In theaters today, In the Mix presents R&B singer Usher as a New York City DJ who, after taking a bullet for a mob boss (Chazz Palminteri, need you ask), finds himself recruited as bodyguard to the don's daughter. Playing Dolly, the headstrong and head-turning Italian-American princess, is Emmanuelle Chriqui, familiar to TV fans from her role as Sloan, the girlfriend of "Aquaman" Vince's manager, Eric, on HBO's Entourage. TVGuide.com enjoyed a
one-on-one with the actress to discuss her recent "mix" of roles.
TVGuide.com: Let's start with something frothy: A few years ago, you ranked No. 90 on Stuff magazine's list of 102 Sexiest Women. Have you done anything since then to improve your lot?
Emmanuelle Chriqui: I just need to know who ranks these! [Laughs] No, I have done nothing to improve my ranking. It's a nice compliment, but it really doesn't matter to me.
TVGuide.com: In choosing an acting role, what weight does the fun involved carry, versus the challenge involved?
Chriqui: Presently, it's about what kind of challenge it's going to be. Leading up to this point, I'd kind of been doing what's come my way, not being able to be picky. But I'm now trying to create something where I can get to a place in which I can be picky about the material I want to do.
TVGuide.com: In the Mix depends largely on your chemistry with Usher, of which there is tons. Is that something that was there, or can it be faked?
Chriqui: I think it makes it more challenging to fabricate, but with Usher it was just there. We have a great chemistry together. We really, really enjoy each other's company and have really become friends. That was something that we both felt in the screen test. We were like, "Oh, that works!"
TVGuide.com: Did you identify at all with the In the Mix's Dolly and her domineering father?
Chriqui: Interestingly enough, my mother was very domineering, not my father. My dad's just a softy!
TVGuide.com: In your view, what are Dolly's best and worst qualities?
Chriqui: Her best quality is how determined and driven she is; she's quite passionate. Her worst quality is that she can be really uptight.
TVGuide.com: Is she someone you would be friends with in real life?
Chriqui: Yeah, sure! But not the uptight [side of her]. [Laughs]
TVGuide.com: What is your master plan as an actress?
Chriqui: I want to end up making great movies — I mean great movies. Right now I'm just on the path of getting there. I really believe that things happen exactly as they should at the right time, and I feel like I and my team have made a conscious decision to do the things we believe in. Especially from this point on, it will really be important to be able to say no. But hopefully while making such decisions, I'll also do some really great projects.
TVGuide.com: Did 2003's Wrong Turn satisfy or only fuel your thirst for horror movies?
Chriqui: It satisfied it! But I have to say, that was a fantastic experience. Since I'm a horror-film buff — I love horror films — it wasn't that scary to me. And working with a master like [producer] Stan Winston and his whole team... I had to have a full prosthetic body cast made, so there was a full clone of me, which I had never done before.
TVGuide.com: Did you get to keep it, for, like, using in carpool lanes?
Chriqui: They said I could; I opted not to. [Laughs]
TVGuide.com: Let's talk about Entourage. Will you be back in Season 3?
Chriqui: Yeah, I'm going back. I don't know what the story line is, and I don't know for how long.... I think [we start shooting] in January or February. I can't wait to read the first script! I know they're working on it. It's such an amazing show, I love it.
TVGuide.com: What's it like being one of the few girls in the cast? is it a real boys' club there?
Chriqui: It is a boys' club, but it's a nice boys' club. It's like a gentlemanly boys' club. Really, they're so open and cool with me. They embraced me right away.
TVGuide.com: What do you remember about your January 2005, two-episode gig as The O.C.'s Jodie?
Chriqui: [Laughs] I played a lesbian and it went by so fast, but it was fun. I had auditioned for them a couple of times, and then an offer came up.
TVGuide.com: What's next for you?
Chriqui: I have After Sex coming out, which is an indie featuring all these vignettes about different couples, young and old, and their conversations post-sex. Taryn Manning is in it, and Zoe Saldana, Mila Kunis, Keir O'Donnell..... It's a really great cast.
TVGuide.com: Do you always get offered the same types of roles? The exotic beauty? The party girl?
Chriqui: It could be that way, but I think I've been really fortunate in keeping it moving. Sure, sometimes it's the exotic girl, sometimes it's the girl next door or the promiscuous girl or the mafia girl or whatever. In the movie I'm shooting right now, The American Standards, it's a femme fatale role. I'm trying to keep it moving!
TVGuide.com: And all the while having a good time?
Chriqui: I'm having an amazing time!