first movie you remember
The Goonies. I never identified with girls, and the cast was all boys. Girls were nervous about going into caves; they were scaredy-cats—and I wasn’t into that at all. I loved the idea of being with a crew and having an adventure. I was really interested in pits full of snakes.
Were you raised to be sort of anti-girly? Somewhat.
We lived in Colorado, and my parents were outdoorsy mountain people. My father would always say, “Go out and don’t come back until you have something to show me.” Which meant he wanted me to come back with a scraped knee or an injury. When I went out to play, I felt like I’d better get hurt.
Did you have Barbies?
I did, but it was always, “Let’s play sex with Barbies!” My Barbies were usually naked. Once, I took their heads off, cut their hair, drew on their short, spiky hair with some markers, then stuck the heads on Christmas lights. Every year, we’d string our tree with those Barbie heads. It looked demonic. My parents were so cool—they saw it as a form of self-expression.
You began acting when you were very young. How did you get
When I was 11, I was in a competition sponsored by the International Modeling and Talent Association. You paid a certain amount of money and they taught you to walk a runway, present a comedic monologue, a dramatic monologue, a dance routine, and a song. My runway look was a one-piece bathing suit, a top hat, and a bow tie. The competition was in L.A., and afterward I got a manager and an agent. I tried out for a billion things, and after three years, I was cast on the show 7th Heaven.
That television series, which ran for 11 years, was known for its
wholesome, all-American, quasi-religious message. The parents were
literally and figuratively blond and blue-eyed. It always seemed to me
that, physically, you looked like you belonged in another family.
Looking back I can see that, but at the time I literally didn’t care if I was the wrong race or wrong gender; I wanted that part. I wanted any part. And that show was fun. I was a basketball player who was going through all the stuff that a 14-year-old goes through, which is, as you know, completely psychotic.
Did you rebel in your teens?
I cut my hair supershort and dyed it blonde. I had to apologize to Aaron Spelling [the producer] for doing that. He wasn’t happy. When I turned 17 or 18, a really obnoxious friend sent a stripper to the set. I had to apologize for that too. The show was all about family values, and they took that position seriously. I was always apologizing.