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INT: Leslie Bibb

08.02.2006

Leslie Bibb is the hottest thing to come out of North Dakota since, well, ever! But the perky former model, who stars alongside Will Ferrell this week in TALLADEGA NIGHTS, isn't just another disposable blonde love interest that you see so often in big studio films. You've gotta have some serious comedy chops to hang with Ferrell & Co. (as Christina Applegate so aptly displayed in ANCHORMAN) and Bibb can more than hold her own.

Bibb recently stopped by the Four Seasons in Chicago to talk about her experience making TALLADEGA NIGHTS, which opens this week. Check it out.

Leslie Bibb

You started working when you were pretty young.

Really? Modeling? That’s not really working. They pay you…it’s the only profession where women make more money than men. It’s like summer camp. You just go, you get hair and makeup done and it’s like you get your picture taken.

Is it more dramatic than a movie set? Is there more pressure?

Are you on crack? I will tell you, I haven’t modeled in a long time and I was doing some photo shoot just recently. No, I was doing this photo shoot that’s out now and the photographer was a really well known photographer, Matthew Ross. He’s a great photographer and I was so excited that he was doing it. I came home and I was like, “Modeling’s hard. Tyra Banks is right.” I was doing stuff and I was like, “Okay, you have to spin- -” no, no, no, it wasn’t this one.

It wasn’t the one with Matthew. I was doing this photo shoot for In Style magazine and I was in New York and he’s like, “Okay, I want you to run and I want you to jump and turn and hit.” And I was like, “Honey, I haven’t done that in a long time. That’s all mama used to do. She went to acting school. She doesn’t run and jump and hit any marks anymore unless I’m saying a line.” But it was so funny and I was like, “Modeling’s hard.” I said to my best girlfriend who went with me, “Damn, modeling’s hard.” And she’s like, “You work hard for the money.” I was like, “I didn’t make any money. I’m just doing it for the press.” She’s like, “Oh yeah, that’s right.” But it was like...so it’s like that. It’s like hold that position.

Modeling is easy and it’s the best waitressing job that I could ever have. You know what I mean? Like it was great tips, good trips and somebody said to me, we were all sitting around talking about all the bad jobs you had, and like, “What’s the worst job you had?” And I said modeling. They’re like, “Modeling wasn’t bad.” And I go, “The last job I had since I modeled was babysitting.” And they said, “Are you kidding me?” and I said, “No” and they were like, “That’s ridiculous.” And I said, “I started when I was 16.” So I feel very lucky about that.

So people, I remember people in New York when I was studying, because everyone in New York thinks they’re very serious, like you’re creating the cure for...like you’re solving world problems by being an artist and you live deep. And everyone said to me, “You’re a little bit of a sellout Leslie. You need to not do that.” And I said, “But we’re at my house right now. I’m the only one who could afford the wine.” Like I like that my showers and I have a bathroom and I have a washer dryer in my apartment. I’m not selling out that bad.

I’m just...it’s a different type of bartending job. It was great. It was such an easy way and it actually helped because having that, when you do these photo shoots, actors will freeze. They hate...it’s a very awkward situation for them and to me, I’m like, “Oh, okay, let’s do this.” And it’s like catalog pose number 32. And for Carley, it’s like she’s like...she’s in glory if anybody’s taking her photo so creating that character to me was just like amazing coming up with everything about her.

Was your character on the page?

No, she wasn’t. Her words were on the page and then with these guys, you start off like when you do a take, you do a couple that are sort of on book, but with Will, nothing’s ever really on book. And then you just go. So it’s like playing tennis with McEnroe. You’re just like, “Okay, let’s go, let’s go, let’s go.” So it’s really exciting and so you just come in with ideas. You just come in and we have two weeks of rehearsal, so we sort of by the end of that, I knew what they wanted, they knew what...like it all sort of meshed together and it became so organic, because I think when you work with these guys, if you don’t know your character to your core, you won’t have...because you’re just listening and responding. It’s like what you went to acting school for which is what was so exciting.

You do television and you don’t have the luxury or the time to be like, “Calvin, can we have some rehearsal? Can we do one more take because I really…” They’re like, “Yeah, anyway, let’s go.” And with these guys, you’re just...you have to know her because you’re just everything’s coming at you. I knew, and I didn’t do it, I mean, they were really great and they sort of saw that I could physically become her. But I had sort of short hair at the time and I went in. I made sure that my clothes were as tight as possible but I don’t really wear tight clothes so I was like, you know, I found jeans that I dried purposely so I’d be like shoving every inch of myself in. I thought she definitely was a girl who showed her belly. And the biggest thing that I sort of went in with, which I think with Carley was that I strung this pearl necklace together. My friend and I strung it together and we...

Seeing this person in Neiman Marcus, this woman, she was definitely new money. Probably from Texas. And she was like jammed into a Juicy velour sweat pants. She’s the girl that wears the matching and it was like hot pink. Carley would love it so...but she was in her 50s, 60s but like boobs and everything. I love how I whisper it, but just jammed into it. And she had a pearl necklace, but it wasn’t like Jackie O pearls and it wasn’t like a sweet like I’m From Connecticut pearls. It’s a very specific size. And she had like a gold chain. I was like, “Of course she has a cross on because she’s close to God.” And it became like I knew her. I was like, “That’s who it is. She’s a lady.” She’s a girl that came into money and it happens because you don’t grow up with money, you look around at people with money and you go, “That’s what I want to be.” But then when you get it, it’s sort of your twist on it and usually you don’t have the best taste.

So I strung these pearls together and I went in and it happened to be that I’m yelling...the scene we’re doing is I’m yelling at Will that he broke his arm. And I start this improv, and I’m meeting Will and I’m already nervous. I did some weird yoga pose before I went in because I felt like I was going to diarrhea and vomit all at once, like I was so nervous. [breathes in]. And I was like, “Calm down.” My friend who does yoga’s like “Do this pose’ and I was like, “I can’t.” And then I was like okay, I’m doing the pose. And I went in, I had my legs up on a wall like a kook. And I went in and I saw him and I was like, “Okay, let”s go.” I started this improv and I started going on about my pearls. “I need them—” you know, Carley’s going off.

And afterwards, Adam looked to me and he’s like, “Did you just string?” I’m like, “Yeah, I strung them, they’re not done but I just think it’s her. I think that she thinks she deserves this and this is who she is and this is what she thinks is being a lady. She never realizes that she’s not a lady.” And when I went in, when I got the job and I went in to meet the costume designer, she’s like, “Do you have a pearl necklace because all Adam’s talking about is a pearl necklace.” Which is great because it became her signature, with a cross. It was very specific, had to be very tiny with like a diamond chip in it. I had one when I was a kid and I grew up in Virginia. That was your first thing, your first cross from Sears. It’s like a shave off of it.

So like we started to just form that. We wanted the first time we saw her, she’s like, “Hey driver, drive these.” We wanted to make sure that she had no boobs. That like who she became, you saw with the money became and I knew that I wanted...when I was a kid, music was in my house but like this music like Dolly Parton and Tammy Wynette and Patsy Cline, so I thought, “This is probably music that Carley’s mom.” It doesn’t matter, growing up in the south, it doesn’t matter if you have money or didn’t have money. Those were the legends. Men, my dad when he was alive used to say to my mom, “I just want to drive her bus, Tammy Wynette. I just want to drive her bus.” He just thought she was crazy and beautiful and just amazing. So I thought I want her to be like Tammy Wynette. That’s a lady for her. Sort of like that hair but then Carley also thinks that Playboy playmates are hot so sort of a meld between those two.

And then there’s a show on television that I saw and there’s these Playmates in it and this one girl that I became obsessed with because she sort of reminded me of Tammy Wynette a little bit and who she was and how she’s sort of nice but you sort of thought maybe she wasn’t so nice. She always had a pearl necklace on and I was like, “Yes, I scored!”

And she flashes people all the time. She does it in front of her kids. You don’t see it, this movie’s got so many bits that didn’t even make it in. Carley was always flashing her tits. Always, and it didn’t matter, it was like, “I’m a lady, look at ‘em!”

And she hits him all the time and I said, “Will, do you mind if I hit you?” And he’s like, “Bring it.” So it became this thing and Will, we had to make out at the dinner scene. I think it’s one of our first makeout scenes because we made out so much in the movie. Again, she flashes and they make out. Always in front of their children. And I go, “Adam, what do you want? How do you want this? There’s lots of different ways couples kiss.” And he said, “I want it to be vicious.” And I’ll never forget and I said, “I’ve never heard someone describe making out as vicious if there wasn’t like a police report attached to it, do you know what I mean?” 

So it became, I was like, I became very nervous. All of a sudden I was like, “Stop it, Carley’s not nervous.” And I said, “Will, let’s just go.” And he’s like, “Let’s go. So anything goes?” “Anything goes.” So we just...it was hysterical. Like we would make out, the camera’d be rolling, it would be like three minutes. There’s one time we did it and I just started getting the kooks. We were like moaning and groaning and licking each other and we started laughing. And we’re making out and all we’re doing, our heads are bobbing and we’re just laughing as we’re making out. Because we’re like, “This is funny.” It was ridiculous.

It’s like one of those jobs like I kept calling my agent going, “I can’t believe I have this job. I can’t believe it.” And he goes, “I never get these phone calls. I always get phone calls from actors who are like, ‘Why didn’t you get me more money? My trailer’s not big enough.’” I just was like, “I just finished a scene with John C. Reilly.” My first day of work was the scene with John where we’re doing this interview. I was laughing with the costume designer. I go, “Wouldn’t it be funny if we had like matching...like if Carley matched him with his Magic Man outfit?” He had this black shirt that had like top hats on it. She’s like, “That’s good.” 

And so we have these things and it’s great, shot for two hours, just improvising with John. And I left and I was like, “I just...John C. Reilly. John C. Reilly.” You can never just say John Reilly or John. You just go John C. Reilly. It’s like Michael Clarke Duncan, you say it all, all of it. It was always that, like you’d come home and I’m a dork that way. I guess it’s far cooler if I was like, “Whatever, you know.” But I was like, “I’m so grateful! Whatever you need! I’m so happy to be here!” like a total loser about it and I love it.

You know, it’s so easy for actors to sit here and go ...I think they think they’re cooler if they’re inaccessible or they’re cooler if they don’t act like a dork or they’re cooler if they say, “It doesn’t mean anything to me.” And then I just think, “You’re not cool, you’re just a jerk.” You just come off as a jackass. This set, this whole set, when my agent came to visit, and he loves comedy. He loves comedians, he loves funny movies and he really knows it. We were doing this setup, it was when we were doing the dinner scene. We shot it for two days which is unheard of because on the extended DVD version of the movie, Adam McKay said the dinner scene’s 10 or 15 minutes longer because it’s so funny. The kids go bananas. And he’s just screaming ridiculous things to them. It was a really good time.

But they were all outside. It was like this hour setup and I was inside talking to people and outside was Adam and Will and my agent. I don't know, somebody, it might’ve been Jay Miller who was one of our producers who handles like Sa[cha], like everybody. Anybody who’s funny is his client and he produces great movies and a really nice guy. And for an hour, just talked about comedy. And he came in and he goes, “Dude, you don’t get it. It doesn’t happen.” I said, “What are you talking about?” He said, “Never when there’s a lighting, especially one that’s an hour, are the actors not all in their trailers, and the director in his trailer. Nobody hangs out on a set. It’s like they come in, they do their stuff and they leave.” And he said, “I’ve never been on a set like this. I’ve just never physically been…” And he’s an agent who’s been around a long time and has been to many sets. 

So when I went and did this movie Sex and Death, I thought, “Oh my God, what’s it going to be like? What’s it going to be like?” And I thought, “You make it what you want it to be like.” And it was amazing because you walk on a set, you can make it...and that I feel like, besides being in like the AP course for comedy with these guys, I feel like I took a masters class in it. That was the greatest gift that I got from Adam and Will because it really starts with the top. If you’ve got a jack hole at the top who’s like taking himself far too seriously, it just trickles down and nobody’s having fun.

But it was just like every time we went to set, we had so much fun at work. And I was like, “I’m really lucky. We don’t get paid minimum wage, we get to have fun, and even if you’re not doing a comedy, you’re doing what you love. A lot of people don’t get to do that. So don’t take it seriously because as soon as it’s there it can be taken away from you.” To me, that lesson from Will and Adam was the other great thing because when I was on the show Popular, I took it all...I was like, “I’m fantastic. I mean , I work 16 hours a day. I mean , that’s really hard.” And it’s like now when I think about it, I’m like, “Oh my God, you’re such an idiot. You weren’t getting $8.25 an hour or whatever it is.”

How did you change?

Not working. And I think hopefully if you’ve got a good base, your friends sit there and go, “Uh, yeah, no, you’re a jackass. Or who are you?” And I was pretty good. Like I had a pretty solid base but I found myself taking myself...I could hear myself, but sometimes things would come out of my mouth and I’d be like, “Oh, whatever.” And you sort of do it and I think I went through a thing personally that sort of changed me so now I’m Good Time Sally. I’m like, “What’s up, let’s go to craft service. Come on, coffee for the crew.” Like really...and it’s just amazing.

Special thanks to Kari Tejerian and the rest of the Sony crew.

Questions? Comments? Manifestos? Send them to me at thomasleupp@joblo.com.

Source: JoBlo.com

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