Few people are tripping over her last name yet, but Piper Perabo (PAIR-a-bow) will be the tongue twister on everyone’s lips come Friday. That’s when the 23 year old’s latest film, the heavily hyped ”Coyote Ugly,” hits theaters. Though Perabo’s last big screen outing, ”The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle,” was brushed off as a certified flop after it fell out of the top 10 in just three weeks, ”Coyote”’s rip roaring, bar boogying plot and cast of hotties (including model Tyra Banks and former ”ER” star Maria Bello) practically scream summertime hit — at least among heterosexual guys with a pulse.
Already, EW’s It List has named Perabo as someone to watch because of her ”Coyote” role: a sexy cocktail waitress at one of Manhattan’s rowdiest downtown bars. ”She’s a songwriter with stage fright, and the job requires her to get up on the bar and dance,” Perabo says. ”It’s her worst nightmare.”
And it’s a nightmare the young actress can relate to. Like so many struggling performers, Perabo waited tables in New York City while working for her big break — though she was lucky enough to do her brief stint at a posh Park Avenue watering hole. ”I was a bad waitress. Very bad,” she admits. ”You have to wear heels and a dress and carry the tray over your head. I’m already clumsy, but once you add the heels and the full drinks… Let’s just say I spilled A LOT of drinks. For a while, management was cool, but eventually they said, you need to learn what you’re doing or you’re fired.”
Before either could happen, though, Perabo landed the part of a rapper wannabe in the independent feature ”Whiteboys,” a ”troubled teen” drama released last year. Then came her roles in ”Bullwinkle” and ”Coyote.” And even though she’s now off in Canada shooting her latest part, a rambunctious boarding school student in ”Lost and Delirious,” Perabo is already aware of the Hollywood buzz. ”I feel like something’s coming just around the corner, and I can’t quite see it,” she says. ”So I’m just happy to have my blinders on and be working on something else.”