Rachael Leigh Cook is acquiring a whole-circle instant. Twenty-two a long time soon after she descended a staircase in a minimal crimson dress to the conquer of Sixpence None the Richer, the “She’s All That” actress finds herself after once again in a teenager makeover film.
This time, she’s on the fringe as the mom of an influencer (performed by Addison Rae) in “He’s All That,” Netflix’s gender-flipped remake of the 1999 strike that starred Prepare dinner and Freddie Prinze Jr. And this time it’s a quirky boy who sputters a variation of Cook’s common line, “Am I a wager?”
Now 41, Prepare dinner was initially skeptical about joining the new film, fretting, “What if my purpose is trotted out to signal to every person who could possibly have been a supporter of the initial film, ‘She said it is Okay! She’s nonetheless alive, isn’t that entertaining?’”
But Cook isn’t just alive. She’s flourishing. And her tiny component in “He’s All That” is only just one marker in a many years-extensive profession that features star turns in some of millennial audiences’ most cherished films and a long term place in the pop-tradition zeitgeist of the ’90s and early 2000s. Now, she’s prepared for a new period.
Prepare dinner, as you may possibly count on from the relatable roles she’s recognised for, has a knack for producing strangers really feel like she’s their most effective good friend. Donning an oversized T-shirt and perched on a rattan chair at her brother’s property in Los Angeles, she peppered our recent video clip job interview with a stream of her possess inquiries about every thing from my cat to my dad and mom to my adore life. The same expressive eyebrows a director as soon as instructed her to handle by taping them down now alternately furrowed with worry and leapt with delight.
“All of that is totally legitimate,” her good friend and co-star from “The Little one-Sitters Club,” Marla Sokoloff, said in a individual connect with. “She’s particularly who you want her to be. Many instances, she’s forwarded me a assembly that she’s gotten for herself and been like, ‘I don’t imagine this is for me. You need to perform this part.’ Who does that? She doesn’t have a terrible bone in her overall body.”
Rae — who was born the 12 months just after “She’s All That” was launched and rose to prominence on TikTok — is navigating a unique Hollywood landscape than the 1 Cook dinner entered as a teen in 1995, an era ahead of social media or #MeToo. The more youthful star spoke about Prepare dinner, as very well as ’90s trends like lower-rise jeans and claw clips, with an earnest reverence.
“Rachael is so inspiring. You can convey to her coronary heart is incredibly pure,” Rae mentioned. “She is aware extra than a whole lot of folks how tricky this industry can be, and she produced it extremely clear to me that it’s a large amount of perform.” (Cook dinner pointed out that she refrained from giving as well significantly vocation tips to Rae at the chance of sounding like “some busybody outdated lady.”)
The daughter of a social employee and an artisan weaver, Cook dinner commenced off modeling for Milk-Bone containers and Focus on print advertisements in Minneapolis ahead of reserving her initially audition in Los Angeles at age 15 and winning the part: Mary-Anne in the 1995 film adaptation of “The Toddler-Sitters Club.” Months later, yet another literary position followed as Becky Thatcher in Disney’s “Tom and Huck.”
On the set of that film, Prepare dinner identified herself future to two actors at the height of boy or girl stardom: Jonathan Taylor Thomas, whom she overheard say factors like, “It’s hard to be a Democrat in my tax bracket” at age 13, and Brad Renfro, who, she recalled, secured his purpose by wielding an real hatchet and chasing the casting director all-around the audition space.
“It was a really up-close and tremendous vivid illustration of diverse approaches that you can exist in Hollywood,” Cook stated. “I feel, at the very least in my 20s, I lived someplace straight in the center of that.”
Gifted with a wry sense of humor and an normally underutilized comedic timing, Prepare dinner hoped, previously mentioned all, for a occupation like that of Parker Posey, with whom she co-starred in “The Property of Yes” and “Josie and the Pussycats.” But without TikTok or Instagram (platforms on which Rae has a merged 120-million-additionally followers), Cook’s general public persona was at the mercy of Seventeen and Angelfire fansites, which decided how to existing her to their viewers.
In early interviews, she was typically likened to fellow Minnesotan Winona Ryder: both had delicate attributes and awesome-female clout. Matthew Lillard, Cook’s co-star in “She’s All That” and the remake, noticed her as nevertheless a distinct sort of major lady.
“I keep in mind contemplating to myself, ‘She can be the future Julia Roberts,’” Lillard reported in a mobile phone interview. “She had that glow in her eyes and the sparkle about her individuality. She’s wicked smart. But at the same time, she doesn’t believe that the hype. She’s the exception to the Hollywood rule.”
Further more breaking the mold, one of Cook’s most impactful roles arrived not from a motion picture but from a community provider announcement: she smashed eggs and aggressively wrecked an whole kitchen area to show the consequences of heroin habit. That 1997 “This is your mind on drugs” place, she claimed, “ended up going the needle for me in terms of receiving slightly edgier roles.” Twenty several years later, she filmed a similar advert, highlighting how the war on prescription drugs disproportionately influences individuals of coloration. The update, Prepare dinner mentioned, “needed to transpire knowing what we know now.”
Whilst Cook’s anti-heroin ad proved exceedingly common, “heroin chic” was also the dominant ’90s splendor ideal, glorifying ultrathin entire body types and popularizing an normally unhealthy regular for types and actresses — and the common teens who ended up bombarded with individuals photos onscreen and in publications.
Around the program of her occupation, numerous directors requested the petite star to reduce body weight times right before filming. One of them, Prepare dinner mentioned, was Peter Howitt, the director of the 2001 movie “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 exact same thing.
“I just straight away burst into tears. And he felt terrible and right away took it again,” she explained. “But it does not imply I was not offended. It doesn’t indicate I don’t don’t forget it.”
A consultant for Howitt wrote in an e mail that the director was instructed by the film’s producers to converse to the actors, noting that Howitt “regretted currently being utilized as a messenger,” apologized, and has under no circumstances “personally experienced any concern with the physicality of any actors.”
“She’s All That” and “He’s All That” are both Miramax productions, even though only the former experienced Harvey Weinstein’s involvement. When the producer, who is now serving a 23-yr prison sentence for rape and sexual assault, wasn’t a fixture on the established of the 1999 film, Cook dinner did come across him around the many years. (She also starred in the Miramax films “All I Wanna Do,” “The Property of Yes” and “Blow Dry.”) Cook dinner believes her supervisor accompanied the then-oblivious younger star to those people function meetings to defend her, but she also instructed her client to send out Weinstein “get well” playing cards when he was in the clinic.
“I believe that I overheard more than enough people today calling me experienced that I thought it myself. But that wasn’t really real,” Prepare dinner stated. “In retrospect, was I geared up to navigate the field? Zero p.c.”
Right after “Josie and the Pussycats,” a campy, female-centric adaptation that’s now widely appreciated, bombed at the 2001 box office, Cook decided to concentration on unbiased films, both equally for the reason that she needed to get out of “movie jail” and due to the fact of her wish to be portion of that offbeat, flourishing scene.
“I genuinely imagined what everybody instructed me was suitable when they reported, ‘What we want to do now is make guaranteed you are taken critically,’” she said. “I definitely did points for the completely wrong good reasons.”
Pre-“Josie,” she experienced turned down the component of Rogue in the “X-Men” franchise in get to shoot various smaller films and avoid acting on a environmentally friendly monitor. The superhero function went to her “She’s All That” co-star Anna Paquin in its place. Cook is reluctant to attract more focus to her “huge misstep,” noting, “As soon as I saw the posters for it, I understood that I’d designed a blunder.”
Prepare dinner currently finds herself in a transitory state, on the cusp of a new chapter. Her 15-12 months marriage to “The Vampire Diaries” actor Daniel Gillies, with whom she shares two kids, 7-calendar year-old Charlotte and 6-yr-previous Theo, ended in divorce. The actress Judy Greer, her close friend, subsequently established her up with the producer Kevin Mann.
“I advise divorce hugely,” Cook mentioned. “I’m sorry, I know I audio like a quitter. But I believe that it wholeheartedly. Daily life is way too shorter not to be accurate to who you are and what you will need.”
In current yrs, she’s pivoted to feel-excellent fare, starring in a string of Hallmark movies tied to different seasons and holiday seasons, as properly as the 2020 Netflix rom-com “Adore, Confirmed,” which she also developed. Whilst she’s a supporter of the comforting style, there’s still so significantly additional she’d like to take a look at. Dark comedies. Posey terrain. “Things that are earnest but nevertheless strange and a little little bit bent,” she spelled out.
As Lillard set it, “Rachael Leigh Cook dinner is someone to be reckoned with. I’m super thrilled for the earth to try to remember that.”
She’s also slated to star in and make Netflix’s coming romance “A Tourist’s Information to Really like,” based on her individual tale concept. Generating has served as a person way to get back again the management her early occupation lacked.
“I’m a lifer. I’ve been all-around the block,” Cook dinner mentioned. “It made use of to be so not Ok for a woman to even get more mature. Now, I’m more mature and in some way it is Okay. It utilized to be, you’re never likely to seriously have any energy if you’re not a male. Now, the ladies I know are running every little thing.”