Since you've been working for so long, you obviously had an unconventional high school experience - were you anything like your character Nicole in those days?
I was actually more of like a "Designated Dave" [a character in the movie]. I didn't fit in, but didn't really wanted to, but I didn't really try too hard.
I heard that you were initially nervous about working with Adrian, and that he kissed you for REAL in one of the auditions. How did you guys end up getting along on the production?
Well, we had to kiss for the screen test. I had to kiss a whole bunch of boys, and he was the last one, and I was already kind set up with the whole thing. He kind of shoved his tongue down my throat [LAUGHS], which was a little shocking. He was really going for the part, and he went all out (I mean all out), for the part. He got it. He showed the most energy towards it, and he's a serious actor. As soon as we met outside of that situation, we got along fantastic, immediately. But yeah, it was a little uncomfortable. I was a little shocked. I thought, "God, that's not very professional." But he was doing what he had to do.
Was there any real-life chemistry between you two?
No we like, flirted, and I found him attractive, and I think he found me attractive, but that was about it. It was kind of a mutual flirting thing, and that was it. We just had a great working relationship. It was fun - we had a great time. We have a lot of respect for each other.
I read somewhere that the producers asked you to lose ten pounds for the role, which seems ridiculous. How did you handle that, and do you think they had the right to suggest it?
[SIGHS] It was kind of a studio thing, like, "You should lose ten pounds. It will make you a superstar." And I was kind of like, "Well, I don't think that's going to do it." And it kind of made me mad that they asked in the first place. I didn't think it was necessary. If they wanted to hire me, they should have hired me for my talent, you know? Whatever. I'm not, like, super-heavy, and even if I was, it shouldn't matter. But it kind of gave me a little bit of motivation, though. It made me feel gross for about a week, and I fought it hard, like, "Why should I?" And then, "It's not worth it." But when it came down to it, I wanted to kind of lose a little [weight] and lean out anyway. So it gave me motivation to eat better and work out more.
Did you do the protein diet thing?
Yeah, I kind of cut out carbs [carbohydrates]. I've done it again recently, and it's just amazing.
Have you ever pursued someone the way Nicole pursues Brad? How did you go about it?
Um-hm, all through junior high. I was just obnoxious. I'd just chase around the boys I liked. I'd be really pushy at first, and then if they didn't respond, I'd just back up and have like, a secret crush, and talk to all my girlfriends about it. [SMILES]
My guy friends have been going nuts that I get to interview you because of the Maxim shoot. The photos are gorgeous. What prompted you to push the envelope that way, and what has the reaction been?
Well, Maxim did an article on the "Ten Hottest Nymphets in Hollywood" or something like that, and they put me as number three. I was the only one in the article that was fully clothed, and they said really nice things about me. And I was like, "Well, they were fair towards me." So they asked me to do the cover, and I was like, "That would be great, I'd love to." And I knew I'd have to be showing a little skin. But why not? I'm twenty-three. It was fun. It was like playing Cindy Crawford for the day.
Were the people nice and everything?
Oh, yeah. Everyone was really decent. It was a long photo shoot, but it was like acting, playing a part. Playing un-dress-up.
Your best friend has jokingly said you're an exhibitionist. Is there any truth to that?
[LAUGHS] Yeah, well, all my friends aren't shocked at all by the Maxim thing. They're kind of like, "That's Melissa," you know? But everyone else is kind of like, "Oh God, Sabrina! What's she doing?" But my friends are like, "Uh-huh. There she goes again." I'm just not shy, is what it comes down to. It's not that I'm trying to further my career or shock anyone, I'm just showing another side of myself, I guess.
There must be quite a paradox there. You've done some pretty adult things - buying a house, doing feature films, posing for Maxim. Do you ever get tired of being labeled as a teen star?
No, because all the work I've done has been playing teens, and I look like a teenager, and I feel like a teenager, even though I have a lot of responsibility, like a mortgage, dogs, a full career. I'm kind of busy [GRINS].
Are you looking forward to one day segueing into those adult roles?
Yeah. I'm not in any hurry. It will happen. It will definitely happen - it's just a matter of time and aging.
In what way is Nicole different from Sabrina?
Nicole is a lot more secure with herself [than Sabrina]. She's going through issues as far as [who she is] but she's not trying to fit in. Like, Sabrina is going through a "What am I?" more than a "Who am I?" Sabrina is a little bit more moody, I guess. She has mood swings that are more severe and dramatic, probably because it's a comedy.
Conversely, how are the two of them alike or different from you? (You must have been asked that a bazillion times. I apologize.)
No, actually, I haven't. I'm more like Nicole in that I'm a little bit more laid back. I don't know I kind of have a little bit of both, because I have my goofy moments, where I'm a complete spaz, but then I have my laid back, Nicole-type of more introverted moments. I don't know. It's a little bit of both. I think I'm more like Nicole, though, only because Sabrina is a lot more insecure than I like to be, and like I said, a little bit more moody. Her mood swings are really drastic compared to [LAUGHS] I have those too!
Did you get to consult at all on the direction that Nicole took? I know you have a lot of say in terms of where "Sabrina" goes.
Yeah, I talked to the director, and before I even got the part, I discussed it thoroughly with the producers. You know, what we were going to change in the script, and of course, if there was a line I didn't like, I'd tell them right away, and someone [re-wrote] it. But I loved the character from the beginning - that's why I chose it. It didn't need a lot of work.
That means it was a good match.
What's next for you film-wise?
I'm doing a film this week, actually. As soon as I leave New York on Tuesday, before my screening even starts, I'm going to pretend to go in and watch the screening, and as soon as I pretend to walk in, I'm going to immediately get on a plane and go to Vancouver and shoot a movie, which I can't say right now because we're going to try to release it in the trades [film & TV industry trade magazines]. I have a small part in this hilarious movie. I can't wait to shoot. It's a studio movie.
Didn't you make an independent movie a while back?
I did. It's called "The Specials."
What's the story on that?
We don't know. I was on "Leno" the other night with Rob Lowe, and he was in it also, and we were both kind of like, "When's that coming out? Remember a year ago, when we were outside in the freezing cold?" [GRINS] But we have no idea.
What is the movie about?
It's called "The Specials," and it's like "Mystery Men," but a hell of a lot funnier. It's like a group of loser superheroes, the superheroes of the world that aren't wanted in any of the other super groups, and they're just complete losers. They band together because their dolls [action figures] are coming out. It starts off with them getting ready to show the press their dolls, and they start reminiscing about things and talking about things and get themselves in trouble - it's just hilarious. They start disbanding their little group because they all get in a big fight.
So what kind of superhero are you?
I'm actually not one of the losers, I'm one of the other superheroes that comes to recruit one of them to be in my superhero group, and she kind of tells me off. I have a really quick [amount of time on screen]. It was only one page. My friend Jamie Kennedy ["Scream" & "Scream 2"] is in it, with Rob Lowe ["Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me"], Thomas Haden Church ["George of the Jungle"], and Kelly Coffield ["Jerry Maguire"]. I basically Jamie sent me the script and wanted me to audition for a part, and I didn't have time. I had just gotten back from doing the other movie, and I was doing the show. I was like, "But I'd love to have this part. Can I have it?" And they gave it to me. So I went and shot one night for like an hour, and I was done. Rob Lowe told me I'm hilarious, so we'll see.
In what way is it different for you to work on feature films than on television?
It's a lot easier. It's kind of like, "Okay, do this part." "I didn't like that, can we do it again?" On the show it's like, "Let's go, let's go, let's go! Okay, that's good enough." But in the movies, the only thing is like, "I've got to get to work tomorrow morning, so let's get it sometime tonight."
How will "Sabrina" be different this season now that the word "teenage" has been dropped from the title? Is that going to affect the show a great deal?
No, it's just hopefully going to make it easier for people to say. [LAUGHS] But I mean, she's growing up. She's eighteen, so she's only got one more year [of high school].
What kind of music are you into these days, and what books are you reading?
I'm really into Fatboy Slim. LOVE Fatboy Slim. And I'm really into Rahzel right now too, which is one of the members of the Roots. He beat-boxes with his mouth - it's amazing. And books, right now I'm in the middle of "Little Alters Everywhere" [by Rebecca Wells]. On the set, me and my girlfriend started a little book club so we can read a book every few weeks and talk about it.
Did you read "Divine Secrets of the Ya Ya Sisterhood" first? [note: "Little Alters" is the sequel to "Divine Secrets."]
Oh, yes. We all read that one. It was passed around the set. We loved that one. I'm Teensy.
Oh, of course, because she's the character who's always getting naked!