Call it good karma, but Cameron Diaz can seduce both men and women with comparable ease. Often hailed as a badass "guy's girl" -- raucous and randy sense of humor, saucy sailor's tongue (those impossibly long legs don't hurt either) -- it turns out Diaz also emanates a quality that makes her equally successful as a "girl's girl" -- just ask her Charlie's Angels costars Drew Barrymore and Lucy Liu, and her latest femme partners in crime, Christina Applegate and Selma Blair, with whom she shares the screen in The Sweetest Thing.
Maybe it's just that she's funny. And gorgeous. And unapologetic.
"I think every third generation has an actress like Cameron Diaz someone who is beautiful and is also incredibly gifted with comic timing," says Sweetest Thing director Roger Kumble (Cruel Intentions), who compares Diaz to comic icons Carole Lombard and Goldie Hawn. "Cameron is their heir apparent, and she's a pleasure to work with."
"I've pretty much behaved like a knucklehead my entire life," admits the 29-year-old Diaz, who grew up in San Diego and as a teenager, before launching her acting career, traveled the world working as a model. "It was probably more adorable when I was a child...as an adult I'm sure it's less attractive."
Of course, nothing could be further from the truth. In recent films Charlie's Angels, Shrek and Something About Mary, Diaz has delighted audiences young and old, male and female with her goofy sense of humor, becoming a bona fide blockbuster actress who commands salaries of $15 million plus.
"I've never done this for the money," she says. "I will always want to do whatever it is that my heart is in, and whether I get paid for it or not means nothing. It doesn't matter. I'll do it if it means something to me and I want to be a part of it." This attitude has led to an eclectic choice of films, including dramas such as Vanilla Sky (in which she brilliantly embodies the psychotically possessive gal pal of Tom Cruise's character), Being John Malkovich (as a fantastically homely pet shop employee married to John Cusack's passionate puppeteer) and the upcoming epic Martin Scorsese period drama Gangs of New York (starring opposite Leonardo DiCaprio).
"If I have any goal at all it's just to work with great directors and great actors," says Diaz. "I've never planned anything -- I can't make plans, I can't keep 'em, I'm so bad. But the one thing that has always been consistent, I think, with my choices is that it's always been about the people I get to work with...people I admire, who are creative and wonderful."
The Sweetest Thing, a screwball romance road film written by South Park scribe Nancy Pimental, is the kind of comedy that Diaz pulls off with guffaw-inducing grace. Christina Walters (Diaz) unexpectedly finds Mr. Right (Thomas Jane) in a club yes, a club only to lose him in the crowd. Hilarious high jinks, campy send-ups and potty-mouthed humor ensue as Christina embarks on a rather ridiculous quest to find her guy again, with the support of her bawdy buddies (Applegate and Blair).
By all accounts, the actresses had much too much fun making this film. A highlight was the movie montage in which Diaz and Applegate impersonate the stars of their favorite "chick flicks," to uproarious effect: "Desperately Seeking Susan, Pretty Woman, Grease, Flashdance we broke 'em up and we got the wigs and we got all the costumes, and it was so much fun," relates Diaz. "Put two actresses in front of a camera, put on some music and tell them, 'Okay, go,' with no script...it's almost unbearable."
The camaraderie is evident, but the dazzling Diaz is the star of this film, which makes the most of the actress's love of the ludicrous. Asked what she regrets most about fame, she answers simply, "Crowds are tough. If I don't want to be noticed, I have to not look anyone in the eye and not smile at anybody. And it goes totally against my nature. I'm the worst. I'm like, 'Hi, what's up? Did you have a good day? Want a piece of candy?'"
Romantically, she's had a lot fun as well. Although she prefers to stay mum on her love life, it's common knowledge that she dated Matt Dillon (her costar in Something About Mary) for a couple of years before she hooked up with sexy Jared Leto, who she's been with since 1999.
If she could step out of herself, what's the first thing she would do? "I'd go to Six Flags Magic Mountain! I'd ride those roller coasters!" jokes the actress, adding seriously, " I would just walk. I'd walk through a crowd with my head up, and I'd look people in the eye. That would be nice."