Rebecca Romjin-Stamos: Rebecca Goes X

The new millennium will get a sexy boost this summer when supermodel Rebecca Romijn-Stamos joins superheroes on the big screen in X-Men.


Let's suppose Rebecca Romijn-Stamos knows what you're thinking. A for all, having spread her nearly six feet of scantily clad, honey-and-meringue, aerodynamic perfection across scads of magazine covers, most memorably the swimsuit issue of Sports Illustrated, she's got to be ready for you to wonder what the hell she's doing on the cover of a movie magazine--even if it is the More Sex Than Usual issue. And, with only small parts in Dirty Work and the Austin Powers sequel to her name, just how different from Pamela Anderson Lee's contribution to cinema in Barb Wire can she think you think her summer 2000 turn in the megabudget X-Men will be? Well, let's find out. In a friendly Greek restaurant called Taverna Tony in Malibu, the 28-year-old beauty wolfs down a feast of a lunch ("I eat like a horse--like, twice as much as my husband does") and confesses, "I almost feel presumptuous doing this interview. I'm not a movie star. I'm just sort of dabbling. But then she shrugs. "Oh well, let's have fun anyway."

Yeah, lets. Because a closer look at Romijn-Stamos's immoderately provocative curves reveals a radiantly healthy, unexpectedly assertive presence. No wonder that even when sharing a (megaselling) GQ cover with likes of Dennis Rodman, this knockout's fresh-faced luminosity saved her from the ranks of the permanently cheap-by-association. You might have happened upon Romijn-Stamos on MTV's "House of Style" and listened for the wind blowing through her gorgeous rafters, but you'd have had to work hard to ignore how funny and inviting she is as the host of that show. If you caught her playing the supermodel wife of David Spade on "Just Shoot Me" and you thought, "stunt casting," you obviously didn't stay to hear how she can toss off a zingy line and handle a physical bit with the madcap aplomb it took Brooke Shields, Candice Bergen and Cybill Shepherd years to muster. All that taken into consideration, perhaps you still diss her for being the wife of buff, smoldering John Stamos, the former TV hunk who's been flying relatively low on fame's radar screen lately. So let's start there. How did this superdish, a woman who could easily marry her way into useful, powerful echelons of Hollywood, enter into the holy bonds of matrimony with someone who'd played a guy named Blackie Parrish on a soap for two years and was then winding down his eight years as the sexy Uncle Jesse on "Full House"?

"If I have to read one more time how John proposed to me naked, I'll throw up," Romijn-Stamos laughs, before getting to the point. "My husband is extremely funny. The thing that I love first and foremost in a man is the ability to make me laugh. I've always loved funny boys, and I've surrounded myself with the funniest boys since I was four. Funniness completely attracts me. Like, I really get turned on by it."

Turned on, as in erotically? "Oh, definitely," she says, practically purring. "I don't respond to beautiful men flirting with me. I don't get it. Never did. Steve Martin is the first person I ever had a sexual dream about when I was a kid and saw him in Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid. Recently, he was sitting a couple of rows in front of me at the 'Saturday Night Live' anniversary and I was like... 'Oh, my God.' Then, I saw him on an airplane, too, and I couldn't even look his way, because I didn't know what would happen to me if I did. I was like that when I saw John for the first time--I couldn't even look at him."

OK, so funny turns her on. But she didn't marry a guy who looks like, oh, say, Bill Murray. She married a guy who, like herself, has appeared on People's Most Beautiful list. What else attracted her? "A cute ass," she giggles, adding, "just kidding." And what about another, rumored charm? Or to put it another way, does size matter? "It matters," she grins with a hint of a blush, "and that's all I'm gonna say." But then she does say a little more: "John is somebody who completely gets my sense of humor and there is unbelievable chemistry, and that's very, very rare. We're both passionate people who have a great combination of really old inside and really little kids inside. Our priority is our marriage--it's great and it's real. We keep our public life completely separate and we don't like to shove ourselves down people's throats. We don't do the nightclub thing and we tend to hang out with friends we feel safe and comfortable with, either at people's houses or here at Tony's. Also, we're both very close to our own and each other's families."

Rebecca Romijn-Stamos was raised in Berkeley, California, the daughter of a Dutch custom furniture-maker and an American-born Dutch mother who teaches English as a second language. Not that it's a surprise, but both parents (who divorced when she was seven) are tall, thin and extraordinary looking. "I grew up in this hippie environment in Berkeley, where they don't really care if you're good-looking," Romijn-Stamos says. "It's a very anti-vain place where it's cool to own a progressive bookstore or to work with abused children, but not to want to be in the spotlight or even to pay much attention to your looks. I honestly never even put makeup on or had my hair done until I started modeling in 1991. Neither my sister nor I ever really thought about the way we looked growing up. In our teens, we didn't know or care about makeup or designers or anything like that. We both lucked out in the genes department. In fact, my first agent wanted to hire my mom as a supermodel-making machine. It was like, 'I'll pay you to make more babies.'"

Even in a land of Birkenstocks instead of Blahniks, though, this girl must have been a lollapalooza guys lusted after. She says no: "As clichéd as it sounds, I was never treated as 'the pretty girl' in high school. I wasn't even that into boys in high school. I was insecure and felt gawky because I was so much taller and skinnier than everybody else. I remember when they were doing the senior polls for the yearbook and I was sitting with a friend whom I'd known since elementary school I saw him write down my name as the best looking and I did a double take. He was like, 'Don't you know that you are?' But obviously not everybody thought that, because I didn't win."

Just a year later, when Romijn-Stamos was 18 and on a semester break from her freshman year at University of California at Santa Cruz, she was persuaded by a Parisian model scout to try a career in front of the camera. "I was a poor student, so I was thinking, 'I'm missing out on something and here's a chance to travel the world and make money at the same time.' It was uncool to admit it to anybody, but I knew I wanted to be a performer someday. I saw this as, somehow, vaguely, a stepping stone toward that. My only previous connection to pop culture was that I was obsessed with Marilyn Monroe. I mean, I certainly wasn't somebody who had posters of John Stamos on my wall."

Romijn-Stamos spent from 1992 to 1995 in Paris learning the language, acquiring a sophisticated patina, making serious money and turning up on the covers of Elle, Marie Claire and the like. "After the third year, I moved to New York and divided my time between there and Europe," she says. "But modeling became less fun and more business-y. It was like, 'I'm making a good living, all right, but I am really, really bored.'" Did her boredom ever grease one of those slides down the rabbit hole we know from Gia? Emphatically tossing her mane of hair in the negative, she tells me, "I saw some really sad girls who started modeling way too young. I treated modeling as a business and never made the mistake of believing my own hype. If I had to work the next day at six in the morning, I went to bed at nine the night before instead of going out and parrying. One time, Tyra Banks and I were reading excerpts about drugs, sex and ugliness from that Michael Gross book about the fashion world Model: The Ugly Business of Beautiful Women, and I asked Tyra, 'Have you ever been offered drugs as long as you've been modeling?' and she said, 'No, have you?' When I said, 'Never,' she said, What's wrong with us? We're like the nerds the pretty, popular girls shut out, aren't we?'"

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