Arts:The Hatchet chats up Jaime Pressly from Not Another Teen Movie

Actress Jaime Pressly has a bone to pick with teen movies, and as part of Not Another Teen Movie‘s ensemble cast, she has her chance to chew the genre out for its vapid, formulaic take on high school life.

“All these movies have stereotypes,” said Pressly, during a recent college roundtable interview. “Do you really think you could look at the (Not Another Teen Movie) poster and go ‘I was the cocky blonde guy’ or ‘I was the fat stupid guy?’ No, but Hollywood makes it out to be that way, as if there are stereotypes like that in high school, and for teens to be watching that is – excuse me – fucked up.

“In reality, it’s just about cliques. If you’re popular in your own clique, it doesn’t matter. I mean I could be the biggest dork in the world, but I could be popular with my friends. You don’t have to be popular with everyone else, and I don’t think Hollywood should stereotype like that, but they do.”

Pressly’s own high school career was hardly average. She grew up and went to school in North Carolina before legally emancipating herself from her parents at the age of 15. After that, she moved to California and began attending high school there until she went to Japan to work as a model. After returning again to California a year later, she discovered that she would not be able finish high school on time due to a series of independent studies courses she took, so she didn’t bother waiting to graduate and went straight on to college.

Although unwilling to characterize herself, she does admit that because of her early freedom she was “way too responsible.” “I’m always independent. I’ve always been the youngest, but I was the mom,” she said.

Pressly appeared in Can’t Hardly Wait, considered the first of the ’90s teen movies – “but that was the only one” she quickly says – and was up for a number of roles in several of the genre movies, including She’s All That.

“I was up for every bitch in all these movies,” she said. “The ones that I’m spoofing now.”

Pressly does not mind the danger of never being cast in another teen movie again. She is currently working on a half-hour “dramedy” that will appear on ABC next fall, and plans to focus on more serious projects. A sharp change in a career that includes such highlights as Poison Ivy: The New Seduction, the Jerry Springer film Ringmaster and several photo spreads in men’s magazines such as Stuff. Just recently Pressly appeared on her first cover of Maxim, and though this is not a complete departure from past work, she welcomes the move.

“It’s time to get out of the whole male thing,” Pressly said. “Men are a big part of my fan base, so I still have to cater to them, just not cater naked. I’m pretty much done catering to 13 year olds. I’m not saying that to be a bitch, I’m not capable of that anymore.”

More surprising than her distaste for appearing in magazines naked is her preference for television over film. After appearing in the short-lived sitcom Jack and Jill, Pressly is eager to begin another project. Television work allows her to remain at her home in California, and it also gives time to hone her craft.

“Playing the same part every day, you find different levels in that character, it’s almost therapeutic,” she said.

In Not Another Teen Movie, Pressly is part of a cast of young up and comers to the business. Cast by Joseph Middleton, several of the film’s primary roles are filled by actors who have never before appeared in movies.

“(Middleton) is known for finding new, young, hot talent,” she said. “He’s the one who cast Jason Biggs and Chris Klein… and they were nobodys, they hadn’t even had any work.”

Pressly believes that the difficulty of promoting a movie without big name stars is a small price to pay for pulling together a ensemble with strong chemistry.

“Whether you’re a name or not, having really amazing actors around you is so key,” she said. “No matter how good Julia Roberts is, if she hadn’t had an amazing supporting cast in Erin Brockovich that movie would not have done as well as it did. You’re only as good as the people you work with.”

Pressly is quick to set Not Another Teen Movie apart from the well-known spoof of the teen slasher genre, Scary Movie, and its sequel. Although the first draft of Not Another Teen Movie‘s script came from Phil Beauman and Buddy Johnson, who wrote Scary Movie with the Wayans brothers, Pressly said that the film went through so many rewrites during filming that it was hardly the same movie by the time it was finished.

“Everyone got a little bit on input, because everyone with a lead got to say ‘This doesn’t work,'” Pressly said. “they pretty much rewrite the entire thing on the set. They were trying to get in touch with the characters and they kept doing research on different films and figuring out really clever ways to work different films from the past 15 years.”

For all her negative opinions towards today’s current teen films, Pressly does have a few favorite titles from the early days of the genre. Films such as John Hughes’ The Breakfast Club and Fast Times at Ridgmont High are high on her list, while she confesses to watching “Can’t Hardly Wait like 800 times because I still to this day don’t get tired of it.” She wants to make it clear that however much Not Another Teen Movie draws from the teen movies of the ’80s, the cast and creators never intended to put these films down.

“We consider it spoofing and making fun of the films that have come out in the last five years,” she said, “but when you’re talking about (director) John Hughes’ films, we’re definitely paying homage because we all love those.”

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