Monday, 5 May 2008

Rebecca Romijn's reinvention


Rebecca Romijn has played her share of fantasy figures - notably the changeling Mystique in the "X-Men" series - but they pale in comparison to her role in Hunter Hill and Perry Moore's new film, "Lake City," which is showing at the Tribeca Film Festival (Friday, 9:30 p.m., BMC Tribeca PAC, 199 Chambers St.). Romijn plays Jennifer, a small-town cop.

What's fantastic is that anyone who looks like a Victoria's Secret/Sports Illustrated swimsuit model would settle for ticketing speeders and savoring the poky pleasures of little-town life. Recognizing this, the filmmakers did their best to dress Romijn down. It almost - but not quite - worked. No matter how hard they tried, it's hard to hide the fact that she's almost 6 feet tall.

"Hunter and Perry requested an ill-fitting uniform for me," Romijn, 35, says. "They wanted the pants a little too short. They wanted everything to be badly fitting. I didn't have to do any hair and makeup. In fact, I made my hair brown with mousse, and our budget was so tight that they asked me not to wash my hair every day so they could stretch the amount of mousse they were using in my hair."

This is a far cry from "X-Men's" Mystique, who required eight hours of makeup every day. More to the point, Jennifer, while she may be a knockout, is recognizable as a real person. She's a reformed alcoholic who attends AA meetings. She seems sweet on a troubled young man (played by Troy Garity) who returns to town with a boy in tow to visit his mother (Sissy Spacek).

But there was never any doubt in Romijn's mind that she could pull this role off.

"I come from a small city [Berkeley, Calif.]," Romijn says. "I don't normally wear makeup. I'm kind of a girl next door. I'm a real wholesome person. I'm a home-body. I hang out with my dogs. I have a pretty quiet, normal life. It wasn't that much of a stretch for me."

The way she was cast was a bit down-home, too. She met the directors on the beach in Montauk and became "beach buddies" over the course of several summers. They told her about the project, and her first response was, " 'Okay, good luck with that,' with a hint of sarcasm." But the script and the cast put an end to the sarcasm. She signed on.

"Ugly Betty" fans are far more used to Romijn in another changeling guise, that of male-to-female transsexual Alexis Meade. As Alexis, her character falls somewhere between Mystique and Jennifer on the reality scale. Romijn has just wrapped the show's second season, and announced this week that there are even more changes in her future. She revealed she will probably not be a regular cast member for the upcoming third season of the hit ABC series.

"They've made a lot of changes with the writing staff," she says of "Ugly Betty." "I know I'm coming back at the beginning of next season, but I'm not sure that they are able to take care of my character as much as they were. So it may be time for me to move on to other things and see what else is going on."

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