Denise Richards

Interview from AllCampus Media Magazine

Denise Richards is starring, along with Kevin Bacon, Matt Dillon, and Neve Campbell, in John McNaughton's 'WILD THINGS', released by Columbia Pictures and opening nationwide March 20th.

ACM: Hi Denise. First of all, I want to say thank you for this great opportunity. I know the college students are big fans...I've logged on to a couple of your fan sites and they say "We want more of Denise!" So I'm sure they'll be excited to read this interview.

ACM: I know you've guest-starred in ''Doogie Howser, M.D.", "Melrose Place", and "Against the Grain" in addition to your movie roles in 'NOWHERE', and 'STARSHIP TROOPERS'. Have you always wanted to be an actress?

DR: Yes, ever since I was little. When I was in high school, I took drama, but I wasn't pursuing it as a career then. I started out modeling in high school, but I wanted to quit that type of work really young, so that I could start taking acting classes. After I graduated from high school, I moved up to L.A. and then got a theatrical agent, began studying with a coach, and started doing TV shows to build my resume, and guest spots. I did some pilots and movies of the week. And then I just kept building my resume. Then I got ‘STARSHIP TROOPERS’ and then ‘WILD THINGS.’

ACM: You went to high school in Oceanside, CA, right?

DR: My first year, I went to high school in Illinois, in Downer’s Grove. Then I went to school in Oceanside.

ACM: Big difference between Illinois and Los Angeles, isn’t there?

DR: Huge. My family is all still back in Illinois, cousins, aunts, and uncles. They’re excited, because they’re not around the business at all. To them, even a little part is exciting. My parents and my sister have been especially supportive.

ACM: What do you find most rewarding about acting?

DR: I like doing the work, but I’m not comfortable seeing my work. I would be more comfortable just doing it and then moving on to the next project. I saw ‘WILD THINGS’ two or three weeks ago, and it was so hard to watch myself on the screen; really hard.

ACM: Really? Harder than watching some of the other work you’ve done?

DR: It’s very difficult to watch anything I do. It's hard to be objective because I’m so critical. I’d like to get to the point where I can watch my performance, and just critique it objectively. I love doing the work, though.

ACM: That must be tough, but I’m sure it will get easier the more work you do.

DR: I don’t know. I’ve talked to other actresses who are older, and have been working for a long time, and they say the same thing. I don’t know if you ever get over that.

ACM: How is it interacting with the other people on the set? It probably differs from film to film.

DR: Yeah, on ‘STARSHIP TROOPERS’, we were all the same age, we were all at the same level in our career, which was really great. We were all very excited. ‘STARSHIP’ really helped me. So many times, directors don’t want to hire a new face. The studio doesn’t want to take the chance. That’s why I’m so grateful to Paul Verhoeven, because he really took a chance on me. On all of us, because we were all new faces. Because of that, it helped me get ‘WILD THINGS’. ‘WILD THINGS’ was good because I got to learn from actors who’ve been working for a very long time. All of them were very generous, Kevin Bacon especially. He was the most professional person I’ve ever worked with. He is incredible, and I would love to work with him again. Neve was great to work with too. It was a great experience; I learned a lot on ‘WILD THINGS’.

ACM: Could you tell us, in a few sentences, what ‘WILD THINGS’ is about?

DR: It’s basically a film noir, a thriller. The film is about revenge, and lust, and greed. It starts out where Neve and I set up Matt Dillon’s character for rape, but that’s not really what the film is about. That’s just the beginning. Everything happens after that. It has lots of twists and turns in it. It’s like a ‘SCREAM’ meets ‘BODY HEAT’.

ACM: Can you tell me a little about your character, Kelly?

DR: She’s very wealthy, and Theresa Russell plays my mom. On the outside, she’s very much put-together, but she’s also manipulative, and has a very dark side to her. She has a different kind of strength. In ‘STARSHIP TROOPERS’, my character was a fighter pilot, very strong, and ambitious, and driven, but this character, Kelly, She’ll do anything! And I think it takes a different kind of strength to do that, but on the other hand, it’s also a sign of weakness. But I had a lot of fun playing her. It was fun to play an evil woman. You know, everyone has a little evil in themselves.

ACM: Are there any similarities between you and your character, Kelly?

DR: Well, I’ll tell you. I wouldn’t trust anyone in this movie. If I knew all these people in real life, there’s no way I’d be friends with any of them.

ACM: What was the hardest part for you about playing Kelly?

DR: Our characters are all basically lying, and that was hard. We spent two weeks of rehearsal in Miami before we started shooting, and we all sat around, Kevin, Matt, Neve, and I, going over the script, to figure out who knows what at what point, so that we weren’t confused. It was like lying on top of lying. The whole role itself was a challenge. I’ve never played a character like this, I’m totally opposite from her.

ACM: In ‘WILD THINGS’, you obviously have more than a schoolgirl crush on Matt Dillon, who plays your guidance counselor. Did you ever have a crush on any of your high school teachers?

DR: Oh yeah, Mr. Griffin. He taught science and looked like Christopher Reeve.

ACM: Denise, do you know what's coming up for you next?

DR: Well, right now I’m trying to find a romantic comedy, or a really nice period piece. I’m just looking at scripts, and there are a couple things we’re trying to figure out. I haven’t committed to anything, at this point. I would love to work with some of the female actresses. I would love to work with Susan Sarandon, Jessica Lange, or Michelle Pfeiffer. They’ve all got really great careers. They all seem like very classy women, have made great choices, and they’re amazing actresses. I’ve seen interviews with them, and they seem very professional.

ACM: Do you know where you would like to be 10 years from now?

DR: I would eventually love to get to the point where I can create my own projects. I'd like to have a little more control and maybe produce some films. That probably won't happen for a while; right now, I’m working towards getting established.

ACM: Did you have someone in Hollywood that you knew, that sort of took you under their wing?

DR: No, I moved here by myself. It was hard, but it was something that I really wanted to do. I got an agent, and just started the building process.

ACM: Did you ever wish you had the college experience?

DR: Sometimes, I wish I went to college, but at the same time, I've learned a lot in the years that I’ve been working. Everyone has a different learning experience. I was on my own, and I knew this was what I wanted to do, so I focused on acting classes. A college education would have been nice, but I’m happy with the way things have worked out. I never lived in a dorm, but I lived in a model’s apartment with six girls in New York. That was fun. I learned a lot, because a lot of them were older than I was, and they were from all over the world. I learned a lot that way. Sororities and football games would have been fun, though.

ACM: Changing direction a little bit, aside from your career, what do you like to do when you have time off?

DR: My parents live in San Diego, and my sister has a little boy; I have a nephew, so I like spending time with them. And my friends. I’m very girly. I like to shop, and get massages and facials.

ACM: Do you have a favorite movie?

DR: Well, this year, of course, it’s ‘TITANIC’. I love that movie. And ‘AS GOOD AS IT GETS’. Those are my favorite movies this year.

ACM: What is your idea of a perfect evening? How would you spend your time?

DR: I’m not big on clubs, so I like going to a really nice restaurant with a group of friends and having a big group dinner with good food and good wine.

ACM: Do you have a favorite kind of food?

DR: My favorite restaurant in L.A. is The Ivy. Their grilled vegetable salad is my favorite. The salads are great there. So that’s what I like to do. Once in a while, I’ll go out for a drink after dinner, but I don’t go to clubs very often.

ACM: One last question. You obviously keep in good shape. What is your secret?

DR: Pilates!! It’s the best. I’ve tried every form of exercise, but Pilates really elongates your muscles. Of course, every girl says they don’t want to build their legs, and this doesn’t build at all. It really lengthens the muscles. I do Pilates a lot. Before that, I was doing kickboxing, which is good. And spinning. I do Pilates four times a week, and when I was doing kickboxing, I was going five to six times a week. But I definitely have to work out. I’m not one of those girls that can eat whatever I want and still weigh 100 pounds. Pilates was originally designed for dancers, so you do a lot of plies on the machines. It really works your buns and thighs. It’s great!!

ACM: Well, it's working because you look great. Thanks so much for your time today, Denise, and I wish you success in your future work. I hope after reading about you, that everybody goes out to see 'WILD THINGS' on March 20th.