Nationality: American. Born: San Diego, California, 30 August 1972. Education: Long Beach Polytechnic High School, San Diego; studied acting with John Kirby. Career: Began modeling professionally, 1988; first film role in The Mask , 1993. Awards: ShoWest Award, Female Star of Tomorrow, 1996; New York Film Critics Circle Award for Best Actress, and American Comedy Award for Funniest Actress, for There's Something About Mary , 1999. Agent: Addis-Weschler and Associates, 955 South Carrillo Drive, Suite 300, Los Angeles, California, 90048.
The Mask (Russell) (as Tina Carlyl)
The Last Supper (Title) (as Jude)
She's the One (Burns) (as Heather); Feeling Minnesota (Baigleman) (as Freddie); Head Above Water (Wilson) (as Nathalie)
Keys to Tulsa (Greif) (as Trudy); My Best Friend's Wedding (Hogan) (as Kimmy Wallace); A Life Less Ordinary (Boyle) (as Celine)
There's Something About Mary (Bobby and Peter Farrelly) (as Mary Jensen Mathews); Very Bad Things (Berg) (as Laura Garrety); Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (Gilliam) (as the blonde TV reporter)
Being John Malkovich (Jonze) (as Lotte Schwartz); Any Given Sunday (Stone) (as Christina Pagniacci); Things You Can Tell By Looking at Her (Garcia) (as Carol); Man Woman Film (Pearson) (as Random Celebrity)
Charlie's Angels (McG) (as Natalie); Invisible Circus (Brooks) (as Faith O'Connor); Things You Can Tell by Just Looking at Her (García) (as Carol);
Grobel, L., "Candid Cameron," interview in Movieline (Escondido), March 1997.
"Cameron-ready," interview with Robert Sullivan in Vogue , October 1997.
Charity, Tom, "Fame? They Can Keep It," interview in Time Out (London), no. 1415, 1 October 1997.
Richardson, J.H., "Yearning for Keanu," in Premiere (Boulder), March 1996.
Elia, M., "Cameron Diaz," in Sequences (Montreal), no. 184, May/June 1996.
Hofler, Robert, "The Year of Living Famously: Cameron Diaz, Hollywood's Up-and-coming Big Star," in Premiere (Boulder) December 1998.
Peretz, Evgenia, "Frat-house Goddess," in Vanity Fair , Jan. 2000.
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Cameron Diaz is that type of actor eagerly sought by innovative directors—a natural. Discovered by a modeling agency photographer at a party, she began an international modeling career when she was only sixteen, and fell into acting with no experience outside of high school drama classes.
Her first film role, like her modeling career, was a combination of serendipity, good looks, and her own sometimes painfully difficult work. Her modeling agent suggested she audition for a bit part in Chuck Russell's upcoming fantasy-adventure blockbuster The Mask , as an adventure. Diaz caught the director's eye, however, and she found herself cast in the lead, where she made the most of the femme fatale role of Tina, the sultry nightclub singer with the heart of gold who ends up with the hero. Though Diaz's nervousness about acting left her with an ulcer, critics singled her out for the depth of her savvy portrayal of Tina, who might have been just another comic book character in the comic book film.
Diaz surprised studios, fans, and critics when she did not follow up her success in The Mask by seeking work in other big studio blockbuster films. Instead, she chose to step back from the fast track to fame. She refused several offers of big budget movies and spent several years working in small independent films. Many of these films were dark and quirky, like The Last Supper , about liberals who decide to rid the world of right wing extremists by inviting them to dinner one by one and poisoning them.
Diaz got mixed reviews for her roles in these films. Some critics found it hard not to typecast her as the model-turned-actress bimbo, while others found her subtle and engaging, even pointing her out as the best performer in films like She's the One that they otherwise hated . Stacy Title, director of The Last Supper , said that Diaz has the "old movie-star glamour of Rita Hayworth and the incredible timing and great physical comedy of Lucille Ball."
It is this gift for comedy that helped create one of the biggest sleeper hits of the 1990s. There's Something About Mary filled movie houses and set staid reviewers from journals as diverse as The New Republic and Variety rolling in the aisles in unwilling laughter over jokes about penis pain and cruelty to animals. The film not only intentionally broke all taboos about good taste and appropriate comedy material, but inspired a series of so-called "gross-out" comedies that competed to find the most offensive subjects of fun. In the midst of it all, Diaz's sweet, funny, and artful performance as Mary made There's Something About Mary the single film of the genre that may outlast the fad.
Perhaps to sidestep the blonde bimbo stereotype that followed her since her role in The Mask , Diaz took a much less glamorous role in the off-beat independent film, Being John Malkovich. As Lotte, a mousy veterinarian's assistant with frizzy brown hair and an entourage of needy animals clinging to her skirts, Diaz turned the ideal of the sex object on its head. Lotte is not only a sweet surprise of a character, showing spirit, sensuality, and loyalty, but also explores her sexual and gender identity with a freedom and irony that typifies the turn of the century.
In many ways, Diaz represents the attitudes of her generation. While certainly not rejecting the glitz and glamour of Hollywood fame, she has resisted the big studio establishment and chosen a more rebellious path toward that fame. While she might often play the bimbo, she manages to give that stereotype a "riot grrl" edge of nerve and self-reliance. It has been her willingness to take the circuitous route, shifting between mainstream Hollywood and the innovative independents, that has given Diaz her depth as an actress. When she was cast in The Mask , Diaz said, "I'm a pretty girl who's a model who doesn't suck as an actress." Her good looks and sincere charm may have gotten her into the movies, but it is her adventurous approach to her career that may keep her there.