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Cameron Diaz Discovers Inner Peace
By Bob Thompson
The National Post
Cameron Diaz

The paparazzi patrol had finally taken its toll on Cameron Diaz, so she decided to back off from her movie career last year to see what that might bring. As it turned out, it brought little peace or quiet and just as much hounding.

A few months ago Diaz was almost run over by a snooping freelance photographer near her Los Angeles house, and last week the 34 year old was secretly photographed with her 25-year-old boyfriend Justin Timberlake at a multi-million dollar Hawaiian beach house that they may or may not be purchasing.

Previously, another photographer was convicted of trying to extort money from her over topless pictures taken in 1992 before she was famous.

"So I thought if I didn't do as many films they would have to leave me alone because my mentality about this business is that doing press is my job," says Diaz. "Then I realized, whether I make a movie or not, the paparazzi are still going to be after me."

She's not exactly hurling herself into the fray of doing consecutive films like she once did, but she is proudly co-starring in Nancy Meyer's The Holiday.

In the romantic, Diaz plays a successful movie trailer editor who finds out her boyfriend (Edward Burns) is cheating on her, so she ditches him, and then decides she needs a break from her workaholic world. To that end, she goes on a vacation home exchange website and ends up swapping her fancy Brentwood abode for a London reporter's (Kate Winslet) quaint country cottage.

When the despondent women arrive in each other's houses just before Christmas, they can barely cope with the fractured personal lives or the cultural differences. But both soon fall for a nearby guy. Winslet's reporter gets swoony over a charmingly guileless movie music composer (Jack Black) recently jilted by his actress girlfriend. Diaz's film-trailer executive is enamoured by a slick book editor (Jude Law) who may or may not be a womanizer.

The romantic comedy is familiar territory for Diaz, which she appreciates. At the same time, she also enjoyed acting opposite the Oscar-nominated Law and being in the same movie as the revered and admired Winslet, who has also been recognized by the Academy.

That doesn't mean Diaz yearns to be taken seriously or needs the Oscar acknowledgement some actors pursue with a single-minded devotion. "I'm happy with the things I've accomplished," she says. "I'm not ashamed of being bubbly and funny. It's just as valid as being the dark and tortured Oscar-nominated one."

Ironically, she was the obscure one when the former model from San Diego made her debut opposite Jim Carrey in 1994's The Mask. The five-foot-nine

daughter of a Cuban-American father and an Anglo-German mother had no acting experience but lots of onscreen presence.

Three years later, she went head-to head with veteran Julia Roberts in My Best Friend's Wedding, and stole a few scenes, proving that nobody can do the lovable ditz like Diaz. She more or less confirmed the sexy-silly status with another break-out part in 1998's big hit, There's Something About Mary.

In the 21st century, mega-star status arrived with the Shrek series and the Charlie's Angels double bill. She's the voice of Princess Fiona in Shrek, and will appear in Shrek 3, scheduled for release next year. The Charlie's Angels films established Diaz as a $20-million-per-picture player despite the less- than-positive reviews for the second Angels movie three years ago.

Still, she's neither impressed nor pleased that she may have surpassed Julia Roberts as the go-to-romantic-comedy female lead. Perhaps that's why her year off took many movie industry folks by surprise. Diaz saw it coming.

"I'm not in a race with anyone, and my career or my life is not a competition," says the actress, who recently dyed her blond hair black.

Still, Diaz managed to involve herself in more than 20 movies her first 10 years; some good, some not-so-good.

"When I first started out, I wanted to keep the ball in motion," she says. "I really did film after film after film, which was an amazing experience, and I was so thankful for it.

"But I got to the point," she adds, grimacing, "where I was like, 'I don't have a house. I don't have any place to put my bags. I haven't seen my family. And I have no friends.' "

Now she has a few houses, a steady, albeit high-profile, media-magnet boyfriend in Timberlake and lots of buddies, including Angels colleague Drew Barrymore. Most importantly, she has no regrets.

"You can't live that w ay," Diaz says. "I've always felt the movies I made were the movies I was meant to make.

"I don't get jealous or envious," she continues. "I don't envy someone else's life or what they've accomplished. I try to concentrate on my own life and what I need to do." And her bottom line?

"I can't complain, although I do," she says. "My life is no different than anyone else's, and some days I've got it all figured out."

She giggles: "Other days I'm like, 'What the hell is going on?' "






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