Shannon Elizabeth

First she heated up American Pie. Now the nubile newcomer is ready for the Hollywood main course.

Maxim, Feb 2000
By Steven Russell

We’re not known for being punctual (or even showing up at all), but to meet stunning actress Shannon Elizabeth, we manage to be 15 minutes early. See, we’re hoping for a reenactment of her scene-stealing slice of American Pie, in which her Czechoslovakian exchange student character is encountered topless, relaxing with some nudie mags. We’d even go for the part where she makes the flick’s horny protagonist do a striptease. Who are we to deny anything to an actress who just scored a three-picture deal with Miramax? Unfortunately, the only thing Shannon slips off is her shoe, and the only thing she caresses is a nasty puncture to her foot, suffered stepping on a bone chewed up by her six dogs. Oddly it’s enough.

Of Syrian, Irish, English, German, and Cherokee heritage and raised in Waco, Texas (home of both David Koresh and Dr. Pepper!), 23-year-old Shannon is both enticingly exotic and the fresh-faced girl next door (for instance, she can say several dirty phrases in Syrian, though doing so makes her blush). Soon we’ll see her dodging knives and punch lines in Scary Movie, a high-profile parody of the recent teen-horror-flick boom. But that doesn’t mean she wants to get pegged as Scream Queen Elizabeth. “I want to be taken as a serious actress,” she says. “It’s funny. Even all the good scripts I’ve been reading have nudity in them” Strange, we didn’t know there was another kind.

Maxim: Have you made any new-millennium resolutions?
Shannon Elizabeth: I don’t make resolutions because I don’t need the pressure. But there’s something strange about being able to be the first to do anything in the year 2000. Like, I’m the first Maxim cover girl of the millennium—that’s really cool.

M: Yeah, like you’ve been beamed to us from a better-looking future.
SE: That Jetsons part of it being the year 2000 is great, but then there’s the scary, Big Brother part of it. What really gets me is that when I have kids, they’re going to think I’m ancient for having lived back in 1999.

M: Well, that was a good year for you, with American Pie coming out. Do you get recognized from the movie?
SE: The other day, when I was getting on a plane, an airline guy followed me to my seat. I thought I was going to get bumped off the flight or something, but he wanted me to autograph my boarding pass. He was so cute.

M: I don’t like him already.
SE: And before that there were two guys waiting at the airport escalator with my photo. I was, like, “How did you know I was going to be here?” and they said, “Oh, we didn’t. We just have everyone’s picture and hang out at the airport a lot.” OK, fun life. But I know what that was—they sell autographed pictures to memorabilia companies or on the Internet.

M: Your big American Pie scene involved guys watching you undress and do, uh, other stuff on the Web. Was that as fun to film as it was to watch?
SE: There was no direction when we shot that scene. They were, like, “Uh, you know what to do, right?” Everybody was worried because my boyfriend was on the set. When I took my top off, he yelled, “Hey, my girlfriend is naked!” The crew was spooked, and he had to tell them he couldn’t care less. Meanwhile I was, like, “Hello, naked girl working over here!”

M: After your character gets comfortable, she starts flipping through guys’ skin mags. Ever check those out yourself?
SE: I’ve seen them, but I find myself looking at the girls’ nails, or how they, you know, shave.

M: So when you’re at a Hollywood party, do you ever check out another girl and think, Hmm, maybe…?
SE: I can definitely appreciate a beautiful girl and talk about how she’s really pretty, but I don’t necessarily want to go jump her bones. Funny, you never hear guys say “Now, that’s a handsome man.” Guys think their masculinity is compromised if they look at a naked guy. But a woman’s body is much more beautiful than a man’s body. A man’s naked body isn’t always the prettiest thing to look at, even when he’s in good shape.

M: Back to the American Pie scene where your character gets so turned on that she pleasures herself. Would you believe a guy who told you he never masturbates?
SE: [snickers] Maybe when I was younger, but not now. I would believe a girl, though, because when I don’t have sex for a long time, I don’t necessarily want it more and more. But guys need that release. It’s like having sugar in your system: If you have it, you crave more. I think guys always have sugar in their system.

M: You grew up in Waco, Texas. Joined any good cults lately?
SE: I haven’t joined anything. Although with all the Scientologist celebrities getting paid such big bucks, don’t think I haven’t considered it. [Laughs] Really, people thought we were dodging bullets during that whole Branch Davidian thing, but most folks in town didn’t even know that much about them before it happened.

M: Well, if you weren’t obeying the will of David Koresh, what did high school kids do on Saturday nights?
SE: Hopefully sombody’s parents were out of town so we could hang out there. My boyfriend was in a group of guys that drank beer and played dominoes. They took it so seriously that I was never allowed to play.

M: Sounds like a hoot.
SE: I know. We really did nothing—but for some reason, I always wanted to stay out later.

M: Were you into sports?
SE: I loved tennis and wanted to go pro, but I didn’t get along with my team’s coach. She would scream at us while we were playing. To let off steam I would spell out bitch in sign language with my fingers. Now I watch these 17-year-old girls who are ranked number one and I wish I could have competed at that level.

M: I know plenty of guys who’d watch a pay-per-view match between you and Anna Kournikova.
SE: Pay-per-view? We can set that up right now!

M: After high school you hightailed it out of Texas to model in New York. What was your weirdest gig?
SE: I did the back cover of a Midol booklet that ran inside all these teen girl magazines. It was a picture of me in a gym outfit, holding a water bottle and sort of looking off into the distance. I was just happy to get a job. It was, like, “Look, I’m in Teen. I have cramps!”

M: What about commercials?
SE: I did a Taco Bell commercial where I just sort of bopped around, eating a taco in this crowd having a big party in a Taco Bell parking lot. I think the extras got paid in burritos. Then that Chihuahua came along and stole all our jobs.

M: What’s your next project?
SE: I’m the lead in Scary Movie, a parody of all the recent teen horror movies. I think people who really know the Scream and I Know What You Did Last Summer movies will love it, because we mimic certain scenes. I’m doing the same movements as Jennifer Love Hewitt, only I’m saying something completely ludicrous.

M: Do you wear her skimpy halter tops?
SE: There’s one outfit that seemed to keep getting smaller and smaller every time I tried it on. And they padded me! I was, like, “Excuse me? I need padding?”

M: What scares you?
SE: Dead animals on the road freak me out. And you see a lot of road kill in Texas—especially armadillos. Every time I spotted one, I’d scream and my dad would slam on the brakes. He’d be, like, “Dammit! I thought I was going to hit somebody!” I’d say, “It’s worse!” and he’d ask, “You’d rather me hit a person than an animal?” I’d say, “Yes, hit the person.”

M: What should a guy do to impress you?
SE: Not try to impress me. I like the shy guy in the corner who doesn’t think too highly of himself, who doesn’t mind doing something stupid to get a laugh. And being polite and opening doors goes a long way. Like, if you’re walking down the sidewalk and a guy walks closest to the street to keep you safer. It’s nice to be protected. And he would have to be an animal lover, since I have six dogs.

M: That’s a lot of canine.
SE: If I see a stray dog in the street, I just can’t leave it there. If I can catch it or lure it into the car with a candy bar, I’m going to rescue it.

M: So if a guy wanted to meet you, he should wander around in the street in front of your house, looking lost?
SE: Well, I haven’t been home much lately, so he’d probably meet the grille of a car first.

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