Freddie Prinze Jr.: The Artist Known as Prinze
He became a star playing the good-guy charmer in films like I Know What You Did Last Summer and She's All That, and he'll do it again in next month's Boys and Girls. But in real, life, Freddie Prinze Jr. isn't the easygoing boy next door his teen fans imagine. For one, he playacts being a comic book superhero when no one's around. For another, he admits he cries a lot and prays every morning in the shower. Do we really need a third example?
Here are some things you should know about Freddie Prinze Jr.: He's the most-hit actor on Yahoo. He was named one of People's "50 Most Beautiful People." He's appeared in 10 films: To Gillian on Her 37th Birthday; The House of Yes; I Know What You Did Last Summer and its sequel; Sparkler; She's All That; Wing Commander; Down to You and the upcoming Boys and Girls and Head Over Heels. He's reportedly getting $2 million for Summer Catch, a baseball movie in which he plays a pitcher. He hated Wing Commander as much as you did. He grew up in Albuquerque, New Mexico. He wouldn't be able to distinguish Joyce Carol Oates from Susan B. Anthony. He knows the contents of each individual X-Men comic. He knows something about Muhammad Ali that you don't. He prefers Toluca Lake to Beverly Hills, Bel Air, the Pacific Palisades or Malibu. He likes the Knicks over the Lakers. He likes Japanese food and lemon meringue pie. He's got a picture of John Wayne above his bed and a religious picture over the fireplace. His father was a famous comedian who committed suicide at 22 when Prinze Jr. was just 10 months old. He tap dances. He's never seen "Seinfeld." He cries a lot. He's better looking in person than n picture. He's 24, years younger than Ben Affleck, Chris O'Donnell and Cameron Diaz. He's never smoked a joint. He believes in lucky pennies. He's the future of Hollywood.
LAWRENCE GROBEL: What's it like being one of People's "50 Most Beautiful People"?
FREDDIE PRINZE Jr.: I had, like, 50 messages on my answering machine: "What's up, beauty?" All my friends gave me such shit.
Q: What happens in a few years when they name you "Sexiest Man Alive"?
A: I'll leave the country.
Q: What do you think of the recent interest in you in magazines?
A: I don't really read magazines that much. I read comic books.
Q: Do you collect comics?
A: Yeah, I have a ton of them.
Q: What are your most valuable Comics?
A: I have through 10 X-Men number 16 X-Men, 20 through 30 X-Men; I have number 11 Spider-Man; number 4 Silver Surfer; number 4 Fantastic Four. The most valuable is number 2 X-Men, probably worth a few grand.
Q: Have you ever met Stan Lee?
A: Yeah, I just met him. He was the nicest guy in the world. He made life good for me when I was a kid. I was what people now call artistic, but when you're a kid they call it weird and say "You're gay, you're dumb." When I started reading comics, I really related to Stan's characters: that somehow they embraced who they were and they became great heroes. They made me feel that everything could be OK... and now everything is OK. Everything's awesome. I'm really happy, I like where I am, I do cool things. I know this sounds weird but I feel I owe Stan Lee a lot for that.
Q: Why, exactly, did kids make fun of you?
A: I didn't have any brothers or sisters, I grew up on a street with all girls and they wanted to play house and I didn't have a dad to play football with or anything like that, so I made up this superhero world that I lived in. I fought alongside the X-Men and I would really see them. I did this all by myself and kids would see me out there in the field jumping around.
Q: Why did they call you gay?
A: I still did it when I was 12 years old. When kids see someone who's a little too old to do that, they think it's weird. And kids can be mean, so they say things like "you freak, stupid fag." I'll be honest, I still play like that. Because that's what's fun for me, I have all the sound here in my bedroom so [can turn it up loud. I live alone and when] get bored or lonely, I make up scenarios in my head and I play 'em out.
Q: In real life, did you ever become enough of a superhero to fight back?
A: I got in fights, but I don't like fighting. I once hurt a kid really, really bad.
Q: How did it happen?
A: He was drunk. It was at one of the few parties I went to in high school. I don't remember why he was mad--he was a bully--but when I walked out of the place he pushed me and I fell down and everybody started laughing. I got up and tried to walk away and he came at me again, so we got into a fight. When he fell on the ground I just kept hitting him.