It's been 18 years since Elisha Cuthbert starred as an ex-porn star named Danielle in the movie The Girl Next Door. But the Canadian actress still recalls the reputation that she got from the role.
The 39-year-old talked to The Daily Beast about her career and the work that she's transitioned into since first arriving in Hollywood. She didn't neglect to reflect on how the industry has evolved throughout her career — especially for young actresses who were encouraged to appear on men's magazines like Maxim and FHM.
"I definitely was around for that time period. It's kind of a bummer that I was. At the time, it's not like I was the only one partaking in these men's magazines — it felt like everyone was subjected to it. I remember even Halle Berry after winning her Oscar was on the [hottest] lists and the covers," Cuthbert explained. "It was a part of the culture of magazines, and I remember feeling like I didn’t have much of a choice, because millions of people were buying these magazines and it was a huge way to publicize whatever you were doing. And these magazines seemed to do voting systems on their own, so it was out of my control."
When it came to feeling obliged to appear in these types of publications, Cuthbert said most of the pressure came from the studios making the films that she was in to garner interest in the movie.
"I remember when we were doing The Girl Next Door, especially because of the content of the film where I was playing a porn star, those magazines felt even more relevant to be associated with to advertise this film. Yeah, it was definitely a push from the studios saying, 'These are great covers to get. They have millions of subscribers and a wide reach. Go do them,'" she said. "Luckily, actresses now don't really have to deal with that anymore. A lot of the Maxims and FHMs are now done, so thankfully that's over with."
Cuthbert noted that the experiences weren't all bad. "A part of it felt liberating and I certainly thought, at the time we were doing them, that we were doing some pretty cool photoshoots," she said. In hindsight, however, the dialogue surrounding them wasn't something she enjoyed.
"Looking back on them, I didn’t love doing them—especially when they started to become repetitive, and the dialogue became about 'Who's the sexiest?' and 'Who's the prettiest?' in a competitive way, and feeling objectified and putting out this persona of, 'This is what I represent.' Because that really wasn't the case," she said. "It wasn't a true representation of me as an artist, that’s for sure. It was one facet. And unfortunately, a lot of people just went, 'Oh, she’s the sexy girl.' We were all a lot more than that."
In the time since her early 2000s popularity, Cuthbert has taken on different roles, including those that she feels are more relevant to her life as a mother of two.
"I’m excited for the next chapter. I feel I've been waiting for a long time to get to a point where I can play characters that have more depth, more responsibility, and tell stories about women for women my age," she said. "I'm embracing that."
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