Why do you think that is?
Look, I mean, to be totally frank, for the most part a lot of the guys who write and direct the stuff didn't get the girl in high school and they are angry at her about it. They are scared of powerful women. It was a fantasy in all those old Joan Crawford, Katharine Hepburn movies and audiences and Hollywood were more comfortable with it. And there were more gay male directors than there are now [laughs]. And then the women's movement came along and it just became too real. I think they like to keep women in a fantasy way. I was saying the other day at work that this idea of physical perfection that 20-year-olds have in Hollywood today coming out of the Disney factory is so different than when I came along in the early '90s. When I started acting I wanted to be Juliette Lewis. I feel bad that now the 18-year-olds out there don't have anyone to embrace, and that being left of center and not having big boobs and not using your sexuality as a weapon or as your trump card, there is no one who embraces that. Making a sex tape is your best foot in. When I came along it was Juliette Lewis and Winona Ryder and these women who embodied a more quirky and I think more authentic form of sexuality.

Do you think someone like you would have a shot of making it today.

You know, I think my attitude would have stopped me a little bit. I always had a stance like, you know, fuck Maxim. You know, I was supposed to be on the cover and my publicist set up the shoot behind my back and I was like, “There is no fucking way I am wearing my underpants on the cover of a magazine; they can go fuck themselves.” Sexuality in that way and women using it has been around for forever, but it seems now with Britney Spears and Paris Hilton, it seems that now in order to be successful you need to look like you want to have sex with every guy. I don't get it.

Did you find in your work that not going there has hurt your career in any way?

I can't say anything hurt my career because I am pretty psyched to be where I am at. There are movies I did that didn't pan out, but I had a ball making them. I have had a really kick-ass interesting life. I have traveled everywhere and managed to get to 35 without having to work terribly hard. Now I work hard. I don't regret things. I think that the attitude that you wanted to do indies and that you wanted to be down and dirty has become sort of antiquated. It's what every young actor wanted to be then, and the idea then that you didn't play up your looks and you go to auditions wearing your pajamas was cool. That doesn't seem to exist now and I think that is sad.

The grunge vibe?
Yeah, and the idea that it was narcissistic or against your craft to care too much about your looks. When you look at the idea of what's sexy -- I mean, the 1970s was a period when Barbra Streisand and Elliott Gould were both the sexiest people on earth. And I don't think that would happen now. There is room for fine actors to a certain degree. We have Paul Giamatti and Philip Seymour Hoffman, but we don't have female versions. And if you go to a mall or Middle America, the people there aren't being represented on television or in movies and I think it makes them feel bad about the way they look.

You were never all that concerned about your looks. In the film that sort of put you on the radar, Empire Records, you shaved your head, and had to wear a wig when you shot The Craft. Was that hard to do?
Are you kidding? I was thrilled to do it. I was a child model and my mom would never let me do anything I wanted like cut my hair or get my ears pierced or any of those phases. I was 21 and for the first time I did something I was dying to do. I had always wanted to do something aberrant like that. I loved having it for a while, but by the end everyone saying "Excuse me, sir" was kind of annoying. I wasn't thinking about it in terms of some sort of feminist stance. I thought that if you were going to do it, the opportunity of doing it on film was also pretty cool.

I think your Empire Records character and then your role in The Craft really did make you a bit of a lesbian icon even early in you career.
[Laughs] And now I'm playing an ass-kicking cop. Look, I was never very interested in playing the ingenue, and the times I got muscled into doing it I was pretty bad at it. I don't think that as an actor you have to play someone who has the same personality that you have, but you have to be interested in them, and I have never been interested in those types of characters. My character in Hollywoodland was a horrible person, but I was really interested in playing her. But again she was a ballsy, ass-kicking woman.

And that character has a lesbian past as well right?
Well, the woman she was based on in real life was supposedly a lesbian. She had had lots of affairs with women. By the way, my cousin is a gay icon.

Who is your cousin?

His name is Tom Tunney and he's the first openly gay elected official in Chicago. He's started a gay and lesbian nursing home there and done so many things for the gay community. The biggest thing that happened for him in my career was when I went on Ellen recently, and he was really pissed-off that I didn't talk about him.

Tags: film