Betty a La Mode

Ten Minutes with Rebecca Romijn

Transgender women probably wish that real life medical procedures could make them look like Rebecca Romijn. Alas, she is only an actor playing transgender on Ugly Betty. While transgender women have to suffer through treatments to feminize their features, the TV dramedy tends to glamorize the results. But it never belittles the struggle transgender people have in society.”I happen to have several friends who are transgender so it’s something that is a very sensitive subject and it’s very close to my heart,” said Romijn, who plays Alexis on the show. “It’s something that I would never want to make any choices that would insult my friends. I also feel like I’m part of a movement of people that are sort of making it into mainstream society and don’t really have a voice yet or are still finding their voice. It’s kind of an honor. At first it just sounded like a really fun character to play. Now it feels a little bit more important.”Those friends of hers in the community approve. “[They have been] super positive,” she says. “I’ve met a lot of transgender (people), which has been really interesting. They love it. Everything that I pick up for the character, I pick up for them. It can be a sensitive subject. To make that decision to change your gender is a huge decision so of course I would never want to offend my friends. Hopefully I have not and the writers are all very knowledgeable and supportive and sympathetic with the character.”

Alexis must compare with the more difficult roles of Romijn’s acting career, from mutant morpher Mystique to Brian DePalma’s manipulative Femme Fatale. “The way I look at it, people keep saying, ‘What’s it like to play a man?’ And I’m not playing a man. I’m playing a woman.”

We won’t know what’s happening with Alexis until Ugly Betty returns Thursday nights on ABC. Even at press time, Romijn couldn’t spill the secrets.

“Well, I know what we’ve already shot so far and sadly I can’t really reveal anything because I think it might spoil it for the die-hards. In true telenovella style, you never know what’s going to happen. After next episode, I don’t know what’s happening with my character.”

Ugly Betty is Romijn’s third foray into television. She recurred on Just Shoot Me as Finch (David Spade)’s wife. The short-lived Pepper Dennis was her own vehicle, but joining the ensemble of Betty brought with it some job security.

“Pepper Dennis was an extremely special experience. Extremely special and this is an amazing thing to be a part of also. They’re different but I will never forget my time on Pepper Dennis and I relish the days I have now on Ugly Betty.”

There are other benefits to joining an established cast too.

“Well, of course being a supporting character on this giant show is easier on the schedule, so that’s nice. Pepper Dennis was an insane schedule for me so this one’s a little bit of a relief.”

Not everyone on Ugly Betty has it so easy. “The people that push this show together, it’s so tight. The pace is always amazing. They keep pushing the storylines always. When a storyline isn’t working, they drop it. They’re not afraid to admit when something’s not working. They’re the first to admit when something’s not working. So they’re very aware of what’s happening and what’s not. They just keep pushing it forward.”

With her years in the modeling industry, Romijn can vouch for Ugly Betty’s portrayal of high fashion. “[It comes] as close as any TV show or movie has ever come that I’m aware of. It’s just as outrageous as what happens in the real fashion world. Really there are characters just like the characters in Ugly Betty all over fashion. Both worlds are extremely outrageous.”

For ABC’s summer party promoting their TV line-up, Romijn sported a simple black Dolce and Gabbana number, V cut to show off her cleavage. And this summer included more than one party for Romijn, as she married boyfriend Jerry O’Connell. It is her second marriage and she is loving it.

“Fantastic,” she says. “I highly recommend it. We have never stopped enjoying our life together since the day we met.”

The two lovebirds decided on a last minute, intimate gathering. The paparazzi didn’t find out about it until it was over.

“We kept it at home. It worked out great. It was just fantastic. It was exactly how we wanted to do it. We were going to elope, we were going to go to city hall and finally we decided we just wanted to have a party with our friends at home.”

They didn’t even tell their guests exactly what the event would be. “We did everything via e-mail and phone calls and we told them it was a special barbecue and I think most people understood. My parents both retired this year so first I said it was a retirement party for my parents. Then we said it was a special barbecue. It was all these different combinations, retirement party/barbecue.”

Both actors went right back to work. Ugly Betty resumed production in July and O’Connell began his new show, Carpoolers, the same week. “I had to go back to work Monday morning after we got married. I knew my work schedule was going to be right there. To be honest, after you have a big wedding, you get a little bit of a post-wedding depression, like what do we get ready for now? It was nice to get back to our routines. Jerry’s ramping up for Carpoolers so it’s nice to have something else to focus on.”

They didn’t skip the honeymoon. They just took it out of order. “We actually took our honeymoon in June before our wedding which I also highly recommend because it’s nice that we got to spend a lot of time together before we got married and we got to get married with a tan and be more relaxed. I recommend it to every married couple.”

Now that the secret is out, Romijn can finally stop dodging questions about her plans with her then-fiancé. He kept a sense of humor about it throughout their secret planning. “For a long time, Jerry was like, ‘Not this week. I don’t know, maybe we’ll go to city hall.’ Which actually we almost did a number of times. We almost went to city hall a number of times… we almost eloped a number of times.”

As the couple works on their respective shows, they manage to have a normal suburban home somewhere near Los Angeles. “Where we live is a very special place. It is very much the country. It’s very private. It’s a little bit away. Coming from northern California, when I found it, it’s sort of the only place I wanted to live in southern California.”

If only Alexis could find a love like Romijn has in real life. But then again, that wouldn’t be very dramatic.

“Well, it’s going to be a very special person to take Alexis on as a love interest, so I’m holding out for that special someone.”

Ugly Betty airs Thursdays at 8 on ABC. The new season begins on September 27th.

Article Date: 09/20/2007

By Fred Topel


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