Cameron Diaz Talks ‘Bad Teacher’

In a case of Cameron Diaz being so bad in a movie that she’s awfully good, Bad Teacher’s fabulously funny femme fatale stopped by to teach a thing or two about getting by in life. Like giving the illusion of being a workaholic while doing classroom duty in this movie – even though Cameron confesses to having that very tendency in real life – but taking an extra long nap whenever possible instead.

Additional surprise topics on the table included in no way being into thin, the connection of stock market fluctuations to manhunts for millionaires, and mulling fantasy implants that could do every last one of Cameron’s press interviews for her.

Hey, how are you?

CAMERON DIAZ: Great! Fantastic.

You are hatefully thin!

CD: Hatefully?

In a good way.

CD: Ugh, not when you grow up skinny, girl. You always wanna be heavier. It’s like telling a fat kid – or a woman who was fat as a kid – that you look fat! You know what I mean?

Like when you’re skinny and you get older, you’re like, you’re still skinny? Oh, I’m still skinny! And I worked so hard to…not to!

Which brings up the question of your obsession in Bad Teacher, with getting breast implants. How do you feel about body makeovers like that?

CD: Well, I don’t judge anybody for their decisions, That’s their decision. If they think that’s the right decision for them, who am I to judge.

But if I could get breasts that did these interviews for me, I would have them in two seconds! That would be my choice.

But I can’t. So I…haven’t done it yet! But I never say never!

And I also feel like, for my character, it wasn’t an aesthetic decision, it was a business investment. In her mind, she’s a woman who is trying to land a millionaire. And in this day and age, when the market has crashed, there’s less and less of them.

So it’s harder and harder to find them. And she has to be competitive. Sorry! So if guys are scanning the room! Immediately, there. She’s a bullseye.

Justin Timberlake is a known prankster. So did he play any pranks on you during filming?

CD: No, not at all. I did think he might play the prank of, yeah I’ll do your movie. And then not do it! But he did it!

What got you excited about Bad Teacher?

CD: My character! Um, I love the fact that…You know, I was reading the script, and thirty pages in I was like, there’s no way I can do this. This woman is so horrible, there’s no way to redeem her.

And of course I was going with the assumption that it was just like every other Hollywood script. That you know, you do terrible things for the first half of the movie, and then you spend the second half, the rest of the movie, trying to apologize for it. And make her a good person that everybody likes.

Nope! Got to the end, and it was like, she’s still a bitch! And she didn’t apologize for nuthin’. And I have to play her!

How come?

CD: You just don’t get that opportunity, you just don’t get to play somebody who you don’t have to apologize for. But she was just so much fun to play. And I really wanted her to be blunt. Like I didn’t want any charm. Or maybe her not wanting to hurt somebody’s feelings.

She’s like this rock. So nothing was meant to be moist or warm in any way. It was dry and hard! And you didn’t want to rub up against it! You know what I mean?

Speaking of dry. what about that dry humping intimate scene with Justin, that was really weird.

CD: Well we…strived! Our main objective was to create the least sexiest sex scene ever put on film. And to show the total lack of chemistry between these two people. And I think we succeeded!

It’s usually the other way around, that actors have difficulty creating sexual chemistry where there isn’t any between them. But you and Justin used to be lovers, and in this movie, you have to drum up the reverse, and go for zero chemistry.

CD: Well because we’ll do anything for comedy! Clearly! So we were trying to make it, you know, we really wanted to sell how…bad it was! And how weird his character is. You know, if Elizabeth was really going to take this on, if it was worth it. And is his money really worth it!

You like want, in the very least the guy you have to sleep with for money, to be good in bed. Even if he’s not attractive in any other way. So the fact that she was kinda looking at that as her option is um…pathetic! It’s really just pathetic. It shows how far she would go.

Did you ever have a job you hated like that, where you did everything to think about not working at it at all?

CD: No. You know what? It’s weird. But I’ve always loved to work. You know, my parents instilled a work ethic in me since I was really, really, young. And I’ve always just really enjoyed working.

And they always told me and my sister, whatever job you do, even if it’s scrubbing toilets, you do the best that you can do. And you work as hard as you can. And so I’ve always taken joy in working. And the challenge of a job, whatever it is, to do it as best as I can.

Given your work ethic, how badly do people piss you off when they don’t have a work ethic?

CD: It drives me so crazy! Like if you’re gonna be here, do it. Work your ass off. And I’m telling you, the youth of today, it’s a generational thing. The majority of kids, they just think everything should be handed to them.

It’s like the generation of credit cards. My parents didn’t have credit cards! You didn’t get to buy something you couldn’t pay for, when I was a kid. If you wanted something, you had to have the money to buy it.

And I think the mentality of, oh we don’t have to have money to have things, makes you think that you don’t have to work for things to have them. And I see that a lot with the youth. Like thirty-three is a cutoff. And younger than that, they just have no concept of what it takes to work hard.

And certainly making movies, you get nowhere if you’re not willing to work your ass off. Because we get major hours. And you have to really, really be ready to do hard work to make a movie.

Did you ever have bad teachers like the one you play?

CD: You know, I didn’t have any terrible teachers. Three teachers sort of stood out to me. One teacher always kinda spent the whole year with his feet on the desk! Whom I loved, because he would tell the most hilarious stories.

And every time I repeat them people go, uh okay. That was cool. But they don’t laugh as hard as I do! Because I would laugh my ass off!

And then I had another teacher who always had food in his teeth. So it was like you never knew if when he was talking to you, something would…fly out at you! You’d be like, please don’t come over here, please don’t come over here. Please don’t come over here!

And then I had a female teacher who just hated me. And she was so mean to me. I was so just…what’s your problem! What did I do. I didn’t do anything to you! I’m just existing. I apologize!

Did you talk to any teachers to get into character?

CD: Nope. Didn’t need to! She’s not a teacher!

But there must be some teachers like that.

CD: Yes, I’m sure. But seriously, Elizabeth went to school to nap! Look at her, she’s looking like she’s coming from being out the night before, or she’s going out after school. That’s why she’s always in heels and she’s always like – you think I’m supposed to be here!

But I’m sure there are teachers like her. In needing to take a drink every once in a while! Or pop a pill, or smoke a joint. What are you gonna do? There’s thirty kids in front of you, you need a little…reprieve!

When did you find out you were funny?

CD: Laughter has always been a part of my life. My parents were very funny. And my dad was really blunt. He was like, I’m gonna tell you how it really is. I’m not gonna sugar coat it for you. You have to get a sense of humor about life. Because this is it.

So I was given that at a very young age. And we as a family laugh, we laugh a lot together. Laughter is such a huge part of my life, To me, laughter is life. Laughter is love.

That’s why I love to make movies to make people laugh. Because I feel like it spreads love. You can never have too much of it.

What about getting into raunchy behavior for the movie?

CD: I don’t like films that are just for shock value, that are there just for the sake of being raunchy. And I don’t feel like we’re raunchy.

That is to insinuates that you’re making an effort to shock people. We weren’t. We were just playing out a story that happened to be hilarious.

What’s up next?

CD: I’m filming in London right now. Not this minute, obviously! I’m sitting here with you. But I’m working on a film with Colin Firth and Alan Rickman, called Gambit.

Colin is pretty hot.

CD: Yeah, all my girlfriends are like, so how’s my boyfriend! And I don’t tell any of the girls that he’s got these many girlfriends. Because…clearly!

Um, but it’s a Coen brothers script that Michael Hoffman is directing. And it’s really, really fun. I’m having a great time.

You’re like a real girl’s girl.

CD: Yeah, I love women. Totally. Women are the best thing! I love hanging with woman. But I love dudes too! I love hanging with people! I’m into it. I’m totally down. I love women, I love men, I love just all of it. It’s like…people are fun!

What was it like on the Bad Teacher set when the cameras weren’t rolling?

CD: Everybody was just assholes, and nobody talked to each other! No! We saved all the really funny stuff for the camera.

And the DVD?

CD: And the DVD, yes.

Any July 4th Independence Day holiday plans?

CD: I will be…working! Yep. In London. Where they don’t care at all about the 4th of July!

Prairie Miller
Prairie Miller is a New York multimedia journalist online, in print and radio, who reviews movies and conducts in-depth interviews. She can also be heard on WBAI/Pacifica National Radio Network's Arts Express.