Women’s Health Magazine
From June 2008
By: Monica Corcoran
A Conversation with Emmanuelle Chriqui
After three seasons of hanging with the guys on HBO’s Entourage, the 31-year-old actress has got herself another cool gig: teasing hair with Adam Sandler
On a recent afternoon, Los Angeles hotspot Urth Caffé is more abuzz than a kindergarten at snack time. Emmanuelle Chriqui, one of the few women here not wearing gargantuan sunglasses, looks around the trendy eatery and rolls her cocoa-brown eyes. “This is too…you know,” she says. Hmm. Too much like Entourage, perhaps? (Chriqui played Eric’s no-nonsense on-and-off girlfriend, Sloan, on the HBO series for three years.) She laughs and nods: “Let’s go across the street to this quiet little tea place.” En route, the easygoing Chriqui (the name is pronounced shreeky, by the way) is approached by a tourist asking for directions to a boutique. She doesn’t skip a beat. She even suggests where to park. Clearly, this Toronto gal doesn’t play the fame card. “I love what I do,” she says, “but I never want to OD on celebrity.”
Nonetheless, Chriqui’s profile gets a major bump this month with the release of the Adam Sandler flick You Don’t Mess with the Zohan. The 31-year-old takes on the part of the comic’s fiery love interest, Dalia, a Palestinian hair salon owner in New York who hires Sandler, an Israeli coiffeur with a paramilitary background. “I’m French-Moroccan-Jewish, so I totally tapped into my ethnic side for this role,” Chriqui says. “In essence, I just played my grandmother.”
How did portraying a Palestinian enlighten your perceptions of the Middle East?
I have relatives in Israel. When I was growing up, all I ever heard about was “the other side,” and it was mostly negative. Through this comedy, you get to see our similarities as well as our differences–but how we can live together, too. We’re actors showing how the world should be, but it’s still real. We had both Palestinians and Israelis on the set. The conversations at lunch were heated and raw.
Do you think it’s unfair that celebrities often get criticized by the press when they get political?
Yes. It’s one of those situations where you get criticized if you’re not involved and then get criticized if you are. Actors are people and they have voices.
You mentioned embracing your ethnicity. Ever been tempted to go lighter with your hair color?
I could never go that route–look at my eyebrows! But it’s frustrating because the girl next door is always blue-eyed and blonde. I can play the girl down the block! Lucky for me, I got my role in Zohan because of how I look. Sometimes I think, “If only I were blonde,” and then I smack myself and snap out of it. The part on Entourage was originally for someone WASPy, but I looked good with Kevin [Connolly], because he’s so white and blonde.
During Entourage, you were a woman among a cast of men. Did you feel like one of the guys?
The boys are like brothers to me. They were very protective, and it was fun to be the only girl because I didn’t have to assert my femininity. They were always gentlemen.
Did your boyfriend ever bristle at your working with only men?
No. We’ve been together for five years, and it’s something you discuss in the beginning. If someone can’t accept that, it’s a problem. But he’s an architect and he’s very secure and successful in his own life. He knows that what I do for my job is just work.
What do you like to do when you’re not working?
I focus on myself. I go to the Korean day spa. At night, I don’t really like to entertain. I go out so I can relax and talk for hours over a cheese plate and a glass of wine with a girlfriend. Or I’ll say, “It’s on!” Then, we get decked out and go dancing.
So when “it’s on,” where do you like to go?
My favorite joint right now is right down the street–Villa. My boyfriend built that place. I’ll go by myself and hang out because it’s kind of like family. For me, it’s like a neighborhood bar, but it also happens to be the hot spot in town right now.
The tabloids always seem to be reporting from clubs. Can you tell us something that you read about yourself that was crazy false?
That I was dating James Franco! In fact, a magazine wrote that we were out canoodling at some club. What is canoodling, anyway? Making out, right?
Yep, that it is. And what did you say when you saw him post-canoodling?
Ha! I haven’t even seen James Franco since then. I know him a bit through a friend, but it’s not like we hang out. But that’s why I’m protective about putting myself out there. I’m not on anyone’s radar at this moment. No one is obsessed to find out about me. If I never get hounded at the grocery store, I’ll be happy.
Being a Canuck, do you hang out with other Canadians in Hollywood?
I don’t have many Canadian friends. Weirdly, I have an unusual number of friends from Texas. I have a theory that most people in Hollywood are from Texas.
There’s a rumor that you speak French. That book French Women Don’t Get Fat–oui ou non?
Wow–I need to get that book! I fluctuate [in weight] according to my stress level. I can celebrate food anytime. I love cheese. When I crave a certain food, I just eat it. My mom was an amazing cook, and I grew up with all home-cooked meals. Everything was always fresh. We never had cans of food in our house. We even made our own pies.
And what about now? Got an apron?
Um, no. I cook, but not very often. My boyfriend and I live in different cities [he’s in New York] and it’s no fun to cook for just yourself. Sometimes, I’m guilty of eating chocolate chip cookies for dinner. Shhh…
How do you work off the cookies and cheese?
I do Pilates and yoga, and I love to dance. I can crank up the music, have fun, and get all shaken up. I love hiking, too. I am craving a dog right now, but I just travel way too much. I can’t get one of those little dogs–I need a big dog in my life.
We heard you love watching horror movies. What kind of stuff scares you in real life?
I’m actually very sensitive to energies, and when people are not aligned, I can feel that. I also believe that some people dabble in black magic, and that really scares the hell out of me. You know, when someone gives you the evil eye? Ugh!
Do you carry any amulets to ward off evil?
Yes! I carry my own stuff. Look [she opens up her bag]. I have these beads from Italy that are protective. I also have my little Buddhas. I have aura sprays, too. No one would dare mess with me.
IT’S A GUY THING
Wanna know what those sexed-up, party–hopping, publicity-seeking horn dogs from Entourage are really like? Chriqui gives it up…
Kevin Connolly aka E
The Total Pro
“He taught me that a man can command an enormous amount of respect and still be fun. Kevin’s always professional, yet has a great sense of humor.”
Adrian Grenier aka Vince
The Sensitive Soul
“He’s so mysterious and poetic. You wouldn’t think that a guy like him would be so grounded and sensitive.”
Jerry Ferrara aka Turtle
“This is one of the nicest guys around, and you can have a heart-to-heart with him for hours. He’s real and gives great advice. He listens.”
Kevin Dillon aka Drama
The Smooth Talker
“He has such an appreciation for style and beauty. At events, he will always compliment something you’re wearing. You don’t think guys usually notice that kind of stuff.”