The outlook for Sunny Mabrey looks, yes, clear and bright. The model-turned-actress whose previous credits included Lonestar and Limp Bizkit videos, guest-spots on CSI: Miami and House, and the big-screen actioner XXX: State of the Union, now can be seen in One Last Thing (now playing on HDNet, then hitting DVD Tuesday) as Nikki, the pinup-worthy object of a dying teen's affections. And come August, you can catch her as Tiffany, a flight attendant in the fashion-your-squeam-belt thriller Snakes on a Plane, which since the very first hint of its title has had fans hissing with anticipation. TVGuide.com spoke with Mabrey about the Sunny days ahead.
TVGuide.com: Now, is Sunny your real name, or is it something like Esmeralda?
Sunny Mabrey: It's my birth name!
TVGuide.com: In One Last Thing, you play a woman who comes to realize the high cost of pursuing the limelight. Did that role change anything about your own view of fame, or were you already a pretty levelheaded gal?
Mabrey: Well, I kind of feel like I've experienced something like she did, in a different way. One of the reasons I originally connected with the character is because I started out as a model when I was young, 18, and I felt like I was slightly burned by it though not as tragically as Nikki was. I was able to do it for a while, long enough to see the workings of the industry and see how some people can take it more as a lifestyle rather than a job and get sucked into this vacuum of something that can be so destructive. I was able to take a step back, I went back to school and finished college, and then I went back to modeling more as just a job. Nikki, though, learned her lessons the hard way. She got burned and became very bitter.
TVGuide.com: There's a scene between Nikki and her former boyfriend that is very powerful. [The twist that is revealed in their conversation] really sneaks up on you.
Mabrey: Yeah, it does. [What is revealed in that scene] is the one thing I haven't been letting out of the bag, because it's cool if you don't know it's there before you see the movie. But it's a huge, pivotal part of the movie, so it is very powerful. We actually shot it in a different way where you see him talking to her, but... having him just saying [what he does] was better than it otherwise would have been.
TVGuide.com: What do you think of all the prerelease buzz your next film, Snakes on a Plane, is getting?
Mabrey: It's pretty crazy! None of us expected that at all.
TVGuide.com: It's so very awesome that they stuck with the title.
Mabrey: Yeah, it's really good. I mean, Snakes on a Plane was the working title... just sort of used to identify the script, since it's so right to the point. [Laughs] But then they changed it to Pacific Air 121, which is, like, so generic and boring. None of us could even remember it "What's the name of our movie again?" And then they saw all the blogs and message boards discussing it on the Internet, and people were begging for them to change it back to Snakes on a Plane. [The film's star] Samuel Jackson was totally for that, so...
TVGuide.com: Do you play a flight attendant or a damsel in distress?
Mabrey: I'm a snake! No, I'm a flight attendant. [Laughs] We have to take care of the passengers, yet be terrified at the same time. My character is a bit of the comic relief, too. It's scary, it's funny.... And there are sad moments, too.
TVGuide.com: Aww, did you form a bond with the snakes on the plane?
Mabrey: I felt sorry for the 20-foot Burmese python we used, but the snake wranglers are so good and they know exactly what they need, they would never put them in any danger or even in an uncomfortable situation. Many of us even had fun playing with them. There's this one snake I got to do a scene with, and they had to put it in this light that surrounds the lobby area of the plane. They had it moving around at first, and then they had to substitute the rubber snake. I was like, "Is the snake... is the snake having fun?"
TVGuide.com: I love how in Flightplan and Snakes on a Plane, flight attendants look like you and Erika Christensen, but go on an actual plane and...
Mabrey: [Laughs] Thanks! My character is sort of the flirty one, too, so she's flaunting it!