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"Raised by a good, old-fashioned family has kept me grounded."
"Being from Oklahoma, you're taught how to work hard."
"The unexpected is what makes this movie worth seeing."
"It was my first day of shooting at ground zero."
"I just don't like feeling like I don't know who I'm talking with."
"We sat down and talked just like I would talk to any other girlfriend.
Nicki Aycox  

Interviewed by Mark Sells
April 2007

Nicki Aycox is not your typical girl next door. Yes, of course, there are those fluffy pics in Maxim and Playboy a few years back. But don't kid yourself. This native Oklahoman is one serious actress - humble, hard working, and refreshingly down to earth. Says Nicki, "Being from Oklahoma, you're taught how to work hard. And you don't let other things get in the way" - other things that might stand in the way of acting.

While studying film at the University of Oklahoma, Nicki struggled to earn a living as an actress. So much so, that in 1996, she left for more opportunities in Los Angeles. Her first television appearance came shortly after - an episode of "Weird Science." And then, a regular appearance on "Providence." Years later, more hit series followed: "Ally McBeal," "The X-Files," and "CSI." Then, in 2003, a slew of recurring roles as Stella Vessey on the hit series "Ed," Christina Rush on "Cold Case," Private Mitchell on "Over There," and Meg on "Supernatural." Ever the hard worker, Nicki broadened her career with feature films such as "Rave Macbeth," "Slap Her?She's French," and "Jeepers Creepers II."

And her latest work is her most auspicious yet. In "Perfect Stranger," Nicki plays opposite Halle Berry, Bruce Willis, and Giovanni Ribisi - a sexy, edgy, performance without frills. "I'm a tomboy, a natural girl. Not one of those girls running around doing lunches and chatting." And it's precisely that kind of spunky charm that shines through in every one of her characters. Distancing herself from the girl next door, Nicki is naturally, finding her own way.

Reel Questions, Reel Answers

You were born in Hennessey, Oklahoma, just northwest of Oklahoma City, and far from tinseltown. What was it like growing up there? What do you remember most?

I love Oklahoma. Every time I go back, it's so much slower and I really get to relax.

And I love the fact that I grew up there because as I've gotten out and have traveled a lot, going from Hollywood to New York, where it's so fast paced, people kind of lose themselves in it. And being raised in Oklahoma and raised by a good, old-fashioned family has kept me grounded.

In fact, one of my biggest memories was driving out here and thinking, 'I don't know what's going to happen, but I'm just going to put my head down, work hard, and make it happen for myself.' To always have that end goal that I could constantly work towards. One that I've never lost sight of. Because being from Oklahoma, you're taught how to work hard. And you don't let other things get in the way.

Did you always want to be an actress when you were a little girl?

I did. I really loved watching "Cheers" when I was little. Kirstie Alley was one of my favorites. And it started then because I remember how it looked like so much fun. Then, as I got into drama in high school and theater in college, I always loved it, but I thought of it more or less as a hobby. Because being in Oklahoma, you don't think of it as a reality. That you can make any money at it.

And so, I tried to concentrate on other things, but as I got further into it, it kept taking over. I kept wanting to do that play or read this play instead of reading my text books. So, I thought I would give it a try. I always knew I could go back. But when I got out to LA and started working, I realized I could do it. And I never realized that until I had been out in LA for a couple of years.

Was it a spur of the moment decision or pre-planned?

It was definitely spur of the moment! (Laughs). I know it sounds crazy, but I think that if it had been planned out, it wouldn't have happened.

Growing up in Oklahoma, I didn't come from a lot of money. And so, I knew that if I did it, it was going to have to be on my own. And if I had I thought it out a little more, I might have chosen not to do it.

Weeks kept passing by and I kept thinking about it. Until, I finally told one my best friends, "I'm going to LA." And a week later, we got in the car and drove out here, hung out for a few days, and then he drove back to Oklahoma.

You're starring in "Perfect Stranger," opposite Halle Berry and Bruce Willis. What's the premise behind the film? And how is your character involved?

I actually like this idea and thought it was executed very well. The premise is about a New York reporter who goes undercover to find the murderer of her childhood friend. Her childhood friend, which is me (Grace), had been having an online affair with Bruce Willis' character. And the reporter has to go undercover to try to find out who the murderer is.

The movie has twists and turns - you find out that she's had affairs around the block. And that she has this seedy, underground online persona. And I think it's a really good premise because it shows how people go online all the time and enter chat rooms, especially our kids, and you don't know who you're talking to and you don't know what they're about.

James Foley is a director who certainly knows psychological drama, i.e. "Glengarry Glen Ross," "Fear," "The Chamber," etc. What do you think audiences can expect from "Perfect Stranger?" Why should they see this movie?

First of all, I have not seen a movie or read a script that has had as many twists and turns in the plot. And that's something that, when I'm watching a movie, I really enjoy. When the plot is going in one direction and then all of a sudden, turns around just when you think you have it figured out. Then, turns again. So, I definitely think the unexpected is what makes this movie worth seeing.

James Foley is amazing with psychological thrillers and can take you on a nice ride. He can also execute the storyline in ways that are very different and unexpected.

I read that there were three different endings to the film, each with a different killer. Was the ending chosen the ending that was written? How did they choose the most appropriate finale?

I don't think anyone was really sure, while we were shooting it, how it was going to end. It turns around constantly, as you'll see when you watch it in the theater.

Because this whole movie is based on what the ending is, you really don't want people to know it before they see it. So, you shoot a couple of different endings to choose from so that people don't know beforehand.

Makes me giddy for the DVD.

Yes, I'm sure they'll give you all three endings on the DVD!

Now, on a serious note, this is the first film to be filmed at "ground zero," since the terrorist attacks of 9/11. What was that experience like?

For me, it was surreal on so many different levels. It was my first big film with big names like Halle and Bruce and Giovanni. And it was my first day of shooting at ground zero. It was also the first time that I had actually shot a movie in New York. I had shot several TV shows in New York, but never a movie.

So, on my first day, we went down to the subway and I was sitting on my chair thinking, 'Wow! I'm sitting at ground zero, we have part of the subway shut down, Halle Berry is in the chair next to me, and I'm about to start filming a huge movie!' I don't know which one was more surreal, but all of those together, I just remember feeling that this was just crazy.

Most of us had been there and we were shooting non-stop, but we were always reminded of where we were. It was an odd feeling, as you were walking around, because you always knew where the two towers used to be. And they're not there any more. It just had this solace kind of energy around it.

The film deals with the notion of dual identities, particularly as it relates to electronic communication and the internet. Do you engage in online chats and messaging? And have you ever hidden your identity or posed as someone else?

Good question! I've never really done online chatting. And I've never gone into chat rooms. For me, it's always been very strange. But maybe one day, now that it's more normal, I'll get into it.

I just don't like feeling like I don't know who I'm talking with. I feel like it's dangerous and I don't want to share a lot of what's going on with me with people if I don't know who they are. That's something I've never wanted to do.

I have not changed my identity. But I've definitely seen MySpace pages and things where people have posed as me! There was a MySpace page a couple months ago that was finally taken down. But somebody had written up an entire profile, pretending to be me. And a lot of my friends that I've worked with over the years had gone on there thinking they were chatting with me. But it was someone else. And I find that to be a little scary.

If there's a lesson from this movie, it's that people need to be very careful, especially parents, because kids can get into any of these things on the web and you just don't know who you're dealing with.

Favorite experience on the movie?

Working with Halle (Laughs). Pretty much everybody expects that I'll say that, but it was the absolute true. I didn't know what to expect when I was first going to go on set with her. And there were some nerves. Plus, my scene with her had me pretty much talking non-stop with her listening to me. And I did have a little bit of fear.

But after I got to the set, 5 or 6 hours had passed, and it felt like it was 30 minutes. It went by so quick. And too quick for me. But I really enjoyed being there and working with her. And also just getting to sit down and chat with her.

Did she give you any tips?

Oh, yes, of course. In fact, the very first thing she said to me was 'I'm going to pass you my white light.' I said, that's so sweet of you. And after that, she was like, "Go in there and go for it!"

In between scenes, she was just very complimentary. And we sat down and talked just like I would talk to any other girlfriend. A very, very nice lady.

Nicki Aycox Interview (CONTINUED)

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