Rachael Leigh Cook was always worth the bet

Rachael Leigh Cook is closing the loop. Twenty-two years after her went down a staircase in a little red dress to the rhythm of Sixpen...


Rachael Leigh Cook is closing the loop. Twenty-two years after her went down a staircase in a little red dress to the rhythm of Sixpence None the Richer, the “She is all thatThe actress finds herself once again in a teen makeover movie.

This time, she’s on the sidelines as the mother of an influencer (played by Addison Rae) in “He is all that, “The genre-based Netflix remake of the 1999 hit that starred Cook and Freddie Prinze Jr. And this time it’s an eccentric boy spitting out a version of the classic Cook line,”Am I a bet?

Now 41, Cook was initially skeptical of joining the new film, worrying, “What if my role were featured to signal to anyone who might have been a fan of the first film:” She said everything was fine! She’s still alive, isn’t it fun? “

But Cook isn’t just alive. She thrives. And his small role in “He’s All That” is just one marker of a decades-long career that includes starring roles in some of the most beloved films by millennial audiences and a permanent place in the air. pop culture of the 90s and early 2000s. Now she is ready for a new era.

Cook, as you would expect from the roles she’s known for, has a knack for making strangers feel like their best friend. Dressed in an oversized t-shirt and perched on a rattan chair at her brother’s home in Los Angeles, she sprinkled our recent video interview with a stream of her own questions on everything from my cat to my parents in going through my love life. The same expressive eyebrows that a director had once asked him to control by sticking them now alternately crinkled in worry and jumped in joy.

“This is all completely authentic,” her friend and “The Baby-Sitters Club” co-star Marla Sokoloff said in a separate appeal. “She’s exactly who you want her to be. On several occasions she passed me a meeting that she got for herself and said, “I don’t think it’s for me. You have to play this role. Who does that? She doesn’t. a bad bone in his body.

Rae – who was born the year after the release of “She’s All That” and rose to prominence on TikTok – navigates a different Hollywood landscape than the one Cook entered as a teenager in 1995, an era before the social media or #MeToo. The young star spoke of Cook, as well as’ 90s trends like hipster jeans and claw clips, with deep respect.

“Rachael is so inspiring. You can tell his heart is very pure, ”Rae said. “She knows more than a lot of people how difficult this industry can be, and she made it very clear to me that it was a lot of work.” (Cook noted that she refrained from giving Rae too much career advice at the risk of sounding like “a busy old lady.”)

The daughter of a social worker and a weaver, Cook began modeling for Milk-Bone boxes and Target print ads in Minneapolis before booking her first Los Angeles audition at age 15 and winning. the role: Mary-Anne in the 1995 film adaptation of “The babysitters club. “Months later another literary role followed as Becky Thatcher in Disney”Tom and huck. “

On the set of this movie, Cook found herself next to two actors at the height of childish stardom: Jonathan Taylor Thomas, whom she heard say things like “It’s hard to be a Democrat in my bracket.” ‘imposition’ at 13, and Brad Renfro, who she remembers got her part wielding an actual hatchet and chasing the casting director into the audition room.

“It was a very close and very living example of the different ways of being in Hollywood,” Cook said. “I think at least in my 20s, I lived somewhere right in the middle of this.”

Gifted with an ironic sense of humor and oft-underused comedic timing, Cook primarily hoped for a career like that of Parker Posey, with whom she co-starred in “The House of Yes” and “Josie. and the Pussycats “. But without TikTok or Instagram (platforms on which Rae has over 120 million subscribers), Cook’s public figure was at the mercy of the Seventeen and Angelfire fan sites, who determined how to present her to their readers.

In early interviews, she was often compared to fellow Minnesota countrywoman Winona Ryder: both had delicate features and a cool girl influence. Matthew Lillard, Cook’s co-star in “She’s All That” and the remake, saw her as an even different prominent type of woman.

“I remember thinking to myself, ‘She can be the next Julia Roberts,’” Lillard said in a phone interview. “She had that sparkle in her eyes and the sparkle of her personality. She’s wicked smart. But at the same time, she doesn’t believe in the hype. She is the exception to the Hollywood rule.

Breaking the mold further, one of Cook’s most defining roles came not from a movie but from a PSA: she smashed eggs and aggressively destroyed an entire kitchen to demonstrate the effects of heroin addiction. Than 1997 Spot “It’s your brain on drugs”, she said, “ended up moving the needle for me in terms of getting a little more daring roles.” Twenty years later she filmed a similar ad, highlighting how the war on drugs disproportionately affects people of color. The update, Cook said, “was to take place knowing what we know now.”

While Cook’s anti-heroin ad proved hugely popular, “classy heroineWas also the dominant beauty ideal of the ’90s, glorifying ultra-thin body types and popularizing an often unhealthy standard for models and actresses – and ordinary teenagers who were bombarded with these onscreen images and in magazines.

During her career, several directors asked the little star to lose weight a few days before filming. One of them, Cook said, was Peter Howitt, the director of the 2001 film “Antitrust” which dampened the insinuation she had abused on Thanksgiving with the addendum he told his male co-star, Ryan Phillippe, the same.

“I immediately burst into tears. And he felt very bad and immediately took it back, ”she said. “But that doesn’t mean I wasn’t offended. It doesn’t mean that I don’t remember it.

A representative for Howitt wrote in an email that the director had been instructed by the film’s producers to speak to the cast, noting that Howitt “regretted being used as a messenger” apologized and never had ” personally had problem with the physical appearance of any actors. “

“She’s All That” and “He’s All That” are two productions of Miramax, although only the first had the participation of Harvey Weinstein. While the producer, who is currently serving a 23-year prison sentence for rape and sexual assault, was not a staple on the set of the 1999 film, Cook has met him over the years. (She also starred in the Miramax films “All I Wanna Do”, “The House of Yes” and “Blow Dry.”) Cook believes her manager accompanied the then unconscious young star to those work meetings to protect her, but she also asked her client to send recovery cards to Weinstein when he was in the hospital.

“I think I’ve heard enough people call me mature that I believe it myself. But that wasn’t really true, ”Cook said. “In retrospect, was I equipped to navigate the industry? Zero percent.

After “Josie and the Pussycats”, a campy, female-centric adaptation that is now largely appreciated, bombed at the 2001 box office, Cook decided to focus on independent films, both because she needed to get out of the “movie prison” and because of her desire to be a part of that scene. quirky and flourishing.

“I really thought what everyone told me was correct when they said, ‘What we need to do now is make sure you are taken seriously,'” she said. “I definitely did things for the wrong reasons.”

Prior to “Josie”, she had turned down the role of Snape in the “X-Men” franchise in order to shoot several smaller films and avoid acting on a green screen. The superhero role went to her “She’s All That” co-star Anna Paquin instead. Cook is reluctant to draw more attention to his “huge misstep,” noting: “As soon as I saw the posters, I knew I had made a mistake.

Cook is currently in a state of transition, on the cusp of a new chapter. Her 15-year marriage to “The Vampire Diaries” actor Daniel Gillies, with whom she shares two children, Charlotte, 7, and Theo, 6, ended in divorce. Actress Judy Greer, her friend, later put her in touch with producer Kevin Mann.

“I highly recommend divorce,” Cook said. “I’m sorry, I know I sound like a coward. But I believe it wholeheartedly. Life is too short not to be true to who you are and what you need.

In recent years, she has turned to wellness fare, starring in a Hallmark film series tied to various seasons and holidays, as well as the Netflix 2020 rom-com “Love, Guaranteed», Which she also produced. Although she is a fan of the heartwarming genre, there is still so much more that she would love to explore. Black comedies. Posey land. “Serious stuff but still weird and a little twisted,” she explained.

As Lillard said, “Rachael Leigh Cook is someone to be reckoned with. I’m super excited for the world to remember that.

She is also expected to star and produce Netflix’s upcoming romance “Love tour guide“, based on his own story idea. Production was a way to regain control that was lacking at the start of his career.

“I am sentenced to life imprisonment. I walked around the block, ”Cook said. “It used to be unacceptable for a woman to grow old. Now I’m older and somehow it’s okay. not a man Now the women I know run everything.

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