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Estella Warren Interview

Beautiful, athletic Estella Warren plays human slave Daena in the new Planet of the Apes film. She's done 5 films in a little over a year but you might remember her best from her recent role in Driven with Sly Stallone. Born in Canada and raised outside Toronto, Estella was a National Champion synchronized swimmer and World Bronze Medallist before starting a modeling career. In the last two years she's been on the covers of GQ and Talk and recently, was named number one on Maxim's "Hot 100" list. She spoke to us about her Apes role, leaving her swimming career behind and the silliest question she's ever been asked.

Teenhollywood.com: Your character barely speaks. Was it hard to act without speaking?

Estella: I thought that was so great about her. I got to use my athletic background and show my character's physicality in this movie. I was constantly running and swimming and horseback riding and jumping through windows and I think it's amazing for an actress in Hollywood to get an action hero role with all levels. She's really aggressive and she has so much animosity and she can still be scared and loved and vulnerable. It was a really fun character to play. Tim (Burton) and I sat down in the beginning and said this is a character who has grown up knowing that you can't speak to the apes or look them in the eye so there is that innate fear in her. Even when there is a little bit more equality in the middle of the film between the group going on this crusade, she's still a bit skittish about speaking to the apes. She shows a lot of her emotions with her body stance and the way she holds herself. She's very tight and nervous. In her eyes, she shows the fear and anger and vulnerability.

Teenhollywood.com: Would you have taken a role in this film if it had been in an ape suit?

Estella: Oh yeah, of course. You do anything to work with Tim Burton, because he's brilliant. His movies are unlike any others. He has his own class of movies and they're always so creative and original and interesting and bizarre. It's a testament to him that actors like Tim Roth and Helena Bonham Carter would go through five hours of hair and make-up to work with him.

Teenhollywood.com: You're number one on Maxim magazine's "Hot 100" list. Is that a good thing?

Estella: I don't know. I didn't choose that. Somebody else put me in there. I didn't know until I opened up the magazine. I was like, "Whoa, where did that come from?" But, I like it. It's a nice compliment. It was flattering and good for my ego.

Teenhollywood.com: There are issues of feminism involved in being labeled a "hot babe." Are you comfortable with that?

Estella: I chose not to do the cover of Maxim for this movie, and it was rather controversial with the studio, but I felt like I did that as a model and it would be a step back for me to do it as an actress, because that's not the direction I was looking at going in. If people are comfortable doing that, if actresses find that would help their career or be fun, then that's great.

Teenhollywood.com: What kind of tools does your athletic background bring to your acting?

Estella: There's such a structure and discipline that goes along with being a professional athlete, and you take that with you wherever you go. In acting, they don't hand you that structure. You have to make it yourself and, because I had it before, I know that I have to get my sleep and be mentally and physically prepared for those 14-hour days.

Teenhollywood.com: Mark Wahlberg was saying he was pretty beaten up in this film. How about you?

Estella: I had lots of bruises, scrapes, that kind of thing, but I think we're all proud of them. I got to do a lot of my own stunts so I'd be like, "You see that? That was from a stunt I just did."

Teenhollywood.com: There are real chimps in this movie. In your next film (a comedy called Down and Under) you work with kangaroos.

Estella: Kangaroos and camels. It was funny and the animatronics are incredible. The people on that did Babe and those kangaroos were so life-like, so real. And yes, there is a swimming scene in that movie. It's in a waterfall and we're cleaning up after we put all kinds of mud on our faces, to catch a kangaroo to get rid of our human scent.

Teenhollywood.com: Do you have a pet at home?

Estella: No. I'd love to have a dog but (it would be) really unfair to the dog…how much I travel. I'm not a little dog person (so I can't take one with me).

Teenhollywood.com: Tim Burton says he's actually kind of freaked out by chimps. Do you feel that way?

Estella: I didn't work with the chimps in this movie but for the cover of Talk magazine, I worked with a real baby chimp and it's really amazing to me how intelligent they really are and how much we can see behind their eyes. It's a bit eerie, but it's a great point for the movie as well, because you go and see the film and it's action packed and you escape from your life, but you go home and you're still thinking (about the animal/human issues). That's a good movie.

Teenhollywood.com: Is there a little bit of regret every time you see the Olympics that you didn't continue in that career?

Estella: Yeah, of course there is. I was very close but I wouldn't change anything. Every step along the way--even the insignificant one--if you change them, you may not be in the same position you are right now. I wouldn't be here and I like this.

Teenhollywood.com: Do you get angry at people who say synchronized swimming shouldn't be classified as a sport?

Estella: I think once people actually try it, it's a different story. It's my love of the sport that is important for me. I think it's incredibly difficult and it gave me so much discipline and structure. You get to be flexible and a good strong swimmer.

Teenhollywood.com: Are you dying for a role where you don't have to jump in the water and swim?

Estella: I like that they keep getting me swimming in movies. It kind of shows my background, and I'd like to do it in every movie if I could get a little swimming thing in there. I didn't have a double for the swimming scenes (in this film). It was all me.

Teenhollywood.com: Do you feel you are stuck now in action or physical roles?

Estella: Not really. My first film was an all-improv movie called Perfume with Jeff Goldblum and Omar Epps and Rita Wilson. The second movie I did was a drama called Tangled, then Driven, Planet of the Apes, and I just did Down and Under, a comedy. So I think I'm just testing the waters and feeling out what I like doing and trying to keep doing things that are inspiring.

Teenhollywood.com: Are you used to all this press attention yet?

Estella: It's really hard. I did 70 interviews yesterday and you get sick of talking about yourself. You just give everything you can for as long as you can.

Teenhollywood.com: I'll bet women ask you different questions than men do.

Estella: Yes. I get a lot of clothes and what do you eat questions and do you work out questions from women and from men it's more like "How did you feel in that outfit?" It's funny.

Teenhollywood.com: What was the silliest question you've been asked?

Estella: What is your favorite body of water? A river, an ocean, or a lake? I'm here to talk about this film. It's like in Notting Hill when Hugh Grant comes in from Horse and Hound and says "Were they any horses in that movie or hounds for that matter? We treat them equally." So funny.

Teenhollywood.com: How do you like living in L.A.?

Estella: It's very strange to get recognized, but I have a very good little market that I like to go to, and the people who work there know me and they get me through really quick. You know what I like is Target and Walmart. Those big stores are so American. I could spend hours in those stores just takin' my cart and lookin' at the shoes and the t-shirts. Maybe I need new sheets and picture frames and batteries.

Teenhollywood.com: Who are some actresses you admire?

Estella: Michelle Pfeiffer, Catherine Deneuve, Julianne Moore, Jody Foster, Meryl Streep.

Teenhollywood.com: What kind of music do you listen to?

Estella: Everything. Not a lot of country but I listen to everything from Radiohead to Johnny Lee Hooker, Muddy Waters, Miles Davis, to Gate Crasher Techno CDs and sometimes The Doors and Led Zeppelin.

Teenhollywood.com: Do you pinch yourself now and then about how your career has taken off?

Estella: Oh yes. All the choices that I've made have all been, in some way, performing and in some way wanting to entertain. My whirlwind came with five movies in a year and three months. That's a lot of movies back to back. I enjoy it. I love being in front of the camera and think I have the best job on earth, but it's time for a break. I just bought a house in L.A. and I’m gonna go sit in it and dive into the pool.

Interviewer and writer Lynn Barker is a Hollywood-based entertainment journalist and screenwriter.

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Estella Warren Pictures

No stranger to wearing a swimsuit, Estella was featured in a Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition, frolicking on the beaches with fellow models Laetitia Casta, Carré Otis and Heidi Klum.

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