Reinventing Rebecca Romijn
By George Gurley
Photo Credit: James White
Quite simply, she knows she's been given the chance to play a revolutionary character on prime-time television, and she's going for it."I've had a lot of people ask, 'How does it feel to be a man?' My response is, I'm not playing a man," she says. "I'm playing a woman, and Alexis loves being a woman. And so do I! And she's very girly. And so am I! But she's also really lonely. That's where we're different."
Romijn dips a chip in the guacamole then redips it in the salsa. Quirks can be so reassuring in perfect women. When she winds up on lists like VH-1's 100 Hottest Hotties and People magazine's 50 Most Beautiful People, Romijn takes it with a major grain of salt. "What does that mean? Did they really go and look at every single person in this world? I don't think so. Ha ha!" I suggest a more appealing designation for her: the least neurotic person in the world. Romijn considers that. "I guess I can be a little neurotic sometimes, but can't everybody?" she asks. "You know what? I'm not into big drama. I try and stay away from that. I think life throws enough curveballs that you shouldn't make such a big deal out of everything. You just have to sort of roll with the punches."
Romijn grew up in Berkeley in the 1970s. Her hippieish parents weren't poor-poor, but it was a fairly humble upbringing. "We went to Value Village and garage sales-we were big flea-market people," she says. Even by Northern California standards, her folks were pretty liberal; her relaxed, Dutch father, a furniture and toy maker, sometimes answered the door in the nude. Romijn reportedly smoked her first joint at age 10 with friends of her parents and decided it wasn't for her. Her parents divorced when she was 7 but lived across the street from each other for six more years, until Romijn's mom, an English teacher, moved to a sketchy part of Oakland. Her idea of fun in those days? Diverting, laugh track-laden sitcoms like The Facts of Life, The Brady Bunch, and Three's Company. "I love uplifting television," Romijn says. Other loves included "Prince, the Beastie Boys, and Wet n' Wild lipstick, cuz it was 99 cents at Bill's Drugs."Romijn did a short stint at the University of California at Santa Cruz before a friend hooked her up with a modeling agency-three weeks later she was living in Paris and making serious money. She strutted the catwalk for three years, appeared on numerous magazine covers (but turned down Playboy), and was anointed "the face" of Liz Claiborne and Tommy Hilfiger-all of which left her restless and bored. Acting was the next challenge.