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When we're told that Tara Reid will be leaving the set of Josie and the Pussycats (look for it this spring, costarring Rachael Leigh Cook and Rosario Dawson) to join us for dinner, we hope she'll show up modeling her leopard-print leotard costume, complete with ears and slinky tail. Instead she arrives in the outfit she says makes her feel sexiest-faded jeans and a sweatshirt. It's by no means a disappointing entrance. With doe-like baby blues and a sly smile peeking out from under a golden mane, she looks so inviting, we suddenly feel like dumping the Gorgonzola-slice-on-a-fig appetizer and begging her to join us down on the dining room floor for pizza and brews.

Only 25, this New Jersey native has already shown herself to be a full meal of chick-next-door beauty and multi-layered talent, starting with her naughty nymphet routine in The Big Lebowski, followed by roles as a radio sex therapist in Urban Legend, a curious virgin in the smash comedy American Pie, and most recently a gynecologist's daughter in Dr. T. and the Women. Even while making the transition to more adult roles, the vivacious, adorably raspy-voiced Reid is out to demonstrate that while acting doesn't have to mean suffering, it takes skill to make it look like so much fun.

So where's your Pussycats tail?
Oh, the tail is ridiculous. It's so long. If you saw bloopers for Josie, you'd laugh your ass off. We'll all be running in high heels and -boom, boom, boom- we fall because we step on each other's tails. This is the most fun I've ever had making a movie.

We're guessing there isn't much Actor's Studio-style prep work for playing Melody, the Pussycats' ditzy drummer.
Actually, I've been talkingdrum lessons, and I'm pretty good at it, which is bizarre. They call me Animal because my hair goes all over the place when I play. And now I've got these little arm muscles (pulls up her sleeve). I'm like a wild woman! Out of control!

Speaking of muscle shirts, your hometown is Wyckoff, New Jersey. What makes you a Jersey gal?
I love Bon Jovi. Like, that was honestly, to this day, the best concert I've ever seen. I still love Bon Jovi.

What would make us want to visit Wyckoff?
There's a great bar in my dad's house, with Guinness beer taps. It's amazing. Growing up, that's where my dad and my brother and his friends would hang out. When I'm home, I'd rather be there than go out. And I play bartender.

What's your specialty?
I just started making Bloody Mary's. I always thought they looked gross, then I tasted one. There's an art to it, from the Tabasco to the Worcestershire. You can put all kinds of weird things in to make the perfect recipe, like horseradish.

You started out in commercials at a young age. did this make you more or less popular?
Kids made fun of me: "Tara thinks she's so great." You know, stupid shit. They'd write "Tara loves Tara" on my desk. They even made up a song about me: (singing) How chicken is Tara?/How fast can she run? Fast as a snail/So come on everybody/and call her a rat. 'Cause my name backward spells "a rat." I would be, like (fake crying), "I am not a rat!"

Who were your pals, then?
My brother was two grades ahead of me, so I hung out with him and his friends. I was kind of a tomboy, anyway. I was always good at basketball. And when we raced go-karts, I'd win. I was kind of quick and sneaky.

Maybe your brother's buddies let you win because they had a thing for you.
When I started developing and his friends started liking me, my brother freaked out. He was like, "That's my sister. If you talk to her, I'll kill you." My nickname was Untouchable. No one in Wychoff would even dare date me. They'd get beat up.

Lucky you transferred to Manhattan's Professional Children's School at 14. Since that's the Fame school, we were wondering if you got to dance on cars in the street.
It wasn't really like that, but I did have fun. We were allowed to cut class for an audition. Then the whole class would be, like, "Oh, we have the same audition," and everyone cut. And they'd believe you! We'd go to Central Park and just hang out.

Yet you graduated and moved to L.A. Was that tough?
I didn't know anyone. I was like, "All right, here I am. What next?" The first job I got was a guest spot on Saved By The Bell: The New Class, and I thought that was the greatest thing in the world. After that I went on a million auditions but didn't work again for a while. Then all of a sudden the Coen brothers said, "Yeah, you're good enough," and cast me in The Big Lebowski.

Which allowed you, as Bunny Lebowski, to utter the star making proposition "I'll suck your cock for a thousand dollars" to Jeff Bridges. Did you practice that line a lot?
No, I just kind of did it. I was just as shocked that those words were coming out of my mouth as everyone else was.

Do fans ever ask you for a repeat performance?
I've had people ask if I'll sign that as an autograph. I'm like, "No way! You're crazy," That's a line I'll always be known for.

You start shooting the sequel to American Pie in January. Any word on the gross-out sex quotient?
I don't know how it can get any more graphic. When we made American Pie all the actors signed a deal saying we'd come back. It's kind of exciting, but I feel like American Pie 2 will be my graduation from the genre. I can't be a high school kid forever.

How do you balance your starlet status with a desire to tackle more serious roles?
You try your hardest to do good work and get respect, but it's hard because you're cursed if you look a certain way-"Oh, she's pretty; she can't be a good actress." That's bullshit. And a lot of times when I do interviews, writers try to make me into this sex crazed party girl. I do like to have fun, but I'm by no means crazy. And I'm a lot smarter than people perceive.

How did you and boyfriend Carson Daily hook up?
I met him when I was a quest on MTV spring-break show. I didn't think I was going to like him. Then we hung out, and he made me laugh, and I thought, This guy is really cool.

What is it about guys that you like?
I don't like the typical good-looking guy. I know this sounds ridiculous, but I like guys with love handles. When he doesn't care 100 percent about his body, I don't have to obsess about mine. I hate a washboard stomach-does not turn me on.

Excuse me while I order another basket of onion rings.
It's the truth. I like a guy's guy. But I still want to tell him secrets and girly things. I like when a guy makes me feel like a woman and a little girl at the same time. Yet he makes me feel classy...and special. Maybe I've seen too many movies. (laughs)

What's your foolproof plan for getting a guy's attention?
I'll usually walk by him and give him a look.. And if he doesn't see me, I'll walk by him 20 times like a retard. I swear to God, I'll keep walking until he notices me.

Is sexy more about how you look or how you act?
I think it's just being yourself and not having any inhibitions. Some guys don't see much except the exterior-they think you're sexy in a sexy outfit. But some guys are deeper. They notice something that has nothing to do with what you're wearing or you makeup. They say, "It's sexy when you get nervous and pick your lip." It's almost guilt-sexy, like, Oh my God, I can't believe he noticed that. And then you keep doing it.

What's a place you shouldn't be taken on a date?
No strip bars on a first date. That would be bizarre. Honestly, I haven't gone on that many dates. Not official dates.

Official dates?
When a guy asks you out, picks you up, and you go to dinner alone. Not where you meet friends or go to a party-that's not really a date, because there are too many distractions.

What was the first thing you bought after making it big?
A big screen TV. Then a big aquarium. Honestly, the fish are more interesting. I shouldn't tell you this story. I had this fish named Howard that kept eating my other fish. I wanted to teach him a lesson, so I took him out of the tank and threw him in the toilet bowl to scare him. Ileft him in there for a few minutes, and when I came back, he was gone. I didn't know he could just swim right down the pipe. I started crying.

Hey, he had it coming. When is doing a bad thing good?
When you enjoy it.

Give us an example.
How about when I have a Maxim photo shoot where I know I'm not going to be wearing much, but the night before I eat 10 brownies. (laughs)

What Tinsel town cliché are you living right now?
When I say that I live in Hollywood, I mean it. I look out my window and see the giant Hollywood sign. That's the ultimate. It doesn't get any worse than that.

~Tara Reid Interview
Maxim Magazine~

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