I should explain to you that I've been at a global conference on women's sexual and reproductive health called "Women Deliver" all week. In pursuit of this fascinating topic, I've interviewed a couple dozen people each day and although I have greatly liked many of them, I am pretty sure Rachael is my favorite. Which is very unusual for me. Because the smiling, sweet, funny woman that you see there is in fact, an actress and director. Her full name is Rachael Leigh Cook.
You can see why she's famous, right? Great smile and bright, engaging eyes? Yes, yes. But I've interviewed a couple hundred celebrities in my life. I've generally thought most of them were a bit more of a pain than the interview warranted. And I'm pretty sure they thought exactly the same of me. I didn't feel that way about Rachael. She was my third and final celebrity interview of the day. The first actress was, as my British producer gently pronounced, "a bit of an ice queen." (This is a prime example of the British people's "gift for understatement.") I'm leaving her name out because this isn't a celebrity tell-all blog. It's People Are Candy and I'm thinking the first interview was a Zotz. The second was Ali Larter, one of the stars of the hit show "Heroes" on NBC. She attended the conference with her mother, which was very sweet. She was very accomodating to us and at the same time, showed a good amount of concern for her mother's comfort and feelings, too. All in all, a solid "butterscotch" experience. Rachael was with her assigned public relations "friends." We were scheduled for an interview an hour later, but then one of her companions trotted up and offered to bring her a bit earlier than previously agreed. My rule is "Always Accept What Is Offered" and so we immediately started to throw up lights to better photograph her. A moment later, here came Rachael Leigh Cook, catching us with our proverbial pants... er, lights down. But she was agreeably nibbling on her boxed lunch, so she walked a short distance away where she seated herself on the stairs and finish her lunch. We finished the lighting set up and I walked down to retrieve her. I hate to drag someone off mid-chew, (and it's hard to be demanding of someone who is already being extra accomodating) so I stood by chatting with her and the other two women as they mostly finished their meals. As a lot of you probably know, some days I have "it;" some days I don't. And by "it," I refer to my innate ability to be so utterly offensive in under ten seconds that everyone within a two mile radius gags on their veggie wrap and pasta salad. This particularly day, I apparently left "it" at home. As I stood there and talked with these women, Rachael Leigh Cook turned out to be the nicest, funnest person I've met in awhile. I liked her so much that I said, "If you and I lived on the same street, I believe we'd be great friends." Not to worry; I have no intention of hustling off to LA to be someone's weirdo stalker-ratzi-fan-neighbor. (There's a wide-open "if" tucked in there.) I've still got stuff to do here.
Yet the conversation rambled along. We discussed my concern for American women's health and weight issues. She offered a theory that it's caused by hidden anxieties. I suggested it was caused by hidden sugars. And we laughed and chuckled over my angst-filled meeting of Arianna Huffington the day before. (Ms. Huffington was so stunning in person, that I tried to give her a compliment but instead, wound up with my foot so painfully far in my mouth that I'm pretty sure I was letting off toenail polish on the other end.) I'd been trying to talk myself out of my horror ever since, so meeting Rachael Leigh was both a relief and a delight. And then it was something more. I was about to begin her interview when I saw a few stray hairs. I pulled out a comb and asked if she minded if I gave her just a little... touch up? She has beautiful brown hair, but it's very humid here in Washington, so I smoothed it a tiny bit. Not so much, really, right? Right.
Here's where I knew we'd be the very best of neighbors and to me, she became and always will be "Rachael from The Block:"When the camera turned on me for "reversals," she knelt down, retrieved the comb back out of my purse and started doing the same to my hair. Touching me up. Well, I never!! I've interviewed a lot of people. I've had a lot of fun meeting them all. (Even the first celebrity of the day, admittedly a bit of a pill, was interesting.) But I found Rachael Leigh Cook to be one of the most genuine, open people I've met in awhile. So forgive me, but I may buy that house and live in that flower-filled neighborhood in my mind for sometime to come. And if People Are Candy, Rachael Leigh Cook seems like she might just be an (almond) Joy.