Nicole Richie no longer leads a simple life — and that's just fine with her. In January, the former reality star entered the hectic world of motherhood when she and her boyfriend, Good Charlotte lead singer Joel Madden, welcomed a baby girl, Harlow. (Despite tabloid headlines to the contrary, Richie says she and Madden are together.) On the professional front, the 27-year-old Richie is attempting a bit of a career reinvention, designing a line of jewelry, reportedly working on an album and even returning to TV. On Oct. 20, she guest stars on NBC's espionage comedy Chuck (8 pm/ET) as a former high-school nemesis of Sarah (Yvonne Strahovski). We asked Richie about the surprisingly physical role. — Mary Murphy
TV Guide: How did you get the role on Chuck?
Nicole Richie: I auditioned like every body else. I knew it was a really fun part and it seemed like a challenge. I get a lot of scripts to play blonde, bubbly cheerleader types. She was different than that. She has a dark side. She is a typical mean girl. I was a cheerleader in high school, but I was never in a clique and I never treated anyone like she does.
TV Guide: You have a delicious fight scene with Yvonne Strahovski. Did you do your own stunts?
Richie: I did them all except for the falling down part, where I might get hurt. I worked with a martial-arts trainer for a week. It was so freeing. The director was nervous about the scene. He wasn't sure I could do it. They thought they would have to pull me through, but it was easy — except by the second or third day, I was really sore.
TV Guide: After The Simple Life, would you ever do another reality show?
Richie: I would never let them bring cameras into my home. That was the great thing about The Simple Life: It took a month to film, you went away, and it had nothing to do with your personal life. I am a very private person who does not love to open up my home or any information about my family, especially now that I have a daughter.
TV Guide: Paris Hilton has a new reality show searching for a new best friend. Have you guys patched up your feud?
Richie: Oh, yes. It is a really great friendship even though I am a mom and she isn't. But I don't want to get into my personal life. [Hilton appeared on the Late Show that very night and said that she and Nicole, who have been friends since grade school, are BFFs again.]
TV Guide: I understand you and Joel are getting more involved in philanthropy.
Richie: Joel is actually going with UNICEF to Africa this month. Unfortunately, I can't go because I am still nursing. I am so jealous.
TV Guide: And you're raising funds for a playground?
Richie: Beyond Shelter is a transitional living place for families. There are 175 children living there and they have no playground. My parents never let me see any problems they were going through. These kids are taking on all their parents' problems. They have no place to just be innocent, and it's heartbreaking. So we worked out a system where you can text "child" to 90999 from any cell phone and it automatically bills $5 to your phone bill and that money goes directly to building a playground. Joel and I are trying to do some good.
TV Guide: It sounds like you have a really solid relationship.
Richie: Yes, we do. But we don't talk about it because we have a very private family.
TV Guide: You were in a lot of trouble a few years ago, and even served 82 minutes of a four-day jail sentence for DUI. What do you think you have learned from your mistakes?
Richie: I made bad decisions. So has every body else. Mine happened to be in public. I would never put pressure on anyone to say you can't make mistakes. That's the point of making mistakes, to learn from them. And I learned not to do them again.