“I know, but I just moved to L.A., and it’s like, I’m from Connecticut,” Danielle offers lamely. “I’m going to get in so much trouble, you have no idea.”
After listening to a few more entreaties, Diaz patiently explains why she won’t cooperate. “It’s a principle thing,” she says. “I can’t live with myself if I pose for you.”
“Please, please, please? Honestly, the agency will kill me.” “Oh, Danielle,” says Diaz finally. “I’m sorry. You should not be doing a job where you’re suffering this much. I hope another celebrity comes down here and cooperates, and I hope you get ahead in your journalistic career.” Diaz puts the car in gear and gets ready to speed off. “See you later, I’m sure!”
As she drives away, Diaz keeps glancing in the rearview mirror. “Awesome,” she says. “Now I get to spend the rest of the day with 10 motherf---ers on my back.”
Life wasn’t always quite this complicated for Diaz. In the top tier of Hollywood actresses, she was the blond babe who made everything look easy, the self-mocking klutz with a crooked grin who earned up to $20 million per film with little discernible effort. A native of Long Beach, California, Diaz began modeling in her teens and got into acting essentially by accident, after she auditioned for the 1994 film The Mask on a whim andoops! landed the lead role. As she racked up megahits including There’s Something About Mary and Charlie’s Angels, she gained a rep for being a lot savvier than she seemed: Who else but Diaz could manage to make only one movie a year, cash a fat check, grab her snowboard and fly away in search of fresh powder with Justin Timberlake in tow? She sat for the occasional magazine interview, as required, but had a knack for disarming even the most cynical writers so that her press coverage was devoid of the thinly veiled resentment that often clings to such icy icons as Nicole Kidman or Gwyneth Paltrow. When asked what motivated her career choices, Diaz inevitably replied, with apparent sincerity, that she mainly wanted “to have a good time.”
As Diaz tells it now, life was indeed pretty awesome until about two and a half years ago, when something “really, really got to me.” That something was a group of people like Danielle. “I wasn’t the best version of myself for a couple of years,” Diaz says. “Something happened in our industry, in our society, and there was an explosion of this really aggressive group of people. I don’t even know if they’re peoplethese paparazzi.” It was around this time that Diaz became known in tabloid circles as a kind of female Sean Penn, a proud tigress who’d bare her claws when provoked, most famously in 2004 on a dark street up the road from the Chateau Marmont in Los Angeles. After she and Timberlake were surprised by two photographers jumping out of the bushes, Diaz grabbed a camera from one of them and, he claimed, struck him in the neck and tripped him. The photographers sued Diaz and Timberlake for assault, and the case was settled in 2005.