constantly changing?
Cameron Diaz: Well, the shoes ironically are really sort of a metaphor, but it has completely become a marketing campaign. So the irony is that you take something that's metaphorical and make it literal. The shoe scenes were really kind of easy. They didn't take up much time. The shoes were nice and some of it fit, not all of them though. Some of them had to be flown in from Israel, a few from Guatemala and several from Alaska. But yeah, I’m kidding about the shoes; it really didn't take much to do those scenes. It was really just straightforward.
Was that for specific needs?
Cameron Diaz: Yeah, basically.
You were one of the first people attached to this film; did the novel have anything to do with that?
Cameron Diaz: I didn't read the novel until after Curtis was brought on to the picture because I wanted to make sure that whoever the filmmaker was that it was something that he wanted me to do to have that information because the book is so much more explicit in the characters and in the story and everything that I didn't really want to put myself in that place because it's a nightmare to have the guy go, the director go ‘Don't read the book.’ And you go ‘Oh, I already read the book. I can't take it back, it's in me.’
What do you have coming up in your immediate future?
Cameron Diaz: I might be making a film called Holiday with Nancy Meyers.
Is that a remake?
Cameron Diaz: No. Actually, that's an original script by Nancy Meyers.
How is Fiona in Shrek III?
Cameron Diaz: Fiona is awesome. I've done like half of the film and I'm looking to do the second half in the next four or five years.
Is the whole script or movie done?
Cameron Diaz: No. Well, I don't know because that's the sort of challenge of that film, of doing something like that or for me because it's the only kind of film that I've done that's like that. So the challenge for me is that there is no script. You don't get a script that you can look at and read. You kind of get the script on the day and you're oftentimes there reading it for the first time out loud as they are recording it. It's the first time it's coming out of my mouth. Actually though sometimes they use that much to my chagrin. I'm like ‘What are you talking about? I don't know what I'm doing. I have no idea what I'm saying. I just said it.’ So that's kind of the challenge, to kind of know what you're doing last minute. I think that my schedule is probably a little bit easier to coordinate with. That sounds like a necessity to - and there were a lot of people in that film too. So it sounds like that's trying to get people's schedules working when they could.
In Her Shoes walks into theaters October 7th; it's rated PG-13. It also stars Toni Collette as her sister and Shirley Maclaine as their grandmother.