Elisha Cuthbert’s role as an ex-porn star in 2004 The girl next door solidified his reputation as a sex symbol. Now, nearly two decades later, the actress says society is still pressuring her to live up to that title.
“There was this pressure of, like, maybe the fashion world or whatever was seeing me as a certain thing when it was really a character,” she told Paris Hilton in Monday’s episode of his podcast, It’s Paris, of the attention that followed the film’s release.
To this day, she says it’s rare that people don’t bring up the fact that she’s been named “TV’s Most Beautiful Woman” by men’s publications like Maxim and FHM in the mid-2000s.
“It ends up getting into the biography somehow, and you’re just like, what does that even mean? It’s not really a reflection of me as an artist” , said the 24 alum explained. “But on the other hand…if that’s what they see and they like it too, I’m okay with that. For a long time I had a lot of disdain for it and wanted to push against it. but I kept falling back into this kind of stereotype. Now I have learned to accept it.
Although his role in The girl next door “hit a deal with a lot of people” isn’t something she dwells on in her day-to-day life.
“I’m definitely not trying to keep up,” Cuthbert, 39, said. “I would go crazy if I felt obligated, every time I showed up [to an event], I looked like him. For me it’s not even me, it’s this character. So it seems so strange to live up to a character I played when I was 21.”
“To me, developing this character felt like such an exploration and it felt like such a deep dive,” she explained. “I did not feel understood [by the public], because I felt like I developed that character. I did not come to the cinema like that. That was my development for that character, so I felt that got lost.”
Considering the impact of her role at the time, Cuthbert says fans refuse to let her grow old.
“The comments are so weird. It’s like, ‘Oh you look older!’ That’s how the world works,” she said. “I’ll be on social media and see a comment like, ‘Oh, why are you so old now?’ Because I am! Because I’m just older than I was. I’m like, I don’t know what you’re comparing either. You know what I mean ? There’s this weird feeling, like, people don’t. I want to see actors or musicians age in some way. So it’s a rather strange thing.
Cuthbert has been open in the past about how she handled the pressure of being labeled as a sex symbol.
“It’s not like I won an Olympic medal,” she said in an August 2022 interview for the podcast Broad Ideas with Rachel Bilson. “It was just a list that a random magazine decided to create. When someone reads my biography, these things come up. In fact, they mean nothing to me as a person or my career.”
Many of these images are still in circulation, she explained.
“That’s what I have to explain to my kids,” she said of her 4-year-old daughter and nine-month-old son. “That weird, weird outfit and hair extensions. And you know what’s so crazy? I don’t even know how accurate those pictures are when it comes to, say, airbrushing…I was at first twenties. I didn’t look bad, but did I look this? I don’t even know if the fantasy is real.”
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