What does it take to be the actress who has starred in more $100 million films than any other? this 21-year tinseltown vet gives us the scoop on staying powerful…and relevant
There’s good copy, and occasionally good fun, to be had in reciting the list of actors who are famously difficult to work with. The assorted blowups, tantrums, silent treatments, and general distemper of repeat offenders like Catherine Heigl, Gene Hackman, Lindsay Lohan, and Charlie Sheen come immediately to mind, but are hardly the only examples of deportment that has been seemingly poisoned by success.
It makes those whose behavior is consistently refined, good-natured, and easy to manage less notorious, to be sure, but also for a real currency among producers and directors, and in that happy group, Cameron Diaz stands on a particularly enviable platform.
Audiences and production crews seem to like 41-year-old veteran actor equally, if frequency of offers of work and box office receipts are any indication. Reminiscent of a modern day Lucille Ball, this down-to-earth, blue-eyed stunner and former Elite model has starred in more films grossing over $100 million internationally than any other actress. In 2010, Forbes declared Diaz the richest Hispanic female celebrity, ranking number 60 among the wealthiest 100 overall, and as of press date, celebritynetworth.com estimates the San Diego native has assets totaling $90 million.
With that class of ducats in the bank, Diaz could get away with behavior that makes Catherine the Great seem like Florence Nightingale, but instead, she is famed for self-deprecating humor, low drama, and no surprises.
And trophies. Diaz has been honored with a People’s Choice Award as Favorite Leading Lady in 2007, and received Nickelodeon’s Kids’ Choice “Wannabe” Award, rec- ognizing her as a role model in 2008. After being honored as ShoWest’s Female Star of Tomorrow in 1996, she came full circle as the organization’s Female Star of the Year in 2011, and achieved another career pinnacle in 2009 when she received the 2,386th star on the legendary Hollywood Walk of Fame.
The actress is also an almost infuriatingly active philanthropist, with a longstanding involvement with the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, the first and largest non-profit organization for veterans of the Middle East wars, and has often spoken as an advocate for military families. She is currently the artistic director for the fashion-accessories label Pour La Victoire, and is the international brand ambassador for TAG Heuer’s Link Lady collection of timepieces. In a synergy of commerce and charity, her partnership with the company also serves to benefit and raise awareness of programs such as UN Women, the United Nations organization dedicated to gender equality and the empowerment of women.
In Diaz’s 44th film since her big screen debut at the age of 21 in The Mask (1994), the April release The Other Woman, she played Carly, a tough, focused lawyer who ends up bonding with two other betrayed women (Knocked Up and This is 40’s Leslie Mann and model/actor Kate Upton) while plotting mutual revenge on their charismatic, cheating lover (Game of Thrones star Nikolaj Coster-Waldau). Thankfully, the film’s focus was more about how the aggrieved learn from each other and evolve emotionally as a result, versus the usual female vendetta script, wherein metaphoric (or actual) hair-pulling might be a component.
“This was such a unique film,” she offered at a junket press appearance for the movie. “There is nothing out there like that—usually, when it’s a story about three women all being involved with the same man, it usually ends in some eyeballs being scratched out and some weaves being snatched off! We decided that wasn’t the story we wanted to tell. It’s a story about friendship and how we support one another. I just thought that is a beautiful thing…. It’s more like a journey these women take to learn about themselves…you see how different these three are; they each have their own strengths and weaknesses. and their paths would have never crossed under normal circumstances, but because they have this experience in common, this man, they come together and all of a sudden, they become a team, a partnership, a friendship. they actually empower one another because of that.” asked whether the film addresses betrayal in any additionally novel way, the famously single Diaz—who recently declared in the Huffington Post that she envisions herself as something of an anti-monogamist in her own life— offered that, “We’ve all gone through some kind of betrayal, whether it’s with a boyfriend or a friend or a family member. this is relatable to everyone, because we all know what it’s like to feel that kind of heartbreak.”
In the film, a perfectly acceptable foil might have been the gorgeous women her cheating love interest develops an additional affection for, but the actress was quick to shoot holes in that unfortunately common response to turbulent love situations.
“you shouldn’t hate another woman because she’s beautiful,” she opined. “and you shouldn’t hate yourself because another woman is beautiful— that’s the trap women fall into so much. celebrate their beauty and celebrate your own; find the beauty in yourself.”
Usually editorially loathe to beat a theme into submission, it’s nevertheless worth reporting that her costars in the film have echoed the lauding opinion of dozens in Diaz’s past, notably Leslie mann, who let slip that Diaz is nothing less than “…the most special person on the planet.”
“there are certain people who have an ear for comedy,” mann said. “It’s like a song and a rhythm, so when you’re doing comedy, if the other person isn’t hearing the same thing as you are, it just lays there and dies. cameron hears the same thing I do. We can pick up where the other one lets off and it’s like a good give-and-take.”
Rapper/singer/songwriter and film co-star Nicki Minaj may not have been as planetary in her praise, but was pas- sionate nonetheless.
“Cameron is like every girl’s best friend in their head, seriously,” Minaj confided. “she is so smart and warm. she took the big sister approach with me. she is zipping up people’s dresses and she’s like the biggest star in the world. she is just such a genuine sweet person. But also on top of that, she is so good. she was like, ‘I don’t feel comfortable with this line. I don’t know if my character would say that.’ When I saw that, it motivated me; she is not only a pretty face and this great actress, but she is also taking interest in the lines and making sure they feel right for the character she is playing.”
Born august 30, 1972, in san Diego to emilio Diaz, a second-generation cuban-american oil company fore- man, (now deceased) and his wife Billie, who is of native american, Italian, and German descent, Diaz began modeling when she was sixteen. that career took her to japan, australia, morocco, and Paris, among other locales, landed her in such magazines as Mademoiselle and Seventeen, and in advertising campaigns for such companies as calvin Klein, coca-cola, and Levi’s. she struggled during those years with her diet, however, a time she describes in her recent book as heavily and potentially dangerously weighted towards empty, fast food calories. Discovering the errors of those ways years later, Diaz has been an advocate for proper nutrition since, her ideas recently delineated in The Body Book: The Law of Hunger, The Science of Strength and Other Ways to Love your Amazing Body (HarperWave/ HarperCollins Publishers, December, 2013).
Intended to be a practical analysis of how ways of rethinking nutrition, exer- cise, and general care can revolutionize a life, The Body Book, in its way, is an antidote to the fussy extremism of health gurus like Gwyneth Paltrow, and Diaz has been as uncomplicated and outspoken about the prospects of aging as she’s been about basic health principles.
“There is no such thing as anti aging,” she said to Oprah Winfrey in a recent interview. “When I watch TV, I get so mad at these commercials that talk about anti aging. We don’t honor the journey and who we are and how much we have to offer. It’s almost as if we have failed if we don’t remain 25 for the rest of our lives.”
“I’m not a scientist. I’m not a doctor. What I am is a woman who spent the last 15 years learning about what my body is capable of,” she says in the book. “[This is] not a diet book. It is not a workout regimen. It is not a manual to becom- ing a different person. Here’s what it is: a guide to becoming yourself. Because as you begin to learn more about your body, something amazing starts to happen: you begin to transform, on the inside and outside. you start to see how being healthy brings happiness into your life, how good it feels to be strong and able, how feeling good on the inside has an effect on everything else in your life.”
Look for Diaz in three other films scheduled for release this year: Bad Teacher 2, Sex Tape (alongside costars Rob Lowe and Jack Black), and in the December release of annie, in which Diaz—along- side costar Jamie Foxx—plays the often unintentionally hysterical and bad tem- pered Ms. Hannigan.