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Shannon Elizabeth Interview

Years from now, when film historians look back at the most memorable movie moments of 1999, they'll talk about John Cusack being dumped onto the side of the New Jersey turnpike in Being John Malkovich, The Blair Witch Project's grainy and ambiguous final shot, and the Kevin Spacey/Mena Suvari rose-colored dream sequence in American Beauty. Thousands of sex-crazed male teens, however, will most likely recall Shannon Elizabeth's steamy, scene-stealing performance as Nadia, American Pie's naughty Czech exchange student. In a scene that opened the floodgates to a river of pubescent wet dreams, the luscious Elizabeth strips, lays semi-naked on the bed, and casually "reads" a few porn magazines (talk about an indelible cinematic image). When Jim (Jason Biggs), Pie's virginal hero, arrives to nervously "lend a hand," Elizabeth seduces him in a classic scene that's equal parts lust and laughs.

So what will she do for an encore? Well, after making her privates public in Playboy and gracing the current issue of Maxim, the sexy-model-turned-scrumptious-starlet can be seen in the upcoming Keenan Ivory Wayans' comedy, Scary Movie, the first of her three-picture deal with Miramax. After that, who knows? Elizabeth, who once dreamed of becoming a pro tennis player, now finds herself knee-deep in film offers, the bonus for a job done right. "I want to play a good, strong female character," she says. "I want to get away from the high school thing and do other types of roles. And," she adds, "I'm not doing any more nudity."

drDrew.com: In a recent interview, you talked about the lack of direction in American Pie's famous "seduction scene." Did you discuss the shot with Jason Biggs beforehand?
Shannon Elizabeth: Jason wouldn't talk to me [laughs]. He was terrified. That was one of the first scenes we had done together, so we still didn't know each other very well. He actually talked to Joe [Reitman, Elizabeth's boyfriend, and an actor himself] more than he talked to me. They already knew each other, so I think he felt more comfortable around him.

drDrew.com: Do you think Joe's presence made him uncomfortable?
SE: Yeah, I think he was a little nervous that Joe was there, but so was everybody else [laughs]. Everyone was like, "Your boyfriend's here?!? Is he okay with this?!? Is he gonna be cool?" They all started catering to him because they were afraid he was gonna freak out. It was like, "Hey man, do you need some water? Can we get you anything? Here, take these headphones!" Finally, I was like, "Hell-ooo? I'm the one getting naked here! Nobody's helping me!?

drDrew.com: How long did it take for Jason to finally relax?
SE: Well, that scene took more than half a day to shoot. We did it in a warehouse and it was really hot and we were all dying from the heat, so I don't know if he ever did get completely comfortable. I thought it was kind of weird when I lay down on top of him and kissed him and he didn't kiss me back. I couldn't figure out if he was staying in character and just didn't want to, or if he was still really terrified.

drDrew.com: You took your parents to the film's premiere. Did you have to sit them down beforehand and brace them for the big scene?
SE: I had been preparing them for awhile, giving them little hints here and there. By the time they saw the film, I think they knew what to expect.

drDrew.com: What was it like to sit next to them and watch it?
SE: I wasn't sure how my dad would react. My friends and I kept glancing over at them, but they loved it. There was an agent sitting behind them and he told me he was embarrassed to watch the scenes because he knew they were in front of him. My parents have always been very open and they trust my decisions.

drDrew.com: Does Joe get jealous when you kiss another actor?
SE: Joe is so understanding. He knows that it's all part of the business and that there's nothing he can do about it. Besides, he knows I love him.

drDrew.com: How do you handle it when the roles are reversed and he's the one kissing a co-star?
SE: I haven't had to deal with anything like that yet, so I don't know. I do know he loves me and we come home to each other every night, and if there's anything either of us feels weird about, we discuss it. At the end of the day, you have to learn to deal with it. Besides, it's just acting.

from drDrew.com 2001

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Shannon Elizabeth Pictures

"To me, playing a character who was that in control of her sexuality, who was that comfortable with herself, was the challenge--to pull that off and not sit there looking scared to death, like I felt inside that I was."

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