Jennifer Loves a Plus-Sized Cat

Uh, by our headline, are we saying that Jennifer Love Hewitt is dating Ruben Studdard? Uh, nope. The plus-sized dude we are talking about is furry, orange, has stripes and eats lasagna. Yes, it's Garfield the cartoon cat who has won the heart of the hot actress. In the family film Garfield: The Movie, Jennifer plays Liz the cute veterinarian that Garfield's sweet but shy owner Jon (Breckin Meyer) has a big crush on.

We just spoke with Jennifer in L.A.'s Century City last weekend and the petite actress was a vision in a retro-'50's style outfit, with cute, 50's style print dress, red nail polish and her hair in a pony tail. She'd been talking to members of the press all day and was drinking a coke. This only added to that usual, happy, upbeat Love Hewitt "buzz" which includes her future projects, the admission that she's a "hopeless romantic" and her theory of the modern dating scene and why she has a hard time dating in Hollywood.

TeenHollywood: How was it working with the animals in this movie?

Jennifer: It was good. These dogs are amazing. I mean, Garfield wasn't there so I can't say that much but he looks amazing in the movie and the (CGI) animators did such a good job with him I can't even believe it. But, the dog show sequence with all the dogs? Unbelievable. You know, it's very hard to be outshined by Shar-Peis, let me just tell you. I'm like, 'okay, the Dobermans have like a brilliant close-up'. All these dogs would just like go and hit their mark, and they'd have these little facial expressions and they'd do their thing, it was amazing. I would do it again in a heartbeat. They were hilarious.

TeenHollywood: What made you want to be in a Garfield movie?

Jennifer: I really wanted to kind of see how the whole process would work, and I really wanted to be a part of a movie where kids could go, and like throw candy at the screen and popcorn, and yell at Garfield for being mean to Odie and tell Odie not to go in that room, and do all that stuff. So I'm excited to actually get to see it for the first time. I've seen it, but I haven't seen it with kids.

TeenHollywood: What is your favorite cartoon show now?

Jennifer: "Sponge Bob Square Pants"! I'm obsessed. I just got the Sponge Bob Square Pants director's chair. I'm so excited, and I sit in it all the time and I sing the song and I just love it.

TeenHollywood: Do you have any dogs or cats at home?

Jennifer: I used to have an orange cat. His name was Chester. And I don't have him anymore, it's sad. But I have a dog now. Named Mia, and she's a Chihuahua. She's regular sized, though, but she's 13 pounds. She's from the Garfield school of needing to eat a lot and loving food. And she can do the little dance that Odie does in the film when he needs food. That's right, trained by moi. So, Odie is kind of special but not that special. So, yeah, so I have a dog, and I love her, she's great.

TeenHollywood: Were the special effects in this film easier to work with than in "Tuxedo"?

Jennifer: Yeah, except we didn't have Jackie Chan to make it all a lot easier. The strange thing about seeing the movie is that Breckin [Meyer] and I shot one film, and then the animators did another film ,and then they put them together and they became this one thing. Because none of that stuff was (with Garfield) was going on. We had no idea why the camera was on a round circle thing, with this bump running underneath it. Breckin and I are like, 'Hello, we're over here, what are you doing? Why are you shooting that?' And then once you see that Garfield is underneath that thing, moving around, and there's a mouse running across the floor then it all made sense.

TeenHollywood: So you did have a stuffed Garfield to hold and pretend it was the animated one?

Jennifer: We had a gray bean bag for a while and then we eventually got a stuffed Garfield that was weight appropriate and everything like that. They had to have something, but we could never use it for the takes. We could always do one take holding it. But then they would take it out for the main take and so we were, you know, holding nothing.

TeenHollywood: if you read the comic strip, did you know much about your character Liz the vet before making the movie?

Jennifer: I'm going to be honest, I didn't know, because I watched the cartoon and she isn't in the cartoon, so I didn't know that there was Liz the vet. Come to find out there's this whole group of Australian people who love Liz the vet. All these people are going to come out of nowhere and go like, 'you played her wrong'. I'm hoping that they're OK with my performance.

TeenHollywood: Well, for a family movie, your character is wearing some pretty hot clothes, especially that red outfit.

Jennifer: I wasn't thinking about that at the time. I was in a hot pink suit with like fluffy hair and big eyelashes, and also very sort of cartoony and young. I'm in flats where I'm normally in heels. But that red dress did not look like that in person. And then when we were watching the movie I was like, 'weird, I'm a little tarty for the movie'. Because it did, it looked a little more va-va-voom than I remembered. But no, that was not our intention. Our intention was to sort of be a modern Doris Day or something.

TeenHollywood: Are you a fan of the Garfield comic strip or cartoons?

Jennifer: Yeah. I've only read the comics that were in the papers but I was a fan of the cartoon on Saturday mornings with my friends and stuff.

TeenHollywood: In the film, your character Liz has to ask shy Jon out. Have you ever had to ask a nervous or shy guy out?

Jennifer: Yeah. I, in the process of dating, probably do more of the asking out than getting asked, because guys do not ask anymore. It's a horrible thing. Literally, in my entire life I've had two guys come up to me and ask me out. Other than that I have had to go and try to like spend time with them, or sort of start the conversation, basically like spell it out with a Sharpie, you know? Or else they don't get it.

TeenHollywood: Why do you think that is?

Jennifer: I don't know. I think guys are really nervous. And, honestly, maybe somehow we've taken the female empowerment thing a little too far now, and we have allowed guys to think that we don't want to be girls. There's a difference between wanting to be respected and being a strong female and being known for being able to do things, and still very much wanting guys to open the door, ask us out, still bring flowers and stuff like that. And one of my guy friends was the one who brought that to my attention, he goes, 'honestly, we're at a loss. We're just at a loss for what to do anymore.' I'm like 'we don't want to be guys, we just want to be respected and maybe be a little bit stronger.' So I think honestly it's because guys are at a loss at this point. I think that maybe there's a misunderstanding.

TeenHollywood: You don't think the dating shyness has to do with the fact that you are a famous actress?

Jennifer: I don't think so. I don't really consider myself famous, so I hope not. Because if so, there are many more, much more famous people that they can be nervous about than me.

TeenHollywood: So is there anyone brave enough to date you lately?

Jennifer: Recently, in my dating life, I have really decided that guys are going to have to come to me at this point. It just leaves you feeling more hurt when you're the one that goes out and does all the work. I'm a hopeless romantic, and I am very much the person in a relationship to buy the flowers, I'll remember the dates of things, I'll plan fun nights out, I'll do all of that stuff and then if they don't really want to be with me or it doesn't work out, then I'm like, 'I've done everything possible.' So I think lately in my dating life I have been much more subdued and tried not to do as much of that. Which has left me without a lot of dating recently. But that's fine. I would rather the next guy that I go out with would come to me and say, 'Would you like to go out with me?' Do that thing. So I'm kind of waiting, I'm not going out there and doing the things I used to do.

TeenHollywood: Do you think actors should avoid dating actors?

Jennifer: I don't know. I think, you know what? I think you kind of have to go with your heart. If it's a doctor, great, if it's an actor, fabulous, if he's a plumber even better. Whatever it is, stop on by! It's kind of up to you. I've dated some actors that you'd probably never want to go out with, but that's not because they're actors, it's because we didn't connect. You know what I mean? So I think it kind of depends on the person.

TeenHollywood: Okay, off the dating stuff. What's going on with your music?

Jennifer: Nothing at the moment. I'm just kind of gathering stuff. I took so much time off last year and a little bit of the year before that to write music that I've really gotten back into other things. I'm trying to get back into that now.

TeenHollywood: Who would you just love to sing a duet with?

Jennifer: Gosh. I would love to do something with Usher, I think that would be really, really cool. I would love that. Justin Timberlake would be really cool, that would be so fun. I mean, I would love, love to get to sing a song with Bonnie Raitt. I think that would be really interesting.

TeenHollywood: You were "Punk'd" and you looked very upset.

Jennifer: I was very upset. But, it was fine. I wanted to kill the person who punked me. It wasn't Ashton's fault. It's amazing, because as I was sitting there I remember when I got into the lobby I looked around and I said, somebody is probably shooting one of those punked films right now. I remember thinking that in my head. And then my common sense flew right out the window and allowed me to get punked for 45 minutes. My "Punk'd" went on and on. Like you guys saw 20 minutes of it? It went on for an hour and 15 minutes. I am like, why am I not smarter than this? Why did I not figure this out?

TeenHollywood: Besides "Sponge Bob", what do you watch on TV?

Jennifer: I'm so sad that 'Friends' is over. I used to like 'The Bachelor', I'm not a fan anymore, I don't know why. It's getting out of control. I just can't believe there's so many women in the world. And 'American Idol'. Fantasia. So excited about that. I like to watch the VH1 music shows like 'Behind the Music' and those kinds of things.

TeenHollywood: What are you really good at and what are you hopeless at doing?

Jennifer: I'm really trying to get good at cooking. Right now I'm pretty hopeless, but I 'm really trying. I am hopeless at anything electronic, and I am really, really good at running errands. I'm a great housecleaner. I do have like people come like once a week just to make sure I'm getting all the odds and ends. But I love cleaning. I'm a neat freak and I just love it.

TeenHollywood: What just really grosses you out?

Jennifer: Carrots. Carrots and bugs, I just cannot do it. They just make me ill. I always hated them. Any kind of carrot.

TeenHollywood: Let's talk projects. Other than 'Garfield', what else can we expect to see you in?

Jennifer: There's an animation thing. I play this princess and she's sort of a princess teenager bug fairy thing. And she's just amazing looking. It's sort of a Romeo and Juliet story between these two worlds of these kind of real life teenager bug people. That's such a horrible way to describe that. But it's going to be an amazing. It looks so unbelievably beautiful.

TeenHollywood: What is your next film?

Jennifer: I just wrapped a movie outside of London called 'The Truth About Love' which is a romantic comedy, kind of like 'Four Weddings and a Funeral' meets 'Bridget Jones' Diary'. I play an English girl. And it's with Dougray Scott and Jimi Mistry . Next I'm going to Budapest to do the NBC miniseries, 'Musical Christmas Carol' with Kelsey Grammar and Jason Alexander and Jane Krakowski. I'm playing Emily, Ebenezer's first love. And I have like three scenes in the movie, so it's a small part.

TeenHollywood: Will you sing in it?

Jennifer: Oh, yeah. Which I'll be excited about. They just sent me the music and everything, so I haven't had a chance to kind of go through it yet. I think it's from the stage musical.

TeenHollywood: Will you go back and do TV soon?

Jennifer: I created a series for ABC, we shot the pilot. We did not get picked up. And then they just recently came back and now it might get picked up. We're in flux. I don't really know what's happening with it. It was an idea I had something I created with these great writers, a part I really wanted to play. Something that I thought would be enjoyed by many different types of people. It's called 'In the Game,' and I play the on field reporter for ESPN, and it's a 25 year old single mom with a five year old. On ABC. Basically what we're going to do is do segments of her reports from live sporting events.

TeenHollywood: What about doing a third 'I Know What You Did Last Summer'?

Jennifer: They talked about it for a while and then sort of gave up on it. Then I heard they were going to make another one without any of the original cast in it, which would have been odd. Then they decided not to do that either. So no, I don't think there will be. But, I was done with the fisherman. And my part could not have gotten any smaller.

TeenHollywood: Let's end with a big question. What is the most significant life choice you ever made?

Jennifer: Whoa. Probably saying to my mom, 'let's go to California for a month' when I was 10. It was the start, hopefully, of a career, but it was before any career was possible. That decision process was probably the beginning, obviously the biggest thing.


Lynn Barker is a Hollywood-based entertainment journalist and produced screenwriter.

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