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The Holiday - Cameron Diaz interview

Cameron Diaz in The Holiday

Interview by Rob Carnevale

CAMERON Diaz talks about appearing alongside Jude Law in The Holiday, a romantic comedy drama co-starring Kate Winslet, Jude Law and Jack Black.

She also reveals why she likes to maintain high spirits on a film set and why she believes that crying is good for you…

Q. What was it about the character of Amanda that appealed to you initially?
Cameron Diaz: First off, Nancy [Meyers] is just a wonderful writer. She’s so honest. She’ll say that Iris and Amanda are her in some way. I felt that Amanda was totally relatable to because we’ve all had these relationships that fail. But I loved the bravery that she displays. She’s taken herself out of this incredibly secure situation and gone some place all by herself with only herself to depend on. In doing that, she learns about who she is and opens herself up to possibilities she’s never allowed herself to have before. I felt that was such a wonderful message to put out there.

Q. Have you ever done anything as impulsive as Amanda?
Cameron Diaz: I haven’t house-swapped but I run off all the time. I’m always jumping on a plane somewhere. With my lifestyle, I’m all over the place. One of the great things about being an actor is that you do get to indulge in someone else’s life. Although the girls switch locations, they don’t change lives, they don’t live each other’s lives, they find their own experiences. What they find is that they find themselves for the first time. They’re each put in these situations they’ve never been in before, and they can only rely on themselves. That’s their journey, it allows them to move on from where they were and be open to love. As an actor, I got to experience that, as Amanda, so that’s the great thing about my job.

Q. Director Nancy Meyers has compared you to Goldie Hawn, saying that both of you are adept at physical comedy. How much of the physical comedy is on the page in this and how much do you add on the set?
Cameron Diaz: That’s a lovely compliment. There were a few scenes that were written on the page but then Nancy and I fooled around with them a bit. We didn’t want to take it [the comedy] too broad. We wanted it to be believable, so we included realistic moments. When I hit my head in the film, I didn’t throw it back and make it a huge deal. Sometimes you just hit your head and wonder how that happened.

Q. How was working with Jude Law?
Cameron Diaz: It was wonderful. I think Jude himself is closer to Graham than any other character he’s ever played. He’s funny, charismatic, charming, open, grounded and just a really lovely person. Of course, all the girls had a crush on him. But the great thing about Jude is that he treats everyone the same and engages everyone the same. Because of that I think there were a lot of man crushes as well. The guys were going: “God, we didn’t realise we were going to like him so much!”

Q. He has said that he learned a lot from working with you. Did you learn anything from him?
Cameron Diaz: So much. Jude’s done it all. He’s wonderful on the stage and he’s played some great characters [on screen] sometimes with very little dialogue. I learned from how natural he was and how effortless and open he was in allowing himself to play a character that fell in love, cried and whose heart was sort of open to these possibilities.

Q. Have you ever experienced a British Christmas first-hand? Or do you plan to?
Cameron Diaz: No, I’ve been to London several times around the holidays but I always spend Christmas in Los Angeles with my family. And that will be where I will always spend Christmas unless my family ends up going some place else.

Q. How did you find the English cold while filming? Was there more rain than snow?
Cameron Diaz: We got really lucky with the weather. We didn’t have a lot of rain. A couple of times it did snow and blanketed the countryside, which all the British crew had told us would never happen. So we got lucky and were able to say: “Told you so.” But in movies, anything is possible and we had the best guys in snowbiz! They made beautiful snow.

But it was cold on the days we were here because we were outside the entire day. That was what we were here for – to capture the countryside and England in the idyllic way that Nancy had imagined it. I think she did a beautiful job of putting that up on the screen.

Q. Nancy has previously said that you work as a kind of human anti-depressant when you’re on set. Do you see it as your kind of role to perk up the mood on set sometimes?
Cameron Diaz: Well, we’re all there for a minimum of 12 hours a day and we’re all away from our families and friends. So, you want to have to want to be there. You don’t want to have to come to the set every day and spend 12 hours with a bunch of people who aren’t getting along, who are grumpy and who don’t want to be there.

I do feel like there’s a spirit and a tone you can set that lets people know that they’re appreciated for being there. It’s a sense of spirit that I think every film should have. We’re so fortunate to be doing what we do that we should just go there and be happy to be doing it.

Q. What’s your process for picking projects?
Cameron Diaz: It’s always director first and then script. Those two things are pretty much head-to-head. But even if I loved the script, the director has to be right because it’s all about the filmmaker. It’s their vision. They’re the ones that go back into the editing room and reassemble the film. So you have to really be able to trust that person. It’s about the filmmaker and whether or not I’m going to be able to have a relationship with them and want to follow them down that road, wherever it may lead.

Q. Amanda has a bad work-personal life balance. You’re well known for your love of holidays – is it something you’ve always found really important to maintain throughout your career?
Cameron Diaz: I had many years where I just worked from film to film to film. And then all of a sudden I went: “Where did I put my bags down? Where’s my little place I call home?” It’s hard for me now to go back to work! It’s such a commitment, making a film, you’re really dedicated, it’s your life, that’s all you do for that period of your life. Over the last few years, I’ve had this phase of needing to go when I need to go, and not be settled into anything.

Q. Has it come more as you’ve no longer had any need to prove yourself?
Cameron Diaz: I don’t think of it like that. I never felt I had to prove myself with anything. I’m honestly so grateful to have a job when I get a job, I’m always amazed – I just appreciate what I have when I get it. I believe in fate and what’s meant to be mine will be mine, and if it’s not in my lap, then it’s not mine.

Q. Do you worry about being forgotten when you take a break?
Cameron Diaz: I’m not really in any competition with anyone, I’m not in any race. I make films for myself, first and foremost, just because it is such a personal experience, and it’s something I really have to want to do and feel connected to, so that’s sort of where I have to start to make that commitment.

But also what drives me is what I’m putting out into the world, and I like to make films that people can connect to, or they can escape in. I feel privileged to be able to do that because I think story-telling is innate in human beings, it’s something that we’ve done since we scrawled across cave walls. It’s really important in our society to tell stories, and I feel grateful and honoured that I get to do that in this day and age.

Q. Are you happy with the kind of projects coming your way?
Cameron Diaz: I loved this movie and I think Nancy Meyers is an amazing film-maker. She knows how to do it, and if you’re going to do it with anyone, this is the person you want to do it with. I felt very honoured that she had considered me and wanted me to be a part of it. I knew she was going to deliver exactly what she delivered. It’s why you work with a film-maker like her, because you know you can trust her, and the days you spend on the set, that she’s going to dedicate her time assembling the film and making it exactly what you hoped it to be from page to screen.

Q. In the film your character finds it difficult to cry. Can you relate to that or are you an emotional person?
Cameron Diaz: I love to cry. I want to cry today [laughs]. It’s such a great release. I’m just tired today – jetlagged, I didn’t get any sleep, so I want to cry. But I think it’s important to cry.

Q. Your character undergoes something of a culture shock when she comes to Britain. Is that something you could identify with?
Cameron Diaz: Yes, definitely. The first country that I went to outside of America was Japan and I was completely shocked – especially since I was 16 and over there by myself. I was like: “I don’t get it; there’s nothing in English!”

Read our review of The Holiday

Read our interview with Nancy Meyers