Tara Reid back on screen in ‘Alone in the Dark’

Andrew Hampp

Credit: Beth Rankin

The assignment: a conference call with Tara Reid to promote her new movie, Alone in the Dark (Lions Gate), opening this


The key players: Reid, two reps from Lions Gate and a host of college journalists from 16 schools across the country, including Stanford, Harvard and the University of California, Berkeley.

The rules: Each reporter gets one


So what did this intrepid reporter from the Daily Kent Stater ask for his one question? Anyone who caught photos of her Janet Jackson-esque wardrobe malfunction at P. Diddy’s 30th birthday party this fall should know the answer.

“Hi, Tara. First of all, I loved your performance in Josie and the Pussycats. My question for you is one that I’m sure everyone else here is curious about. Could you please explain what happened at P. Diddy’s birthday party?”

“I mean, you saw the dress,” Reid, 29, said of the unfortunate incident. “It was a mistake. Accidents happen. Next question.”

Nervous laughter amongst Reid, the other reporters and the Lions Gate reps assured this reporter that although his question had nothing to do with her latest film, at least everyone could laugh about it.

Peek-a-boob photo mishaps aside, Reid had plenty to say about Alone in the Dark, which was a new kind of role for the veteran of American Pie 1 and 2, Van Wilder and Urban Legend.

“I’ve never gotten the chance to play an anthropologist before,” Reid told a reporter from Arizona. “I loved that it was an action, sci-fi, thriller, horror movie. I thought it was a good movie for me to be involved in instead of some of the comedies.”

In the movie, Reid co-stars with Christian Slater, who Reid cites as one of her favorite co-stars.

“He’s such a great actor to work with,” Reid enthused. “He’s so giving and really smart technically. Not just as an actor, but with lighting and how shots are set up. He puts a lot of effort in.”

Slater is in fact one of several co-stars Reid has particularly jelled with over the years, following her Dr. T and the Women co-stars Richard Gere and Kate Hudson, her American Pie co-star Natasha Lyonne and Rosario Dawson, her fellow Pussycat.

“(She) actually became a very good friend of mine,” Reid said of Dawson.

Yet, despite an increasingly long list of co-stars and high-profile projects, Reid would like to add many more to her r‚sum‚.

“There’s so many out there,” Reid told the reporters. “Meryl Streep or Leonardo DiCaprio or Julia Roberts. I haven’t touched on any of that yet, which hopefully I will. You (improve) yourself and your game gets more challenged. I hope that happens one day.”

Having come a long way from her beginnings as a teen star of Stephen King’s Return to Salem’s Lot and even Saved by the Bell: The New Class (which Reid told a Stanford reporter was scarier than Salem’s Lot), Reid is finding an increase in mature roles. She cites her role as a college journalist in Van Wilder as a particularly eye-opening experience.

“It was interesting to find out things about people,” Reid said of her Van Wilder research. “It was a cool character to do. She was smart, and the age I’m at, I can relate a lot to college kids. They’re more my


“(I learned) the power people have in college journalism, and I think that’s really, really cool.”

One aspect Reid hopes college journalists — or any journalists, for that matter — stop dwelling on her party girl reputation. Although it has died down in recent years, Reid doesn’t see what makes her table-dancing tendencies so unusual.

“I think my whole party girl image is definitely taken way out of control,” Reid said. “I don’t think I do anything different than any of us (our age) do. Yeah, I’ve gone out and had a good time. But I’ve done 24 movies and I’m proud of some of the work I’ve done.

“People need to stop writing so much about that. It shouldn’t be the focus of my life. I think it takes away from me getting some (high profile) roles, so I wish people would back off so I can get the opportunity to do some more things.”

Reid’s plans for media retaliation have manifested themselves in a planned TV sitcom, in which she would play — what else? — a tabloid-courting starlet.

“It’s a little bit like me having the last laugh,” Reid said of the untitled project. “It’s taking what I’m doing and spinning it in a certain way. People will think a little bit more before they start writing bad things about me.”

Contact pop arts editor Andrew Hampp at [email protected].