Jennifer Love Hewitt: Love Lessons

The crop of young stars that came up in the late 90’s was in the process of being cut down in the early aughts.  While many of her former costars were being squeezed out of the business, Jennifer Love Hewitt remained on the rise.  Coming off the hit comedy, Heartbreakers, Hewitt was looking to build on that success and to branch out into a singing career when she on the cover of the September 2002 issue of Movieline magazine.

When the swell that was the teen craze crashed quickly in the summer of 2001 after a number of predictable high-school romances failed to bring in even their core audience, Hollywood insiders were placing bets on which teen stars would swim or sink. Jennifer Love Hewitt profited mightily from the teen craze, making plenty of dollars off two I Know What You Did Last Summers, the cult hit Can’t Hardly Wait and TV’s soggy series “Party of Five.” But she was not one of the young’uns people ever thought would disappear. That’s because by last summer, Love, as she is called by her friends and peers, had already set into motion her strategy for distinguishing herself from the herd of Young Hollywoodites.

In 1999, Hewitt was looking to prove her versatility and grownup chops, so she launched her own film and TV production company. Though her series “Time of Your Life” didn’t last, her bio-movie The Audrey Hepburn Story won viewers and sent out the message that she was willing to take risks. In 2001, Hewitt scored a box-office hit in the mother-and-daughter con woman comedy Heartbreakers, costarring Sigourney Weaver and Gene Hackman. Hewitt seemed to be entering a whole new realm when she starred for first-time director Alec Baldwin in The Devil and Daniel Webster, in which she played Satan opposite Oscar-winner Anthony Hopkins. The choice was arty and, at the time, seemed smart–certainly a far cry from screaming for her life in a two-piece in I Still Know What You Did Last Summer. Too bad the film is being held up by legal hassles.

Now Hewitt is taking yet another turn in her career–she’s starring opposite martial arts expert Jackie Chan in the action film The Tuxedo. With the megahit Rush Hour franchise to his name, Chan is almost guaranteed to bring in moviegoers, which benefits Hewitt nicely. What’s more, she’s launching a new album, Barenaked, which was cowritten and produced by Meredith Brooks (singer of the chart-topping “Bitch”), that could elevate her to hyphenate status.

STEPHEN REBELLO: Jackie Chan seems like an unlikely costar for you.

JENNIFER LOVE HEWITT: When you see us in the movie together, you’ll know why it works. I’ve never had such amazing chemistry with any other actor.

Q: Is Jackie why you took this movie?

A: Yes, I love Jackie more than anything. He made me want to be in the movie. Now that we’ve worked together, I love him so much more and for so many different reasons. I liked my character, too. I play a CSA agent, a nerd, a water expert with an anger management problem, someone who spends a lot of time with beakers, chemicals, chlorine and is not a people person. She becomes Jackie’s sidekick.

Q: Did you do stunts?

A: They had me do wire training and initially we were going to be this kick-butt fighting duo. Then Jackie said, “Why? Let me be the one to do the stuff people can’t go home and try. Let her do the stuff that young girls could try,” which made a lot of sense. I do the lame version of what Jackie does.

Q: Got any war wounds to show for it?

A: I broke my finger on Heartbreakers but I got more fingers broken on this one. I got karate-chopped in the hand and broke my middle finger. We just taped it together and kept filming. There was no room for me to go, “Oh, I need to go home.” Jackie was like, “Are you OK? Yes? We shoot!”

Q: Did you win his respect?

A: He still calls and leaves messages on my answering machine saying “I love you,” and he sings me love songs. I can honestly say I love him very much. He thinks I’m crazy. He constantly made jokes about how I must have been dropped on my head as a child. He kept saying, “I know that there’s something wrong with you because you’re just weird.” He’s right, I am weird. But he completely embraced me for it, which made me able to be as completely wacko as I wanted because it made him laugh.

Q: Do you think he’s sexy?

A: Jackie Chan is sexy. I think anybody who’s that talented is sexy.

Q: Are you satisfied with the kinds of roles you’re being offered?

A: I’m 23 and have been in the entertainment industry since I was 10. At this age, people don’t know what to do with me. I’m not quite old enough to play the parts that I really want to play, but I’m not young enough to play the parts that I’m actually kind of right for. The Tuxedo will help.

Q: Did Heartbreakers open any doors for you?

A: It did very well at the box-office here and great overseas. In terms of “the business,” it didn’t make a huge difference.

Q: What happened to The Devil and Daniel Webster?

A: It’s in, like, movie space. It’s all about a bunch of legal stuff, money stuff. When you do independent films, you take a real gamble.

Q: But a movie that goes unreleased doesn’t help anyone, unless it’s truly awful, of course.

A: I haven’t seen it, but I don’t see how it couldn’t be good. The only thing that upsets me is that I feel like I grew as an actor in the movie and I want people to see that. What upsets me even more is that Alec is such a tremendous director, I want people to see what he did.

Q: Your costars are no slouches in the acting department. Were you intimidated?

A: It was unbelievable to work with Anthony Hopkins. To work with Alec Baldwin was even more unbelievable. The biggest moment was the day we had to shoot the speech that comes at the end of the movie where Anthony Hopkins and Alec Baldwin take me, Satan, to the court of heaven and hell, and I have to try to convince the jury that God is actually the bad one, not me. Anyway, when I was sitting in rollers watching Anthony act, I realized I was not meant to be there, that I had never actually learned how to act. I thought, “I’ve built an entire career without having any idea what I am doing because this man, right now, is really acting.” I ran into my trailer crying, being completely melodramatic and feeling sorry for myself.

Q: Who extracted you from your trailer?

A: Alec came to me and said, “You wouldn’t be here if I didn’t think you were going to be great.” Then, Anthony came and said, “This acting stuff is kind of scary,” and I said, “It sure is.” They told me the way I was feeling was probably a lot like how Satan was feeling, that this was Satan’s first chance to say how left out and hurt she felt at not being chosen as an angel. Alec and Anthony Hopkins made me look at them while I shot my speech. They wanted me to have to look at the people I was most afraid of. When it was done, Alec cried, put his arms around me and said, “That’s why you’re in this movie,” and Anthony said, “You’re one of us now. Congratulations.” For Anthony and Alec to have that much heart just goes to show that they’re good, good people.

Q: How did you and Alec Baldwin feel when reporters said that the two of you were romantically involved?

A: Part of us laughed. Part of me felt really sorry for him. He’s such a good man. There are sides of your personality that sometimes you show that you don’t mean to, but you do because you’re frustrated. But, Alec is a very good, very upstanding, honorable man and father. It upset me because I didn’t want people to think I was in the movie to be romantic with Alec Baldwin on camera. I also didn’t want people to think for one second that he was not in love with his wife because he was, is, whatever–it’s none of my business.

Q: But you two were very close, weren’t you?

A: The reason we were such good friends is that I’ve experienced parents splitting up and he was splitting from his wife at the time. I was able to help him with his daughter, help make her understand that he wasn’t going away. I think he gravitated toward me because I was sort of like a daughter to him. He was able to turn to me and ask, “Am I screwing this up? Did I handle that situation OK?” But my friendship with Alec got turned into such an unfortunate, like, scandal thing that was just so unnecessary.

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Posted on September 19, 2017, in Movieline Articles, Movies and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. Too bad she hopped on the Hollywood Jackie bandwagon just when it started to lose steam!


  2. Why Hollywood Won’t Cast Jennifer Love Hewitt Anymore

    It’s hard to believe Jennifer Love Hewitt is still in her 30s. It’s not that the former child actor and teen star has aged badly, she’s just one of those celebs that seems to have been around forever…in the world of television, at least. At the movies, on the other hand, Hewitt briefly flirted with A-list status before completely dropping off the radar. Looking back at her career, it’s easy to understand why.

    Critics loathe her

    Having a bunch of critics pan you presents a bit of problem. Hewitt was named the worst-reviewed actress in Hollywood in 2016, and a quick glance at her Rotten Tomatoes record highlights the lack of love she’s received from the industry. Sixteen of her feature films have “Tomatometer” scores, and every single one has been deemed “Rotten.” Her latest effort to swap the small screen for the big one came courtesy of 2013’s Jewtopia, a romantic comedy described as a film that “manages to be offensive to almost everyone, including people who like to laugh at something because it’s funny.”

    She’s thin-skinned

    Getty Images
    No director wants to work with someone who can’t handle criticism (constructive or otherwise), and this is another likely reason Hewitt isn’t inundated with offers anymore. Case in point: she made a huge deal about quitting Twitter over the sheer “negativity” that users were sending her way, writing, “I’m sad to say Twitter is no longer for me. Life should be filled with positivity and holding each other up, not making threats and sending bad vibes…” All Hewitt did by making a show of leaving Twitter was highlight her unpopularity. Not to mention, her grand exit was all in vain because she later returned and began tweeting as much as ever.

    She has a difficult reputation

    A bad reputation will follow you around like a bad smell on the streets of Tinseltown, and getting into a drawn-out spat with producers is a sure-fire way to earn one. Hewitt’s Lifetime series The Client List was preparing for a third season in 2013, but the network put it on ice when the actress got pregnant. Her pregnancy wasn’t the issue (her character in the show was actually having a baby too). It was how she wanted to incorporate it into the show that allegedly put her at odds with producers. The actress reportedly wanted co-star Brian Hallisay (her partner in real life and the father of her real child) to play the father of her baby on the show. Producers had other plans, which put them at an impasse with the actress. Hewitt apparently wouldn’t budge, so the entire show was axed.

    Her fears may get in the way

    Numerous celeb gossip sites claim Hewitt has a long list of phobias that could certainly hamstring her career ambitions. According to Zimbio, she has said, “The trouble is that many of the Hollywood meetings I have to attend take place at the top of tall buildings, and I simply cannot set foot in [an elevator] if there are too many people in it. I prefer it when it’s empty so I can scream if I want to. I am also scared of sharks, which is why you will never find me in the sea.” The Times of India quoted the actress admitting, “I am a terrible hypochondriac. I have every illness known to man, and I am pretty sure I have had the bird flu four of five times. I know I drive people mad with my phobias.” Fear of Stuff alleges she’s also afraid of chicken wings and freaks out if her teeth touch a bone. If any of this unsubstantiated, but oft repeated, scuttlebutt is true, it could explain why Hewitt seems to be collecting more eye rolls than movie roles.

    She starred in the worst box office opener in history

    In the animated adventure Delgo, Hewitt stars as one of several avatar-like creatures divided by race wars and romance. At the time of its 2008 release, the film was the worst box office opener in history, grossing a shocking per-venue average of just $237. According to a critic for Cartoon Brew, the ill-fated movie “hired every B- and C-list actor this side of Dancing With the Stars and somehow still failed.” Ouch. At the time of this writing, that flick was still sitting in the no. 2 spot on Box Office Mojo’s list of all-time worst openings.

    Fans petitioned to boot her off Criminal Minds

    During her debut season on Criminal Minds, fans actually petitioned CBS to give her the boot, claiming audiences “can only stand so many more episodes of this Lifetime Movie-style acting” and specifically citing the “twerking joke” in the video above. The network did, indeed, write off FBI Agent Kate Callahan, though reportedly not in response to its disgruntled followers.

    According to Cinema Blend, Hewitt waited until the end of 2014 to tell the creative team she was pregnant with her second child and due in the summer of 2015, when filming would need to resume for the next season of the show. Though much of that season’s finale was already locked down, the team made adjustments to eliminate her character. Showrunner Erica Messer told Entertainment Weekly, “Timing-wise there was no way for her to do both, to be able to give that baby everything she wanted to give that baby and still be on our show.”

    She alienated women

    Hewitt falls into the same category as Anne Hathaway, in that she seems to inspire an inexplicable hatred in hordes of people, particularly women. Reasons vary, but most complaints seem to come from those in their late 20s and early 30s, a generation of viewers who were sold the idea of Hewitt as the relatable girl next door but weren’t able to “see anything beyond the boobs and the wide, wet eyes.” That’s an important demographic for Hollywood producers, so taking a chance on an unpopular actress who gets slammed in the celebrity gossip columns may not be worth the gamble.

    Hewitt has also been accused of behaving like a hypocrite. In 2008, she responded to some unflattering paparazzi photos with a statement on body image: “To all girls with butts, boobs, hips and a waist, put on a bikini. Put it on and stay strong,” she said on her blog (via People). It was a sentiment applauded by her female followers, but those same fans were shocked when Hewitt then lost 18 pounds in ten weeks and showed off her new body in a controversial magazine shoot.

    She isn’t profitable

    Hewitt’s most successful film in terms of box office return remains the one that shot her to stardom in 1997. I Know What You Did Last Summer was put together for an estimated budget of $17 million and returned a massive $72 million from the domestic market alone, with a further $53 million banked overseas. Hoping to see the same profit margin with the sequel, producers budgeted $65 million, but the writing was on the wall when the first weekend’s receipts amounted to less than $17 million. Action comedy The Tuxedo (2002) was another box office bomb in the States.

    She was considered for a Razzie, twice

    The Golden Raspberry awards take place the evening before the Oscars, an unofficial counterpart that “celebrates” the absolute worst in film. While some Razzie winners have gone on to redeem themselves and even win Academy Awards, for others, the association is a nail in the career coffin. Hewitt is said to have twice been in the mix for the worst actress of the year award, appearing on the preliminary Razzie ballot in 2003 for her performance alongside Jackie Chan in The Tuxedo. Her name reportedly reappeared in 2005 for her performance as vet Liz Wilson in Garfield: The Movie.

    How she can turn it around

    At the time of this writing, Hewitt doesn’t seem to have any major professional projects in the works. Perhaps she’s interested in focusing on her family, which is fair enough. If she wants to remain relevant in Tinseltown too, she could explore ways to blend motherhood with celebrity lifestyle branding, à la Jessica Alba and her eco-friendly baby products. Hewitt designed a line of maternity wear in 2014, so she clearly has some experience in that realm. The former scream queen could finish the follow-up to her relationship advice book, The Day I Shot Cupid, which has reportedly been in the works for years. If she wants to act again, Hewitt may want to reach out to Criminal Minds showrunner Messer, who told Entertainment Weekly “the opportunity for paths to cross again is definitely open,” or she could hunt for an original series that is fresh and off-kilter, taking a chance that it becomes a fan favorite.


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