The good news for “24” star Elisha Cuthbert was that her first lead movie role in the comedy “The Girl Next Door” came with lots of sexy costume changes — a relief from wearing the same outfit every single day on the real-time TV thriller.
The bad news: She played a former porn star trying to start a new life in the suburbs — so she’d have to strip out of those fancy clothes.
She agreed to take the role, but only after she talked the director into making the X-rated character more wholesome and less of an exhibitionist.
Despite numerous seductive Maxim and FHM photo shoots, and playing sexually adventurous girls in “Love Actually” and “Old School,” the 21-year-old Cuthbert said she’s really modest person.
AP: Did you get to pick the provocative clothes your character wears in “The Girl Next Door”?
Cuthbert: All of them. I was very hands-on with wardrobe. I think wardrobe is a really important part of making a movie and developing the character. The porn stuff showed her as uncomfortable, so we chose things that were uncomfortable for me to even wear.
AP: Tight and restrictive?
Cuthbert: Exactly. And a little more revealing. It makes you feel, not self-conscious, but not as confident as you’d normally be. They were outfits that were right for the character so people get a sense that she’s uncomfortable and wants to break out of that.
AP: Must have been a nice change from playing Kim Bauer on “24.”
Cuthbert: I had a really good time. It was totally different from “24,” obviously ... There were 18 wardrobe changes as opposed to “24” — which is one. The character was appealing in that sense that she was going to be the girl next door but at the same time have this darker side.
AP: Are you modest in real life?
Cuthbert: Pretty much. Everybody thought the porn stuff would be easy. But it wasn’t. It was difficult because I had to be this character who was dominating and you have to build up some confidence to make that happen. And the porn stuff was really uncomfortable too because I had to put myself in that environment and that cultural situation. It was tricky and it’s embarrassing because you’ve got the crew watching. They were very professional, but it was a little nerve-racking.
AP: You didn’t have any explicit nudity, though. Just the one scene where a neighbor is watching you get undressed and sees you peel your shirt off from behind.
Cuthbert: That’s as far as I’ve pushed it as far as nudity goes — and probably, that’s about as far as it will go for me.
AP: Did the filmmakers want you to show more? There can be a lot of pressure on a young actress.
Cuthbert: Of course. Especially nowadays. I approached it with the idea in mind that we could make this movie without being completely nude. I said, “What would be the thrill factor if she gets completely naked and you see everything in the second scene you see her?” And they bought it. (Laughs.) It was nice that they were with me on that. You know, if they wanted to make the movie with that kind of character that way, then I probably wasn’t right for it anyway.
AP: Are you enjoying season three of “24”? You’re character got a lot more involved with the story this year after being left on the periphery last year.
Cuthbert: Before we started this year I said, “Where’s she going? How do you need me this year? And maybe she could be part of (the Counter Terrorism Unit), Wink, wink, nudge, nudge — instead of being just the daughter.” And they got it. I’m more active this year than last year. Last year was a difficult season for me, I was trying to figure out where I fit in with the plotline.
AP: Over the course of 10 months, you play a character who has only gone through one day. What kind of restrictions are on you as far as changing your appearance? No haircuts or tans, right?
Cuthbert: I get my hair cut every five days to exactly the same cut that it was previously. I have the same hairdo for 10 months out of the year. I get it touched up every five days, which is kind of a luxury for a woman. (Laughs.) It’s a chore, but I’m on top of it. Weight gain and weight loss doesn’t bother me. I don’t fluctuate much, but it is something to think about. I can’t eat McDonald’s everyday. I don’t like going out in the sun anyway, so that doesn’t affect me too, too much, otherwise.
AP: Since you always look the same, you must get recognized a lot.
Cuthbert: I actually respond to “Kim.” If I’m shopping in the mall, (I’ll hear) “There’s Kim Bauer!” You go, “Oh hey, what up?” It’s pretty funny.