By Lindzi Scharf
‘In the Mix’ with Emmanuelle Chriqui
Hollywood.com: What was the audition process like for you?
Emmanuelle Chriqui: “Initially I came in on the last leg of the audition process. The casting director basically told the producer and director, ‘Do not make your decision. You have to see one last girl.’ I was in New York shooting something. Going in initially, I just hoped, ‘Please let me get to the screen test.’ I wanted to screen test. It was a personal goal. And I did. With Usher. I had this feeling, if I could just get in the room with him… When I read the script, it resonated and I thought, ‘I can do this.’ I just need to get in the room with him.”
HP: Were you a fan?
EC: “I was a fan. I didn’t own any of his albums, but if I heard his song out I would get down to it. I loved his music.”
HP: What was it like working with him?
EC: “Amazing. He’s so fun. He’s a tremendous actor. A tremendous talent actually. I think he crossed over into the film world seamlessly.”
HP: Why do you think so many rappers or singers are able to do that?
EC: “Someone once told me that the most dynamic actors are people who have stories. People who have lived life. People with experiences. Certainly, a lot of these people do. Their stories are amazing and there’s so much to share. It goes beyond what’s in their songs. They’re dynamic entertainers.”
HP: Did you have preconceived notions about Usher? What did you expect?
EC: “I didn’t expect anything. I had done On the Line with Lance Bass and Joey Fatone. I was very familiar with the music world. It’s really weird because I don’t even sing and I think to myself, “I’ve got great contacts.” [laughs] Working with those guys and having them cross over… they were so gracious and amazing. I was hoping it would be as enjoyable. And it was. Not to compare them because you can’t. Working with Lance and Joey at the time. They were at the height of their career. So it’s similar in that capacity.”
HP: Did you hang out at all?
EC: “It was only a five week shoot. It was intensive and exhausting. So after work it wasn’t so much an option to hang. Usher was doing a million other things at the same time. We absolutely have kept in touch. Whenever he comes to town, we’ll go to lunch or we’ll go shopping.”
HP: What do you shop for?
EC: “I brought him to my place which is the Bodhi Tree Bookstore. I hooked him up with all that stuff. I’m like, ‘You need this. You need to protect yourself.’ He brought me to a store called Fresh on Sunset. That was great. We bought incense and candles. We both love scents and bonded on that. He’s become a great friend.”
HP: Have you had a romance with someone of a different culture?
EC: “Yes. I grew up in Toronto, which is a multi-cultural city to begin with. It was everything under the sun. I totally dated outside of what I am. Several times. I guess, coming from a Jewish family, it was always a little like, ‘Oh. We wanted you to be with a Jewish guy.’ I didn’t live in a Jewish community so it was just like, ‘This is what it is.’ All that stuff was so relevant to me. Even my family and people close to me know it’s not about that. If you find somebody who is going to treat you well and you respect each other and you love each other that’s what it’s about.”
HP: What scene was the most fun for you?
EC: “There were a couple. I enjoyed my scene with Chazz Palminteri. When he catches us in the spa. Working that closely with Chazz. He was so there for me. I really felt like we nailed the dad and daughter relationship. At least it felt that way in moment. I don’t know if it comes across. He was so great to work with. That was one of my favorite scenes. And the dancing scene was so much fun. The music was up and I love to dance. The whole thing was so silly and a little humiliating. Not because of Usher. Just dancing with Usher in a club full of Usher fans.”
HP: I read you were nervous to dance in front of everyone.
EC: “I was. Especially because the line is like, ‘Oh. Come here. I’ll show you.’ I mean that’s so hilarious to me.”
HP: Anything surprise you about working with him? Given what you expected?
EC: “Surprising. Only in a good way. I find that a lot of seasoned actors have the ability to give you something different on every take. They’ll never do it the same. Usher did that naturally. I don’t even do that. If something works, I don’t like to mess with it. I wish I could be more free like that. It’s something I’ll try do. It came effortlessly with him. It was amazing. It was inspiring. That’s like a sixth sense.”
HP: Kissing Usher…
EC: “Was fantastic.”
HP: Who else is up there?
EC: “I’ve have good kissers. Lance was great. Usher was great. Jonathan Tucker was great. I’ve kissed a lot of men in this business.”
HP: What’s something you’ve learned about yourself in the last year?
EC: I hope this doesn’t come off the wrong way. Bear with me as I make my way through this answer. I feel like I’m confident about what I have to offer… Not just as an actress because that’s a side. But that I have this ability to spread light, if you will. I feel like I could consciously embrace that. It goes beyond my work realm. If I can touch people, I feel pretty confident that I will. That’s a nice thing to realize. Maybe it’s something I always knew it, but this year I was like, ‘I’m good at that. I can connect with people.'”
HP: You have a couple other movies coming out? After Sex and Waltzing Anna?
EC: “After Sex is being completed at the moment. I haven’t seen the final of it though I know it’s happening. Waltzing Anna. I don’t actually know. I know it’s finished, but I don’t know what’s happening. It’s an independent. I’m going back to Entourage next season.”
HP: What’s that like to work on? Is it a boys club?
EC: “Fantastic. It’s a boys club, but it’s the best kind of boys club because they’re all hilarious and sweet. Playing E’s girlfriend, I was just so welcomed, which is really nice.”
HP: Is it that much exaggerated or is it pretty close to what goes on?
EC: “I think it’s close to what goes on. Personally, I think they could explore a little more of the darker side of stuff. It’s not all cars and girls. I think that’s what makes it such a smart show and such a funny show. You watch and go, ‘Oh my gawd. I know that.’”
HP: Do you hang out with the guys at all?
EC: “I do. Well, I keep in touch with Kevin Connelly. Whenever I see any of the guys, it’s amazing. If we’re out, it’ll be like, ‘Hey.’ And we’ll hang out the rest of the night. It’s fun.”
HP: What do you want to do next?
EC: “Holy moly, I do. A lot of traveling and I’d love to do a period piece. I’m really hoping to do a Shakespeare adaptation. I’d love them to make Taming of the Shrew. I’d love to play Kate. Crazy Kate.”