Thursday, January 26, 2012

Cerina Vincent Really Is Italian!

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Cerina Vincent Really Is Italian!

Cerina Vincent in Person.jpg Mistaken identity always has been a central ingredient in farce, and that's the case in Jason Todd Ipson's Boston-set Everybody Wants to Be Italian, which opens in wide release in New York beginning Friday. Almost everybody in the film is Italian, except for the romantic leads, and even they lie to each other that they are Italian as they enter an uneasy friends-or-lovers relationship. We can safely assume that Jay Jablonski (as a fishmonger who can't get over his first love) isn't really Italian, but oddly for the role of a non-Italian female who pretends to be Italian, Ipson actually cast an Italian. Is that casting against type? No matter, because he made a good choice. For Cerina Vincent (as a lonely veterinarian who wants a bit of excitement in her life) this could be the breakout role that she's been waiting for. I recently spoke to the personable former beauty queen and scream queen about her career and her dream role.
Danny Peary: You did the kids television show "Power Rangers: Lost Galaxy"; you did nudity in the parody Not Another Teen Movie; you starred in Cabin Fever and other horror films. So has your fan mail changed over the years?
Cerina Vincent: My first fan mail was purely for "Power Rangers." I thought it would be just from kids, but I was very surprised to see that older men and women were also fans of the show. I'd get mail from forty- or fifty-year-old men and they didn't say they watched the show with their kids. That was interesting. My fan mail definitely changed after Not Another Teen Movie. My whole career changed. Suddenly, I was known as "Naked Girl" and there was the sex symbol thing that I wasn't quite prepared for. And then the fan mail definitely shifted again after Cabin Fever. I got horror fans, who are so loyal and I love every one of them. Now I also get fan mail from an episode I did of "Two and a Half Men," so it's a big mush.
DP: Do they still show Power Rangers?
CV: I'm not getting paid, but they did start to rerun it or they put some episodes together and created a film they're selling. Lately I've been getting a new batch of "Power Rangers" fans and some of that mail comes from overseas.
DP: Like most "sex symbols," do you get mail from prisoners?
CV: I have gotten a few of those. But my agents and managers read through it and don't actually give me a lot of it. They just send me pictures and things they want me to sign. I would really like to see everything coming to me. I am sort of a businessperson in that way. I want to see everybody's fan mail, I want to know who called and who wants me and who doesn't, and who loves me and who hates me. It's just like I want to know every script that's out there.
DP: Go back to the beginning of your career. What were your goals and how have they changed?
CV: When I was growing up, I was always a performer. My mom was a dance teacher and had a dance studio in the back of our house in Las Vegas. I started dancing and then I started singing and then when I was twelve I started doing community theater. Then I did musicals in high school, singing and dancing. And then I started modeling and did a little acting in local commercials in Las Vegas throughout high school. Then I was Miss Nevada Teen and went to Teen USA. So, after all of that, I really knew that I wanted to give this performing thing a shot. But I truly thought that people in movies and on TV were on some other planet that I didn't know how to get to. I didn't know anybody. I didn't know anything. I was completely naïve. And I went in with no expectations. I think going in with no expectations helped me because when you're desperate, this business just doesn't work. When you walk in to an audition with desperation on you, you don't get the part. I'd tell this to a lot of actors who are moving to Los Angeles or who want to do this. I didn't come in wanting to be rich or famous. The first job I booked was this little show on NBC called "USA High," which had the same producers as "Saved By the Bell." So, I was like, "Okay, if I never do anything else in my entire life, this is enough." I really was that innocent about the business. I went to Marymount in Los Angeles. It had a theater program that I was in for like a minute because I got the role of Maya in "Power Rangers."
DP: You say you weren't desperate. Does that mean you had enough money to live on?
CV: Oh, no. I had no money. I had no money and no backup plan. I had nothing. But I wasn't desperate in the way you see a lot of actors and actresses who have moved to L.A.
DP: Maybe you were pretty confident.
CV: Definitely confident within my work. I just loved to perform.
DP: Did David Lynch direct some short with you early on?
CV: Yes, it's called "Darkened Room". You actually can buy it. A DVD collection of his shorts is out and it is awesome. He's a brilliant, brilliant filmmaker. I met him through Eli Roth after I did Cabin Fever.
DP: I know you are a fan of Eli Roth. Of course, the scene people remember in Cabin Fever is the one you take a sexy bath and shave your legs and the skin peels off. Body-in-revolt scenes are quite frightening.
CV: Cabin Fever was just another one of those films like Everybody Wants to Be Italian that I just felt blessed to be a part of. I knew that Eli was something special but I didn't know that the movie would be so awesome. He kept saying it was going to be a huge hit and we were all going to be famous. He kept saying it was going to change our lives. And we were all like, "Really. You're sure about that?" Everybody says that, but there was something different about that film and something different about Eli so that I really had a gut feeling that it could work. I was pleasantly surprised by its success. But I didn't know it would be that big of a hit and I didn't anticipate the big fan base I got from it. But at the same time it felt right and made sense to me. And I kind of have a similar feeling for this movie. I could be totally wrong and I am willing to be wrong but I hope I'm not. I feel that Jason has that same something. I think he's a very exceptional person. He was a doctor. He's just very intelligent and has something not very many directors have. And the passion behind this film is similar to the passion behind Cabin Fever.
DP: Today when you say you want better roles, I assume you aren't ashamed of your old roles. When you look back at the old roles, were they stepping stones?
CV: I think that obviously they were stepping-stones, but my career hasn't gone straight up, but up and down. I'm not ashamed of my old roles. I am eternally grateful for Not Another Teen Movie because that got me Cabin Fever and I am so grateful that Eli Roth took a chance on me in Cabin Fever because that opened the door to a whole career in the horror genre and to a whole fan base I wouldn't have had. There are a few films in there that I am not totally proud of and I'll be perfectly honest to say I had to do them to pay the rent. I didn't have the luxury of coming from money or anything so that I could just sit back and wait for the best role. I am a working actress and that's how I make a living and some things I did were not so great. That's why I was so grateful for Everybody Wants To Be Italian. I have been dying to do a romantic comedy and dying to do something that my giant Italian family would appreciate.
DP: But while you are Italian, you play someone who lies that she's Italian, which your family might find weird.
CV: Yeah, but it's still a film they can appreciate. Just be honest, aunts, uncles, cousins, and fathers don't love seeing their relative take off her clothes.
DP: Was that a problem with Not Another Teen Movie and Cabin Fever?
CV: That was an issue. I think it's an issue for most actresses that have to go through it.
DP: Did you warn your family?
CV: Oh yeah. I've always been up front and honest about that.
DP: I remember that your character is always nude in Not Another Teen Movie.But how much screen time did you have?
CV: The foreign exchange student was one of the main characters. Some of my scenes got cut because there was a kid in the film that was underage and by law you can't have, somebody nude on set in his presence. So, I got cut.
DP: I remember you walking through a party and another nude girl saying with outrage, "She's wearing the same outfit I am."
CV: That was a funny film. I had five different accents. That was my audition, doing the accents. "So, nice to be in America!" I actually turned it down a couple of times. I didn't think I could do the nudity and then I finally decided I could do it. At one point, somebody just had to make sure I looked okay.
DP: Can you believe you did it now?
CV: Yeah. I don't have any regrets.
DP: I'm not talking about having regrets. I mean: "God, that was brave of me!"
CV: I do think that. Sometimes I'm like, "Wow. I totally did it." It's weird, because when you are on a set actually filming it, it is not that big a deal. Everything is closed and you are in the moment and you are in the character and everybody is very professional and you get through it. What's hard is then seeing yourself all over the place and on the Internet and being judged.
DP: I've read that you and your agents tell filmmakers that you don't want to do nudity anymore. You're not nude at all in Everybody Wants to Be Italian, but I think your fans will be satisfied.
CV: You know, I feel like I am funny and a good actress and I had been dying to do a romantic comedy. I just wanted the opportunity to show a different side and when I got the script and saw the title was Everybody Wants To Be Italian," I said, "I just have to be a part of this." I read it and I fell in love with every single word on the page and I was scared because I felt that desperation of "I have to do this movie. I'm in love with it."
DP: What made you so passionate about it?
CV: First of all, it's funny. Also I think I related to things a lot of women will relate to in the film. I related to the frustration of being with men being stuck in past relationships. You go on a date with a guy who is thirty and he is still talking about his high school girlfriend. I like how Jason, who also wrote the script, took what was not your typical romantic comedy and mixed it with a funny buddy comedy. It's good for the girls; we talk about love and soul mates and biological clocks. And it's good for the guys because there is silly guy humor and guy-bonding.
DP: Was this enjoyable to make?
CV: It was a blast. I loved playing opposite Jay. We got along so well. He is a fantastic actor. Everybody in the film was just fantastic. I was excited to go to work every day. Every single day I was so happy and lucky that I got the part and was in the movie. That's the God's honest truth.
DP: You are 29 yet in the movie you play a 33-year-old. It's the rare instance in movie history where a young actress agreed to play someone slightly older.
CV: I was actually younger when we filmed it. I was like 27.
DP: So did you have second thoughts about the age thing? Did you question Jason and say, "I'm going to play older than I am? Aren't people going to think I'm older for the rest of my career?"
CV: What's interesting is that I didn't question it at all. My agents saw the film and weren't very happy about it. Because it does change people's minds about how old you are. They were like, "We didn't know you played a 33-year-old!" I guess they didn't read the script, right? Jesus!
DP: I thought that was really a brave, positive choice.
CV: Thanks. Nobody asked to age me with make-up, which I might have had a problem with. I don't think we needed to go that far!
DP: Have you had lousy dates like Marisa has in the movie, where you dressed up and the guy arrived in jeans and everything went wrong? On their first dinner date, I thought Marisa was going to get off the subway and leave Jake standing there.
CV: I thought it was an interesting choice that she stays in the subway after he tells her he has a girlfriend. I think she was trying to get a free meal out of it, which I thought was kind of funny. I've never had the experience of the different outfits, but I definitely have had some horrible dates where the guy just says the stupidest or most inappropriate things. They try to make out with you right in the middle of "The Passion of the Christ"-"Not a good time, dude!" Actually on one of my first dates with the man that I am marrying, he was sitting there talking to me about things and I am like, "Why are you telling me about this? We're on a date, dude. I do not need to hear about this girl and that girl and this girl..."
DP: I see your engagement ring. Congratulations.
CV: Thank you. We're getting married in December.
DP: Now that you are engaged, do you believe in soul mates, as do the characters in the movie?
CV: I do believe in soul mates. I do. I think you might have more than one. I do feel like there is at least one person, maybe a couple, out there that you are meant to be with and learn from and grow with and have babies with...
DP: People never forget their first loves.
CV: That goes back to the movie where Jake can't get over his first love, Isabella (Maris Petroro). I know a lot of men will talk about their first love and I know a lot of women-- me for example-will say, "When I'm done, I'm done." When I was done with a relationship for all intents and purposes, I didn't give them a piece of my heart but kept it for myself to give to the man who really deserved the full heart. Marisa's that way, too.
DP: Marisa says that once a relationship ends, she never looks back.
CV: I'd love to say, "Oh, I was just acting and I don't feel that way." I was acting but I do really believe that. I don't look back. I don't regret. I don't over analyze. I don't reminisce. Another reason I was drawn to the film was because I really believed in some of Marisa's ideals.
DP: But when Marisa's romance with Jakes seems to fall apart, she doesn't let him go.
CV: That's because she enjoys their friendship. She enjoys it because he comes from a different world. He's absolutely insane and ridiculous and obnoxious but still he's somewhat exciting to her, especially because she is dating this guy Michael (Dan Cortese) who is kind of boring. Their friendship is different and fun and nice and random-and she is looking for something spontaneous.
DP: She has a lot of patience with Jake. But are those the reasons Marisa falls in love with him?
CV: She has a lot of patience but I feel that in many cases women end up with men who are totally opposite of the men they imagine they'll end up with. I think Marisa probably imagined herself being with somebody from Harvard or BU, who is very educated, like she is. And here she meets this guy who works in a fish market and who says all the wrong things and is completely offensive, yet she's still attracted to him. I think that he shows her a world that is more exciting and intriguing than the world she is in.
DP: Jake says of Marisa, "She's out of my comfort zone." Do you think Marisa want to be out of his comfort zone and jar him?
CV: I went back and forth on that. And on the scene where she tells Jake that men are just a step up from a vibrator. Obviously she's into this guy, but they've established that he has a girlfriend and they are just friends. So is she saying that vibrator line to get his attention or is she saying it because he asked for an honest response about what's going on in her life? "You want to know? So I am going to tell you." There's a fine line to how I would play that scene. I talked it over with Jason. I decided to play it the second way: "I am just really telling you what is going on in my life. I am frustrated."
DP: But I think that's something men wouldn't hear a woman say to them unless she was trying to get his attention excite him a little bit.
CV: Right. But I thought it was awesome how Jason wrote that scene for Jake to say to Marisa, "Okay. Just pretend I'm a gay guy." And so, Marisa is talking to him as if he were a gay guy or one on her girlfriends. And I would say that line to one of my girlfriends. And so would my character. And I think that statement is true. I think most women do need somebody who is...
DP: ...a friend or somebody to talk to?
CV: Somebody to talk to, but also somebody who is exciting and passionate and more exciting than a vibrator!
DP: Well, that they become friends first is a reason we think they might last.
CV: Absolutely.
DP: Hopefully. But I think she still is trying to shock him. Because if she did still regard him as only a friend, she would confess to him that she lied when she told him she was Italian. Have you ever told a lie in a relationship and then couldn't reverse it?
CV: Yeah. I have to be honest. Not necessarily in this particular relationship. But I have. I'm not a very good liar, I'm really not. I have that whole Italian-Catholic guilt thing going on! So, I am not a very good liar and I believe in karma and I believe if you mess up you are asking for it. I just believe in the Golden Rule--Do Unto Others. And I really try to live by that, though it's hard sometimes.
DP: Did you relate to Marisa's problem with her secret?
CV: I could absolutely relate to that problem. Honesty in my own life is very important to me in a relationship. Like I said, there is so much about the whole script I could relate to. I am Italian, so all the Italian parts and all of that; and really everything that came out of Marisa's mouth is something I could identify with.
DP: I think the reason she doesn't confess is that she still thinks of him as a possible mate.
CV: I don't necessarily know that she is holding on to that lie because she still wants to be with him. Somebody else put it in her head that she needed to be Italian for this guy to like her. But I think after the initial lie, she continues not to tell the truth because she just feels like an idiot. Even though it is a big lie in some ways, it is one of those little white lies that you feel so stupid for even telling it. But now to have to go back and say that you're not Italian is just the dumbest thing on earth.
DP: If I told you there was one moment when you made me laugh out loud, what would it be?
CV: Really! Would it be when I cooked Sammy the fish?
DP: No. Actually, I laughed at that one too.
CV: Oh good. I got two. Tell me!
DP: When you gently took the dead pet rat away from the sad little boy as if you were going to try to revive it and then with no sympathy...
CV: ...threw it in the trash. I think I came up with that. I don't remember exactly, but I want to say I did. And then I took the antibacterial hand gel and wiped his hands off. I don't know if you saw that?
DP: Is it important that Marisa as a veterinarian?
CV: I think so. I think it shows she has compassion and that she comes from an educated background, a world that's the polar opposite of Jake's. So, I think it is very important for the character. And as an actor, just knowing that the job of your character is something professional like that, you tend to carry yourself and speak in a different way than you would if you were a stripper or something.
DP: When Jay gives the lecture to all the educated hotshots about business, Marisa is jealous but that is the moment when the two characters see each other on equal terms.
CV: Right. Marisa was jealous, impressed, wanting him to be her boyfriend, loving him, hating him, all at the same time.
DP: Although playing a comedic role, were you thinking that if you really explored Marisa you'd discover a lot of complexities to her? Did you get to that level with her?
CV: Absolutely. I really felt her. The way I always work is to build my character from childhood to present. So I could really get a sense of why Marisa is the way she is. I built in my mind her past relationships so that I could really feel how badly she wants to meet The One. I definitely worked on that. But I also think it wasn't that difficult of a role for me to play because I do believe in a lot of those things Marisa believes. I think I've said out loud to my friends and family a lot of those things that Jason wrote for my character, and I didn't even know Jason before I got the script. What we were talking about before: Being a past dweller drives me nuts. Like Marisa says to Jake in the movie, "You are a past dweller." I think life is short and you need to soak up every juicy moment and really be in the present and when people are too hung up in the past-or too busy planning their futures-then they are just missing out on life.
DP: Where does Everybody Wants to Be Italian fit in your career?
CV: Well, I really hope that when people watch it, they can see I can do more than the types of roles I did in the past. I hope I'll be able to do more varied roles, and more romantic comedies. My goals have changed since I started out. Now that I've made a living as an actress for ten years--and somehow by the grace of God I've worked it out every year--I want more. I want to do better and I want to do better roles and I need some sort of financial security and stability and all those normal things. I'm getting older and it's a tough business.
DP: Would you be happy being on another TV series?
CV: Definitely. Doing "Two and a Half Men" was awesome and really fun and I would love that. I do a lot of television pilots, and I'm waiting for one to get picked up. Meanwhile, I'm also writing.
DP: You wrote a script called Adrenaline.
CV: It's a horror movie. Someone has picked up the option, so we'll see. I wrote it but not necessarily for me. I may put myself in it but I didn't write it for that reason. Maybe I should have. It's an ensemble cast. I wrote another script called "Obsessed" that we haven't tried to sell yet. That has two female leads but they are college age. So again, I am not sure if I will be in it. I guess I should probably write myself a movie!
DP: Tell me about your popular "Hot Chick" book series.
CV: My girlfriend Jodi Lipper and I wrote "How to Eat Like a Hot Chick." It's an anti-diet book, an uplifting book for women, encouraging them to eat and celebrate food and not waste their lives being obsessed with calories and restricting themselves and hating their bodies. It's a body-food-issue book. We give diet advice and tips for every food situation that any woman can possibly be in. For example, we give tips on what to eat when you are PMSing. It's ridiculous, funny, and uplifting and it's totally girlfriend-to-girlfriend talk. Our second book comes out from HarperCollins in January. It's called "How to Love Like a Hot Chick." We had to write it in six weeks. It's a girlfriend-to-girlfriend guide to getting the love that you deserve. It's girlfriend-to-girlfriend advice on dating and sex and relationships with boys and all that sort of stuff. We are really committed to this series. We want to do "How to Wed Like a Hit Chick" and "How to Cook Like a Hot Chick." We are actually writing the proposal right now for the first one. It's a girlfriend-to-girlfriend guide to how to plan your wedding without losing your mind.
DP: I think Marisa and Jake might want to read that book. They're not Italian but are they going to have an Italian wedding?
CV: I hope so. We'll see. That will be the sequel.


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