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THE LAST WORD

This month:
Actress Elisha Cuthbert

Elisha Cuthbert
If you watch television or go to the movies, you have no excuse not to know Elisha Cuthbert. Born in Alberta before growing up in the Montreal suburb of Greenfield Park, the 25-year-old gained on-camera experience working on the likes of Popular Mechanics for Kids and Are You Afraid of the Dark? before moving to Hollywood and rising to stardom through breakthrough roles on TV’s smash hit 24 and in the film The Girl Next Door. The actress took time from her busy schedule to speak with us from her home in Los Angeles.

You were born in Calgary, raised in Montreal, and are currently living in L.A.  Does that make you a Flames fan, a Canadiens fan, or a Kings fan?


Elisha Cuthbert:
Can I say all of the above? (laughs)  You know what, I’d really have to say that I’m a Habs fan, just because when I’m home, that’s what we watch at the house.  And when I’m here, I watch the Habs as much as possible. But I just like hockey in general.  It’s been hard to live here for the past eight years and not follow what the Kings are doing and what the league is doing in general.  It’s my favorite sport.

You have Kings season tickets, no?

EC: I did for three years, but I didn’t renew them this year because I was working on the East Coast for a while.  Maybe next season, we’ll see.

When did you start following the game? Was it in Montreal?

EC: Yeah, I was a little too young to appreciate it when I was living in Calgary.  I probably started following it seriously when I was in high school.  My friends were playing so I’d go see those games, and then I really got into it from there, I guess when I was around 15 or 16.

 The 24 cast
Who was your favorite NHLer to watch back then?

EC: You know, my favorite player was actually Joe Sakic, who wasn’t playing for Montreal, of course, but he was just amazing.  He’s the one who sticks out in my mind as having impressed me the most.

You caught a game here at the Bell Centre back in December.  How did that experience compare to the others you’ve had at various arenas around the league?


EC:  By far the Bell Centre’s my favorite place to watch a hockey game, and I’m not just saying that.  I’ve seen games in Pittsburgh, at MSG in New York, at the Staples Center in L.A., and in Vancouver, and there’s just something about the Bell Centre.  The energy there is indescribable.  I have a lot of friends who play in the NHL and I know they all feel the same way – it’s pretty amazing, there.

You wrote a blog for a while on NHL.com.  How’d that come about?

EC: That was during my first year as a season ticket holder with the Kings. I had never had season tickets before, and the whole experience just gave me a lot to write about. I ended up running into someone who oversaw NHL.com and they asked if I was interested in contributing a blog to their site, so I said I’d give it a shot.  It actually ended up being really difficult for me, because a lot of times you get interviewed by people and they write what they interpret you to be saying, but with a blog, it’s word-for-word that all comes from you, from your heart.  It was a really personal experience.  It was a lot of fun, a good experience, and a lot of people got to read it, and hopefully I’ll have the chance to do it again.

You had a personal audience with the potential next President of the United States when you were younger.  That makes for a good story at cocktail parties.


EC: (laughs) Yeah, that was when I was 16 years old.  I was working on Popular Mechanics for Kids, which ranked as the eighth most-popular educational show in the world.  The First Lady at the time, Hillary Clinton, was head of educational programming, so she wanted to meet me and the other boy on the show, Jay Baruchel.  We got invited to the White House so we went down to Washington, and it was quite the experience.

Are you rooting for her in the Presidential race, then?

EC: I can’t vote until 2013, but I’m on her contact list for her various charity events and fundraisers, and her team definitely invites me to a lot of things.  It’s a cool relationship to have, that’s for sure.

How awesome was it to be involved in what has become the cult phenomenon that is Old School?

EC: It was pretty unbelievable.  It was essentially the first major American film I was a part of, and to sit down in a room and read through the script with every actor who was involved in the movie – Juliette Lewis, Vince Vaughn, Luke Wilson, and Will Ferrell – it was a surreal moment for me.  To then go in not only on my days, but on the days Juliette was working to see those shoots was amazing.  It was a fantastic experience, and I really had no idea how great it would turn out and how popular it would become.

Who’s funnier: Vince Vaughn or Will Ferrell?

EC: I got along with Will better, but I like both.  They’re both totally different. Will’s very out there and a bit off the wall, while Vince is more sarcastic.  They’re both amazing, but Will is great.  We had some really good conversations about how he got his start in Winnipeg and at the Just for Laughs festival – he’s a really cool guy.

Your character of Kim Bauer on 24 was abducted, threatened, and otherwise abused for much of the show’s first three seasons.  Did she have awful judgment, or was she simply a victim of circumstance?

 

EC: I like to think of her more as a reactive character than as a proactive character, if that helps answer your question. (laughs) But playing her helped me avoid typecasting, because eventually that role led to me doing things like The Girl Next Door and House of Wax and other films. As crazy as Kim was, she helped me land other dramatic parts and take on intense scripts and make them as real as possible and as entertaining as possible. The role did help, but it was a challenge at the time.  I was like, “How am I going to make this work?”

Did you enjoy wearing the same clothes for an entire season?

EC: Ah, no. (laughs) No, that was a difficult thing. At least I had about 50 of every item, but it was pretty crazy.  I felt like I was a character from The Simpsons. Wearing the same outfit for 10 months is intense.

Any truth to the rumblings a 24 movie is in the works?

EC: I’m sure there will be at some point.  To see Sex and the City come out with one and hear that there are talks that The Sopranos might do it, that’s great. If that’s the new wave in film, where you take great TV shows and make them into movies, I’d hope we’re also on the bandwagon with that.

What has been the most exciting 24-hour period in the real life of Elisha Cuthbert?

EC: You know, it’s funny – every day’s pretty crazy with my life. Things happen, and being in California, getting to do what I do is pretty amazing.  I can’t pinpoint any single 24-hour day. That’s a tough one for me.

Given Kiefer Sutherland’s a big hockey fan, did you guys talk much puck during the taping of the show?

EC:
Oh my God, yeah, especially during the season. It was great, too, because he’d order the Center Ice package on the set so between scenes, we’d be able to jump back and forth and watch a lot of games. We also had a lot of amazing hockey players come visit the set, guys like Kris Draper and Chris Chelios. Kiefer’s friends with a lot of players and it was a great opportunity to meet some of them and have them come by the set and see what we do.

You had starring roles in the horror flicks House of Wax and last year’s Captivity.  Between that and what happened to your character on 24, are you pining for a role in a nice period romance?


EC:  I guess I’m all over the place.  After two films in the horror genre, last year I spent time making two comedies, a remake of a Korean romantic comedy called My Sassy Girl, and a more straight-up comedy with Tim Allen called The Six Wives of Henry Lefay. Hopefully at some point people will ask me when I’ll go back to making dramas. I kind of teeter-totter back and forth and try not to stay in a box where people think I’m only doing one kind of film. The funny thing with acting is, it’s like a hockey career – it takes time, and you want to be around as long as possible. Every day is a struggle to choose the right projects, and that’s what I’m trying to do.

Paris Hilton and Elisha
You worked with Paris Hilton in House of Wax.  Is the private Paris much different from the public Paris?

EC: Not really! She’s just as eccentric and as interesting in person as she is in the magazines and on TV. I did get along with her very well after being very apprehensive about working with her. I think she’s a great person, but she’s definitely a different character. The best thing I can say is that she’s very eccentric, but she’s a lot of fun and very sweet and a very loyal friend.

On that note, help us decide: What’s the best celebrity gossip magazine, In Touch, Star, Us, or OK?

EC: They all seem to do all right, but I don’t really have a favorite in that group. (laughs)

As someone who’s been snapped by the paparazzi for magazines like those, how would you describe the experience?  Is it just creepy?

EC: When I’m by myself in New York or L.A. I try to avoid it as much as possible, but it will always be there and I can handle it on my own.  But when I go away with my family or friends on vacation and it’s not just me that needs to deal with it, then I get a little uncomfortable.  Unfortunately it’s become my life; you never get used to it and it’s an awkward thing, but at the same time it kind of goes with the gig.

Has the whole celebrity culture thing gotten out of control, what with the incessant stalking of Britney, Lindsay, and that whole group?


EC: It’s a hard thing to say, because back in the ‘80s Kiefer went through it because there was a lot of focus on the guys. They went after him, Emilio Estevez, Robert Downey Jr., and now it seems like the light is being shone a lot on these young girls. At the same time, I think some of these girls realize that the paparazzi are there and that they could avoid it if they wanted to.  I sometimes wonder if they actually want the attention; I try to avoid it at all costs.  For me, it’s all about the work, and whether I’m in Us or Star every week is irrelevant. It’s fine for fans to see me, but I’d rather they be interested in the projects I’m working on than what I wore on the beach. (laughs)

Speaking of you on the beach, you were ranked No. 10 in AskMen’s Top 99 Women of 2007.  Angelina Jolie edged you out for spot No. 9.  What the heck does Angie have over you?


EC: (laughs) A really hot, hot man.  No, I don’t know.  I guess she does have a few years of experience on me.  She deserves her spot on that list, that’s for sure.

We’ve heard amazing things about the poutine at Benny BBQ in Greenfield Park.  Can you confirm that?

EC: (laughs) Yeah, but I have to say, I’m actually more of a La Belle Province girl. Maybe with Lafleur’s second. Every time we land in Dorval, we stop at the Lafleur’s on the way home. Then the next day I try to hit up La Belle Province. And then I hit the gym. (laughs)

All right, make the call for us: how will the Canadiens end up doing down the stretch this year?

EC: I think Guy Carbonneau is not only a great coach, but a great guy, and the team is looking really good. I hope they go all the way, to be perfectly honest with you. I hope that for them all the time. It’s been really fun watching the team this year; Kovalev’s been amazing, they’re looking strong, and I’m not worried about them at all.

Follow Elisha’s projects through her profile on www.imdb.com, or learn more about the upcoming My Sassy Girl at www.goldcirclefilms.com.


This article, written by J.S Trzcienski,  was published in CANADIENS magazine Vol. 22 No. 4. See table of contents

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