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In Her Shoes - Cameron Diaz interview



Compiled by: Jack Foley

Q. How did you get under the skin of this character who is quite the most mixed up person you're played to date?
A.
First off, it was such a wonderful script - so well written and so clear about who the characters were. The book also provided a lot of background. But the process of rehearsal is such a great place for discovery. Working with Curtis [Hanson, director], Toni [Collette] and Shirley [MacLaine] enabled me to go through who this person was.

Q. Is Maggie a person you could relate to in any sort of way?
A.
Of course she’s someone I could relate to in some aspects. I've been a woman trying to find her way through the world and have not always been completely secure with myself. Maggie's issues were, of course, much more intense, convoluted and dire than mine. But I think it's something that we all go through in life, that journey of finding yourself. So I could empathize through that experience.

Q. How hard was it for you to play Maggie at the start of the movie, when she's a really unpleasant woman?
A.
When I read the script, it was like watching the movie for the first time. In the beginning I was going 'who is this girl? What’s her problem?' But the wonderful thing about the movie is that you do get to see exactly what her problem is.
It's the discovery of somebody who you really think you know from all the clichés and first impressions and who tries her hardest to really give you a bad impression because that's who she thinks she is. Maggie exploits herself to make sure she gets what she needs. It's the only way she knows how to live.
So when you get to the end of the film, you really see her journey, you see where she's travelled. It was essential to be that person in the beginning but I knew when I was doing those early parts how proud I was of her for being so courageous and taking that journey.

Q. As an actress, did it feel enormously liberating to be able to play someone so completely horrible at the beginning?
A.
Well it's not really about me. I didn't do the part saying 'Cameron gets to do this'. I'm playing that character, Maggie. I must of course understand that it's my translation of that character but it's more about being there with Maggie; it's her journey that I'm doing. Obviously I get something out of it for my own selfish purposes but it's not as black or white as that, it's more involved.

Q. Did you ever coax Shirley MacLaine into giving you any advice about how to enjoy a career as long-lived as hers?
A.
Knowing her history and her work and getting to know her personally, spending time with her, she didn't have to keep telling us to come over here to be told something. It was more organic than that. It was about just being around her. It's almost like osmosis, you just kind of absorb it.
But the fact she had the courage to take on this part says a lot about what kind of person she is.

Q. So what did you learn from her?
A.
Every time Toni and I are asked about Shirley one of the things we say is how interested and interesting she is. But mostly how interested she is in every aspect of life, from popular culture to politics.
Anything that's going on at the moment that we could talk about, there was always a conversation. Of course, being someone with incredible wisdom and knowledge and who has lived such a wonderful life, all that comes out and you absorb it.

Q. You also get to work with a number of elderly actors in the film. What was it like working within the retirement community? Did you find it inspirational?
A
. They were so full of life and I think the success of each one of them is that they're constantly embracing life. Making a movie is not a leisurely process, it's hard work, it's long hours and to work with each actor and have the amount of energy and understanding they have, as well as their excitement about being there and doing what they love, was inspirational.
But whether it's acting or gardening, if you still have something in your life that you're excited about, or passionate about and engage yourself in, then it means that you are living truthfully to yourself. That's what keeps you alive longer, healthier and happier. And it's a complete inspiration.
As a younger generation, we receive all of our information from a box. We turn it on, flip the channels and receive all of our information from there. So it's wonderful to be around a community of people who know themselves so well, understand the world so well and are able to be generous with both themselves and you.

Q. What did you do to establish the sisterly bonds between you and did you discover that in real-life you had much in common?
A.
It was easy for us to relate to one another. We both come from very strong, stable families, we're very deeply rooted in our families and have had a lot of support and confidence given to us early on in life. We started our careers at the same time, so we've sort of travelled in a very linear universe with one another.
That's how you become friends, by having that ability to connect with one another. So not only did we get to be partners in this film, we also became friends as well.

Q. How many pairs of shoes do you own?
A.
[Laughs] I have no idea about the actual amount of shoes I have in my closet.

Q. Do you have shoes that have never been taken out of the box?
A.
No, I don't like the boxes themselves. I like to take them out of the boxes and put them up on the shelf where I can see them.

Related stories: Read our review

Toni Collette interview

Curtis Hanson interview


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