New York Film Locations

Special Feature: Cameron Diaz (Day 1)

11 December 2021

This week, otsoNY is running a special feature on retired actress Cameron Diaz. From her start in "The Mask" to her appearances in "A Life Less Ordinary", "My Best Friend's Wedding" and "What Happens in Vegas". There will also be a special look at "The Holiday" and its UK film locations.

Born in San Diego, California to Billie and Emilio Diaz, a foreman of the California oil company Unocal, Cameron Diaz was raised in Long Beach and attended Los Cerritos Elementary School, and later Long Beach Polytechnic High School.

While still attending high school, Diaz signed a modelling contract with Elite Model Management at age 16 and appeared in advertisements for Calvin Klein and Levi's. The following year, at age 17, she was featured on the cover of the July 1990 issue of Seventeen magazine. Diaz also modelled for 2 to 3 months in Australia and shot a commercial for Coca-Cola in Sydney in 1991.

In 1992, at age 19, she was photographed and videotaped topless for an S&M leather fashion lingerie editorial by John Rutter, a professional photographer. They were never released. Rutter approached Diaz in 2003, ahead of the release of “Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle”, offering to sell the pictures and video to her for $3.5 million before attempting to sell them to prospective buyers. He stated that he was offering her first right of refusal to them; she saw it as attempted blackmail and sued him. In July 2004, the 30-minute video of the photo shoot, entitled “She's No Angel”, was released on a Russian website. Rutter denied releasing it. In September 2005, Rutter was sentenced to more than three years in prison for attempted grand theft, forgery, and perjury.

At the age of 21, Diaz auditioned for “The Mask” playing a jazz singer named Tina Carlyle, based on the recommendation of an agent for Elite, who met the film's producers while they were searching for the lead actress. Having no previous acting experience, she started acting lessons after being cast.

“The Mask” became one of the top ten highest-grossing films of 1994 and launched Diaz as a sex symbol; her iconic opening scene showed her sultry, seductive and sopping wet from the rain. She moved in slow motion and wore a sprayed-on red dress. The film was shot in California, though actually featured the disused Firestation No.23 at 225 East Fifth Street in downtown LA, which had also been used as the interior of the famous New York firehouse for “Ghostbusters”.

As a means of being taken more serious as an actress, Diaz subsequently starred in the independent 1995 black comedy “The Last Supper”, playing one of several liberal graduate students who invite a group of extremist conservatives to a dinner to murder them. Film critic Roger Ebert deemed the film ‘a brave effort in a timid time, a Swiftian attempt to slap us all in the face and get us to admit that our own freedoms depend precisely on those of our neighbours, our opponents and, yes, our enemies’.

She then had a lead role as an ex-stripper in the dramatic comedy “Feeling Minnesota”, in which she co-starred opposite Keanu Reeves, Vincent D'Onofrio, and Courtney Love. The same year, she was cast opposite Jennifer Aniston in the Edward Burns-directed comedy “She's the One”, which was partly shot in New York City and included the film locations; Greene Street, the apartment buildings at 80 Grand Street and 268 West 12th Street, Battery Park, the bar at 767 Washington Street, and the once McHales Restaurant at 750 8th Avenue.

Continues tomorrow with roles in “Head Above Water”, “A Life Less Ordinary” and “My Best Friend’s Wedding”.


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