Jennifer Love Hewitt: Love of the Party
Not long ago, Jennifer Love Hewitt was just another one of the teens on TV's Party of Five. Then her screamfest I Know What You Did Last Summer hit the screen. Now, fresh out of high school, Hewitt has two new films - Can't Hardly Wait and the upcoming sequel to Summer - and Hollywood just wrote her a $500,000 paycheck for a pitch she'll develop and star in.
"How beautiful is it that bubbles are flowing over us?" says Jennifer Love Hewitt as we stroll through City Walk at Universal Studios, where bubbles stream Lawrence Welk-style from one of the shops. The actress, known best for her role as Sarah on TV's Party of Five, describes the Technicolor tourist trap as one of her favorite hangouts--a fact that attests not only to her age, 19, but to a naturally gregarious nature that goes great with the bubbles. No wonder she prefers to be called Love.
"I love it when people say, 'We love Party of Five,' she tells me. "That means the work I'm doing is worth something to somebody else." Where does Love's eager-to-please demeanor come from? Maybe the South, where she was born--at the age of 10 she moved with her mom from Texas to Los Angeles with the sole purpose of getting into showbiz. Or maybe it's because Love knows just how hard it is to get a big toe in Hollywood's door. She's often erroneously thought of as an overnight sensation. The truth is she's been paying her dues for years.
Right after her move to L.A. she did a few dozen commercials, then was cast in Disney's TV series Kids Incorporated, which led to three more series, two albums, and finally Party of Five and yet another album. Before last year's scream of a hit, I Know What You Did Last Summer, she appeared in Sister Act 2: Back in the Habit and _House Arrest _with Jamie Lee Curtis. Come to think of it, Love's lack of ego probably comes from not having enough time to develop one.
Love's workload won't be letting up anytime soon, thanks to the current craze for all things teen. She recently finished Can't Hardly Wait, a high school graduation comedy; she's wrapping up I Still Know, the sequel to I Know What You Did Last Summer; and she's just sold her project, Cupid's Love, about a wedding planner who grows fond of the groom, in which she'll star.
DENNIS HENSLEY: You usually play sweet but cutely sexy characters. Do you ever get scripts that call for a straight-out babe?
JENNIFER LOVE HEWITT: Yes. But I don't think anybody would believe me as a very sexy person, so I'd be wasting my time. I'm one of those people that if it came down to comparing me to Marilyn Monroe or Gidget, I'd always be Gidget. Sometimes I wish I was just a little more "va-va-voom," but I'm not and that's fine.
Q: But your character in Can't Hardly Wait is described as the "dream girl."
A: She's a dream girl who doesn't think she's a dream girl.
Q: Were you anybody's dream girl in school?
A: I was completely unpopular. I had a really rough time in junior high school.
Q: Were you acting at the time?
A: Yes and my teachers didn't like me because they thought I was ruining my education, even though I was learning much more through work than they could ever have taught me in school. The kids just thought I was some freak and tried to beat me up. I used to get Coke thrown on me. I recently saw two of those girls at a 7-Eleven.
Q: That must have been delicious.
A: It was really cool. I went in to get a Slurpee and they were standing there. I got that old fear back, like, "Oh my God." Then they came up to me and they said, "We just love Party of Five. Would you mind signing something?" And I said, "You know what? I'm sorry, I can't. I have to go. Really nice to see you. Bye-bye." I wanted to say something really mean, but why go to their level?
Q: People magazine covered your high-school graduation. Was it weird having them there?
A: They're very nice, but I wish that maybe I'd done it differently. I was really worried that a lot of the other students felt as if they weren't special on their graduation day because, you know, I had a camera crew there.
Q: Were you surprised at how well I Know What You Did Last Summer did?
A: Absolutely shocked. I thought it would be a cute movie that maybe a couple of people would see.
Q: What advice did your Party of Five costar, Neve Campbell of Scream fame, give you about starring in a horror film?
A: She said, "You'll never be as tired, but you will never have so much fun." And she was exactly right. People sometimes try to make it competitive between me and Neve, because they assume we go out for the same things. But I could not be more proud of a fellow actor than I am of her. Neve is a very good role model. She makes good choices and she does everything with a lot of heart. She continues to be nice to people and she doesn't complain, ever.
Q: Did you get along well with your Summer costar, Sarah Michelle Gellar?
A: We did. Sarah and I are two completely different people who happened to mesh pretty well together. She was the firecracker of the group and I was the nurturer. I'd take people chicken soup if they were sick. Sarah's the one who kept everybody pumped up with her jokes and her personality.
Q: Did you ever get annoyed that your cleavage was in every frame?
A: There was a joke on the set about how we were going to have to rename the movie I Know What Your Breasts Did Last Summer, because there was a pair of them flying around in every scene in the movie--it was either mine or Sarah's. When I saw the movie I had to go home and look in the mirror again and go, "Maaan! What is going on?"
Q: Did you mature early or late compared to girls your age?
A: Early, at about 12. I woke up one day and I thought, "T-shirts will never be the same for me." It took me a very long time to get used to. For the first two or three years, I wore huge sweaters and didn't even want to be a part of what was going on with me.
Q: Like they were just visiting.
A: Right. And then I just kind of accepted them as a great accessory to every outfit. I was like, "Who needs a necklace when you have those?"