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Leoni Online: The Articles — Allure

allure02tn-6240960Maybe it has something to do with her facile use of words like “tits” and “motherfucker,” or her weathered cowboy boots and the Levi’s cords that hang from the part of her body where other women have hips, but Téa Leoni is the least likely mother hen. Yet, there she is in the Malibu Starbucks, squatting next to her 18-month-old daughter, Madeleine West, oohing and ahhing over Plexiglas-encased coffee beans. Leoni, 34, is simply in love with West (as she calls her)-and fiercely protective. While the tabloids have endlessly scrutinized her marriage to The X-Files star David Duchovny, it’s their coverage of her daughter-this toddling, towheaded cherub-that gets her in a double-fisted rage. “I would like to pass a law that says children under the age of 18 cannot be photographed for the National Enquirer without the written consent of the parents,” she says. “And the reason is purely for their safety.” Safety was also her primary concern when buying her present for Duchovny’s fortieth birthday: a Jaguar XK8 2000 convertible. Sure, it sounds all daring and dangerous, until Leoni kicks into driver’s ed­teacher mode and explains that she’s always thought ragtops were unsafe, and she’d originally looked for an old, used Jag, figuring it would be slower and therefore safer. When she found out they aren’t, she capitulated and got him the latest model, and is mollified by his agreement to put the top down only at night. “I worry about his driving,” she explains. “He’s from New York City and learned to drive when he was like, 28.” She, on the other hand, has been driving since she was 14. “It’s second nature,” she says, and can maneuver the hulking car as if it were a red plastic Little Tykes coupe. Which does seem to support director Brett Ratner’s assertion that “she’s every guy’s dream.” Ratner, who directed her in this month’s The Family Man, in which she plays the lawyer wife of Nicholas Cage, says, “A lot of actresses don’t want to play [someone who’s had two kids]. But she’s like the best mother, the best wife, and unbelievably sexy. I don’t want to say a bad word, but she’s still do-able.” The Family Man was the first movie that Leoni, who’s currently filming this summer’s Jurassic Park 3, committed to after having West. “You know, you have kids, and oh my God, your perspective changes,” she says. “I’ll read scripts now that make me blush. I couldn’t imagine West ever seeing me in that position.” But then, just a few seconds after handing off her daughter to the baby-sitter for a few brief hours, just when she’s given the impression that marriage and motherhood have turned her as soft as a sandbox, she looks at a reporter’s silver microcassette recorder that’s fitted with a rounded foam microphone and says, “I thought for a second that thing was a dildo.”

allure02-5472391 FAST AND LOOSE “Here’s how to get people to think that you’re so skinny: Just keep wearing bigger clothes. Just go up a size-if you must, pare off the Levi’s label so that no one knows that it’s actually a 36 waist, and scramble around with your clothes falling off. And then people think, My God, well, clearly she’s lost weight, because her clothes are falling off. That’s the newest thing that I just learned. I’m now wearing my pregnancy clothing, which is making me feel so thin. I feel terrific. What was I thinking-I have like, five or ten pounds to go? No, I don’t! I have like, 50 pounds to really get back into my jeans. [During my pregnancy] I just wore them low, cable-man style. I could wear pants, and the belly would just be all on top. Sort of like being a big old Texan with pants way down low. And their ass crack doesn’t really show, either.”

POST-MATERNITY METABOLISM “It’s payback time. Big, fat, fucking payback. I don’t know what happened. Up until the pregnancy, I could eat anything I wanted-and I would-and never gained a pound. There seemed to have been a clue in there that times are a-changin’ when I gained 60 pounds during my pregnancy. And that was shocking. But I have to say-most of it seems to have landed in my breasts and my belly. But you know what? It was so much fun. A lot of women actually get sick [during their pregnancies]. I just felt like I was seasick all day long, and the only time that that went away was when I had food in my mouth. Once I’d swallowed, I was back to being sick. I’m sure it was gross for David to watch. Although he seemed to get sort of a kick out of it.”

THE PERKS “I was never more confident about my body than when I was pregnant. And I’m the second most confident about my body now, after the pregnancy. Everything’s gone [back to normal] but my boobs. I’m curvier all over, but that’s because I’m still breast-feeding, and I think I’m holding on because I have such great tits right now. I said to David, ‘Any day now, honey, I’m going to have to start rolling them up into my bra.’ But right now I’m like, come on, let’s keep nursing just a little bit longer-all we need is one feeding a day to keep these suckers perky and wonderful. I look at myself on a rerun of The Naked Truth, and I’m probably 15 to 18 pounds heavier than I was then. And I feel better, I feel hornier, I feel more womanly, and more accomplished, and prouder. I like curves.”

UNIFORM UPDATE “I had such a perfect little 14-year-old Brooks Brothers boy’s body that those tailored clothes fit. And now they don’t. When I look in my closet, and I see those uniforms-and it really was a uniform-I had 14 pairs of double-pleated, wide-legged, cuffed pants, and then little shirts, really only white and occasionally blue-14 of those-and 14 or so little cashmere cardigans, and then my pearls. Basically, it was a grand rip-off of Katharine Hepburn. That was great because I was busy, and I didn’t want to think about it. Frankly, fashion is so intimidating. And the idea that something’s ‘last season’? Buddy, my life is last season, you know? Hop in my car and listen to some Crosby, Stills & Nash and try to tell me that I need to update my spring collection. That’s a fairy tale that’s not going to play out.”

GET HER WARDROBE “My agent is always really puffed up about the fact that my contract says I get to keep the wardrobe. Like the khaki shorts from Jurassic Park 3, of which there are 45 pairs. I’m more than welcome to have 30 of them at the end of the film. Thanks, but I’m going to pass. [The wardrobe for The Family Man] is very schlocky. It certainly wasn’t a beauty-queen role. I know how hard it is to get an outfit together with my one-and-a-half-year-old running around and trying on my shoes and taking her plastic jewelry and my jewelry into the toilet and flushing it. We have really creative morning time. So to get one outfit together with one child is a feat.”

COMELY COMEDY “Oh, to be funny-it’s a high to be it for a moment, and that laughter is great. It was actually Flying Blind where I was funny, I guess, or [considered] to be funny for the first time. I think I had been barking up the wrong tree. I was trying to be seen as a severe drama queen. And a tough tomboy. And that’s all the feedback I was getting. [Casting directors would say] ‘Hell of an edge on that girl. Maybe go to another class and soften things a bit.’ It just made me more aggressive. I’m sure that by the last of some of my auditions I was like, ‘Rrrrrrrrrrrrrr, fuck you, gimme a gun.’ [After Flying Blind] there was that wonderful Hollywood heat-when that particular Hollywood sun finds you for 15 minutes every now and then throughout your lifetime. And I thought, Well, hell, they’re not buying the other stuff. I guess they don’t think I’ve got a good Meryl Streep going. So I’ll do this kooky stuff.”

SHANKS FOR EVERYTHING “I’d be real curious what someone who has taken an Oscar home says a year later. I imagine that would be hell. I mean, talk about your next first day at school, when you walk on that movie set and you suck-and everyone sucks a lot, often. I mean that’s the state of acting. Acting to me is like golf-it is a comedy of errors. There’s no perfect shot, there’s no perfect performance. It’s just, how close to the hole do you really get? How less of a shank does it appear to be? And maybe no one saw it, and then you’re really lucky.”

DIRECTOR’S CUT “When I knew that I had to spend 18 weeks running through the jungle being chased by dinosaurs that weren’t there [in Jurassic Park 3], I thought, Gee, what a tangled mess [my hair] could be. You always see these movies with these girls with long, beautiful locks, and in these horrible situations, and their hair just bounces right back. I don’t buy it, and I wasn’t going to be able to perform that way. So I said, ‘Do you mind if I cut it all off?’ And they were game for it. Short hair’s great. I wash it at night and [just shake it with a] towel and go to bed, and I wake up and it’s perfect for…today’s sassy kind of look. See, I may not be fashionable in clothes, but my hair is balls ahead.”

TRIAL AND HAIR ERROR “I’m always changing my hair, because it seems to me healthier than yo-yoing with your weight or something. Usually it’s cut by Laurent D. at Privé. Occasionally I’ll start it by myself, and that’s a disaster, and then I go to him and I’m like, ‘I think it’s good here, but then if you take four or five inches off this side, that would be great.’ Because sometimes I cut it and I lean like this, and then I sit up and go, Oh, shit.”

SHADE SHIFTER “It’s been about two and a half years that I’ve been blond. Before that, I was a year brown. And before that, I was two years blond. I’ve done red a little bit, but red’s a challenge. Red loses its oomph after about two weeks. And, see, you wake up as a blond and you look so cute. You wake up as a brunet and you look troublesome, and maybe in a sexy way. I’ve never dyed it myself. That’s a disaster waiting to happen. To put a bottle of dye in my hands is just like putting a pack of matches into the hands of a child. It’s just an altogether bad idea. Probably even illegal in some states.”

REGRETTABLE RED “A really bad look was red, permed. When I did Flying Blind, my idea was flaming red hair, and full, curled. And I wanted to look sort of-I don’t know if this is really Allure material-but freshly fucked, frankly. And that’s [how it was], when I was on set and there was a professional hairstylist there to make it work. But Sunday mornings-I might’ve washed it Saturday night, probably only curled the front, because I couldn’t see the back-and I looked like a doofus.”

STROKE OF GENIUS “I [used to] color my brows with golf scoring pencils. I don’t now because I haven’t been out on the course lately and haven’t picked up a pencil. It’s the perfect color [to match] a dirty dishwater blond, which I guess is what I’m sporting here. I’m just entering into eyebrow land. I went to a very famous [eyebrow expert], who brushed them and trimmed them, which I never thought I needed. It was really something, the plucking and everything. But David tends to like the fuller brow. You know, he can have the brows.”

SEX SUBSTITUTE “I found this great product-I have a couple of great products. I do know about makeup. No, no, I do! No, listen. Hey, come on, I’ve got something to offer…Stila makes these cream rouges. You put it right in front, and it looks like you’re glowing. You’ve either just gotten out of bed with someone, or you’ve just run. Either way you look like you’re having a healthy, wonderful life that you love. And I think that look is golden, and it’s my favorite look. You know, sometimes when David’s not around, I have to use makeup or whatever. But there are other ways to get that look…from a bottle. That’s going to sound really wrong. Or a carrot.”

FLY TRAP “There’s a makeup artist out here, Valli O’Reilly; she did my makeup for The Family Man. And she and her partner have the most incredible lipsticks and glosses. Matte ones that don’t make your lips peel. And she has glosses that don’t feel like you’re going to get flies stuck to your lips. I love these glosses that are so thick that your hair will blow in the wind and get caught in it. And as you pull the hair out, you’ve wiped and pulled gloss across your cheek. And, by the way, let’s do a poll: Find me one husband or boyfriend who likes making out with these glosses. They’re like tar-awful, ugly-tasting tar.”

THE LONELINESS OF THE LONG-DISTANCE LOVERS “David and I always said that we had a 20-day rule, which is that we’re not away from each other for more than 20 days. [When you’re apart that long] you can get out of rhythm, and then I think that’s when you make a step, maybe-not even a big step-but without even realizing it, you make a small step apart. And then you carry on from there, and it will seemingly be the same spot-but it’s not. And we broke [our rule] recently. We thought, Let’s just know that we don’t want to do this and figure out what we did to get here, and not do that again. The next thing you know, we’re in the shrink’s office going, ‘Why are we here? I don’t know, you said…. But we were thinking-see, the thing is, we broke this rule. It was 22 days instead of 20, and…. Do you have anything else? I have nothing. No, nothing.’ It’s like touch-ups. You go to the shrink for a touch-up, and then it’s just funny.”

QUIT OVER QAT “David stopped playing Scrabble with me because I started playing on the computer at night. I got hooked on it. And I was coming up with words like ‘qat,’ that being Q-A-T, which is a Russian hat. When you don’t have the pesky U, and you’re stuck with this beautiful ten-point Q, it’s a good one. David was like, ‘You know what? Forget it, I’m not playing with you. OK, what’s “au”?’ And I said, ‘Now you see, you’re thinking that I’m going for the French preposition-I’m not. Actually, what I’m going for…’ And David’s like, ‘I don’t want to hear it, I don’t care, I quit.'”

SELF-SEARCH ENGINE When [I first went on the Web], I had nothing to look up; I’m not much of a shopper, and I didn’t know what to do. So I looked up David. And there were like, 25,000 Web sites. It was overwhelming. And they had pictures that were hysterical, some from high school. So for about five minutes, I had a really good time. And then I thought, Well, I’m going to type me in. And any actor who tells you they haven’t done this, I hope is lying. So I did, and there were some wonderful comments of support and helpful criticisms. Then I hit a few that were so mad at me. I felt like saying, ‘But I’m being wrongly accused! No, I didn’t do that. I didn’t mean that. Well, that’s being taken out of context.’ And I thought, Oh, my God, I’m going to get my panties into a braided knot over this.”

JURASSIC PARTS “I want somebody to sell a section of Jurassic Park 3 that’s the five of us running through this field when we were pretending to have raptors after us, and pteranodons, and other big motherfuckers. I need to brush up on my paleontology. They basically said, ‘Just run.’ I was thinking, Wait a minute-so whoever does the best show gets hit the most by the dinosaurs? And [William H.] Macy’s over there hamming it up. I mean, Macy’s getting knocked with three tails, he’s getting bitten, he’s getting knocked down. I was trying to be real, and only took one hit. When we look at the playback, we just howl laughing.”