Two Cents Too Many

Twenty actresses reveal the worst advice they were ever given.


Courteney Cox: "I was advised not to do Scream because no one likes horror movies. Then I heard, 'Don't audition because you can't do this bitchy role,' and 'You're way too friendly, no pun intended.' I was also told, 'Play the girlfriend or the doctor or the lawyer--the nice ones.' Now I'm getting scripts where I'm asked to play characters that are tough as nails, and I love it."

Fran Drescher: "A long time ago my agent said, 'Frannie, we gotta do something with your voice.' I said, 'Whaddya mean? I can do Spanish, Italian and French accents.' She said, 'But can you do an American accent?' I was so hurt that I went to a speech therapist. He tried to teach me to speak like Meryl Streep crossed with Darth Vader. Then I went to an audition and this casting agent said, 'Fran, whaddya do with ya voice? We want the original you.'"

Jennifer Aniston: "I was told to avoid the business all together because of the rejection. People would say to me, 'Don't you want to have a normal job and a normal family?' I guess that would be good advice for some people, but I wanted to act."

Samantha Mathis: "Three words: Super Mario Bros."

Kate Capshaw: "After I was offered Raising Arizona someone said to me, 'Kate, there is nothing remotely funny about the kidnapping of a child.'"

Sandra Bullock: "Everyone told me to pass on Speed because it was 'a bus movie.'"

**Ashley Judd: **"When I told my mom I wanted to act, her immediate response was, 'No, no, no, no, no.' When I asked her why she said, 'You love to read books. Become an anthropologist.' Then I said, 'Mom, I'm going to become an actress no matter what you say.' It's funny because now my mother tells interviewers that she knew I was going to become an actress ever since I was a little girl."

Sarah Michelle Gellar: "People told me not to do a soap, but it was a great learning experience because I became familiar with the technical aspects of the business. Besides, look at who came out of soaps--Julianne Moore, Demi Moore, Tommy Lee Jones, Parker Posey, Kathleen Turner. All amazing people."

Minnie Driver: "I was on my way to an audition recently when my phone rang. The person said, 'I just had lunch with this producer and they're worried because every woman who has come in to read has been too smart. So you've got to dumb it down.' I thought, 'Fine, I'll go in and smile and nod a lot.' I walk in and within a minute the producer says to me, 'Didn't you go to Harvard?' I said, 'No, I never went to college.' As if that was a great thing. I left the audition feeling like I had prostituted myself. I would never do that again. If you need a dumb actress, don't call me."

Salma Hayek: "When I first came to Hollywood I was told to go out with an agent because it was good for my career. So I went to a party with him because it was good for my 'career.' Well, he thought the whole thing was a big date. Needless to say, I was very upset."

Alicia Silverstone: "I was told that a young woman could not produce films. But I wanted to go after something and create it. I knew I could produce Excess Baggage. It took a while for me to build up the confidence to make everyone else understand I could do it."

Debbie Reynolds: "My mother Maxene Reynolds, who is 85, never stops giving me advice pertaining to my career, and I'm 66! This morning she said, 'Honey, when are you going to get a good job? Are you ever going to take up typing or shorthand?' I said, 'No mother, I'm in show business.' Then she said, 'I know, but that will never last.'"

Anne Bancroft: "People told me to work more. It was always work, work, work. But you know what? I never had the energy to do more than a movie a year. I didn't want to have just a career. I also wanted to have a life."

**Ricki Lake: ** "People used to tell me it was great that I was fat. They wanted me to stay that way. But I was smart enough to realize being fat was just a gimmick."

Angie Everhart: "Early on in my career I was told, 'Dye your hair. You look like Little Orphan Annie.' I was also told all that crap about how models can't act. Some casting agents even told me to not bother because no one would see a model. That's just not true."

Claire Danes: "I was told that my going to college wouldn't be good for my career. I think that's nonsense. It's good to empower yourself by cutting yourself off from this business every once in a while."

Jada Pinkett: "I was told that there aren't a lot of roles for women and I'd just have to face that. I was also told that people would be willing to help me. Keenen Ivory Wayans set me straight on that one. He told me, 'You gotta go out and do it on your own, because once you ask for favors, people want something in return.' That was good advice."

Rene Russo: "When I first met with director Barry Sonnenfeld for Get Shorty, someone suggested I order seared tuna. Well, I ordered it, even though I'm allergic to sesame oil and no one knew what the tuna was cooked in. So after a few bites I started breaking out in huge hives and turning crimson. Finally I had to be moved to a room in the hotel the restaurant was in, and a doctor came to see me. But I still got the role."

Anne Heche: "I was told to shut up about my sexuality--that if I didn't shut up about being gay I wouldn't have a career. I said, 'Well, this is really a fucked-up society. So then I won't have a career.' Everyone thinks superstardom is the greatest thing on the planet to ever desire. But my goal has always been to be in love."

Angela Bassett: "The worst advice I ever got was to do some of my own stunts in Strange Days. So there I am driving [costar] Ralph Fiennes around in a car. Well, until I drove into a telephone pole. Ralph said, 'Angela, what stopped us?' I'm like, 'Um, Ralph, it was a pole.'"