Elisha Cuthbert knows the question before it's even asked. "No, I didn't watch any porn films to prepare for the role," laughs the 24 starlet and frequent Maxim pinup. No, she's not referring to a Very Special Episode of 24 where her catastrophe-prone character Kim Bauer, goes undercover to infiltrate L.A.'s adult-film industry. She's talking about her part in the romantic comedy The Girl Next Door, which opens in theaters today.
Cuthbert plays Danielle, a seemingly normal girl who becomes involved with her next-door neighbor, a nerdy high-school senior named Matthew (played by Emile Hirsch). The unlikely romance goes swimmingly until Matthew receives some unwelcome news: His new girlfriend is an ex-porn star. "The script had everything I was looking for as far as character goes," says Cuthbert. "I wanted to prove that I have the skills to transform this girl from the girl next door to and adult-film star and make it all blend together."
In place of Debbie Does Dallas, the actress studied up for her role by watching such films as Risky Business, True Romance and Fight Club. Why the last one? "It's one of my favorite films," explains Cuthbert. "Also, Danielle has to influence and kind of overpower Matthew, and I thought Brad Pitt did a wonderful job of that with Ed Norton."
If she's concerned about being typecast because of the role, she doesn't show it. "I'm all over the map. I don't ever want to be categorized by a genre, it's about characters for me. My next film may be completely different." The one rule she swears she'll always follow — sorry guys — is no nudity. "I don't feel it's necessary. I'm not comfortable with it and I think you can be a leading lady and not be naked."
For her next big-screen role, Cuthbert will be jetting off to Australia to appear in the horror remake House of Wax opposite Chad Michael Murray and Paris Hilton. Before she hops on a plane though, she has to finish work on the final two episodes of 24. "I can't give too much away, but Kim is finally going to be breaking out," she says cryptically. "And I have a great scene with Keifer Sutherland coming up soon. I'm really excited to see it. I don't often watch the show, but I'm planning to watch that episode."
Also, look for the dormant romance between Kim and Chase to reappear before the season ends. "We need to let audiences know what's going on with that. It was set aside because of the duties that had to be done, but we'll bring it back when we have some breathing room." Any hints about the final episode? "It's an interesting ending, not like any other 24 season," she teases. "And I feel very confident that the show will be back next year. I had a conversation with one of the producers and he's already working on an idea for next season. The only thing I'm not sure of yet is if I'm a part of it. If they ask me, I'll be there. If not, I'll go off and do movies."