February 22, 2013
October 25, 2012
If you want to see a blooper reel of me blowing it while trying to do a reading for the camera ... watch at 6:40 of this clip ... but because Adaptive Action Sports is so rad, you should watch it all!
Special thanks to Oscar Loreto!
October 18, 2012
Interviewed adult film star Stoya a few years back and it's finally seeing the light of day ... Thanks Jenkem!
August 1, 2011
Ryan Sheckler: Paying it forward
Words: Robert Brink
Originally intended for 944 magazine this month, this piece never saw the light of day because the mag folded. Enjoy.
Sponsored at 6-years old and pro by age 13, it didn’t take long for San Clemente native, Ryan Sheckler (now 21) to reach the top of the game in skateboarding—and subsequently cross over to a mainstream success that 99.9% of his industry cannot fathom and most certainly won’t ever experience.
Sheckler was the youngest professional skateboarder to have a signature model shoe. He’s won multiple X Games gold medals, had his own reality show on MTV, achieved teen heartthrob status, sealed endorsement deals from Got Milk, Axe, Proactiv and more, scored roles in movies with the likes of The Rock and appeared on stage at a ‘Lil Wayne concert.
So what’s left when you’ve done everything there is to do before you’re even old enough to legally buy a pack of American Spirits?
Pay it forward.
And that’s what Ryan and The Sheckler Foundation have been doing for the last four years.
“In 2008 I wanted to donate my car to charity,” Sheckler says. “We held an online auction and raised $220,000. I realized in the process that we had a huge following who also wanted to help others. We knew if we started our own foundation, we could activate these followers and really make a difference.”
The Sheckler Foundation aims to create awareness and raise money to fund medical research that focuses on curing childhood disease and spinal cord injuries, as well as enrichment programs for kids in underprivileged communities.
“We want to let people, especially the kids of today, know that anyone can give back and that we all need to,” Ryan explains. “The world can never have too many people giving back.”
Since it’s inception, The Sheckler Foundation has partnered with organizations like the Rob Dyrdek Skate Plaza Foundation, Wings for Life, TACA, Road 2 Recovery, Bridger Hunt Fund, Tony Hawk Stand Up for Skateparks, San Diego Medicine Foundation, ARF, CCRF (Children’s Cancer Research Fund), A-Skate Foundation and Stoked Mentoring Foundation.
“We’ve done several different types of events over the years,” Sheckler explains. “The charity golf tournament and Skate for a Cause are two of our most successful and fun events. I really enjoyed our charity MMA fight as well. ‘Lil Jon performed and Jason Ellis turned pro that night. We are also planning on having a gala later this year, so I’m interested to see the outcome.”
Ryan is currently working on his Plan B skate video part, mostly likely dropping before the end of the year. It's got the lovers, haters and every online skateboarding forum lit up. But are there enough hours in the day to juggle the foundation and the skate career?
“Skating and giving back have always been a priority for me,” Ryan says. “At the moment, the video is the biggest thing on my mind, but I’m loving my life and doing what makes me happy—traveling the world and helping people through my foundation. It’s all a blessing so there really isn’t anything difficult to speak of. I don’t feel I’m juggling anything.”
Sheckler aims high. And with a track record of success like his, why not? “There are so many great foundations out there,” he says, “I’d like our foundation to go the route of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. And my hope is that everyone gets to experience what it feels like to give back because the takeaway is amazing!”
The Sheckler Foundation will soon be launching the Passion Project, which gives the Foundation’s community an opportunity to nominate a need and the Foundation will mobilize to help solve the problem. For more information and to learn how to get involved with upcoming events, visit www.shecklerfoundation.org.
May 18, 2011
Elegant Fun, SoCal Style
Laguna Cliffs spa and resort knows nuance
By Robert Brink
944, May 2011
Looking for a bit of youthful fun reminiscent of carefree summers of yore? Enter Laguna Cliffs Marriott Resort and Spa in Dana Point. Recently renovated and honored as Dana Point’s 2011 Business of the Year, the AAA Four Diamond Victorian-style resort overlooks the Dana Point Harbor and offers a true Southern California experience: sunshine, ocean views, palm trees, pools, hot tubs, a spa, yoga classes, fitness facilities, indoor and outdoor wining and dining, live entertainment, tennis, volleyball and close proximity to tourist attractions and destinations—all par for the course.
Yet it’s the unexpected—the attention to fun detail—that sets Laguna Cliffs apart from other Southern California resorts — for starters, arriving at the valet to a fully restored, $175,000 1940 Ford Woody that’ll thrust any car or surf enthusiast into geek overdrive.
The pool, of course, is an important facet of any resort stay. Each of the two pools at Laguna Cliffs features hot tubs, a full-service bar, a grill menu and an outdoor lounge. While laying poolside, guests will be pampered hourly by servers delivering complimentary fruit, Otter Pops, Evian misting and sunglass cleaning. Why the latter? Because who wants sunblock or Otter Pop debris slathered all over their glasses while trying to watch kids surf a simulated barrel or run through the “mini Bellagio” fountains in the one-of-a-kind Splash Zone?
Activity options also include catching a showing of Star Trek or Finding Nemo at the indoor movie theater, fully tricked out with an old-fashioned ticket booth, popcorn and refreshment stand—all complimentary. The stub is also good for a free breakfast buffet as part of the seasonal Kahuna Laguna Kids Club.
The Vue restaurant and lounge offers a tapas-style menu with snacks like cilantro popcorn and doughnut holes that’ll leave any inner child planning another visit before the meal is even through. In the mornings, the bar converts to a Starbucks, with plenty of space to fire up the laptops.
The full-service spa is equipped with a hair and nail salon, a massage and steam room, showers, a healthy menu, an array of self-serve hot tea, citrus waters, snacks, a gift shop and an outdoor patio with a hot tub and fire pit—all private.
“You aren’t going to see a spa like this at any other resort in the area,” says general manager Jim Samuels. “We’ve created an environment where you can check in and stay self-contained if you want. More importantly, you don’t feel like you have to wear a sports coat to walk through the hallways. It’s elegant and comfortable. You can walk to the beach or harbor, get a boat to Catalina, Jet Ski, whale watch, deep-sea fish or drive to Sea World or Disneyland.
“We do things to create the value for our guests,” Samuels continues. “We’d save money if we didn’t offer the tea or the fruit water in the spa, or the movie theater and Splash Zone, but we’d rather focus on providing a great experience.”
25135 Park Lantern, Dana Point
949.661.5000 | lagunacliffs.com
May 18, 2011
Preservation and Progression
Nieuport 17 Honors its past while embracing the present
By Robert Brink
944, May 2011
“We’ve become the finest photo, art and aviation museum in the country,” says former Naval aviator and Nieuport 17 founder, Bill Bettis. “There’s not a thing on these walls that wasn’t given to me personally by an aviation legend who walked into this restaurant.”
Founded over 40 years ago on the corner of Newport Avenue and Irvine Boulevard in Downtown Tustin, Nieuport 17 (also the name of a World War I airplane) began as a restaurant and accidentally evolved into a historical landmark and encyclopedia of aviation.
The entire interior of the restaurant features a unique collection of museum- worthy artifacts, photos and paintings from aviation history, many of which are autographed by world-famous pilots and decorated military officers, including the father of Nieuport 17 co-owner, Cameron Irons, who served with Bettis in the Navy. Even the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C. is trying to get their hands on some of the extremely rare and valuable collectables. “When I die,” says Bettis, “I told them they can have some of the pieces they are looking for.”
The main dining area is a Disneyland Haunted Mansion and old school hunting lodge hybrid. A myriad of antlers, elk heads and vintage fighter plane art lines the walls. The vaulted ceilings are grandiose, but not as grandiose as the banquet room that seats 100 guests ... at one table.
“There’s no other restaurant in Orange County that can seat 80 guests at a single table, let alone in such a unique and intimate setting,” says Rob Hallstrom, owner of 714 Media and public relations for Nieuport 17.
The fine dining menu is traditional, known for its steak, seafood, free sides and salads, along with its wine list and classically crafted cocktails. The clientele is equally traditional and has been loyal for decades. And loyalty like that doesn’t come without exceptional service—opentable.com recently recognized Nieuport 17 as “number one in service” for Los Angeles and Orange County.
For younger, hipper foodies, Nieuport 17 revamped it’s bar and lounge area, and appointed new executive chef Marco Collin. The Barnstormer Bar is now serving up local craft beer, signature cocktails and gastropub fare like flatbreads, mac and cheese, sliders, tuna tartare and truffle fries alongside nightly live music, including jazz, piano and acoustic performers.
There’s something delightfully relaxing and rewarding about sinking deep into a premium oxblood leather sofa in front of a 14-foot fireplace, with an all-antler chandelier overhead, listening to live jazz and sipping on Nieuport 17’s signature Old Fashioned on a Friday night, while droves of OC scenesters in fedoras, with chest tats creeping out of their V-necks, are out at Club X or Lounge Y, waiting in line for a shot of Jägermeister. If smoking indoors weren’t against the law, OC’s finest pipe and cigar smokers would be here in the N17 lounge, kicking back and having conversation that isn’t muffled by the mind-numbingly loud auto-tuned hip-pop played by a “DJ” with a MacBook Pro in the corner.
Nieuport 17 may not be for everyone, but thankfully it exists.
13051 Newport Avenue, Tustin
714.731.5130 | nieuport17.com
April 7, 2011
Chef Inspired: A new twist built on the success of Vine
By Robert Brink
944, April 2011
Almost as tired as Charlie Sheen sound bytes (but far less entertaining), the term “gastropub” gets tossed around a lot these days. According to Wikipedia, a gastropub refers to “a bar and restaurant that serves high-end beer and food.” By that logic, for many, an Applebee’s is a gastropub.
“The term ‘gastropub’ sounds like a disease to me,” says Vine’s head chef and proprietor Jared Monson, who recently got the seven-year itch (literally, as Vine opened in 2003) and transformed Vine’s bar into St. Roy: a Chef’s Pub at Vine. “We chose ‘Chef’s Pub’ because it implies a chef’s take on pub food,” Monson continues. The name St. Roy is derived from four of his favorite wine country towns: St. Helena, Rutherford, Oakville and Yountville.
“Culturally, our guests were looking for a more casual dining experience. St. Roy now gives them an opportunity to do so,” he says. “Seeing young customers pop in and start texting and calling friends to come down and to join them is great. The next thing you know, they’ve filled the communal table and are having a good time.”
The new pub boasts more seating with high-top wooden tables and a communal butcher-block bar table that offers a view of the exposed kitchen. Rustic and casual, it’s far from an Applebee’s — although the Dave Matthews Band and Goo Goo Dolls playlist is definitely comparable.
When Monson was looking to reinvent the Vine’s bar and expand the menu, he re-imported Chef Jared Cook from Crow Bar in Corona del Mar. “Jared was one of our sous chefs in the past,” Monson says. “He missed the experience at Vine and called me. It was great timing.”
The menu changes seasonally and guests are hard pressed to make a swift decision. From simple snacks like the olive and bar nut assortments, to small plates like pumpkin ravioli or mac and cheese; cheese and cured meat plates; classic and not-so-classic entrees and large plates; and even one of the best cheeseburgers in the region, there’s no way to try it all in just one visit.
Yes, there’s dessert too. Commitment-phobes should avoid the chocolate soufflé, which must be ordered 30 minutes in advance.
Monson personally suggests the duck confit salad to start, the West Coast paella with seafood as the main course and vanilla bean crème brûlée with fresh berries as an ender. Adventurous foodies should try the Mexicali burger (house ground burger blend, quasi fresco, roasted chilies, avocado, onion, cilantro, chile de arbol crème, brioche) and Fixin’ Fries (sharp cheddar mornay, bacon crème fraiche, scallions), as both are dishes that Monson calls out as “risky.”
“We’re branching out from our wine country cuisine and being influenced by our regional and cultural environment,” he says. Monson and crew go on walkabout to the Santa Monica Farmers Market every Wednesday and the produce they return with inspires the pub’s specials.
St. Roy also offers ten microbrews on tap, including local beers from Stone and Port Breweries. St. Roy’s new beer and wine-tasting bar faces a unique wine-on-tap system that houses 20 regional wines. For an enjoyable night out in San Clemente, whether for food or drinks, it’s winning.
211 N. El Camino Real, San Clemente
949.361.2079 | stroychefspub.com
January 17, 2011
Rising Stars in Action
Words: Rob Brink
944, January 2011
Progression, like time, waits for no one. If you don’t do it, someone else will beat you to it. Period.
Actions sports are no different, however, progression isn’t always about winning a medal, being number one or the money. Most times, it’s simply for the greater good—to push the envelope.
The athletes involved are intensely creative, dedicated, persistent, innovative and expressive individuals. Even in an event as high profile as the X Games or US Open, they are most likely battling themselves, not the other competitors.
Lyn-z Adams Hawkins, Kyle Loza and Brett Simpson are all in “the window” right now. It’s the age and place in their careers where they’ve accomplished more than most will ever dream. They’re at top of their game, but still rising stars and we don’t mind staring up at them. Not one bit.
Lyn-z Adams Hawkins: Professional Skateboarder
Age 21, Cardiff By the Sea
Lyn-z Adams Hawkins owns eight X Games Women’s Skateboarding medals—three of them are gold.
She’s the first female in history to land a 540 on a halfpipe and has never played her own character in Tony Hawk’s latest Activision release, Shred, because she’s “not too big on video games.”
Humble much? Yes, Lyn-z is in video games while most are just playing them.
Hawkins is currently traveling the globe with Travis Pastrana on the Nitro Circus Live tour and somehow still finds time to be a 21-year-old: chilling with her boyfriend (who has his own backyard skatepark), surfing, snowboarding and learning to ride dirt bikes.
“It’s still a man’s world,” Hawkins says of action sports, “but we're working hard and it’s slowly but surely changing for the better. We [men and women] are built very differently but I don’t see why girls can’t be as good as the guys one day.”
What will you be up to when you’re 30 and no longer eligible to be in this article?
I’m working on figuring that out right now. I’m sure I’ll still be skating. I plan on being a mother too.
Well, you certainly have time … of all your contest wins, which is the most special to you?
My first X Games medal. I was 14. My father died between the previous X Games and the year I won, so I did it for him.
No better reason to win than that. So you’re on tour right now?
Yeah. I just spent the last six weeks in Australia skating the Nitro Circus tour. Next is three weeks in New Zealand, a few more weeks in Australia, then Europe and the States. I’ve been learning how to ride a dirt bike too and I’m lovin’ it!
What’s a common misconception about your job from people outside your industry?
A lot of people think I was just handed everything on a silver platter, but I worked hard to get where I am— and I still work hard.
Traveling is a lot more tiring and stressful than people think. It’s not its all cracked up to be but it’s still better than a real job. As much as I have to be places, I’m kind of on my own schedule, My job allows me to do whatever I want as long as I’m performing well when I need to.
How incredible is it being the first female to land a 540?
It was a big step for women’s vert. I would have been just as ecstatic if another girl had done it but I’m stoked it was me. I like to help grow the sport and pave the way for all the younger girls coming up who will soon be passing me by.
Brett Simpson: Professional Surfer
Age 25, Huntington Beach
When your father spends five seasons as a professional Safety for the LA Rams, being thrust into the world of little league sports is inevitable. Two-time US Open champion, Brett Simpson, was no different. That is, until he stepped on his first surfboard at age 11.
“We went to Seal Beach and were just messing around,” Simpson says. “My buddy had a surfboard and that was the first time I ever did it. That Christmas I asked my parents for a surfboard, got one, and from that point I was hooked.”
There are hundreds of pro surfers out there, but only 32 make the World Tour. Simpson is one of them. He’s competitive and focused on staying at the top, but not in the “intense alpha male at a pickup game who only cares about winning and ruins the afternoon for everyone else” kind of way. It’s part of Brett’s charm actually.
When you’re on tour what do you miss most about Huntington?
We stay at some cool places around the world, but tend to return to a lot of the same spots. You miss your own bed and the food back home after a while.
Hard to argue. Of all your contest wins, which is the most special?
The first US Open win was definitely my breakthrough. But to go back-to-back proved it wasn’t just a fluke. The first year I also won “Breakthrough Performer of the Year” at the Surfer Poll Awards. Any award there is a big achievement.
How does life change after two US Open wins?
You’re definitely a bit more recognized than before. You dream of it when you’re young but don’t really understand what comes with it until it happens. It’s meant a lot to me and has given me the drive to do well. I’ve committed a lot of my life to contests and the Tour.
Do you actually “train” for contests or do you surf like you would for fun?
It’s definitely a simulation. When you’re surfing a heat you only get 30 minutes to perform well on two good waves. That’s the hardest part. It’s what separates a good surfer from a top surfer. Plenty of guys surf really well, but the guy that can consistently surf well in 30 minutes … that’s been the toughest part for me. That’s what I’m practicing. Consistency is huge at this level.
What will you be doing when you’re 30 and no longer eligible for this article?
Hopefully, I’m still on the Tour. Kelly Slater is 38 and just won his 10th title. Careers are maturing later these days. Hopefully my body is healthy and I’m still competing at a high level and still wanting it.
Kyle Loza: Professional Moto X Freestyle Rider
Age 24, Rancho Santa Margarita
Kyle Loza only showed up at the X Games three times. Each time he walked away with a gold medal in Moto X Best Trick. You know why?
Loza doesn’t do amazing tricks like everyone else—instead, he invents them.
Years later, no one else has been able to learn Loza’s signature moves—a few are trying though. And what he’s currently working on is going to change Moto X forever—again.
It’s the stuff legends are made of. But, at 24, Kyle’s no one-trick-a-year pony. He designs his own signature line of footwear and apparel with etnies; builds furniture by hand with a friend; is a tattoo artist; plays in a band with his wife (sister to Audrina Patridge of The Hills fame) and records in their home studio with Rhianna’s producer. Did we mention he’s got two babies, the eldest being two and a half years old?
Explain how fatherhood impacts your life.
Every way you could imagine your life changing, it changes. It’s ridiculous. It’s the greatest thing ever, but then you start realizing that if you don’t find a way to get some sleep, you’re gonna die.
How did you initially get invited to the X Games?
I made up a trick called “The Volt.” My agent showed a video to some dudes at ESPN and they were super pumped on it. I hadn’t landed it to dirt yet. I tried it for two years, broke a bunch of bones and beat the hell out of myself. ESPN is a giant company that wanted a rad back-story and a rad trick. Everything turned out perfect.
Have other riders learned your tricks yet?
I think there have been two guys trying “Volts” for a while now, but haven’t landed it. It’s been pretty rad. I enjoy watching. No one’s touched an “Electric Doom” yet.
Tell us about this new video project you’re working on with etnies.
We’re trying to bring motocross out of its box and into the streets. I don’t really know how to explain it, but it’s basically jumping off stairs, landing on roofs of schools, airing off roofs down sets of stairs. It’s about finding new stuff that’s totally possible to do. Nobody really does it yet. There’s a way to try any trick—anything you could ever imagine—anything’s possible.
What’s your advice for anyone considering a face tat?
Make sure, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that it’s not gonna affect you making money. You don’t want to get married one day and have a face tattoo and screw your family over because you’re ignorant.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever gotten?
My friend Toby, who passed away four years ago, gave me this advice for riding but I relate it to anything I do life that I want to succeed at and move forward in. Every day I rode he said, “Make sure you either ride through five gallons of gas, crash three times or ride until you throw up.”
September 8, 2008
Sky Ferreira: Hurricane Lolita
By Rob Brink
Missbehave Autumn 2008
Prior to meeting 16-year-old Sky Ferreira in her hometown of LA, I mentally envision a sketchy Roman Polanski-esque aftermath to our first encounter. The V-card-holding model and soon-to-be-pop star chills in LA clubs that I can’t even get into. She can hold engaging conversations with people twice her age. She’s gospel-trained with the same vocal range as Mariah Carey and prefers Sarah Brightman to Cat Power. What’s not to desire? It’s practically a setup for “Catch a Predator.”
“There was like, this 40-year-old singer from Europe,” says Sky, “and he goes ‘You’re 15? Can I put my head between your knees?’ I was like, ‘Oh my God, I’m going to throw up.’ Older guys like my braces, and I’m like, ‘You’re gross.’” Sky’s not well-trained in the art of girly. She can’t walk in heels and doesn’t wear makeup, “I’m really lazy when it comes that stuff, but I just want people to know I don’t smell. I don’t brush my hair but I shower.” Sky says, following the beauty regimen of that other LA Internet “muse.”
While Sky is just too damn young for me to want my head between her knees, I kinda do want to buy her a milkshake and have her sing to me like she did for Michael Jackson when she was 11, “I sang some gospel for him and he cried. I was surprised. That was when I realized I wanted to do this.”
And do this she did. Listening to her MySpace track “God Bless,” I think “OMG, you got some pipes on you, girlfriend!” when normally I neither say “OMG” or “girlfriend!” I imagine her in some lounge, leaning on a piano looking all cabaret, singing to a bunch of lonely local older dudes who may not even be paying attention, but are really in the zone and wishing/thinking she was singing to them.
At 15, Sky used the Internet to stalk and write letters everyone she wanted to get her music to, including Swedish producing team, Bloodshy & Avant, who actually wrote back, asked for a demo, and liked it. The result: Sky will be heading to Europe to begin recording her first album with them this fall. “I’m very good business-wise and at promoting myself. make sure to respond to every single person who writes me. The kids in Illinois and Venezuela—those are the kids that are going to go out and buy your album or actually see you live, whereas people here in LA are just going to steal it Limewire.” This giggly earnest innocence might be a schtick, but truly, you can’t knock her hustle.
April 22, 2008
Amber Heard: Pretty Girl Makes Good
By Rob Brink
Missbehave March 2008
Actress Amber Heard is hot. She's also agnostic, fascinated by the death penalty, equally into bowling and libraries, and is going to be a star.
"I need to look at your wardrobe on Xanax," twitters 21-year-old actress Amber Heard as she approaches the stylist and his racks of clothes, before effusively hugging him. She eagerly fingers a bubblegum pink pair of patent leather shoes. "I love a man with a great pair of heels," she remarks and moves on to ogle other fineries. Heard has bed head, and from the looks of her, you'd swear it was about 8 AM on New Year's Day. But we're all smiling—about eight of us, as she grabs a coffee and perches on a stool. "I love my gays!" Heard squeals while gesturing to the room. She bobs her head in time to the tugs of one of the aforementioned homosexuals. He's pulling insistently on the matted knots while another commandeers her feet for a pedicure. Yet another grooms her brows and with every third pluck, her eyes spring tears but so goes the strife of a budding starlet.
Austin-born Amber Heard is suitably ecstatic. 2008 is looking exciting with three movies coming out in 2008, starting with Never Back Down with the Oscar nominated Djimon Honsou, then Pineapple Express with Seth Rogen, then The Informers, the Bret Easton Ellis movie with Winona Ryder. The actress' star is rising which not more than three years ago seemed impossible to everyone in the Lone Star state. Her family was adamantly against her pursuit, citing odds, probabilities and the cost of mistakes so the bullheaded actress skipped town and just left for L.A. She hasn't looked back.
Today, on her first cover shoot, Heard happily basks in the attention and in a coyly exaggerated Texas accent regales them with stories of going to the shooting range with her dad and again apologizes to her beauty swat team for her hair. They, however, are far more interested in exalting her soon to be "it girl" status, and that she was the "belle of the ball" at a recent fashion party. It was among this melee that we conducted our interview and by the time it ended, she was changed from the undeniably beautiful but tired Amber to the scorching hot version you're about to see in these photos. Maybe it's cause I'm a guy but if you'd undergone this transformation, dude, you'd love your gays, too.
You transitioned from modeling to acting, how did you make the leap?
My father persuaded me to take classes, and my first agent in Austin paid for them. I'd always wanted to be an actress. I did it in high school and fell in love with it, but I was distracted by the modeling industry because I wanted to travel and get out of my hometown. It was the easier ticket.
Friday Night Lights was your first movie; it must have been comforting that it was a football movie based in Texas.
Yes, there was an honesty to the character that made it easier for me to connect with. But after I did that I was ready to get the hell out. [Laughs]
Did you always want to move to Hollywood?
Not specifically Los Angeles. I love Texas and my hometown, but a lot of the reason I do this job is because I want to travel—do what I love, but travel.
Did the prospect of leaving high school to pursue acting scare you at all?
It's not scary at all. In retrospect, I think, "God I don't know how I did that." But now that I'm mature—well more mature [laughs]—I know how silly it must have sounded to everyone else. But at the time, the more people kept telling me not to do it, and that I should be scared, the less I cared. I just did it. It was the right time, and I knew I wasn't making a mistake. Turns out I was right.
Wow, you say that so decisively.
Well, I headed out to L.A. during Friday Night Lights and met with an agent that I'm still with. I told my parents I was leaving the day before I got on the plane. I left the next morning and haven't looked back once.
That's pretty ballsy. You moved your sister out here afterwards, too didn't you?
I made sure she graduated high school, then I put her on a plane, moved her, and put her in school. I'd been in L.A. about two years and felt there were more opportunities out here—not just in acting. You have access to so much more in a city like Los Angeles. Austin, on the other hand, it's felt like the place that people go to when they're comfortable and settled. To be honest, I care for my sister more than anybody else on this planet. I wanted her with me for selfish reasons also.
Do you get to spend time with her given your schedule?
I'm always working and traveling. When I'm not traveling I'm working and when I'm not working, I'm traveling. I just immersed myself in the job. And then I don't stop working, ever. I love it. If I do get some free time, I am an avid reader. I read all the time.
What are you reading right now?
A really great book by Christopher Hitchens called The Portable Atheist, US News about some discoveries on some secrets of Christianity, and a book about Pakistan.
I saw your profile on the website "Friendly Atheist." So, that's your thing huh? I mean, that you're um… practicing atheism?
Ha. Yeah, that's a great oxymoron. No, I'm not a practicing atheist. I'm a practicing human and I know how that sounds but I'm learning everything I can about being human. I was raised in a strict Catholic environment but the only thing I feel comfortable saying that I know is that I can't know. I will never prescribe to an organization that claims to tell me how to do anything. I'm not anti "higher power" so you could call me agnostic. Whatever, call me anything but I will never be a "religious" person.
There was an open letter on the site asking you to be the Atheist spokeswoman. Pretty goddamn funny.
You have to love the irony—an organization based on the belief system of telling you not to believe in any organization based on belief systems...
Do you think if you weren't raised in that crazy Catholic environment you'd feel the same? Anyone I know that grew up Catholic is so against it now.
I'd like to thank the way I was raised for giving me enough knowledge about organized religion to make the adult decision to live the rest of my life without it. I don't think you can believe or not believe in anything unless you know a lot about it. I know Christianity, especially Catholicism, like the back of my hand. And my education has given me the freedom to know that it is completely absurd for me to believe it.
Since you're not walking with Jesus, who do you hang out with out here? True friends, industry acquaintances, or do you have trouble mixing work with a social life? Amber, do you play well with others?
I've lived here for like three-and-a-half years—maybe longer, and [laughs] I don't really have many friends. I don't have time to make a bunch of fair-weather friends. I'd rather have a few great friends than a bunch of people that I call "friends." It's a pretty popular practice in L.A.
Do you want to be famous?
It's my goal as an actress to have a performance that the audience likes. And I imagine that if I become "popular" or "famous," or whatever you want to call it, that it's partly because people enjoy the work that I do. But a lot of times when people become famous there's too much other bullshit that goes with it and sadly it pulls them off track. We all know who these people are—girls, especially young ones. I don't want to be those people.
How hard is it not to be?
It's hard. You have a lot of opportunities to stray away from your career. It's easy to get distracted in a place like L.A. This is an industry for distraction.
Does it bother you to read about yourself?
No. I'm an actress. I've chosen roles because I appreciate that they're a written character and unlike myself. I choose and take on roles that are nothing like me so there is nothing a stranger could say about me that I would take seriously.
But that's not how things work these days, especially with tabloids and TMZ and all that. They're not talking about your performance they're talking about you.
Again, if I'm going into this line of work, there's a certain part of me that I'm ready to give and show the world. The things that I want to keep private—and I do have a private life—I will try to make it so that no one will write about it.
What role has presented the largest challenge?
I did a movie called All the Boys Love Mandy Lane and it's as far from myself as you can get. It takes focus, concentration, and understanding to prepare for taking on someone else's life that's nothing like you. My character Christie in The Informers is completely different from how I really am, too.
I read somewhere you once had to drop 25 pounds for a role. Has that been one of the most physically grueling things you've had to do for work?
It's my job. I'm happy to change how I look, whether it's my hair or my weight, for my characters. I hate to diet, but you have to take on the character properly.
You have to be strong and very careful. This industry is based on rejection. Build thick skin—it's important. I guess it's important no matter what industry you're in, but especially this one.
So now you're the "hot girl."
I get pigeonholed into a look or character. Now all I want is to escape that. I want to do ugly or hard-to-swallow roles because it's always more interesting. Everything is based on looks. I hate that everyone is so jaded and cynical that people think you can understand someone based on how they look.
Mandy Lane has been completed and gotten rave reviews at film festivals, but is only just being released. How frustrating was that?
It's hard. It's like you've worked on a project or a painting that even you can't see.
Does that dissuade you from selecting larger roles in smaller movies like The Beautiful Ordinary versus smaller roles in larger films?
If all of small, independent, art house, low budget—but artistically fulfilling— movies were all the best ones, then, that's all I would do for the rest of my life. And I would be poor. But it's whatever script that I most connect with at that time.
How did you end up getting the role in The Informers?
I read the script and halfway through I called my "representatives" and said "Yeah, this might be a go." By the time I'd finished it, I was 100 percent on board. People were nervous for me because the movie is so strong and based on a book that was hard to swallow for a lot of people. But I loved the story and nothing could've stopped me from doing it.
Yeah, people have problems with Bret Easton Ellis. He wrote American Psycho, which was banned in Canada. Did you read The Informers?
No. I was told I shouldn't and I've heard the book was more graphic, more intense, more violent, and much darker than the screenplay.
But it's shot so beautifully and it's great. I'm really excited about it.
Let's talk about your comedy.
I'm really excited about Pineapple Express. It was the most fun set I've ever been on.
The Missbehave girls are obsessed with marrying into director Judd Apatow's crew. Burst their bubbles; give us the real dirt on them.
[Laughs]. Like I said, I have a very small group of actual friends. But Seth [Rogen], Judd [Apatow], Jonah [Hill], and Michael [Cera] are every bit as great off screen as they are on. They're amazing. And hilarious. Honestly, they're just all the funniest people I've ever been around.
Is there anyone you fantasize about working with one day?
I got to work with Niki Caro a couple years ago in North Country. That was the one director who before I became an actor I said I would do absolutely anything to work with. I also love Tony Scott. There's so many good directors I can only hope that someday I'll have the opportunity.
How about actors or actresses?
I really appreciate Hillary Swank and Charlize Theron... women who I look up to and admire. Of course I wouldn't mind working next to a couple good looking guys either [laughs].
Ha. So other than acting with hot dudes, why else did you want to be an actress?
Movies are powerful. And these days, they're so effective at getting messages across. People don't read anymore. If I can be in movies and influence people… I can only dream of some day moving people the way I've been moved by film. I just want to do good work and I want to be a good artist. I saw Whale Rider recently and whole movie is brilliant but something about that performance…
Let's do James Lipton rapid fire. Best professional advice you've ever gotten?
Peter Berg, a director and friend said that I was in the position to do what I love and that I just had to go for it. Commit. He said, "Don't listen to anything anybody says and go for it." I think it was the way he said it. But the advice changed my life.
Something about you that people don't know?
My bowling skills. I don't wanna brag or anything but they're crazy.
Reading about religion. I'm fascinated by every religion out there because it's changed the whole world. Religion shapes government and starts wars. I'm obsessed with the non-fiction section of the Beverly Hills Library.
Whoa. I haven't heard the library mentioned in ages.
The day before yesterday, I spent five hours there. Read a little about the death penalty. The Supreme Court has reviewed the constitutionality about lethal injections for the first time since the 1800's or something. So now I'm obsessed with the death penalty. I get into these topics, like that or whatever random thing it is and I spend hours in the library learning about it.
Any kind of alcoholic beverage [laughs]. Um, no, I'm kidding.
Last movie you saw?
Atonement [making suicidal, wrist slitting motions].
I take it you didn't love it?
Hated it. I loved Juno. That was the last movie I will admit to watching. I love that movie. I think it's brilliant and hilarious.
Last lie you told?
The previous 45 minutes of my life.
Ha. Last thing you broke?
I'm the biggest klutz in the world. I've never met a more klutzy person. I break anything I touch. Whether its bones or high-heels or cars or things I hit with cars. I'm not kidding. I break everything … or lose it. If it's not lost… well… if it's lost it's probably safe. If I haven't lost it, I've broken it.
Most horrifying or surprising thing you've experienced in Hollywood?
Nothing surprises me in this industry anymore. I don't think I've been surprised since the moment I got to Los Angeles—or after about a week of being there. Hell, I'd love to be surprised.