Tue, 8 November 2022 at 5:43 pm
Elisha Cuthbert’s role as an ex-porn star in 2004’s The Girl Next Door solidified her reputation as a sex symbol. Now, nearly two decades later, the actress says society still pressures her to live up to that title.
“There was this pressure of, like, maybe the fashion world or whatever saw me as a certain thing when really it was a character,” she told Paris Hilton on Monday’s episode of her podcast, This is Paris, of the attention that came after the movie was released.
Even today, she says it’s rare for people to not bring up the fact that she was once named the “most beautiful woman in television” by men’s publications like Maxim and FHM in the mid-2000s.
“It ends up getting in the bio somehow, and you’re just like, what does that even mean? It’s not really a reflection of me as an artist,” the 24 alum explained. “But on the flip side of it … if that’s what they see and they liked that, too, I’m OK with it. For a long time, I’ve had a lot of disdain for it and wanted to push against it, but I kept getting thrown back into that sort of stereotype. Now I’ve learned to sort of embrace it.”
Though her role in The Girl Next Door “struck a chord with a lot of people,” it’s not something she dwells on in her everyday life.
“I certainly don’t try to keep up with it,” Cuthbert, 39, said. “I would go crazy if I felt like I had to, every time I showed up [to an event], I looked like her. For me it’s not even me, it’s that character. So it seems so strange to live up to a character I played when I was 21.”
“For me, developing that character felt like such an exploration and it felt like such a deep dive,” she explained. “I didn’t feel understood [by the public], because I felt like I had developed that character. I didn’t come to the movie like that. That was my development for that character, so I felt that got lost.”
Given the impact her role had at the time, Cuthbert says fans refuse to let her age.
“Comments are just so weird. It’s like, ‘Oh you look older!’ Sure I do. That’s the way the world works,” she said. “I’ll be on social media and I’ll see a comment like, ‘Oh, why are you so old now?’ Because I am! Because I’m just older than I was. I’m like, I don’t know what you’re comparing it too. Do you know what I mean? There’s this weird feeling, like, people don’t want to see actors or musicians age in any way. So it’s a sorta strange thing.”
Cuthbert has been open in the past about how she’s handled the pressure of being labeled a sex symbol.
“It’s not like I won an Olympic medal,” she said in an August 2022 interview for the podcast Broad Ideas with Rachel Bilson. “It was just some list some random magazine decided to create. When someone reads my bio, those things come up. They actually don’t mean anything in regards to me as a person or my career.”
Many of those images are still in circulation, she explained.
“This is what I have to explain to my kids,” she said of her daughter, 4, and her son, nine months. “This weird, bizarre outfit and hair extensions. And you know what’s so crazy? I don’t even know how much of those pictures are even accurate as far as, like, airbrushing … I was in my early 20s. I didn’t look bad, but did I look that? I don’t even know if the fantasy’s real.”