Six years have passed since former Saved by the Bell starlet Elizabeth Berkley lapdanced her way into the middle of a critical maelstrom with Showgirls, and judging by her recent film coups (Oliver Stone's Any Given Sunday, Woody Allen's upcoming Curse of the Jade Scorpion), Hollywood seems willing to forgive and forget. However, the 28-year-old actress insists that she has nothing to apologize for — not even the now-infamous sequence in which her hotheaded alter ego assaults a poor, defenseless ketchup bottle in the middle of a restaurant.
"I see it as the beginning of my film career," Berkley argues to TV Guide Online of the Paul Verhoeven-directed pic, which has since been immortalized as a camp classic. "At the time, there were obvious controversies and difficulties that arose, but it was a choice, and it set me on a path for a movie career that [has allowed me] to work with people at the highest level.
"It's funny how something intense like [Showgirls] can then bring forward people who aren't afraid and who are fearless and really creative, and that's what it did right away," continues the Michigan native. "It brought forth the kind of people I'd want to work with, like a renegade [such as] Oliver Stone or a Woody Allen, who goes to the beat of his own drum. So it weeded out the kind of people I wouldn't want to work with anyway."
Still, Berkley concedes that the backlash that accompanied Showgirls's 1995 release was toll-taking. "We all as human beings — whatever occupation you're in — go through tests," she explains. "This test happened to be very public, so in that regard it was very difficult and [resulted] in certain people in the industry maybe not wanting to meet with me because of it."
Despite all the hubbub, Berkley — who refers to Showgirls as "kind of like an ex-love that I don't even think about often anymore" — says she had "the best time making it, so no one can ever take that away. I challenge someone to tell me a time in their life where they could not wait to get up the next day to go do their work. For me, it was six months of that.
"But I'm such a different person [now], to even think about that time is so weird," she adds. "It's like, 'Alright, movin' on...'"Allen clearly had the same idea when he cast Berkley as a wholesome yet flirty office worker in Scorpion (opening Aug. 17). "He wanted to show me as the sweet girl because [he said], 'People have seen you as the other. I want to show this other side that I see in you,'" she recalls. "I thought it was really great that he saw an aspect of me that's closer to who I really am. We all have a lot of different sides to us, but the sweet girl from Farmington Hills, Michigan, is more like this girl than other characters I've played."