BEVERLY HILLS, Calif., June 3, 2000 — Anyone who’s met Claire Forlani could tell you that she has this piercing guffaw that, when it rips, punctures her seemingly calm, proper British exterior.
They could tell you that she can drop her British accent on cue to do dead-on impersonations of some of her co-stars. And they would be quick to point out that she has a sense of humor about the darker parts of her résumé.
And what can Forlani, who’s made out with Brad Pitt, Freddie Prinze Jr. and is currently cuddling Ryan Phillippe (on-camera only), tell you about her co-stars?
“Meet Joe Black” co-star Pitt reminds her of Charlie Chaplin. Phillippe, with whom she partners in the upcoming “Anti-Trust,” was over the moon about working with Richard Roundtree. But as for Prinze, her co-star in Dimension Films’ “Boys and Girls” …
Well, she didn’t know who he was.
Somehow she’d missed Prinze’s rapid ascension to teen hunkdom after “She’s All That,” but she full well understood it when she walked in and met her future co-star.
“I felt like such a loser. I hadn’t heard of him,” the 28-year-old actress confessed. “And when I saw him, I was like, ‘Cool. Yeah all right, I’ll do it.’ … And right off the bat, we were having a good time.”
Their fun translates onscreen in “Boys and Girls,” a comedy that explores romance between opposites. Prinze plays Ryan, an engineering geek who forges an unlikely friendship with Jennifer (Forlani), a free-spirit Latin major who’s commitment-phobic. Despite their polar-opposite takes on love, their relationship seems destined to head into romantic territory. The film also stars Jason Biggs, Amanda Detmer and Heather Donahue.
In the film, Forlani not only dons another American accent (she’s actually British-Italian) but lives the U.S. educational experience, from high school homecoming queen (“They had to explain it all to me, and I got really excited, and they said I got to wear a crown.”) to college at Berkeley. But it still didn’t compare with the host of other new experiences Forlani encountered during the shoot.
First there was a scene that took place at a “foam club” (set up like a carwash, soapy water sprays the dancers), where Jennifer takes Ryan. While Ryan looks on, Jennifer and the other patrons dance a choreographed routine (a la “She’s All That”; both films are directed by Robert Iscove) to Apollo Four Forty’s “Stop the Rock.” Forlani says she didn’t know there would be a dance number.
“They literally pull me into this room with 30 dancers who for two days have been learning a routine that I have to learn in half an hour,” Forlani, who once studied ballet, says. “And it was really complicated, too. I was in the corner … and they ordered like, the Gap kids … and I thought, ‘Oh f***, I’m doomed! And Freddie said, ‘Oh, I can do it.’ And I said, ‘Well, that’s because you’re not meant to get it right.'”
But ultimately Prinze shared in the humiliation when the two were doused with a jet stream of suds, only to find that it wasn’t quite the bubble bath they were expecting.
“It had, like, bloody bleach in it. Freddie and I didn’t talk for four days,” Forlani cries. “I was in agony, and my skin was peeling off. I was itchy and I was in hell and I thought, ‘This is a nightmare.’ And Freddie comes up to me and goes” — her voice drops to mimic Prinze’s perfectly — “‘Dude, is your skin, like, as messed up as mine?’ I was like, ‘Yes!’ and we’d both been suffering quietly for four days thinking we were sensitive. … I mean, it had asbestos in it or something. What’s wrong with Mr. Bubble? Really?”
After this, even her kissing scenes were a breeze. Forlani gets to lock lips not only with Prinze but with Detmer, who plays her neurotic roommate Amy. According to Forlani, Detmer got comfortable by attacking her during rehearsal.
“Freddie and I … we’re like a mile apart and go, ‘Mm-hmm, all right, so that’s where we kiss? OK.’… And then the second I’m with Amanda at rehearsal she’s like (big smooching sound). I sat there going, ‘I love it. Freddie and I are a mile apart, and Amanda’s all over me.'”
Now a bonafide leading lady, Forlani’s come a long way from small roles in big productions (“The Rock,” “Mystery Men”), independents (“Basquiat,” “Mallrats”) and especially — reaching as far back as we can go — “Police Academy: Mission to Moscow” in 1994. Forlani had just moved to the States to break into acting. She recalls with near-glee the day she found out what she’d gotten herself into.
“I hadn’t seen ‘Police Academy,'” she confesses. “I went to video store — after I’d said yes, may I add — and said ‘Have you got any ‘Police Academy’? It was in Los Feliz (Calif.). And the guy behind the counter goes, ‘Oh God. I don’t know, I think so. But man, we stopped at Three.’ And I was thinking ‘I’m doing Seven and you stopped at Three.'”
She sighs and laughs again.
“[But] give me credit for that, it was Seven, and it was not Ethiopia,” Forlani jokes, correcting a reporter. “Ethiopia is No. 8, and I am going to do it.”