An attractive blonde actress with an honest, unadorned appeal, Arija Bareikis projects a quietly powerful presence that has led to a burgeoning career on both stage and screen. She racked up theater c...
Rob Schneider's name probably doesn't bring to mind words like "stud" or "libido," but the women who play his assorted would-be lovers in the new comedy "Deuce Bigalow: Male Gigolo" say he's got a certain something.
"He's cute and cuddly," said actress Bree Turner, who plays the errant male prostitute's love interest (not one of his clients, she pointed out) in the film. "He's not what you'd call a macho stud. He's more the sensitive type."
Turner, whose previous roles included a character simply called "Dancer #1" in "Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me," was among the cast members attending the premiere of "Deuce Bigalow" last week at the National Theater in Westwood.
Also trolling the customary red carpet were co-stars Eddie Griffin (of TV's "Malcolm & Eddie"), Arija Bareikis (also appearing currently in "Snow Falling on Cedars"), Adam Sandler (who executive produced the film) and, of course, the love purveyor and "Saturday Night Live" alumnus himself, Schneider.
"It's about a guy who cleans fish tanks for a living and lives next door to a gigolo," Schneider explained. "I take care of his fish when he's out of town." But when the fish sitter accidentally kills one of the gigolo's prized (and expensive) aquatic pets, Schneider's character begins studding himself out to an assortment of odd ladies in an effort to earn enough money to replace the fish before its owner returns home.
"I got the idea after I rented 'American Gigolo' and watched it 13 times in a row," Schneider said. "As I was watching it, I realized, 'This is a comedy, they just don't know it.'"
The comedic twists come, Schneider said, when Deuce finds that the sex trade isn't as glamorous has he'd imagined, and his clients have more problems than a lack of male affection. Along the way, a master gigolo played by Griffin tutors Deuce in the trade.
Among the ladies who call upon Schneider's sexual services in the movie is Marlo Thomas, who said that she dons a revealing piece of lingerie for the part. "I wear a teddy," Thomas said. "It looks great. It felt great, and it was a lot of fun to do the part. Rob is hilarious."
And then there is Big Boy, the 300-pounds-plus disc jockey from Los Angeles radio station KPWR/FM, who appears in the film as a 300-pounds-plus woman.
"I look good. Man, after you see the movie, you're gonna want some of this," Big Boy said, pointing at his own hulking physique.
Had recurring role on the ABC soap "One Life to Live"
Film acting debut in the short "Celestial Navigation"
Acted in the feature "The Naked Man" (released directly to video in 1999)
Had small role in "Snow Falling on Cedars"
Appeared in a recurring role as the sister of a slain inmate who falls in love with an imprisoned Muslim leader on "Oz", HBO's acclaimed prison-set series
Played female lead opposite Rob Schneider in "Deuce Bigalow: Male Gigolo"
Raised in Indiana
Starred in Aaron Harnick's "30 Days" (filmed in 1998)
Played featured role in the black comedy "Pants on Fire"
Feature acting debut in small role in "Twisted Tales"
Appeared at repertory theaters throughout the USA in plays like "Romeo and Juliet" (New Jersey Shakespeare Festival), "The Sweet By'n'By" (Barter Theatre) and "The Visit" (Williamstown Theatre Festival)
Primetime TV debut in episode of "Law & Order" (NBC)
Made Broadway debut in Alfred Uhry's award-winning play "The Last Night of Ballyhoo"
Had co-starring role as Noah Wyle's old girlfriend in the independent film "The Myth of Fingerprints"
Starred in the independent feature "Ties to Rachel"
Had leading role in the midseason replacement series "The American Embassy" (Fox)
Appeared on the daytime dramas "All My Children" (ABC) and "Another World"
An attractive blonde actress with an honest, unadorned appeal, Arija Bareikis projects a quietly powerful presence that has led to a burgeoning career on both stage and screen. She racked up theater credits in regional productions before landing a major Broadway role in 1997 as Sunny Freitag, an Aryan-featured Wesleyan student and Southern Jewish socialite who longs to be a WASP, in Alfred Uhry's Tony Award-winning "The Last Night of Ballyhoo". Bareikis made her film debut in the 1994 short "Celestial Navigation" and followed with the festival-screened independents "Ties to Rachel" (1996) and 1997's "Pants on Fire" before landing a breakthrough role in Bart Freundlich's acclaimed "The Myth of Fingerprints" (also 1997). In the film, she played Daphne, the ex-girlfriend that Noah Wyle's Warren has never gotten over. Through the course of the film the two are reunited and the painful events surrounding their breakup are uncovered. Bareikis offered a very complex and likable characterization as Daphne, an obviously strong and grounded individual trying to release the pain of the past. Her interaction with the comparatively unstable Warren is appropriately tender, and the two display the walk between familiarity and apprehension that exists with an abandoned relationship. The actress could additionally be seen in the Ethan Coen-penned direct-to-video comedy "The Naked Man" (1999). She had her first leading role in a major studio release, starring opposite Rob Schneider in the zany Touchstone comedy "Deuce" (1999).<p> Bareikis' TV appearances have generally been in productions in her adopted hometown of New York, appearing on the daytime dramas "All My Children" and "One Life to Love" (ABC) and "Another World" (NBC), and making her primetime debut in a 1997 episode of "Law & Order". In addition, she had a recurring role on HBO's hard-hitting prison drama "Oz" in 1999. playing Tricia Ross, the sister of a slain inmate who falls in love with Said (Eamonn Walker), the prison's Muslim leader. A spark between the two strong and temperate individuals is evident at their initial meeting to discuss a potential wrongful death lawsuit. The two continue their budding relationship although Tricia's race threatens to ruin Said's status as a spiritual and political leader. Bareikis and Walker's quiet and understated scenes together stood out as some of the more emotionally powerful and well-acted segments of the already exceptional show.
Her name is pronounced AIREE-A BAR-AY-KUSS.
Bareikis on the lesson she learned while lensing her breakthrough role in "The Myth of Fingerprints": "I realized how vital it is to put aside my insecurities and just embrace my total essence of geek. I can't believe I'm getting paid to do what I do. Not only is it fun, but I get to learn so much about myself, about life and about being a human freak." --quoted in Us, September 1997.