Model turned actress Rebecca Romijn has played Mystique on the “X-Men” movie franchise and a transsexual (male to female) on the ABC television series “Ugly Betty,” but most recently the 42-year-old has found herself in the library. She plays Col. Eve Baird on TNT’s new action series, “The Librarians.” She and actor husband Jerry O’Connell have twin girls. She was previously married to actor John Stamos. “The Librarians” premieres Dec. 7 on TNT at 8 p.m.
When you first started out as an actor, were you worried about being typecast because of your beauty?
[Laughs] You know, I didn’t have any grand designs but since I started acting professionally, I have been very careful about the things I’ve said “no” to. I have been very careful to not play anything that seems thankless, like just arm candy or things that my looks completely dictate.
Did you ever feel your looks interfered with people recognizing your talent?
No. I would say the fact that I made a name for myself in modeling had more to do with that. I’m going to go out on a limb and say that every actor gets cast based on their looks. Your looks dictate the kind of roles that you will play. I have been lucky enough to get to play these kick-ass female characters, which I love. I am almost 6 feet tall. I am not a diminutive little teenie tiny actress like most actresses are [laughing] and that’s fine. I can’t complain.
You certainly don’t play wimpy, helpless women.
And that’s not interesting to me anyway [laughing].
Well, you have played a variety of roles from a transsexual on “Ugly Betty” to ex-military on “The Librarians.”
I like to think Col. Eve Baird is more of a man than Alexis Meade on “Ugly Betty” [laughs].
So was comedy ever in your sights as a possible career path or did you just let things evolve organically?
Everything has sort of evolved organically. Most actors, if you ask them when they started acting, the answer is “when I was born.” At a certain point, either you get paid for it or you don’t. I grew up in Berkeley, Calif., which was a really academic place — you know, very politically correct. In the ’70s and ’80s. I was never allowed to skate by on my looks. In fact, I don’t really think I was aware of my looks. I certainly didn’t know how to use makeup or hair care products [laughs]. I never had a blowout until I started modeling. I focused on other things growing up. Becoming a model was exactly what I needed because at that point I needed some polishing. So that’s when I finally polished up my act [laughs].
Were you discovered or did you pursue the modeling career?
Sort of both. I went to UC [University of California] Santa Cruz, and I had a friend who was modeling locally. I was like most students — super poor and desperately needing some summer work. She encouraged me to come with her to her agency in San Francisco. When I went, there was a scout there from an agency in Paris. I did some test shoots, and they invited me to come to Paris for the summer. They convinced me to stay for three years.I certainly didn’t know how to use make-up or hair care products. [laughs] I never had a blowout until I started modeling. I focused on other things growing up. Becoming a model was exactly what I needed because at that point I needed some polishing. [laughs] I started making money early on as a model. That was great. I couldn’t believe I was traveling and making money. My parents weren’t thrilled that I left college for that, but I was also making a living and starting a career. Really, it helped open doors as an actor. I had grown up in musical theater — I went to UC Santa Cruz as a voice major — so I had grown up doing plays, and I was around a lot of funny people my whole life. Comedy was something that was in me and something I definitely wanted to get into.
No nerves or stage fright?
I would say I am still a shy person to a certain extent. And I would say nervousness is different than confidence. As an actor, the ability to commit is the most important thing. That is something you learn from a technical standpoint. But nervousness is something that is also useful because I get a lot of energy from that and focus from that. You figure out how to turn nervousness into energy.
So would you feel weirdly uncomfortable if you didn’t get a little nervous before a performance?
Yes, yes, because that would mean I was bored.
Did you ever worry you would become someone you didn’t want to be once you became famous?
Well I’ll tell you, growing up in Berkeley, my mom’s sisters were not thrilled that I entered the fashion world. I was a little bit shamed by my family for that [laughs]. They never let me forget it. So I was encouraged to move on from, as one of my aunts put it, “the exploitation biz.” Those were some interesting Thanksgiving dinners! Nobody was admiring me for my super model status in my family [laughing].
So when did they come around and say, “Hey, good career choice.”
Ironically, the aunt that said all that is a librarian. So she is thrilled now. She loves actors and actresses and Hollywood and movies and entertainment, so she is all about the fact that I’m in this show.
Your father was Dutch. Are you bilingual?
I’m fairly bilingual. My first language was Dutch. He was a stay-at-home dad when I was a little baby. He was a furniture maker. He only spoke Dutch to me when I was very young, and I spent a lot of time in Holland as a kid in the summertime with my family there. I’m not perfectly fluent in Dutch, but when I’m there they all speak Dutch. I usually speak English, and everybody is fine. Now that I have kids and all my Dutch cousins have kids, a bunch of them all came here, so now I get to speak broken Dutch to them. It’s actually really good practice [laughs].
What about the twins. Are you going to try to have them become bilingual?
We do. There are certain things they know how to say. They know some little songs in Dutch. They know how to say please and thank you and good morning and good night. Also they were really excited to meet all their cousins, so they have learned a few things.
Do the girls know that their parents are famous?
No, they don’t. They know what we do for a living. I think they think everybody’s parents do what we do for a living. They don’t think it’s strange at all. Both come to set often with us. I don’t think they really understand what famous means. I mean, they are huge Katy Perry fans, so if we were like Katy Perry they would be impressed. We’re not, so they don’t care.
It will be interesting when they get to an age where they start saying, “My daddy is .... My mommy is ....”
[Laughs] Maybe. I think they had a kid ask them at school recently — they just started kindergarten — “Are your parents famous?” We picked them up from school, and they got in the car and said, “Somebody said, ‘Are your parents famous?’ and I went ’Nooo.’”
Original article: Post-Gazette