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May 14, 2007

Reinventing Rebecca Romijn

rebecca romijin

Photo Credit: J. Vespa/Wire Image

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By 1997, despite exploring her sense of humor in episodes of Friends and Just Shoot Me, she found a dubious niche in things like the X-Men movies, an unfortunate 2002 remake of Rollerball, and Brian De Palma's thriller Femme Fatale, which included a sapphic make-out session and some shockingly X-rated dialogue. When you're a blonde bombshell, that's pretty much how the world likes to see you. "I tend to get a lot of scripts for the 'dirty, sexy, nasty, dangerous girl,'" Romijn says. "People think I'm some oversexed wild woman. And I'm not."

It's to her credit that, in 2006, she found her way back to what she does best, comedy-first in the short-lived sitcom Pepper Dennis, then in Ugly Betty. No wonder Romijn's got a thing for actresses like Lucille Ball and Goldie Hawn, who, she says, "have been able to do comedy in spite of how sexy and beautiful they are."

But if Romijn has found her métier, she is also realizing, with some annoyance, that she'll never quite lose the model-turned-actress moniker. "They never call Harrison Ford 'carpenter-turned-actor,'" she notes. "The fact that I made a name for myself doing that did kind of start me at a less-than-zero position. But it also challenged me. It dared me to prove them wrong."

Romijn and her fiancé, Jerry O'Connell, an actor on Crossing Jordan, live in the hills of Calabasas, CA, in a house that used to be a brothel. She lived there with her first husband, John Stamos, whom she met backstage at a fashion show when she was 21. They divorced in 2004. Romijn makes it clear we won't be discussing him. "Yeah, that was a different life," she says with some finality.But O'Connell-that's another story. "I mean, he's my best friend, and he's the most charismatic person; he's sparkly, and he's got this giant joyful face that I just love to look at. We have so much fun together, and he's hysterical."

They play badminton; they barbecue; they tend the vineyard that they recently planted; they swim in the pool that took five years to put in that Romijn says she's "gaga over." They also ride around on a tandem bike, "which is honestly great couples therapy," she says. "There's all sorts of trust issues that are happening when you're the one in the back-you can't steer, you can't brake, and you can't see ahead of you; all you can do is pedal. It requires coordination, communication, and compromise. The first couple of times, he was doing dumb boy stuff-he was going off little jumps, and I was like, 'You know what? If you make this scary, I will not do these rides with you.'" But now they're in sync: "We have a headphone splitter, and we make bike-riding playlists."

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