This article originally appeared in the January 2006 issue of playboy magazine.
Underworld: Evolution is your third movie with vampires. Do you have a thing for the undead?
Not at all. I’ve never been interested. I did the first Underworld because I love action movies. I like all the Die Hard films and all the Terminators. I’m quite a fan of Rambo. It’s what I grew up on. At that point there weren’t many opportunities for a girl to play the hero in a movie. I thought Underworld having a female hero was really cool. Then Van Helsing was a whole different thing. It seemed different to me because I didn’t play a vampire. But I seem to have acquired this Goth reputation that I’m not into at all.
Which was harder to get into, your outfit for Underworld or the one for Van Helsing?
Van Helsing’s. We burned it when we finished shooting. I was desperate to burn it the minute I put it on. I did not want to wear those boots ever again. The boots alone took about 20 minutes to put on. The costume designer wanted everything to be authentic, so it was buckle after buckle. My assistant would buckle one, and someone else would buckle the other. They ended up with giant calluses on their hands. It was really horrible. The Underworld costume wasn’t that bad. It was a bit stretchy and not that restrictive. As long as you don’t have to pee 25 times a day it’s okay.
As a teenager you appeared in an industrial-safety film. What was your role?
It’s hideous. I would never show you. I was probably 17 or 18, and it was a training video about safety. I played a factory worker who dreams of being a pop star. Then I run down a corridor, skid on some cleaning fluid and become a paraplegic. It’s fantastically bad. I look terrible, and the whole thing is ghastly. It’s one of those things I put every boyfriend through to make sure he can actually handle being with someone who has done something so appalling. It’s like telling them I’ve had a sexually transmitted disease and asking, “How do you feel about me now?”
You’ve spent the past 13 years with only two men–Michael Sheen, the father of your daughter, and Len Wiseman, your husband and the director of the Underworld movies. Do you feel you’ve missed out?
No, I don’t. You gain something and lose something by that. I remember being 13 or 14 and everyone was going to parties and making out with everybody else. My mom told me, “Just bear in mind that you don’t want loads of people to be able to say they’ve had you. Make it special.” I thought that was really cool, and I still do. It’s not a gift you bestow on any old sucker. You have to be privileged.
We hear that you and your husband use webcams while you’re apart. Is that true?
Yes. We play with those all the time. It was his idea. He bought them and set them all up. Then he gives me orders as to what sort of outfit I should wear each evening. It really helps.
Should we assume you guys are keeping it clean?
No way! That’s the whole point. It’s like when you get a photo-copier, you have to do a print of your bottom. It’s one of those rules of life.
You don’t drive. How do you survive in L.A.?
I rely heavily on favors from my husband and friends. I haven’t been married that long, so I can still get away with it. Give it a few years and I may be taking the bus. It’s getting ridiculous now, though. After this movie I decided that since I had mastered the golf cart on the lot, I would progress to a grown-up vehicle. I’m not worried about finding my way around. I’m just going to see if I can make it start and stop and turn corners.
You’re now 32 years old, one year older than your father was when he passed away. How does that feel?
It was a strange year–my daughter was the age I was when he died. It made me reevaluate where I am in a way that was really good. It was painful but also exciting. I felt as if I’d gotten my get-out-of-jail-free card and entirely owned my life just as myself.
When you were nine your mother moved in with your stepfather, and you suddenly went from being an only child to having four brothers and a sister. How did you adapt?
Luckily, they didn’t all live with us–just the two youngest boys, who were about my age. It was great. I was a tough kid, and we would fight, but we’re really close now. I became a bit less of a princess quite quickly. I think it made me a more well-rounded person. I now have a temporary pass to the boys’ club, which I like to use now and then.
I think you should never say never about anything, but plastic surgery is not on my agenda. I have no desire to look like Nancy Reagan yet.
During a break between movies, you once worked as a waitress. Couldn’t you find a better way to use the time?
I got really bored. I was in my early 20s and had no real reason to do anything. I needed some structure to my day. I walked into a restaurant and asked if I could have a job. They looked at me like I was crazy. I was surprised by how much wiping was involved. I pictured myself in a cute outfit, asking perky questions and bringing people things–sort of like a porno waitress. Instead, I was constantly wiping down brass things and cleaning the floor. I hated it. Then I got a part and quit. I was probably there only eight days.
Later this year you have another movie coming out, Click, a romantic comedy with Adam Sandier in which he plays a busy architect who finds a remote control that allows him to rewind and fast-forward his life. Are there parts of your life you would skip or live again?
I wouldn’t mind skipping several parts. [laughs] My husband would probably skip my PMS. The movie is about what’s important in life–even the boring bits. Life is a mixture of everything, and it doesn’t balance very well if you try to avoid the hard stuff. It’s all part of what makes you who you are. I’m such a snob. I don’t find many romantic comedies funny. They are usually romantic and a bit witty but not very funny. This is the first script I’ve read that made me laugh out loud. I grew up with four brothers and fart jokes and wedgies, so that’s what I find funny.
Do you still check into hotels under the name Sigourney Beaver?
I’m not allowed. My husband put his foot down on my using Sigourney Beaver. He doesn’t like it when they call to ask him about something and they say, “Hello, Mr. Beaver.” He always gets caught being the mister to whatever name I use.
Is it true you were voted the sixth most boring person in your college?
I was. Oxford is a big party campus. It has an old drinking tradition in which you have to drink a pint of vodka from the shoe of the person on your left. I wasn’t into it. I won the prize for the most interesting hairstyle, though. I used to think geisha girls were really cute, so I would pile my hair up on my head and wear pale makeup. So it wasn’t a totally fallow year for me.
In your teen years you developed anorexia. At what point did you realize it was out of control?
It was a very brief moment that has been made into a big deal. But I think being an adolescent is a tough thing, and I wouldn’t wish it on anybody. I find it hard even to categorize myself as having been anorexic. I just had a miserable six months. I was a nice posh girl from West London, so I probably wasn’t going to become a crack addict. It was going to be something else, and that’s the thing you do if you’re a girl who grew up in a private school. Luckily, I had a good family who helped me, so it didn’t last very long.
You had to gain 20 pounds for the role of Ava Gardner in The Aviator. How did you do it?
I had already gained 10 pounds for another movie, so it was just another 10. It’s surprising how eating vast amounts of chocolate really works. Everything became slightly bigger all over. I suddenly had a bigger bottom and bigger boobs. I couldn’t fit into my jeans anymore. My husband got to enjoy a voluptuous body for a while. And it was nice to see that he didn’t run away screaming, so he’ll be around when I do decide to let myself go.
You’ve been accused of having plastic surgery. Do you get tired of hearing that?
It’s quieted down a bit. My boobs did get bigger when I got a bit heavier, and suddenly the reports said I’d had a boob job. Then as soon as the weight was gone, people stopped saying that. I read recently that the Click producers asked me to have Botox in my bottom. I don’t even know if you’re allowed to have Botox in your bottom, and I’m not entirely sure what that’s for or why you would need it. I have no interest in plastic surgery right now. I think you should never say never about anything, but plastic surgery is not on my agenda. I have no desire to look like Nancy Reagan yet.
Did you go through any nurse training for Pearl Harbor?
I had a scene in which I had to give someone a shot. The extensive training for that was mind-boggling. I couldn’t believe it. I had all these military guys lining up and dropping their shorts so I could inject them with saline solution. I thought that was taking it a bit far. It was very sweet of them to volunteer, though. I was sitting at a desk, and all these boys would come in and drop their trousers, and I would stab them and inject them. It was an odd day. There were a few screams and winces, but that was it.
You have been mentioned as a possible star in a Wonder Woman movie. Is that something you would do?
No! I went to the Comic-Con convention this year because I have Underworld: Evolution coming out, and a roomful of journalists asked, “Do you want to play Wonder Woman?” I said, “Oh no. I already dressed as her last Halloween. I’m not looking to do that again.” There were even reports that I dress as Wonder Woman in the bedroom for my husband. Oh please! He may be a geek, but he’s not that bad.
It’s rumored that when you were younger you once urinated into a director’s thermos. Are you ready to come clean?
No. [laughs] I’ll never talk about that. All I’ll say is crimes were committed. I was at the age when that was the only solution.
So you’re not confirming or denying that it happened?
No. But he deserved it.