Ode to Joy: ‘My Name Is Earl’s Outrageous Jaime Pressly

Jaime Pressly’s teasing–and not just her hair.

With those blown-out trailer park tresses, the wardrobe of Wal-Mart minis and her raspy, rapid-fire redneck rat-tat-tat railing on her karma-obsessed ex on NBC’s breakout comedy My Name is Earl, the 29-year-old actress breathes so much life into Joy, the shrewish but occasionally soft-hearted ex of Earl Hickey (Jason Lee), one wonders just how deep the beauty’s own redneck roots run.

But while she does hail from the South by way of Kinston, North Carolina, she quickly became a citizen of the world when she began to jet-set across the globe as a teenage fashion model, finally landing in Hollywood where she gained notoriety in such films as Ringmaster, Not Another Teen Movie(where she delivered the oft-quoted line “It’s already been broughten!), Joe Dirt and Torque. Add in her own self-created fashion line, and you have an accomplished woman who’s definitely transcended her rural beginnings…but as she tells Hollywood.com, you can take the girl out of the South but you’ll never take the South out of the girl.

Hollywood.com: Joy’s such a wonderfully out-there character that everyone enjoys, even when–especially when–she’s not so nice. Do you have anything at all in common with her?
Jaime Pressly
: Yeah. We both are tough and we’re both survivors. We’ve both come a long way. We’ve dealt with a lot of tough stuff–and not that anyone else hasn’t, but our own tough stuff.

HW: You’re Southern yourself–do you have moments of redneck recognition with Joy?
: Yeah. I recognize that because my grandmother was practically one of those women who said, “Honey, men are like parking spaces. All of the good ones are taken, and the only good ones left are the handicaps.” It was embroidered on a pillow. She actually took the time to stitch it on a pillow. So she had all of these funny sayings, and Joy has these really funny things, and she’s so blatant about everything and she has no inhibitions. It’s not like she’s trying to be mean, but she just doesn’t know any better.

HW: Does your family enjoy the show, with its jabs at Southern culture?
: Oh, they just laugh at it and love it. It’s like 15 characters from the South put into one. So is the accent. Originally it was supposed to be based out of Florida and then [series creator] Greg [Thomas Garcia] decided that he wanted it to be anywhere in America. So he called it Camden County–Camden is the name of his little boy. So I thought that since my character was already Southern and we’d established that, but since we don’t want it to be from one certain place, I thought I would combine it with like four or three different Southern dialects. So I took Arkansas, where you talk out the side of your mouth, and I took Virginia, where they have that high pitch and it’s all nasal, and then North Carolina, which is how I talk when I’m in North Carolina, and then Texas, where we talk real fast. I put them all together, and that’s where Joy came from.

HW: Is your distinctive raspy voice a common trait among the women in your family?
JP: Actually, there’re only two of us like that. I had this high-pitched voice, and then when I was nine I started talking like this all of a sudden. My mom was like, “What the hell is that? Puberty at nine?”

HW: And five years later you were in front of the cameras. How do you think your life would be different if you hadn’t started modeling at such an early age?
: Well, I wouldn’t have been as worldly as I was when I was 15 because I decided to travel by myself for some random reason. I wouldn’t have had the guts to play this character because she’s pretty outlandish and a tough person, really; to let go of your inhibitions completely and be confident enough to get into someone else’s skin. And also, modeling was just a way for me to travel and get out of town.

HW: With the success of the show, have you been hearing from people that you were in high school and random faces from the past like that?
: Oh, people are coming out from holes in the wall. Yes. And you know what? Fine with me. I’m always happy to see an old face.

HW: How do you like wearing Joy’s, um, rather specific fashion choices on the show? Especially since you’re so into fashion yourself.
JP: I have to be honest: Everyone has always tried to dress me up like a Barbie doll because I’m blonde. It gets really old, and I love that I get to look gritty and put face masks on in the show and wear bad makeup and really big hair. I have afro-puffs for white people that I wear everyday. It’s just the best. It’s literally like I get to go dress at a Target and do things that no one else has ever let me do before, aside from Ringmaster which was the Jerry Springer movie. This character happens to be a lot like her. She dresses like her and she is crazy like her.

HW:How is your own fashion line, J’Aime, coming along?
: Great. We just sold great in some markets like in L.A. We’re in the Dallas market right now, and then we have San Francisco. So we’re doing really well and we had a big show February 21st for Magic in Vegas at Pure, Cesar’s Palace.

HW: Do you have a “Joy” collection in the works?
JP: Actually, we’re working on a deal right now that’s possibly going to be for Target!

HW: Will there be a few bedazzled items in that one?
JP: Oh, honey… Everything will be bedazzled. [Laughs]