by NATASHA STOYNOFF first appeared in theTORONTO SUN
Playing nice girl
among bitchy high school babes did wonders for Winona Ryder's career in
Heathers. Same could happen for Kentucky-born Rebecca Gayheart, who stars in the recently
"It's about the cruel
politics of high school," says Gayheart, "a sort of mix
between Heathers, Carrie
and Grease. It's a really cool film. I play the good girl fighting for justice."
as those justice tales go, "I start off being in the popular group, then
get kicked out, and later
get revenge on the bad girls." In her next film, she plays it good-turned-bad in The Hangman's Daughter. "I'm a Christian missionary going to Mexico to spread the word of God ... until I get bitten and become this nasty
of getting bit, last year, when filming the horror Urban Legend in Toronto,
Gayheart had a
near-bat experience when one flew into her bedroom late one night and perched itself.
"It looked like a rat hanging there," cringes Gayheart at the memory.
"Me and my friends
got a bunch of towels and tried to scare it away. I kept thinking, if it gets
in my hair
it will stick there and bite me. We got a broom and we just kept screaming, 'Get
more towels! Get more towels!' It was such a nightmare," she sighs.
screaming horror scenes by day didn't help matters. "When you make
a horror film, it plants a seed of
doubt in your mind," notes Gayheart. "Every night when I went home, I made sure the door was
the fear just brought out the Southerner in her, she admits.
"I used to have this really strong Southern accent, and it comes back if I get really scared, really tired
or really drunk," she says, "or when I get on the phone with Mom or Dad."
Cosmo: So tell me about your new fall television show, Wasteland.
Rebecca Gayheart: Well, it's a new series written by Kevin Williamson (Scream, Dawson's Creek). Kevin is also the producer on the show. And there are three girls, three boys. It's basically about people who should be getting ready to turn 30, but who just aren't — who are acting like they're 19 or 20. It's really fun. It's a great cast.
C: What kind of character do you play?
I play this girl who grew up in North Carolina. Went to college, majored in
theater, went to New York, tried acting for two seconds, hated it.
C: So where is it set?
RG: It's set in New York City, in present time.
C: Why do they call it Wasteland?
Because we're all in a wasteland. Our generation, everyone in their late 20s
who is just sort
of gliding through, it's the wasteland we all get stuck in.
C: You play a character older than yourself, right?
Actually no. I'm 26. I'll be 27 in August. And my character was written as 28.
So it's not that far
off. She's a little bit older. Which is nice for me. I have been playing characters who were years
C: Excellent. So are you excited to do a series?
I am. I really am. I haven't done television in a while. And it wasn't because
poo-pooing television. I hadn't found anything that I liked enough to do it. But I'm really happy
with this. I read it, and my instincts were go for it. So I'm glad it worked out. I mean, basically
I'm just looking for great roles, whether they are on television or film or the stage.
C: What did you like about this part so much?
I liked the whole subject matter of the show. I liked that it was older. It's
a mature show. I
mean, it's definitely got some humor in it, but it's a drama. And it's something that me and my
friends would watch. It's something that we're all going through. I really liked that. Kevin is a
wonderful person to work with. He's so talented and such a great person. That really drew me
to the project as well.
C: Had you met him before, or worked with him before?
RG: Yeah, I worked with him on Scream II.
C: Switching gears, are you and Brett Ratner (the director of Rush Hour) married yet?
No, but we're engaged. And we've been together so long, we've earned the right
each other husband and wife.
C: You met like nine, ten years ago?
RG: Yeah. I met him when I was 15.
C: That's crazy.
RG: So it's actually 11 years ago.
C: Wow. Where were you?
I was in New York. I was a junior in high school. Or the summer before
my junior year.
And he had just come to New York to start his first year at NYU film school. And we met, and
that was it. Started dating right away. Fell in love. Kids in love.
C: But that's
so weird to survive your 20s with the same person. Do you know what I
C: You go through so many changes.
I think we went through our changes together. We kind of grew at the same pace.
we're both really independent people, so we never got that co-dependent relationship stuff that
most people get. Thank God we survived, because it's so nice now being in this business with
someone who knows you so well. Just someone to appreciate it all with.
C: When you
see friends or acquaintances who are single in Hollywood and what they go
through, do you ever just go, oh, thank God, I'm done?
C: Do you ever feel like, oh wow, I might have missed something?
No. I'm so happy, and I'm so fortunate that I found it really young. Although
worry that maybe we didn't...
C: Sow your oats or whatever.
Yeah, yeah. But now I think we're both really happy. I think it would be very
me being in this business and being single. You know, I like being taken and not available. It
makes it very clear.
C: Would you like to have kids?
I would. I'd like to have four. It will probably end up being three. I don't
so hard to say. I mean, I like the idea of a lot of kids, although I haven't started yet, so who
C: Yeah. When you have one, then see how you feel.
RG: Yeah, exactly. But kids are definitely a part of the future.
C: Do you
think about raising them in Hollywood? Do you think about that? That seems
like it would be hard.
Yeah. I think it's going to be hard wherever we raise them. I kind of
like the idea of the East
Coast upbringing more so than West Coast upbringing, but who knows?
Details Q&A Nov. 1997
Let's hope so. "Please
allow me to introduce myself /
"An actress." My latest project is Scream: The Sequel. I'm a
sinful sorority sister who is sincerely full of shit all the time.
I'd get into a lot of trouble if I told you what happens, since I
signed a confidentiality contract. People might also know me
from Nothing to Lose or (rolls her eyes) from Beverly Hills,
90210 or (really rolls her eyes) from Noxzema commercials.
At least once a day someone will go "Aren't you the
Noxzema girl?" -- and the commercials have been off the air
for three or four years. I'm losing roles because people still
associate me with being very young, and I'm not -- I just
turned twenty-five. I guess I could check myself into rehab for
too much coffee and cigarettes. (laughs) Or maybe I'll
pretend I'm on heroin.
"You know that it
would be untrue / You know that I
would be a liar / If I was to say to you..."
"That I'm an angel." People have told me that I have an
innocent face, but it's just because I have big eyes. But we
all have crimes and sins we're uncomfortable with. I smoke, I
have a foul mouth at times, I'm not polite all the time...
"I'm proud to be
a coal miner's daughter / I remember
"Thinking my daddy was a black man." I grew up in Hazard,
Kentucky -- my great-great-grandparents were bootleggers,
my grandfather died of black lung, and my father is a coal
miner too. I only saw him when he came home from work,
because he left very early in the morning. He would come
home covered in oil and coal dust and soot, so I would say to
my mom, "Is my daddy a black man?"
"I learned the truth
at seventeen / That life..."
"Is filled with surprises." At seventeen, I had survived living in
New York City for two years. I was having sex, finally.
(laughs) That was my big thing -- I had just started having
sex with my boyfriend [now her fiancé, Money Talks and rap
video director Brett Ratner], and I hadn't had much
experience. My parents didn't approve of me moving to New
York, but I threatened that if they made me come home I
would become a prostitute (laughs) or something really
"Elvis was a hero
to most / But he..."
"Didn't mean shit to me / He was straight-out racist, simple
and plain / Motherfuck him and John Wayne." God, that song
is so brilliant. Elvis is not my favorite, but he was big in
Kentucky. I definitely wanted to get away from country music.
That's probably why I went to the extreme of rap and
hip-hop -- it's very honest and raw and new.
"I know what boys
like / I know what guys want / I know
what boys like / Boys like, boys like..."
I almost just said the dirtiest thing in the world, "Boys like-"
Oh, fuck! I'll say it nicely. "Boys like sex." So do girls,
probably more than boys. For girls it's usually more
emotional, but it can just be I need to get laid right now. You
feel better after! I guess the perfect guy would have a
detachable penis -- when he goes out of town you could
detach it, so he'd think with his brain and not his...
"Don't push me 'cause
I'm close to the edge / I'm trying
"Go insane." It drives me crazy not knowing what my next job
is. I can't sleep when I'm not working. I'm really high one day,
then really low the next. Before I got Scream, I didn't work
from January to June, so I was going a bit crazy. In L.A. there
are movie billboards everywhere, and you can become
obsessed: "Oh, I didn't get that job...I didn't get that part..."
"East Coast girls
are hip, I really dig those styles they
wear / And the Southern girls, with the way they talk,
"Hypnotize you." When I was fifteen, trying to get into Nell's
because it was the place to go in New York City, the
Southern accent was very useful. You can say something
really provocative and it still sounds sweet.
"All you need is..."
My doctor said I had tire-tread lips from the age of four. He
said, "She's going to be very sexy. She's got a wonky mouth
and tire-tread lips." Yeah. And eyebrows that meet in the
"A cup of coffee
and a cigarette." (laughs)
I've asked two boys out -- and they went out with me. I
basically just said, "I really really fancy you. How do you feel
about it, mate? Come back with me!" And they ended up
being relationships. I've never had flings or one-night stands.
I've only had four relationships in my life.