Olympic gold-medalist Tara Lipinski expands her TV repertoire even further when she throws Malcolm's brother Reese for a (toe) loop on this weekend's Malcolm in the Middle (Sundays at 7 pm/ET). TVGuide.com talked to the 24-year-old cutie about her latest small-screen venture, the racy film role she bailed on and how she almost went Skating with Celebrities.
TVGuide.com: Tell me about your Malcolm in the Middle role. Who are you playing, what's she about...?
Tara Lipinski: I play Carrie, who's this quirky and earthy antifur, antimeat vegetarian type. It was a really fun to play her, so different than anything I've done before. On the show, I think Reese (Justin Berfield) is all about my beliefs and is really into it, when the whole time he's really working at a meatpacking place. So you can kind of guess what happens!
TVGuide.com: Reese lying to get a girl? I'm shocked.
Lipinski: You think? [Laughs]
TVGuide.com: In real life, are you a vegetarian or anything remotely like that?
Lipinski: Not anything remotely like that.
TVGuide.com: You like a good burger?
Lipinski: I love a good burger!
TVGuide.com: How was Justin and the rest of the Malcolm gang?
Lipinski: They were so relaxed, very laid-back. It was a lot of fun.
TVGuide.com: Is everyone more at ease because the show is concluding its run?
Lipinski: Yes and no. They still want to make every episode great, and the director was amazing.... It was just a fun vibe. One day we were on location on like the coldest day in L.A., but it was all good!
TVGuide.com: Plus, you're not playing an ice-skater.
Lipinski: Oh, yeah, I haven't played an ice-skater in, like, six years.
TVGuide.com: What was your first nonskater acting role?
Lipinski: That was The Young and the Restless, in 1999. I played the recurring role of Marnie, a first-year college student. That's when I really started to love acting. When I first tried acting, I didn't think I was going to get into it and become an actress I was still skating and touring, doing my own specials and then they put me on Touched by an Angel. Then after I did Y&R, I was like, "Oh my god, I love it!"
TVGuide.com: What's the thing where you played an alien...?
Lipinski: On Nickelodeon's Are You Afraid of the Dark?. I played a flesh-eating alien. [Chuckles]
TVGuide.com: Awesome. Definitely not a vegetarian.
Lipinski: Definitely not a vegetarian. That was one of my favorite roles because I was a high-school student who everyone thought was normal, but really I was an alien.
TVGuide.com: Which TV show would you love, love, love to be on, but haven't yet?
Lipinski: That '70s Show. The producers and I would always talk about it, but it was just never right. The last role I went in for was as a stripper, and it just wasn't right.
TVGuide.com: Damn, if you did Malcolm and That '70s Show, you'd be like Fox's going-away-party hostess.
Lipinski: Wouldn't that be funny? That '70s Show is one of my favorites. It's just the best.
TVGuide.com: Your first on-screen kiss didn't come until a year ago, on Still Standing. How'd that go for you? Nervous?
Lipinski: I really don't get nervous when I'm acting. I don't know if it's from all my experience skating....
TVGuide.com: "I do skating moves where if I fall, I can crack my skull open. A kiss is nothing."
Lipinski: Yeah. I'm used to performing in front of so many people with only one chance to do it, and I'd make a fool of myself if I really messed up, whereas now it's not that big a deal to do it over and not in front of a sold-out Staples Center!
TVGuide.com: Do you get pitched reality-TV stuff? Like Skating with Celebrities?
Lipinski: Skating with Celebrities [talked to me], but I never did it. That's not my sort of thing. I'm passionate about acting now.
TVGuide.com: Did I read that you have a role in Bruce Willis' upcoming Alpha Dog?
Lipinski: I actually was offered a part in that but... I declined because it involved nudity, and I didn't want to do nudity at that time. [Mere minutes after finishing with Lipinski, this reporter learned that Amber Heard had taken the role instead.]
TVGuide.com: What about Will Ferrell's figure-skating comedy, Blades of Glory?
Lipinski: I read the script for that and while the idea of working with Will Ferrell was so amazing, I didn't want to [do a movie about skating]. But the script is hilarious, I tell you. I could not stop laughing. I was like, "Darn, why couldn't they be gymnasts?!"
TVGuide.com: Tough call you made there.
Lipinski: Yeah, it's hard, but I hope that people will respect that [acting] is something that I've given up a lot for, and I'm not just taking whatever I can just to take it. At this time, I really want to have more diversity and show other sides of me.
TVGuide.com: Are you open to a series-regular TV gig?
Lipinski: Totally! I'd be open to anything. I'd love to do more TV. When they asked me to walk in Fashion Week... I watch America's Next Top Model all the time, so I was like, "Are you kidding me? This will be so much fun!" America's Next Top Model is my most favorite show ever.
TVGuide.com: Who's your early pick to win this season? Lipinski: I like Sara.... You know who else I like? Brooke, the brown-haired one with the really big lips. I love her, and with her new makeover I think she's so cool.