But seriously, she can act, too

After 'American Pie,' Tara Reid hungers for meatier acting roles

Film

April 14, 2002|By Ron Dicker | By Ron Dicker,Special to the Sun

BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. -- Tara Reid and the film industry know she can do a comedy for the hormone-addled set. The star of the American Pie movies is now featured in a good-natured college romp called National Lampoon's Van Wilder.

But when it comes to serious roles, Hollywood and Reid seriously disagree. Reid said all she needs is the right script and right director to prove herself. She called filmmakers who do not think she can do the thespian thing stupid.

"I'd love to do movies with Scorsese or Steven Soderbergh or Oliver Stone or Spielberg," she said. "What will really shock people is when I give a really great performance."

Not that Reid hasn't already worked with distinguished filmmakers. Her breakthrough role was as a young wife in Joel and Ethan Coen's The Big Lebowski (1998). She charmed as a conspiracy theorist who drives her gynecologist dad crazy in Robert Altman's Dr. T and the Women (2000).

Neither got much of an audience, supporting Reid's theory that one never knows how a movie will open. The role she is most proud of, as a twentysomething on the prowl in Body Shots, was seen by almost no one. The 1999 film grossed less than $700,000.

'It's my personal thing'

Reid, a 26-year-old native of Wyckoff, N.J., is 5 foot 8, has blond hair, a round face and eyes that match her turquoise jewelry. She said she protects her image but cannot control what people say. Given her tabloid exposure, that is plenty.

"I'm not crazy, not a partyer," she explained.

It didn't help matters recently when a New York newspaper reported that she was drinking with her friend and publicist Lizzie Grubman hours before Grubman allegedly backed her SUV over 16 people at a club last summer. "I can't talk about it," Reid said.

She would not talk about relationships, period. A celebrated engagement to and recent breakup with Carson Daly, the host of MTV's Total Request Live, taught her about keeping her personal life personal.

"This obsession with me and the media, who I'm dating and what I'm doing ... it's my stuff," Reid said. "It's my personal thing."

In Van Wilder, Reid plays a member of the media, albeit for the school newspaper. Her assignment is to write about the big man on campus, Van Wilder (Ryan Reynolds), who is better at planning parties than graduating.

She began her career on a children's show called Child's Play at age 6 and later attended the Professional Children's School in New York with the likes of Sarah Michelle Gellar and Macaulay Culkin.

"I was surprised by her acting chops," said Walt Becker, the Van Wilder director. "She's really talented."

Reid made her name in the role of a virgin in 1999's American Pie, a surprise hit, given the glut of teen romps.

Last year was supposed to be a breakout year for Reid as a drummer in the highly anticipated Saturday-cartoon-to-feature-film Josie and the Pussycats, but it did not rock the box office. She next appears in The Guest, a comedy she is co-producing with her brother Tommy.

The mature role that will validate her acting ability is out there. Reid just wants the chance.

"I can do it," she said. "I'm a good actor. I love acting. It's what I do."

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