Elisha Cuthbert

“I agree with some of the choices that other actresses have made with nudity, and that’s fine if they’re comfortable with it,” Cuthbert says, “but I still think that I’m a little too young.”

Carlo Allegri/Getty

updated 04/12/2004 AT 1:00 AM ET

originally published 04/12/2004 AT 10:21 AM ET

Elisha Cuthbert has perfected her damsel-in-distress routine as Jack Bauer’s daughter, Kim, on FOX’s 24. Now she’s turning the tables, taking on a more, say, experienced role – porn star. In The Girl Next Door Cuthbert plays Danielle, a young woman with an XXX past who helps break her neighbor from a sheltered existence. It’s a risky role for an actress who’s transitioning from TV to the big screen, but one she says even the girls in the audience will like.

Cuthbert, 21, recently chatted with reporters about what it was like to step into the heels of a porn star, the research she undertook and what her grandmother might make of it all.

Did you research a lot of porn before making this movie?
We went through a lot of Playboy magazines and different kinds of dirty magazines that little boys hide from their moms. I actually sat and met with some of these girls. I, unfortunately, had a real stereotype of what I imagined a typical porn star would look like on a day-to-day basis, and it was the exact opposite.

How did you feel wearing the skimpy clothes?
Very uncomfortable. See, that was the tricky part of playing Athena. It’s that I had to walk in these shoes that were 6 in. high and wear this bra thing and uncomfortable pants, and it was just like somehow I have to pretend that I’m competent and comfortable in this stuff.

What influences did you bring to the movie? Risky Business?
That was one of the many movies that we kept in mind before we started shooting this. Sixteen Candles, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, fun movies that were made in the ’80s but had a truth behind them. When Ferris Bueller’s buddy throws the Ferrari off of the garage and goes, “My dad is going to kill me,” those moments made those teen comedies a reality.

Was it fun to have so many costume changes, unlike on 24?
The beauty of having 24 is that I don’t have to think of wardrobe. There was a thought process in the wardrobe for this movie. There were 18 wardrobe changes.

On 24, is it hard maintaining the same character season after season?
Yeah. I’ve never had an opportunity to be a character for this long. I mean, I’m literally in the mall shopping and someone will go, “Hey, Kim,” and I’ll look around, and not because someone has recognized me, but because I actually respond to the name, which is frightening.

“I agree with some of the choices that other actresses have made with nudity, and that’s fine if they’re comfortable with it,” Cuthbert says, “but I still think that I’m a little too young.”

Carlo Allegri/Getty
You have a little brother. What does he think about seeing you onscreen?
My brother is 11, and so he gets really involved. He’s like, “I can’t believe that they’re doing that to you,” and I go, “It didn’t really happen. It’s okay.”

Will he be allowed to see Girl Next Door?
I don’t know that answer. I think that my mom will make that judgment call maybe. The only one that I worry about is my grandmother. That’s the only one and so far, she seems to be okay about it. She hasn’t seen this, though.

You seem to be handling everything so calmly, even awards shows. Is it ever nerve-racking?
Yeah, it is very scary. It’s the pressure of going, “All these people are going to ask me who I’m wearing and I know that I’m going to forget,” and, “Is my makeup running?” It’s always 100 degrees on those days.

And have you mastered a technique for not giving away the twists and turns on 24?
I know, and the worst is my mother. She’s like, “I’m your mother. You wouldn’t be here without me. You have to tell me.” I’m pretty good. I give a little. I’m always like, “I’ve got some really good scenes coming up,” but I won’t spill the beans.

Finally, what do you find sexy?
Personality, people who are funny. If you can have a good time with someone, but also, someone who has their act together and has a good head on their shoulders is also very appealing because you could have the most beautiful person in the world and they can’t form a sentence, they’re not very attractive anymore.

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