Q: How do you relate to Renee?
A: I’ve been there. I’m not done being there. I’ve had long periods of time, especially in college, where I didn’t understand at all where my worth came from and it seemed like it was all about being attractive. I was lucky that I realized quickly that’s not what it’s about at all. I still have those days. When I was playing her (having) really low self-esteem, that was tough, being that vulnerable. The confident stuff was really kind of fun, and good for me.
Q: One lively scene in “I Feel Pretty” involves Renee’s impromptu performance at a bikini beauty pageant, where she owns the stage and the crowd. How many takes did that involve?
A: I definitely did that dance 10 times. It’s my fault. I was supposed to just stand there and pose in a bikini and I was like, “No, this is a really empowering moment. I want a choreographer.” I think we pulled it off.
Q: What’s your message for people constantly checking their appearances to ensure they look perfect?
A: You just want to fast-forward them to their late 30s. I feel the best when I’m just hanging out with my family and friends, just laughing.
Q: Early in “I Feel Pretty,” Renee drops a coin into a fountain and wishes for beauty. If there was a magic fountain you could make a wish in, and change something about your personality or add a skill, superpower or some ability, what sort of non physical gift would you wish for?
A: Patience. I have a low threshold. I’m really efficient. I don’t even like when you call the bank and they go, “Hi, thank you for calling” and the whole run-through. I just start saying my number. To work in this business and do the jobs that I’ve been doing, you really have to be selective with your energy.
Q: Who do you look to for guidance and inspiration?
A: My sister and also people I see on the street. When I see people on the street, they say, “Keep going.” Maybe they mean I should keep walking. I’m not looking to please everyone. I wouldn’t be so outspoken about how I feel about things if I was. If I’m making a difference and these people want to encourage me to keep going, that really means a lot to me.
Q: The movie’s cast includes legendary supermodels Naomi Campbell and Lauren Hutton, who became famous when there was more distance between celebrities and the public. Talk about the difference in how things are now.
A: It’s as if you’re a politician. People want to know your feelings about everything, and it has to be the whole package. They look to burn you if you get to a certain level in the public eye. It’s like everybody wants people to get burned at the stake and taken down. It’s so out of your hands it doesn’t feel like something you can try and curate or control. That’s kind of freeing.
Q: Given how busy you are, how do you carve out time for yourself to recharge?
A: Long walks with my dog. Sex. And boxing. Boxing’s so good. You just feel so chill the rest of the day. And acupuncture. Just being physically well.