Rachael Leigh Cook dinner is having a full-circle second. Twenty-two years after she descended a staircase in a bit crimson costume to the beat of Sixpence None the Richer, the “She’s All That” actress finds herself as soon as once more in a teen makeover film.
This time, she’s on the perimeter because the mom of an influencer (performed by Addison Rae) in “He’s All That,” Netflix’s gender-flipped remake of the 1999 hit that starred Cook dinner and Freddie Prinze Jr. And this time it’s a unusual boy who sputters a model of Cook dinner’s traditional line, “Am I a bet?”
Now 41, Cook dinner was initially skeptical about becoming a member of the brand new movie, fretting, “What if my function is trotted out to sign to everybody who might need been a fan of the primary film, ‘She stated it’s OK! She’s nonetheless alive, isn’t that enjoyable?’”
However Cook dinner isn’t simply alive. She’s thriving. And her small half in “He’s All That” is just one marker in a decades-long profession that features star turns in a few of millennial audiences’ most cherished movies and a everlasting place within the pop-culture zeitgeist of the ’90s and early 2000s. Now, she’s prepared for a brand new period.
Cook dinner, as you may anticipate from the relatable roles she’s identified for, has a knack for making strangers really feel like she’s their greatest buddy. Sporting an outsized T-shirt and perched on a rattan chair at her brother’s home in Los Angeles, she peppered our current video interview with a stream of her personal inquiries about every part from my cat to my mother and father to my love life. The identical expressive eyebrows a director as soon as instructed her to regulate by taping them down now alternately furrowed with concern and leapt with delight.
“All of that’s utterly real,” her buddy and co-star from “The Child-Sitters Membership,” Marla Sokoloff, stated in a separate name. “She’s precisely who you need her to be. A number of instances, she’s forwarded me a gathering that she’s gotten for herself and been like, ‘I don’t suppose that is for me. You must play this half.’ Who does that? She doesn’t have a foul bone in her physique.”
Rae — who was born the 12 months after “She’s All That” was launched and rose to prominence on TikTok — is navigating a unique Hollywood panorama than the one Cook dinner entered as a youngster in 1995, an period earlier than social media or #MeToo. The youthful star spoke about Cook dinner, in addition to ’90s traits like low-rise denims and claw clips, with an earnest reverence.
“Rachael is so inspiring. You possibly can inform her coronary heart could be very pure,” Rae stated. “She is aware of greater than lots of people how laborious this trade may be, and he or she made it very clear to me that it’s a whole lot of work.” (Cook dinner famous that she shunned giving an excessive amount of profession recommendation to Rae on the danger of sounding like “some busybody outdated girl.”)
The daughter of a social employee and an artisan weaver, Cook dinner began off modeling for Milk-Bone bins and Goal print advertisements in Minneapolis earlier than reserving her first audition in Los Angeles at age 15 and profitable the half: Mary-Anne within the 1995 film adaptation of “The Baby-Sitters Club.” Months later, one other literary function adopted as Becky Thatcher in Disney’s “Tom and Huck.”
On the set of that movie, Cook dinner discovered herself subsequent to 2 actors on the top of kid stardom: Jonathan Taylor Thomas, whom she overheard say issues like, “It’s tough to be a Democrat in my tax bracket” at age 13, and Brad Renfro, who, she recalled, secured his function by wielding an precise hatchet and chasing the casting director across the audition room.
“It was a really up-close and tremendous vivid instance of various methods which you could exist in Hollywood,” Cook dinner stated. “I believe, at the least in my 20s, I lived someplace straight in the midst of that.”
Gifted with a wry humorousness and an typically underutilized comedic timing, Cook dinner hoped, above all, for a profession like that of Parker Posey, with whom she co-starred in “The Home of Sure” and “Josie and the Pussycats.” However with out TikTok or Instagram (platforms on which Rae has a mixed 120-million-plus followers), Cook dinner’s public persona was on the mercy of Seventeen and Angelfire fansites, which decided the best way to current her to their readers.
In early interviews, she was typically likened to fellow Minnesotan Winona Ryder: each had delicate options and cool-girl clout. Matthew Lillard, Cook dinner’s co-star in “She’s All That” and the remake, noticed her as but a unique sort of main girl.
“I bear in mind considering to myself, ‘She may be the following Julia Roberts,’” Lillard stated in a telephone interview. “She had that shine in her eyes and the flicker about her character. She’s depraved sensible. However on the similar time, she doesn’t imagine the hype. She’s the exception to the Hollywood rule.”
Additional breaking the mildew, certainly one of Cook dinner’s most impactful roles got here not from a film however from a public service announcement: she smashed eggs and aggressively destroyed a whole kitchen to exhibit the results of heroin dependancy. That 1997 “This is your brain on drugs” spot, she stated, “ended up transferring the needle for me by way of getting barely edgier roles.” Twenty years later, she filmed a similar ad, highlighting how the warfare on medicine disproportionately impacts folks of coloration. The replace, Cook dinner stated, “wanted to occur understanding what we all know now.”
Whereas Cook dinner’s anti-heroin advert proved exceedingly widespread, “heroin chic” was additionally the dominant ’90s magnificence supreme, glorifying ultrathin physique sorts and popularizing an typically unhealthy normal for fashions and actresses — and the odd youngsters who had been bombarded with these photos onscreen and in magazines.
Over the course of her profession, a number of administrators requested the petite star to drop some weight days earlier than filming. Certainly one of them, Cook dinner stated, was Peter Howitt, the director of the 2001 film “Antitrust,” who cushioned the insinuation that she’d overindulged at Thanksgiving with the addendum that he’d informed her male co-star, Ryan Phillippe, the identical factor.
“I simply instantly burst into tears. And he felt horrible and instantly took it again,” she stated. “Nevertheless it doesn’t imply I wasn’t offended. It doesn’t imply I don’t bear in mind it.”
A consultant for Howitt wrote in an electronic mail that the director was instructed by the movie’s producers to talk to the actors, noting that Howitt “regretted getting used as a messenger,” apologized, and has by no means “personally had any subject with the physicality of any actors.”
“She’s All That” and “He’s All That” are each Miramax productions, although solely the previous had Harvey Weinstein’s involvement. Whereas the producer, who’s currently serving a 23-year jail sentence for rape and sexual assault, wasn’t a fixture on the set of the 1999 movie, Cook dinner did encounter him over time. (She additionally starred within the Miramax movies “All I Wanna Do,” “The Home of Sure” and “Blow Dry.”) Cook dinner believes her supervisor accompanied the then-oblivious younger star to these work conferences to guard her, however she additionally instructed her consumer to ship Weinstein “get properly” playing cards when he was within the hospital.
“I believe that I overheard sufficient folks calling me mature that I believed it myself. However that wasn’t truly true,” Cook dinner stated. “Looking back, was I outfitted to navigate the trade? Zero %.”
After “Josie and the Pussycats,” a campy, female-centric adaptation that’s now broadly appreciated, bombed on the 2001 field workplace, Cook dinner determined to deal with impartial movies, each as a result of she wanted to get out of “film jail” and due to her want to be a part of that offbeat, flourishing scene.
“I actually thought what everybody informed me was appropriate once they stated, ‘What we have to do now’s be sure to’re taken critically,’” she stated. “I positively did issues for the mistaken causes.”
Pre-“Josie,” she had turned down the a part of Rogue within the “X-Males” franchise as a way to shoot a number of smaller movies and keep away from appearing on a inexperienced display. The superhero function went to her “She’s All That” co-star Anna Paquin as an alternative. Cook dinner is reluctant to attract extra consideration to her “big misstep,” noting, “As quickly as I noticed the posters for it, I knew that I’d made a mistake.”
Cook dinner at present finds herself in a transitory state, on the cusp of a brand new chapter. Her 15-year marriage to “The Vampire Diaries” actor Daniel Gillies, with whom she shares two kids, 7-year-old Charlotte and 6-year-old Theo, led to divorce. The actress Judy Greer, her buddy, subsequently set her up with the producer Kevin Mann.
“I like to recommend divorce extremely,” Cook dinner stated. “I’m sorry, I do know I sound like a quitter. However I imagine it wholeheartedly. Life is just too quick to not be true to who you might be and what you want.”
Lately, she’s pivoted to feel-good fare, starring in a string of Hallmark motion pictures tied to varied seasons and holidays, in addition to the 2020 Netflix rom-com “Love, Guaranteed,” which she additionally produced. Whereas she’s a fan of the comforting style, there’s nonetheless a lot extra she’d prefer to discover. Darkish comedies. Posey terrain. “Issues which can be earnest however nonetheless unusual and a bit bit bent,” she defined.
As Lillard put it, “Rachael Leigh Cook dinner is somebody to be reckoned with. I’m tremendous excited for the world to keep in mind that.”
She’s additionally slated to star in and produce Netflix’s coming romance “A Tourist’s Guide to Love,” based mostly on her personal story concept. Producing has served as one approach to get again the management her early profession lacked.
“I’m a lifer. I’ve been across the block,” Cook dinner stated. “It was so not OK for a girl to even grow old. Now, I’m older and in some way it’s OK. It was, you’re by no means going to essentially have any energy if you happen to’re not a person. Now, the ladies I do know are working every part.”