Combustible Celluloid

Interview with Elisha Cuthbert & Jamie Babbit

Not Going Quietly

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

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Best known for her role on TV's "24," and in movies like The Girl Next Door (2004) and House of Wax (2005), Canadian-born Elisha Cuthbert, 23, is not one to sit still and wait for good roles to come to her.

For her new film, the dark drama The Quiet, Cuthbert took an active role in getting the movie made, becoming an associate producer on the project. "She was the very first person to come onto the movie," says her director Jamie Babbit, who also made the 2000 comedy But I'm a Cheerleader. Both Babbit and Cuthbert recently visited San Francisco to talk about their new movie.

"Also, I think Elisha was a leader for the other actors," Babbit continues. This includes Katy Mixon, who made her film debut on The Quiet. Cuthbert says she tried to give the nervous first-timer a boost of confidence.

Despite this newfound power, Cuthbert still didn't get the role she originally wanted, Dot (eventually played by Camilla Belle), a deaf and dumb girl who is taken into a well-to-do household when her father dies. The father (Martin Donovan) and mother (Edie Falco) have their own problems, as does their popular cheerleader daughter, Nina (Cuthbert).

"Nina was described as the most beautiful girl in school, cheerleader, head of the squad, and I was going, no, no, no, no. That was the last thing I wanted," says the spunky actress during a recent visit to San Francisco. "I was looking for this kind of movie, but something totally different. And I was ready to shave my head, dye my hair black, do whatever I had to do to convince Jamie that I was Dot."

Babbit interjects: "I said, 'Just read it one more time.' And it wasn't that I saw her and thought 'She looks like a cheerleader.' It's that I actually thought she could pull it off."

"It's about getting involved in the industry in a way that is more poignant for me -- 'cause it's going in a very sour direction," says Cuthbert. "A long time ago, studios didn't know what worked, so they made movies that were all over the map. And now everything is very safe and no one is taking risks. No studio would make Terms of Endearment. But if I got that on my doorstep tomorrow and read it, I'd do it in a heartbeat, for $50,000."

July 12, 2006

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