(Publisher’s Note: Last week, after a screening of Sex Tape, I had the opportunity to speak with Cameron Diaz on the phone. I would like to thank Ms. Diaz not only for her time, but — to her credit — for not hanging up, even when her publicist advised her to do so. It was at times an awkward conversation, but in the end I think we arrived at a good place. — DR)
Dustin Rowles — Good morning, Ms. Diaz. Thanks for taking the time.
Cameron Diaz — Good morning, Dustin. What did you say the name of your outlet is, again?
Rowles — Pajiba.
Diaz — That sounds dirty.
Rowles — (laughs) No comment! So, Cameron, since you haven’t heard of this outlet, you’re probably not that familiar with our interviewing style.
Diaz — No, I guess not. How does this work?
Rowles — Typically, I say some flattering things, gain your trust, get you to admit some things, and then use those things that you have admitted against you later in the interview in order to make a point about your movie. In other words, it’s a cross-examination that you won’t realize you’re experiencing until I either get you to admit that the movie you’re in was bad, or you say something that completely contradicts something you said earlier in the interview.
Diaz — That sounds like something an asshole would do.
Rowles — Yes, exactly. And in the end, that’s always how it ends up making me look. In an argument with a celebrity, the Internet is always going to choose the celebrity. Anyway, I’m not going to do that this time. I just want to cut straight to the chase.
Diaz — And what is the chase?
Rowles — Is Sex Tape the movie you set out to make?
Diaz — What do you mean by that?
Rowles — Well, what I mean is, there were clearly some good people involved in this project in the beginning. Segel and his writing partner Nicholas Stoller, who wrote The Muppet Movie and Forgetting Sarah Marshall had a hand in the screenplay, and your Bad Teacher director Jake Kasdan — who directed one of my all-time favorite gems, Zero Effect — was behind the camera. Plus, there’s a lot of sex in it geared toward the R-rating. On paper, the movie sounded like it had a lot of potential.
Diaz — I think we made good on that potential.
Rowles — Do you?
Diaz — What do you mean? I mean, yes.
Rowles — Look, I think you’ve been really great while promoting both this film and that one with Jaime Lannister a couple of months ago …
Diaz — The Other Woman
Rowles — Right. You’ve said some refreshingly honest things about women, about sex, and even about pubic hair! But you haven’t really been that honest about your movies.
Diaz — I beg your pardon.
Rowles — I saw The Other Woman. I saw Sex Tape. They’re not very good movies.
Diaz — That’s your opinion.
Rowles — Yes, it is. But it’s also the opinion of most of the critics.
Diaz — We don’t make movies for the critics.
Rowles — Then who do you make them for?
Diaz — We make movies for the audiences, who clearly liked The Other Woman. It was a hit at the box office.
Rowles — But there’s a difference between a movie people have seen and a movie that people actually like, isn’t there?
Diaz — Of course, but I don’t think that many people would have seen The Other Woman if a lot of people hadn’t liked it.
Rowles — I don’t know about that. I mean, it’s so rare to see female-led movies — even after all the evidence seems to demonstrate that they perform well — that I think your movie filled a need more than it satisfied an audience.
Diaz — Respectfully agree to disagree.
(muffled sounds. It’s clear she’s talking to her publicist because at one point, she says, “No, no. I want to keep doing it.”)
Diaz — Sorry about that. What were you saying?
Rowles — I was saying that I don’t think you’d ever admit this in an interview on the phone, even one that’s not real, but you’re an intelligent actress. I don’t know you personally, but I’ve seen plenty of evidence to support that. You probably know more than anyone that Sex Tape is not a good movie.
Diaz — Well, no. I disagree. I mean, it’s not Some Like It Hot or anything, but it’s a good summer popcorn movie.
Rowles — And that’s the thing, isn’t it? Whenever an actor wants to dismiss criticism of their movie, they just mention popcorn. I remember John Cusack calling 2012 a “popcorn movie” and we all knew what he meant was, “A bad movie I’m being paid handsomely to star in.”
Diaz — I think there are a lot of people who would disagree with you about Sex Tape.
Rowles — The critics certainly agree with me.
Diaz — Like I said, we don’t make movies for critics.
Rowles — Except when you do, right? Being John Malkovich, Vanilla Sky, Gangs of New York, In Her Shoes, etc.. Those were all films that relied, in part, on critical support to succeed.
Diaz — It’s Dustin, right?
Rowles — Yes.
Diaz — Critical support is nice, Dustin. But it’s not why we make movies.
Rowles — No, I guess not. You make movies because it’s your job.
Diaz — Yes, that’s part of the reason. But we do try and entertain our audiences, too. Sometimes we come up short.
Rowles — Right, and I know you’re not going to admit it, but this is one of those instances where you came up short. And here’s some of the frustration I have for a movie like Sex Tape …
Diaz — … OK …
Rowles — It’s that while I was watching it, I couldn’t help but think about the countless hours you and Jason Segel and Ellie Kemper and some of the other people in this movie have spent promoting Sex Tape. And all the millions of dollars that goes into publicity to air that same trailer over and over. It’s so funny because that trailer is two and a half minutes long, but everything in the movie I felt like I’d already seen in the trailer.
Oh, and not to mention all the stories you and Segel have had to tell about being naked, just to sell a movie. I bet Jason Segel was just so grateful on Letterman the other day to spend five minutes talking about burritos and sandwiches instead of this movie.
Diaz — Well, it gets exhausting promoting movies, and we’re always grateful for a change of pace.
Rowles — Right. I just think that if someone had spent ten or 12 hours on the front-end of this thing reworking on the screenplay, then the movie could’ve done a much better job of selling itself.
Diaz — That’s just not the way the industry works, Dustin. We have to promote these movies just as much if they are great films. We all want to make great movies, dude. We don’t set out to make mediocre ones. We try and put the right combination of people together to make a good movie that is also profitable. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. Sometimes, great movies make no money. Sometimes bad movies make a ton of money. But it’s our jobs as actors to sell both the good and the bad.
Rowles — Right, and yeah. I mean, I see what you mean. Do you ever find that side of the business frustrating?
Diaz — Of course. All the time. But I’m sure you find certain things about your job frustrating too, right?
Rowles — Sure.
Diaz — Well, see there? We’ve found some common ground.
Rowles — I guess so. Anyway, I’m sorry for keeping you on past your time limit. And I’m even more sorry for this strangely awkward interview.
Diaz — Oh please, no need to apologize. This interview was so much better than all my real interviews. It’s the first one I haven’t had to talk about my nudity.
Rowles — (laughs) I feel like I should say something about it, since it’s so prominent throughout the film.
Diaz — Right! And you said you said you didn’t like the movie. Do you not find me attractive, Dustin?
Rowles — I, uh, …
Diaz — I’m just fucking with you, dude.
Rowles — (relieved) Oh thank God. Good luck with the film this weekend!
Diaz — Thanks. Good luck not sounding like the asshole in this interview!