Jennifer Love Hewitt Says a Director Told Her to “Be Sexier” When She Was 23

“I don’t know what that means.”

Jennifer Love Hewitt pictured in 2019 wearing a turquoise dress.
(Image credit: Getty Images)

During a candid conversation on the podcast Inside of You, actress Jennifer Love Hewitt revealed that she never felt like she was "in her body" because she was constantly sexualized, even and especially at a young age.

“I didn’t feel self-confident. I felt watched. I felt like I had to be everything for everybody all the time,” Hewitt told Inside of You host Michael Rosenbaum. “I was called sexy before I ever knew what being sexy was. I was 17 years old on the cover of Maxim, and I had no idea why I was on the cover of Maxim. I was honored. I loved it. But why?”

When she was in her early twenties, the now 44-year-old Ghost Whisperer actress says that while shooting the 2001 film Heartbreakers, the director told her: "We need you to be sexier."

"I had to pull him aside and be like, 'I don't know what that means. I'm only 23," Hewitt added. "I know that I'm supposed to be this thing for people, but I don't know what that means. He had to help me figure that out."

David Mirkin directed Heartbreakers, which also starred Sigourney Weaver.

Sigourney Weaver and Jennifer Love Hewitt at the premiere for 'Heartbreakers' in 2001.

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Hewitt went on to explain that because she was so sexualized and made to feel so uncomfortable in her own skin, she thinks it's odd when people pressure her to look like she's still that young, self-conscious 20-year-old actress.

“It’s weird for me when people are like, ‘That’s the girl that we wanted you to be,'” Hewitt said. “That girl was so insecure and so confused and trying her best. But this girl [now]—who may not look [that] way—I like who I am. I feel good. I’m fine.”

The mom of two said that at 44, she doesn't feel sexy "every day" but does "have my moments."

“There’s definitely times where I look in the mirror and I’m like, ‘Oh, dear god, what has happened?’" she added. "And there’s other times where I’m like, ‘She’s got it. She’s fine.'”

Jennifer Love Hewitt pictured with 'Heartbreakers' director David Mirkin.

(Image credit: Getty Images)

The podcast interview wasn't the first time Hewitt has discussed the unnecessary comments she had to endure as a young actress.

In a 2021 interview with Vulture, she said past media attention about her body was "gross" and "incredibly inappropriate."

"I just watched the Britney Spears documentary and there's that whole section in there, talking about her breasts," Hewitt said at the time. "At the time that I was going through it, and interviewers were asking what now would be incredibly inappropriate, gross things, it didn't feel that way."

She went on to add that as a character on the 1997 film I Know What You Did Last Summer, she had "barely any clothing the whole movie," so "for some reason, in my brain, I was able to just go, 'OK, well, I guess they wouldn't be asking if it was inappropriate.' "

"But now, as a 42-year-old woman with a daughter, I definitely look back on it and go, 'Ew,' " she said.

In the same interview, Hewitt brought up the film Heartbreakers, saying that she was "disappointed that it was all about body stuff, because I had really worked hard in that movie to do a good job as an actress."

"I remember one specific moment wishing that the acting had overshadowed all that," she added. "That for five minutes, they had said I was really great in the movie versus made a body comment.

Danielle Campoamor

Danielle Campoamor is an award-winning freelance writer covering mental health, reproductive justice, abortion access, maternal mental health, politics, and feminist issues. She has been published in The New York Times, Washington Post, CNN, NBC, Vogue, Harper's Bazaar, Marie Claire, InStyle, Playboy, Teen Vogue, Glamour, The Daily Beast, and more.