By Catherine Wigginton
It’s hard to believe that only 12 years have passed since Cameron Diaz snuck up on moviegoers in her first film, the quirky fantasy-comedy “The Mask”, playing Jim Carrey’s love interest. Diaz doesn’t seem to have changed one bit. Her limitless smile, ebullient laugh and playful mannerisms continue to charm as she returns to theaters this week in the new movie “The Holiday.”
But a lot has changed for Diaz, who admitted to reporters that during the filming of “The Mask” she didn’t realize how big of a blockbuster the movie was expected to become. “Halfway through I was going, ‘Is there any place that my mom and dad can see this film?’ And they’re going, ‘Cameron, at the theaters,’” Diaz relayed to reporters. “I had no idea.”
Now 34, the film veteran with more than 20 movies to her credit, has shared the screen with some of the industry’s biggest stars including Julia Roberts, Tom Cruise and Leonardo DiCaprio. And she commands top dollar for her work. When she signed on to do “Charlie’s Angels,” released in 2000, Diaz became only the second woman (after Julia Roberts) to hit the $20 million mark for a movie.
Despite receiving unwanted attention over the past couple of years for the infamous row she and boyfriend Justin Timberlake had with the paparazzi, Diaz has been in front of the camera for 18 years. She started modeling at 16 and spent the next five years traveling all over the world for photo shoots.
She then returned to her native California and landed the role in “The Mask.” After her acting debut, she honed her skills with independent films including Ed Burns’ “She’s the One” and the dark comedies “Feeling Minnesota” and “The Last Supper.” Diaz returned to mainstream Hollywood with the 1997 movie “My Best Friend’s Wedding,” starring Julia Roberts.
A year later, Diaz became a lead in her own right when she played the title role in the wacky, Farrelly brothers’ comedy “There’s Something About Mary.” And then it seemed nothing could stop her as she starred in hit movie after hit movie such as “Being John Malkovich,” and “Shrek” (the voice of Princess Fiona) series.
Though her trademark smile is central to all the characters she has played, Diaz has demonstrated a surprising breadth of talent throughout her career, from comedies—dark and light—to mind-twisters to animated features. She started out as a beauty but has earned respect. And she shies away from too much publicity—personal or professional. “I’m very comfortable with the level of recognition that I’ve got,” Diaz told Movieline in 1997. “I don’t feel like I’ve been blown out of proportion and I don’t feel like I’ve been ignored.”
Diaz still radiates a girlish charm with a tomboy flare (she won the 2004 Nickelodeon Kids’ Choice Award for Best Burp) but she says she plans to age gracefully and has told reporters that she loves being in her 30s. An avid surfer and snowboarder, her passions don’t bring her to New York much, though her work was supposed to this month with the filming of “A Little Game” with Jim Carrey.
Unfortunately for New Yorkers, that’s no longer the plan—both lead actors bowed out of the movie due to script changes. Diaz told W magazine for its December feature on the actress, “The studio decided last minute, after three months of revisions on the script, to rewrite the thing completely,” she explains. “I was just like, ‘This isn’t the movie that I thought I was doing.’”
Diaz can afford to choose which roles to take and has said she doesn’t have any new films on the horizon besides “Shrek 3.” She’s not sure where her career will take her next and she’s reluctant to even speculate, explaining to reporters repeatedly that she has a fear of commitment.
She has also probably learned how quickly plans and dreams can shift. In the July 1990 issue of Seventeen, Diaz, then the 17-year-old cover girl, said this about her future: “I’ll probably model until I’m old and gray. Actually, my ultimate dream is to be a zoologist. Maybe go on safari in Africa and study lions.”
There’s still time.
Home For "The Holiday"
You’ve seen the ads on Craigslist: “Stay in my London flat for one week in exchange for your New York apartment.” Most people are looking for creative ways to keep vacation costs down. But in the new romance “The Holiday,” out in theaters December 8, the house exchange ends up changing lives.
In the movie, Cameron Diaz plays Amanda who has discovered the boyfriend with whom she shares a home in L.A. has cheated on her. Kate Winslet is Iris, the victim of unrequited love in England. The two women meet online and agree to switch homes in search of an escape from their brokenhearted lives. And in their new homes, both women fall in love.
And for the movie’s writer, director and producer Nancy Meyers (“Something’s Gotta Give” and “What Women Want”), Diaz was a natural. “Cameron is a real commedienne and one of the great rewards of working with her is how much she makes me laugh,” Meyers wrote on the film’s Web site. “She sometimes reminded me of Goldie Hawn, whom I love. She has very similar comedic instincts.”