Hitmaker: Cameron Diaz
The actress is ready for her next close-upSince her first film role in 1994's "The Mask" opposite Jim Carrey, Cameron Diaz has been become one of Hollywood's most successful leading ladies, entertaining audiences in such quirky comedies as 1997's "My Best Friend's Wedding" and 1998's "There's Something About Mary" and earning street cred in such dramas as 2001's "Vanilla Sky" and 2002's "Gangs of New York." In 2003, Diaz struck salary gold, becoming the third Hollywood actress after Julia Roberts and Reese Witherspoon to receive a $20 million paycheck -- for "Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle."
Her latest film, the New Line drama "My Sister's Keeper," teams her with Jason Patric, Abigail Breslin and Alec Baldwin in a different kind of role: Portraying a mom who goes to extreme measures to keep her leukemia-stricken daughter alive. Diaz may soon be reunited with Tom Cruise, her "Vanilla Sky" co-star, in James Mangold's action film "The Wichita Project"; and she's attached to the Zach Braff-directed comedy "Swingles," currently in development. Just before receiving a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, the native San Diegan spoke with The Hollywood Reporter's Noela Hueso.
The Hollywood Reporter: You're known for broad comedies. What brought you to "My Sister's Keeper"?
Cameron Diaz: It was a story that just touched me. l liked that (my character) Sara wasn't obvious. I didn't know exactly where she was coming from at first but then I realized that it was pretty simple to understand: She's just a woman who's trying to keep her child alive. We can all relate to that in some way -- how far we would go for the ones we love.
THR: Do you see yourself transitioning into more roles like this?
Diaz: I've done a number of dramatic films over the years, such as "Gangs of New York" and "Vanilla Sky," and a slew of smaller films nobody would have seen but that weren't just comedies. For me, it's all about rhythm. It's not something I plan, it's just questioning "What am I feeling?" Recently, I was feeling that I would love to do something fun and big. I haven't done an action film in a long time and "The Wichita Project" fits the bill.
THR: How about a musical?
Diaz: I would love to do a musical. I don't sing very well -- honestly I've never worked on it -- but I believe that if you work on anything hard enough you can get to at least someplace where you can fudge it a little bit!
THR: Do you dance?
Diaz: I do. I love dancing. I've never been trained, but choreography is something that comes pretty easily for me. I love musicals. When I was a child, I loved watching films where people were dancing. I loved Fred Astaire.
THR: You're attached to a number of other projects, too.
Diaz: I have more than usual just because it's been a year since I worked, so I'm ramped up to see what falls into place first.
THR: You don't know what's next?
Diaz: You never really know until you're on the set. Anything can happen. "The Wichita Project" is definitely in the works. "Swingles" is in development, too. What's going to be next is always a question of who's getting (the project) together the quickest.
THR: Do you see yourself becoming a producer or director?
Diaz: No, I don't really. It's so much work. I lack the ability to focus for that long. I enjoy my time on a set as an actor. It's the perfect amount of time for me. Films are a collaboration anyhow, so everyone is always contributing something to a project.
THR: Do you have a dream project you've been trying to get off the ground?
Diaz: I haven't found anything where I'm saying I have to tell this story. I am a meanderer of sorts. I like to move around and see what's going on over here and see what's going on over there.
THR: You broke the $20 million salary barrier with "Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle." No actresses are getting that kind of money anymore, yet the guys still are. Are women being hit disproportionately with the salary reductions?
Diaz: I don't think so. In light of the current economic situation, everybody's been pulling back on all levels; everyone's being reactive. The whole country is waiting to see where this is going and how long it's going to last. From what I know, all the deals are having to change. A good deal isn't always $20 million up front -- but getting a fair deal all the way around is.
THR: Beyond your acting, you have become quite prominent for your environmental activities. Have you been happy so far with the Obama administration's environmental policies?
Diaz: So far. I know that he's pushed and pulled from so many different directions, but I think he's getting some good advice.
THR: What would you like to see him accomplish on the environmental front?
Diaz: Alternative energies -- and doing it the right way. Changing an entire industry isn't an easy feat to accomplish but if we give him enough time to do it, he can set up a great infrastructure to do so.
THR: What do you think about your getting a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame?
Diaz: It will be cool to be under people's feet. It really is the place where people can understand exactly that actors are not really stars -- they don't exist in the sky, they exist on the ground just like everybody else.