When Cameron Diaz topped Forbes magazine’s 2008 list of Hollywood’s highest-paid actresses, some may have been blindsided. But others readily understood why the leggy blonde with the sultry face, smoky voice, dangerous curves and mile-wide grin had earned every penny of her $50 million payday. After all, it was love at first sight for millions of ticket buyers when the 21-year-old former model came out of nowhere in 1994 to play a slinky cabaret singer in Jim Carrey’s comedy rampage The Mask. The affair continued with Diaz’s karaoke-bar scene in My Best Friend’s Wedding, another box office hit. She sealed the deal playing the dream girl who unknowingly uses horny Ben Stiller’s baby batter for hair gel in the 1998 smash There’s Something About Mary, for which she won awards ranging from the New York Film Critics Circle best actress honor to a Teen Choice Award for starring in the most disgusting scene. She memorably shook her rump to “U Can’t Touch This” in the blockbusting Charlie’s Angels, won prestigious awards for roles in the offbeat Vanilla Sky and Being John Malkovich, and, with her husky voice and presence, made even the ogreish CGI heroine of the lucrative Shrek franchise seem delectable.

Truth is, the funny, beautiful, sunny sex symbol whom both guys and women want to hang with has not only surprised audiences and critics again and again but has also been defying expectations all her life. Born in 1972 in San Diego, California, she is the second daughter of Emilio, a second-generation Cuban American, and Billie, who is of English, German and American Indian descent. Growing up in Long Beach, Diaz learned to be sports-minded and outdoorsy from her father (who had hoped for a son). After attending Long Beach Polytechnic High, the tall, skinny tomboy blossomed into a beauty and was signed in 1989 by the premier Elite modeling agency. Gigs for such companies as Calvin Klein, Nivea and Levi’s and posing for the covers of such magazines as Seventeen sent her globe hopping until, at the age of 21 and with no professional acting experience, she landed the femme fatale lead in The Mask.

Instead of exploiting her big movie splash, Diaz wisely chose to learn on the job; she slowly worked her way up in three years by starring in indie movies including She’s the One with Edward Burns and Feeling Minnesota with Keanu Reeves. While on location for the latter she met Matt Dillon, who was filming another movie nearby. They had a three-year relationship. In 1999 she and actor Jared Leto began a four-year relationship. Her success in low-key films led to a stretch of high-profile work that includes Any Given Sunday, Gangs of New York, In Her Shoes, The Holiday, What Happens in Vegas (which netted her a 2009 worst-actress Razzie nomination) and the misfired thriller The Box. Her offscreen fame rose commensurately, especially when, in 2003 at the age of 30, she and 22-year-old singer Justin Timberlake launched a much-publicized relationship that ended in 2007. Now happily single, she’s co-starring alongside Tom Cruise in the spy action comedy Knight and Day and with Seth Rogen in the twisted superhero movie The Green Hornet, in theaters this Christmas. Diaz looks poised to reclaim her position in America’s hearts, minds and fantasies.

We sent Contributing Editor Stephen Rebello, who last interviewed Matthew Fox for Playboy, straight into the heart of Sunset Boulevard coolness to interview Diaz. Rebello reports: “Cameron Diaz’s carefree, openhearted, effervescent, incredibly sexy screen persona isn’t smoke and mirrors. It’s impossible not to have a good time when you’re around her. Under what occasionally sounds like surfer-chick speak, she is not only sharp, frank and wise but also scores big points for punctuating some of her snappiest comments by cracking her knuckles. What’s not to love?”

PLAYBOY: On-screen you’ve helped shatter the old Hollywood myth that beautiful, sexy women can’t also be funny. But in real life, can too much laughter get in the way of good sex?

DIAZ: I’ve never known too much laughter to get in the way of good sex. Of course, there’s a time to be funny and a time to not. It all depends on what you’re laughing at. If you’re laughing while having sex, laughing at a certain thing about your partner such as a physical attribute that could definitely get in the way.

PLAYBOY: Speaking of physical attributes, you’ve shaken your famous backfield in memorable dance numbers in The Mask, two Charlie’s Angels movies and The Sweetest Thing. Don’t tell us you’ve permanently retired from booty shaking since What Happens in Vegas.

DIAZ: My booty has been on hiatus from film but certainly not from everyday life, where it doesn’t stop moving. It’s in constant sway and has a mind of its own. On camera, though, there just hasn’t been an opportunity for it to assert itself lately.

PLAYBOY: We can understand that absence in Shrek Forever After, but what about in the upcoming Knight and Day with Tom Cruise or The Green Hornet with Seth Rogen?

DIAZ: There’s a lot of running and chasing in Knight and Day. It’s a very physical film—lots of action and a love story with Tom. It isn’t a typical romantic comedy, nor is it hokey or clichéd. My character is a regular girl who starts off unsure of herself, then discovers what she’s capable of when she becomes partners with this superspy, Tom, who also realizes what he’s missing in his life.

PLAYBOY: Cruise has been known to get intense with his movie stunts. Were you up for that?

DIAZ: For one scene, Tom and I ride a motorcycle during the annual week of bull runs in Pamplona, Spain. Phenomenal stunt riders did the majority of the riding, but for the runs we did, the adrenaline was definitely up.

PLAYBOY: How did it feel to be in the middle of all that chaos?

DIAZ: You have to be so focused, centered and calm. We had 10 pissed-off bulls slipping, sliding and falling in front of us on cobblestone streets. Tom was letting off the throttle, then speeding up again, reading and gauging the situation every second—I mean, it’s not as though either of us had ever done anything like that before. You can’t be scared; you don’t have time. You have to be able to see everything going on around you.

PLAYBOY: Judging by your grin, the danger must have created quite a rush.

DIAZ: I love creating moments like that. That’s why I snowboard and surf. Going to the gym is an important part of my routine too. I always want to take care of my body. I love being in the moment. I don’t sit still easily. My mind is always going. When you’re doing something like racing cars, you can be only in that one moment, and I love that.

PLAYBOY: Your face and figure have put you in front of cameras since you were 16. Do you fear sports-related injuries could damage your looks?

DIAZ: I definitely have an understanding of being in front of the camera, but it’s a bit different for me these days. I broke my nose surfing and had to have it fixed three years ago so I could breathe. They had to move my nose a bit, and it totally changed the way my face photographs. I don’t understand my face anymore. It’s a totally different language. But you know, it’s just my face, right? [laughs]

PLAYBOY: When you were making Knight and Day, did Tom Cruise seem different from when you two did Vanilla Sky in 2001?

DIAZ: Same guy. Tom is super. He’s a special person. He’s passionate about making movies and passionate about his family. Those are the two most important things in his life, and he lives that. Working with Tom drove me to want to show up every day as driven and excited as he does.

PLAYBOY: Did you ratchet up your gym training because of him?

DIAZ: I just wanted to be strong and have the stamina to run up and down those streets and do whatever it took. Tom trained much harder than I did. He was like a maniac.

PLAYBOY: Have you always taken care of your body?

DIAZ: Never, until I did Charlie’s Angels. I learned then what it feels like to be strong and capable and to realize my body’s ability to be physical. I’m a physical person. If at any point in the day it became a struggle for me to do something, I couldn’t forgive myself. At 37, I’m too young not to have strength and capability in my body.

PLAYBOY: Is it important that the man in your life is at least your physical match?

DIAZ: Absolutely. Women my age are expected to be as hot or hotter than 25-year-old women, but most men don’t take care of themselves. As women get older, their bodies get better; my body certainly has. Women get to a place where all of a sudden we know we have to take care of ourselves and we do something about it. It’s a totally different standard for men and women.

PLAYBOY: But aren’t Hollywood guys fanatical about being in shape?

DIAZ: The challenge for a 37-year-old man is that a woman doesn’t want him if he’s not already successful. But women also want men to still be hot at 37. If a man has become successful, he thinks he doesn’t have to take care of himself to get the girl. I want to know that the man I’m with is taking care of himself. It’s a virility thing, an animal thing.

PLAYBOY: Did you and Seth Rogen have any sort of animal thing going while making The Green Hornet?

DIAZ: I was on the movie only nine days. I play Lenore Case, who is the main character’s secretary, and my stuff in the movie is just the beginning of our secretary-boss relationship. Seth is amazing. The director, Michel Gondry, is a super-eccentric genius. They’re two very unlikely people to be making a superhero movie, so I’m sure it has to have something of a twist.

PLAYBOY: Rogen has been known to publicly sing the praises of weed. Did you ever see him partake?

DIAZ: I might have seen Seth high but didn’t completely know it. I went to a party one night where I think there was some stoneage. People were definitely pretty baked, but I didn’t partake with him at that time. [laughs] He might have been high the entire time for all I know.

PLAYBOY: You just finished making Bad Teacher, a comedy with Justin Timberlake. You two ended your relationship in 2007. How was it working with a former lover?

DIAZ: We’re adults. Of course we could work together. It’s been three years since we broke up. It’s all done. We’re living two completely different lives from the one we lived together, so why wouldn’t it work? I wanted the best person for the job, and Justin’s perfect. We knew as soon as he agreed to do the film the tabloids would have a field day with it, which they have. We also expected it would be sexist, with them saying I was “after him” in some way, like it was a soap opera or something. But we wouldn’t let the small-mindedness of other people stop us from making the decision that was best for the film. We’re friends; he’s really talented and funny, and he killed it, he’s so hilarious.

PLAYBOY: How do you feel about Shrek Forever After being the final movie of the franchise?

DIAZ: It’s hard. I’ve loved playing the role in all four movies. I don’t know what I can do about it. I keep saying that maybe I can start a petition to keep the Shrek movies going.

PLAYBOY: You were born in San Diego but grew up mostly in Long Beach. What were things like in the Diaz house?

DIAZ: My father was Cuban and my mother is English, German and Cherokee. They instilled a great work ethic in me and my sister, Chimene, who is two years older. They were young, really cool and worked their asses off. There was also a general party feel in my house. We all loved to laugh and loved being together. My mother was an importer-exporter, and my father was an oil foreman who ran crews digging holes in Brea, California. He hated his job. Every night he’d come home, open a beer, turn on sports on TV, turn down the volume and turn up rock and roll to the highest decibel. On weekends when all the big sporting events were on, they’d have their friends over for parties and barbecues for the Super Bowl, the Sugar Ray Leonard–Roberto Duran fights. On other weekends, because my mom and dad knew how to do everything and we couldn’t afford to hire anyone to remodel the house, they taught me and my sister how to build our deck, do brickwork, lay floors, do the gardening.

PLAYBOY: Did you get hassled about being a blue-eyed blonde kid with a Spanish last name?

DIAZ: Where I grew up all the Diazes had brown hair, brown skin and brown eyes, so there was a bit of “You’re not a Latina.” I do identify with my culture. My dad’s first language was Spanish, but he didn’t teach it to us because he was made fun of growing up and didn’t want that to happen to my sister and me. He regretted that choice later, but it’s all right because I’ve lived all over the world and never picked up even the smallest bit of another language. I wasn’t born with that chip.

PLAYBOY: What do you most remember about Long Beach Polytechnic High, known for its record number of NFL draftees and for being a location in American Pie and American Beauty?

DIAZ: What I loved was that it was 3,500 diverse kids—Cambodian, Mexican, Vietnamese, Uruguayan—kids who wore turbans, Samoan kids who wore sarongs, had tattoos and gray hair down to here at 13. There were Crips gang members too.

PLAYBOY: And also Snoop Dogg, right?

DIAZ: Snoop was a year older than me. He stood out. He was tall and skinny and wore ponytails all over his head. I’m sure I probably bought weed from him.

PLAYBOY: Were your parents strict about weed and alcohol?

DIAZ: I was never really rebellious, because my parents let me do whatever I wanted. I grew up with weed and alcohol around me. My parents were clear that it wasn’t something they wanted me to get into, but it wasn’t something they could stop me from getting. When they said no to me, I listened. As I got older, they trusted me. They were like, “If you’re going to drink, don’t drive. Call us.”

PLAYBOY: Was your high school rough?

DIAZ: Oh yeah. You moved out of the way fast if a girl pulled back her hair, took off her earrings and necklaces and then put on all her girlfriends’ rings like brass knuckles. The girl who had her hair loose and her necklaces and earrings on always came out with bloody ears, scratches and her weave hanging down.

PLAYBOY: On which end of the hurting were you usually?

DIAZ: I fought boys more than girls. I was a tomboy who was always made fun of and picked on by boys because I was a superskinny, ratty tough kid. I got called Skeletor. If your bite wasn’t as big as your bark, you were fucked. My father was a total scrapper who often came home having been in a fight, and one of the first things I remember him doing was teaching me how to fight. By high school I had learned the skill of not having to get into those situations.

PLAYBOY: Did you have to fight off the football jocks when you were a flag-twirling Polyette?

DIAZ: I wanted to be on the squad because we got to do dance routines. I hated doing the field shit. Those flags? I was like, “Are you fucking kidding me?” I got kicked off the squad because I would ditch phys ed. My sister was the good kid. I was the one who had to be handled because I was strong willed.

PLAYBOY: What kinds of guys were you into back then?

DIAZ: I was into the bad boys, like the kid who sat next to me in class who would sew up his fingers with a needle and thread, chop up SweeTarts and snort them and put safety pins through his earlobes. That’s what distracted me in class. When I signed with my manager at 21, my mom said to him, “My daughter is a good person who will always do right by you and work hard. The one thing you should know is that it’s always going to be about the boys. She’s boy crazy.” It’s true. I love the men—in a very good way.

PLAYBOY: As a kid, were you into any bad-boy stars?

DIAZ: Raiders of the Lost Ark was a big thing for me. When I was nine, in my mind I was kissing Harrison Ford, and he was an amazing kisser. I was going to marry him. It’s not a secret today. He knows. He’s taken, so what can I do? But I also loved Karen Allen’s character.


DIAZ: She keeps stride with the man and hauls ass barefoot across the tarmac in a cutoff wedding dress when the plane is about to blow up. My grandmother was a scrappy hard-core motherfucker like that—a pioneer woman who butchered her own livestock, grew her own vegetables and made us soap out of bacon grease. She didn’t like cold weather, so when that set in, she’d move from California to a little house in Arizona, miles from anyone. My uncle says his scarring memory was seeing my grandmother, in only a skirt and flip-flops, holding a machete in one hand and a squirming rattlesnake she’d just beheaded for the night’s supper in the other. I come from that mentality.

PLAYBOY: What were your first jobs?

DIAZ: When I was 12 my mom put my sister and me to work in her office a couple of days a week filing and doing other work. Later I worked for a TCBY yogurt shop, and I bused tables and hosted at a family-owned restaurant called Hof’s Hut. Because my dad hated his job, I always said “If I don’t love it, then I’m not going to do it,” so I have never done a job I didn’t love.

PLAYBOY: How did you get saved from the food business?

DIAZ: I started modeling at 16, during my junior year of high school. I had started going to places in Hollywood with friends, and one night the photographer Jeff Dunas asked what agency I was with. I wasn’t even sure what he meant, but he gave me his card and said I should have my parents call him. My parents were so supportive. They had impressed on my sister and me that whatever we wanted to do, we were capable of doing. We didn’t have to be the best, just do our best. That took a lot of pressure off.

PLAYBOY: Considering the hair pulling that went on at your school, did you tell your friends and classmates you were modeling?

DIAZ: I kept it secret from kids at school for the first six months. Then the summer after my junior year I went to Japan to model and lived there three months, sharing an apartment with another model, who was 15. When I came back to Long Beach I was like, “I don’t give a shit who knows.”

PLAYBOY: After a summer like that, normal high school life must have been a letdown.

DIAZ: It was apparent I had no interest in any part of high school or the education I was getting there. I wanted to go into the world and learn about things that were relevant to life. My parents said, “Look, you’re 16, and, sorry, but all we know is what we know, and we’ve given it to you. We’re not going to keep you here just because we’re afraid for you.” Then my mom added, “I just hope you keep a big stick next to your bed.”

PLAYBOY: Did you need one?

DIAZ: Japan was a whole lot safer than Long Beach. I did find a boyfriend while I was in Japan—of course. An older guy.

PLAYBOY: That would be the video director Carlos de la Torre. But had you already been with a guy before that?

DIAZ: Yes! Oh my God, no—I don’t want my mom to know. Actually, fuck it. I had already had sex. I had a lot of encounters that weren’t “going all the way” but were fun and made me very enthusiastic and excited about the possibilities.

PLAYBOY: What was your first time like?

DIAZ: I kind of did it just to do it. I wanted to get it over with just so it was done.

PLAYBOY: Did you pick a bad boy?

DIAZ: No, he wasn’t bad, and that probably made the difference. After that it was as if the gates were open. So Japan was great. I had my own apartment. I met somebody I ended up hanging out with. It was amazing to be young and free and have all those experiences.

PLAYBOY: What did you figure out about yourself through those experiences?

DIAZ: The big thing I learned was how noncompetitive I am. When I started modeling, I had a blonde, blue-eyed girlfriend who always got called in for the same casting. Sometimes I got the job; sometimes she got it. We’re still good friends. My mom always said, “If it’s your job, you’ll get it,” and even today I never look at other actresses and say, “I wish I had what they have.” I love women. I root for women. The only women I don’t like are jealous, spiteful ones who stab other women in the back and do shitty things.

PLAYBOY: Young people away from home sometimes get into trouble. How did you handle alcohol and drugs?

DIAZ: I was 19 and in Australia for the first time doing a commercial. I didn’t know Australians are actually superhuman and don’t have livers. I was out one harmless, wonderfully fun day with a group of hospitable Australians who were showing me Sydney. I was keeping up with them drinking, and they got pretty shit-faced, but I got alcohol poisoning. I survived, but it was as bad as alcohol poisoning gets. I thought I was dying.

PLAYBOY: Do you have to watch what you drink?

DIAZ: No, it had nothing to do with excessiveness. It was a simple mistake. I know what I can and can’t handle.

PLAYBOY: Did any modeling experience make you consider ditching the whole career?

DIAZ: Once I went to shoot pictures with a photographer who turned out to be a total creep. I walked in and looked him in the eye. He said, “Trust me,” and I was just like, This guy is bad news. I always know to trust my street sensibilities. I said, “No, thank you” and walked right out. He never took a picture.

PLAYBOY: Did it raise eyebrows in Hollywood when, in 1994 at the age of 21, you got cast in The Mask despite having no real acting experience?

DIAZ: As for what others think, if you’re not happy for someone’s success, I’m not interested in you. I don’t think I’ve done anything in my life to make people hate me and not want me to do well. There are people you see and go, “Wow, really—that asshole got that movie?” I’m never going to wish something bad on somebody. The balance of the universe means that if somebody gets successful in the right way, it means only continued success. If they get there in the wrong way, it will even out.

PLAYBOY: But you know the casting couch exists in Hollywood.

DIAZ: There’s a subculture of the business in which that happens, but the real business is about numbers. Every time I do a movie, people sit and run the numbers. We study them. We negotiate deals over them. They put people in movies because they think those people will recruit the audience’s money, not because they got a hand job. They may put somebody in a movie because audiences want to think they’re going to get a hand job from them, but they’re not actually going to get the hand job.

PLAYBOY: What pops into your head when you remember you and Jim Carrey making The Mask?

DIAZ: How we laughed our asses off. He was phenomenal, and I was in awe of what he did. We had a blast and had such great chemistry. I’ve always had a lot of confidence, but the director, Chuck Russell, encouraged me, saying, “You can do it.” I call it on-the-job training. I’m still doing on-the-job training, still learning.

PLAYBOY: You’ve never studied acting?

DIAZ: When I was auditioning for The Mask I worked with a coach, and I’ve worked with coaches over the years. I have ADD. My attention goes to so many different places. I don’t focus. I’m terrible at doing homework, so I need somebody to make me do it.

PLAYBOY: It seems to be working, because you’ve held your own in movies starring Daniel Day-Lewis, Al Pacino, Leonardo DiCaprio, John Malkovich and John Cusack, let alone been directed by Martin Scorsese, Oliver Stone, Cameron Crowe and Curtis Hanson, no less.

DIAZ: I’m lucky. I’m not an ambitious person. I never project into the future, like “I’ll be happy when…” fill in the blank. I don’t look beyond being happy doing the movie I’m making now.

PLAYBOY: You’ve had award nominations for There’s Something About Mary, Vanilla Sky and Being John Malkovich. Do you secretly lust after the kinds of dramatic roles played by, say, Kate Winslet or Cate Blanchett?

DIAZ: Working with Daniel Day-Lewis in Gangs of New York put a lot of things in perspective for me. I saw the way he worked and the outcome of his hard work. I could do exactly what he does and have completely different results. Why would I put myself in the position of trying to do something only Daniel Day-Lewis can do?

PLAYBOY: So you’re saying you know your strengths and limitations?

DIAZ: If I had the ability to focus on one thing, I would be a different actor. I don’t have that ability. My brain doesn’t work that way. I do the roles I do because of the person I am. I feel really grateful, and I’m proud of the work I’ve done in different kinds of films. Have I done it spectacularly? Not always. Maybe never. But I’ve done it with everything I had at the time. And that’s all I can do. Whether other people consider my accomplishments to be successful or not doesn’t matter to me. I don’t give a fuck what other people think. I have my own standards I live by.

PLAYBOY: You’ve co-starred with actors who could be considered eccentric and others who could be called certifiable. How do you deal with those situations?

DIAZ: Again, I don’t give a fuck. It’s not about me. We have a finite amount of time to get to know each other, make it work, make the best of the relationships we forge and create something together. You have to make the most of it. I love the challenge of having to learn how to communicate, to know what words I can and can’t use to get the most out of a situation.

PLAYBOY: In 2008 Anna Faris told this magazine she was still uncomfortable about the widespread belief that she mocked you in her performance as the hippie-dippy self-absorbed actress in Sofia Coppola’s Lost in Translation.

DIAZ: She’s lovely, talented, funny, and I love watching her. I have no ill feelings toward her whatsoever. You can’t hurt my feelings. I’m the first to make fun of myself.

PLAYBOY: When have you most embarrassed yourself in front of another celebrity?

DIAZ: I saw Jeff Bridges at this year’s rehearsal for the Oscars ceremony. I didn’t know what to say, but I rushed over and was like, “Um, hi. Congratulations on everything. You must be so excited,” and he gave me this sideways look and smile. We just didn’t connect. There was no response. I was like, Okay. Then I started sweating and thinking, Wait, he’s nominated, right? Or did I just totally make an ass of myself?

PLAYBOY: You’ve talked about the movie business being about numbers. What does it mean to you that What Happens in Vegas had good box office numbers but your good work in In Her Shoes and My Sister’s Keeper wasn’t seen by anywhere near as many people, and your horror movie The Box bombed?

DIAZ: I never put that kind of pressure on myself. I don’t do a movie for any other reason than to have an audience enjoy it, to have a good time making it and to be proud of it. I like to do a couple of more commercial films and then do a smaller one—the kind that makes only so much money, whether I’m in it or someone else is. I appreciate the opportunity to do that. I trust the people I do business with to make it so that we do good business. It may not do phenomenal business, but we’re not stepping out on a limb, so we’re all going to be okay and be able to do business together again.

PLAYBOY: In Being John Malkovich your character and Catherine Keener’s explore a trippy kind of lesbianism. How do you view sexuality?

DIAZ: We are who we are. We all know what drives us. Sexuality and love can be different things. I can be attracted to a woman sexually, but it doesn’t mean I want to be in love with a woman. If I’m going to be with a woman sexually, it doesn’t mean I’m a lesbian. We put these restraints and definitions on people, but it’s hard to define.

PLAYBOY: You’ve been romantically associated with well-known guys, including Matt Dillon, Jared Leto and Justin Timberlake. When a relationship is over, do you move on easily?

DIAZ: I feel about a lot of things in life—but certainly about men—that we’re with the people we’re supposed to be with when it’s meant to be. I’m so grateful my parents were a loving, beautiful example of what people do when they care and want to make something work. For me, it just hasn’t been the time to make that commitment. I have an extraordinary life. I’ve had really successful relationships, even though they’ve lasted only a certain amount of time. I’m okay with that. With some of the relationships that have drawn public interest, I feel as though I’ve evolved, learned and become better equipped. I don’t feel I need to make it different for the outside world that’s looking in and judging it.

PLAYBOY: The way you’ve spoken about your closeness to your father, it must have been especially hard when he died of pneumonia in 2008.

DIAZ: My dad was so powerful, a sheer force. His death was sudden and completely unexpected. We’re lucky to have such a strong family, and it’s completely different now that my father’s no longer physically with us. When someone dies, people say “He’ll always be with you,” but until that loss I didn’t realize he’s with me in a way he never was before. There’s a treasure to be dug out of every hole left empty next to you.

PLAYBOY: Do we wind up falling in love with versions of our parents?

DIAZ: I can see qualities of my father in some of the men I’ve been with, though none of them were men like my father. My father always expected the best of me, never diminished me, never expected me to be less than who I was. That’s hard for some men; it’s threatening. But because my father instilled that in us, there’s no going back for me. I’ve tried severing parts of myself to fit into a relationship that needed me to be a little smaller. It doesn’t work.

PLAYBOY: The tabloids have been speculating that you and Yankees superstar Alex Rodriguez may be an item. What’s the truth?

DIAZ: No, no, no. I’ve been in relationships since I was 16 years old. In the past three years I’ve made a conscious decision not to be in a relationship for as long as I want. I’ve stayed away from all the traps out there for me to just fall into something that will potentially lead me down the same road. I love being a woman to a man, but I want to have a relationship with myself right now.

PLAYBOY: That can’t possibly stop guys from trying out their best pickup moves, though.

DIAZ: I do get men trying to pick me up. I’m always interested. I never shut down any man who’s willing to ask me out, unless he’s a total douche bag. It takes a lot for a guy to ask out a girl like me—not because I think I’m super special or anything. It’s just that I think men are intimidated, and it’s a lot to get involved with. It’s not uncomplicated.

PLAYBOY: Are you complicated?

DIAZ: I’m super easy. I’m not a complicated person, but I’m complex like any other human being. I know myself. I know what I want and what I don’t want. I’m not a scorned woman. I’m not a resentful person. I’m open. I’m really into pleasure. I love to take a big bite out of everything.

PLAYBOY: How much do the by-products of fame—such as the tabloids and the paparazzi—complicate your life?

DIAZ: You wish there weren’t people who think it’s okay to pay people to tell horrible stories about other people’s lives and reveal incredibly damaging, hurtful things to the public. But if I spent any time reading what people make up about my life, I would be taking away from how I live my life, which is so much better than anyone could imagine. With photographers, you’re happy to stop and give a photograph because you understand that’s part of the business. It’s when they’re aggressive and attack that I wish I could draw that line. It goes back to the whole balance of the universe. You have to have faith that one day all the good or harm people do to others will come back to them.

PLAYBOY: When you decide to have a relationship again, what things about a guy are certain to turn your crank?

DIAZ: Obviously I have no type if you look at the men I’ve dated. I like confidence, but I’ve learned that just because somebody has confidence doesn’t mean he’s secure. I’m primal on an animalistic level, kind of like, “Bonk me over the head, throw me over your shoulder. You man, me woman.” Not everybody has the right chemistry and the right kind of primal thing for me.

PLAYBOY: What has been the best atmosphere or background for your peak caveman-cavewoman adventures?

DIAZ: There are so many; I can’t pick one. There’s something about moonlight on the body and things happening sort of free and open. Outdoors is something I’m totally game and down for. I love to cuddle. I love physical contact. I have to be touching my lover, like, always. It’s not optional. It’s an absolute. My lover is everything to me.

PLAYBOY: When have you been most recklessly impulsive in the name of love?

DIAZ: Oh gosh, I can’t even count how many times I’ve gotten on a plane for love. It’s not unusual in this business; my lifestyle demands it. I’m always traveling for [whispers] cock. You’ve got to go where it is.

PLAYBOY: Sex toys, pro or con?

DIAZ: A long time ago a girlfriend and I said, one, a woman should never be in a broken-down car without her AAA card, and two, she should never be alone without a dildo.

PLAYBOY: Do you see yourself ever stepping away from acting, or are you in it for life?

DIAZ: Do I think I’m going to do it forever? Maybe. Do I think I’ll ever stop? Maybe. I just know that right now, things work. I’m having a great time. Am I tired? Fuck, yeah, I’m exhausted from working my ass off at doing what I love to do. But it isn’t so much going to work; it’s the amount of time the work I love takes me away from doing other things I enjoy. After I’m done promoting Knight and Day I don’t know what I’m going to do, but I’m starting to fantasize about how I want to spend my time with family and friends. I have an extraordinary life, for which I am so grateful. If you’re grateful for what you have, you’re in need of nothing else. I can’t imagine how my life could get better, but I’m sure it can. It will—because it always does.