By: Chris Connolly
Sexy actress Emmanuelle Chriqui has too much posse. Word to P.E. Thankfully, Complex convinced the Moroccan-blooded beauty to lose the Entourage for our trip to la playa. Sweet and petite, Emmanuelle is the type of woman we’d wife with quickness. Just don’t ask her to tell a joke.
A few weeks into the third season of HBO’s Sex in the City for men, Entourage, fans became heated as Mandy Moore took on an increasingly prominent role. Then, as the season wound down, dark horse favorite Emmanuelle Chriqui emerged as Sloan, a sweet, sexy girl pal to Eric (Kevin Connolly), who either is or is not helping plot the demise of high-powered agent Ari (Jeremy Piven). Sloan’s a juicy character who helped wash away the bad taste left by the broad-shouldered Moore, and Chriqui nails the cute but possibly dangerous angle.
It helps that Chriqui, a first generation Canadian born to a Moroccan family, is not what one would call “reasonably attractive.” In fact, she’s flat-out “unreasonably attractive.” As in, it goes beyond all the bounds of reason that a person should look like this. Pushing open the bell-adorned door to Elixir—a very L.A. tea shop where teas and tonics are prescribed based on the mood of the drinker—Chriqui, who also played alongside Usher in In the Mix, flaunts features far exceeding the necessities of survival. Ordering a “Blues Buster” tonic, she’s a whirlwind of long legs, lush hair, glistening lips, and bottomless eyes. In a nutshell, you could create four sexy new women with her hot-to-death qualities. Of course, it’s not her fault she looks the way she does, and when she sashays the whole package over to your table and sits down, it’s pretty hard to be mad at her—even after she teases with what she knows about the new season of Entourage.
Do you ever feel guilty that there are four ugly women walking around because of you?
Is that why you need a Blues Buster?
No. It’s just that I spent the whole morning moving into a new place, and I’m kind of drained.
Oh? Where did you move?
West Hollywood. Right near here.
Sounds nice. You’re originally from Canada, right?
So how come you’re not a comedian? All Canadians are comedians.
I’m not funny. Comedy is a skill—you’ve got it or you don’t. And I don’t have it.
Okay, let’s test that out. Tell us a joke.
I don’t know any jokes.
Come on. You’ve got to know one joke.
Okay, I know one. What do you call a gay midget?
Coming out of the cupboard.
Huh? That was horrible.
It doesn’t even make sense. It seems like it should go, “What does a gay midget do?”
Come out of the cupboard. You’re right. Now I’m embarrassed. I’m not saying anything else.
Hey, there’s no judgment here. You just set yourself up for a whole slew of roles that require humorlessness. Parts as androids, slavery films.…
That’s good. Because drama is what comes naturally to me. That’s what I respond to when I read a script.
Are you at a point where you can choose your next role, or do you still have to take things that come along to prove yourself?
I’m definitely still proving myself. It’s an interesting but frustrating time for me. I know what I want to do. I’ve paid my dues. But opportunity has yet to meet preparation and timing for me.
When you landed In the Mix with Usher, did you think that was going to be the role that broke you?
No, I never thought that. I liked making that movie, but if there’s one thing I’ve learned about this business it’s that everyone blows smoke up your ass. They get all excited and say, “Are you ready to be huge?” And you have to ignore that. If it happens, it happens.
Isn’t it hard not to get caught up in that? People telling you these things you want to hear?
No. Basically, I just love making movies. I love the experience, I love the journey, I love the progression. I try not to have expectations of how it’s going to go. But my next project, I will be really picky about. I want to love the script. I want to love the character.
Are you loving your role on Entourage? It seems like a project you could get excited about.
You know, Entourage is the biggest surprise of my career. It’s never really been my dream to be on a TV series. But every pilot season, my agent wants me to do something. So this time I said, “Okay, look, if I do television, I want to do an HBO show.”
Do you think Hollywood is kind of biased against TV?
It used to be. There was a time when this person was a film actor and that person was a TV actor. But now the lines are blurring. You see A-listers attached to pilots. Television has gotten significantly better.
It’s true. And HBO would seem to be at the forefront of that. What do you think they’re getting right?
Abstractly, I would say there are no limits. It’s television without confines.
Maybe they just figured out that people will watch interesting programs?
Yes. And pay for them.
Is the network a presence on set? Are HBO executives walking around saying, “No! That needs to be much more awesome!”
Not in my experience. There is a presence in that you know HBO is behind you. But it’s not pressure. They make it a pleasure to work on the show.
So what’s Sloan, your character, up to? She seems sneaky.
Oh yes she is. She’s got something—
Up her sleeve? That’s not true. I’ll tell you what: I think women, in particular, love Sloan because she’s smart and compassionate. She’s not typical Hollywood tits-and-ass.
So you’re saying she’s not going to turn evil?
Well, she’s fun. That’s all I can say. I can’t tell you what’s going to happen, but it’s going to be fun. I swear, sometimes, I read the scripts at my home by myself and I’m dying of laughter.
So how’d you get into this whole acting thing?
Well, when I was about three years old I became the family entertainer. I would play the piano, actually, pretend to play the piano, and the whole family would clap. Or they’d put music on and say, “Em, dance!”
It must have been sort of a handicap not to be funny. Because comedy is usually a big part of a three-year-old’s repertoire. Were you doing David Mamet and stuff?
Oh yeah. Shakespeare’s tragedies. Sonnets. Then at seven, I started doing community theater. I just came home one day and said to my dad, “Daddy, I’m doing a play. You need to drive me to rehearsals.” And that was that.
Was your upbringing strict?
It was. We lived in a small town called Unionville, and we were the only Jewish family there. My friends all knew that Friday nights Em can’t come out until after Sabbath dinner. Looking back, I appreciate those things, but at the time it was a drag. Virtually all of our fights at home consisted of my brother, my sister, and me saying, “The school dance is tonight! We have to go!” And my parents would say, “No, it’s the Sabbath.”
You grew up in Footloose.
Moroccan, Jewish Footloose, yeah. Pretty close to that.
So what was your first big acting role?
I went to an arts high school in Toronto, and a guy from the school had something he wrote turned into a pilot on YTV, a youth television station. They were casting for the pilot from the school and there was this girl in my theater class who was on Degrassi
Junior High. She played the big dream-girl role, so everyone thought she would get the part. So when I got it, I was like, “Yeah, F-you, blondie!”
So you became an actress out of vindictiveness and pride?
No. We were actually good friends. But that was my start. After that I did commercials, then one-liners, then three-liners. At one point I decided to try college, but I found the theater program redundant after my high school. When I left, my professor was scathing! He looked down his nose at me and said, “Good! Go to Hollywood!” And I was like, “Fine, fuck you. See you later.”
And look at you now, you’re in In the Mix with Usher.
That wasn’t the first movie you made with a singer turned actor, was it?
No. I also did a film called On the Line, with Lance Bass and Joey Fatone.
Awe inspiring. Do you guys still hang out?
Actually, Lance is one of my best friends.
Yeah. We’re best friends. I live part-time in New York and part-time in L.A., and Lance is one of maybe five people I’ll always call when I’m in town. He’s a huge part of my life.
You’re BFF with a BSB!
Yeah. Wait…a Backstreet Boy? No. He’s an N’Syncer. I’m a BFFer with an N’Syncer.
Does that change your life? Do you ever think, Wow. He’s one of my best friends, but he’s also an N’Syncer.
Not really. At this point we’ve been friends for so long we don’t think about it. Sometimes we’ll look back and go, “Oh yeah, we did a movie together! Cool.”
But you’re giving us the impression that your next role won’t be opposite, say, Bo Bice in his acting debut. Correct?
Correct. The next thing has to be special.
What’s an example of a role you’d have loved to play?
I loved Million Dollar Baby. I’d like to make a film like that.
Maybe they could resurrect the girl for a sequel? The Six Million Dollar Baby.
Oh, I like that!
You got it. Just make sure we get a writer’s credit for the title.
What’s to become of Sloan on the new season of Entourage? Chriqui and HBO reps won’t say; as is the case with The Sopranos, Entourage scripts are closely guarded secrets. Complex was able to confirm that Sloan and Eric (Kevin Connolly) will continue their burgeoning relationship in season three. We also got word that Sloan will have a girl-on-girl makeout session. With whom? Stay tuned.