10-2007: LA Confidential

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While we may not buy the idea that a fashion model’s life is a difficult one, there’s no doubt that transitioning from the runway can be tricky. Many look to acting as the next career step, but few pull it off. That’s why we couldn’t be happier for Rebecca Romijn, the former megamodel, who has demonstrated acting chops as flawless as her genes. It didn’t happen overnight: Her role as Mystique in the X-Men films, while appealing to a large audience, didn’t quite allow her to spread her wings as a thespian, and Pepper Dennis—her first sitcom—was quickly canceled. But Alexis Meade, Romijn’s envelope-pushing role on ABC’s runaway hit Ugly Betty, is a different story. A transgendered character, Meade is a first for prime-time television, and Betty, a comedic look at life at a fashion magazine, is now a top-rated show. In addition to her professional success, the Berkeley-born blonde recently achieved a personal milestone: finding her soul mate in actor Jerry O’Connell and marrying him in July. Deeply in love and loving life, Romijn talks to us about her new marriage and her blossoming career.

LOS ANGELES CONFIDENTIAL: First off, congratulations on your marriage. Tell me a little about the ceremony.
REBECCA ROMIJN: It was funny, because we were engaged for two years. At first we wanted to elope, then we were going to run down to City Hall, then we considered getting married in New York. Finally we thought, Let’s just wait and see what feels best. And what organically felt right was to have a party with friends at home. It was really sweet and intimate. Just a really, really fun party. My aunt, who’s a minister, married us, and we had a lot of close friends and family there, as well as work friends. It was great.

LAC: I heard it had a Western theme…
RR: Yeah, we live in the Santa Monica Mountains close to Calabasas, which is called “the last town of the Old West,” and the house we live in was a brothel in the thirties called the Wagon Wheel Ranch. When you move into a house that has its own theme, you sort of run with it.

LAC: And you went right back to work?
RR: I had to go back to work Monday morning after the wedding. We took our honeymoon before the wedding. It actually worked out because we both sort of had post-party blues, so it was nice to get right back to business as usual.

LAC: Where did you go for your honeymoon?
RR: We went to Mexico, a place near Tulum that we love. We’re trying to keep the exact location under wraps.

LAC: Fair enough. So, what drew you to Jerry initially?
RR: Right off the bat, his sense of humor. He’s just a tremendous amount of fun. And, well, he’s my best friend.

LAC: You both seem like very positive, fun-loving people. Is it important to you to have someone with that sensibility?
RR: Yes. Jerry has so much energy, almost too much energy. But I find that motivational. And he’s always in a good mood. Always. One time somebody asked, “Does it ever get annoying that Jerry’s always in a good mood?” And I thought, Um, let me think…. No. As opposed to somebody who’s grumpy all the time? No, thanks.

LAC: With Jerry on Crossing Jordan and you on Ugly Betty, do your schedules give you enough time together?
RR/>: They do. He works at Universal and Ugly Betty shoots at Raleigh, and they’re about three freeway exits apart. When you work on a TV schedule you often have gaps during your day, which makes it easy to visit each other. And we’ve become very comfortable in each other's working environments. Then we get to go home at night and have a life together, so it’s really great.

LAC: Let’s talk about Alexis, your character on Ugly Betty. Was there any hesitation on your part about playing a transgendered person?
RR: Not for one second. Never an issue. It actually feels like a privilege, a pioneering role. That role hasn’t happened on prime-time television before. And it’s a group of people that haven’t quite found their voice in mainstream media, so if I can do anything to help that, I’m thrilled. I’m really proud to be a part of it.

LAC: You don’t feel any pressure to be a spokesperson for the transgendered community?
RR: At the end of the day, I’m just an actress playing a part on a TV show. But I’m realizing that it’s more important than that. So while I’m not a spokesperson for that community, I definitely play a part in shaping their voice in society.

LAC: Do you approach her any differently than you would a “regular” role?
RR: Obviously she’s going to come across different obstacles than another female character would. But as far as I see it, I’m playing a woman. Transgendered people come up and thank me for taking this role on. Everybody says, “There’s no way Rebecca Romijn could have been a man.” But people who’ve made that transition come in all shapes and sizes. Their stories have been great to listen to and I’ve met amazing people. It’s been fantastic.

LAC: Coming from a fashion background, do you think the show portrays that world accurately?
RR: I’ve always been supersensitive about how they re-create photo shoots and fashion shoots on movies and TV. But our show comes as close as I’ve seen. And the colorful, outrageous characters are really so much like characters in the fashion world. Even the biting sense of humor on the show is very familiar.

LAC: Who are your favorite designers?
RR: I would hate to narrow it down to a handful because I get so excited for up-and-coming designers, but I’m crazy about Dolce & Gabbana, Versace, Donna Karan, and Ralph Lauren. I just wore a newer designer, Erica Davis, to our season-one DVD launch party. I never pick what I want to wear according to designer—it’s usually just what I respond to emotionally. I love wearing vintage, too.

LAC: What about your favorite LA spots—you and Jerry don’t seem to be scenesters.
RR: No, we tend to avoid “the scene.” LA is different from, say, New York, because everybody has houses and backyards, so we like to spend time having people over at our house and visiting our friends’ houses.

LAC: No nightclubs, then?
RR: Nope, that’s nothing but trouble.

Original article: LA Confidential Fall 2007

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