EW.com talks to the former model about her role in ''Planet of the Apes''

By Tricia Johnson
Updated May 01, 2001 at 04:00 AM EDT
Estella Warren: Allen Yee


  • Movie

Yes, she’s a Sports Illustrated swimsuit model, and no doubt that’s enough for a lot of you. But Estella Warren — who leavens the testosterone fueled racetrack drama ”Driven” (in theaters) before raising simian pulses in ”Planet of the Apes” (July 27) — has other accomplishments too. As EW.com learns, the Canadian actress, 22, is a winner even when she’s all wet.

Not many models successfully make the leap to leading roles. How did you manage it?
I know, I hit the jackpot. I decided I was going to come to L.A. for two weeks a month and try my luck. So I built up a little nest egg modeling. Within the first two weeks, I got three movies. I didn’t even go back to New York. I had somebody pack up my bags and ship them to Los Angeles.

You were Canada’s national champ in synchronized swimming. Did that mean you grew up faster than the average kid?
I moved away from home when I was 12 to be on the national team. When I was 16 I got my first apartment by myself. When I was 17, I bought my first house, a very suburban home with a backyard, patio, and barbecue. I was SO playing house. I eventually moved to New York to model full time.

How exactly does one get into synchronized swimming?
My big sister did it. I wanted to do everything that she did.

How was it working with Sylvester Stallone? Do you even remember the ”Rocky” movies?
Yes, of course. The first day I met him I was waiting to do the reading and I didn’t know he was going to be there. I was like, Gasp, and suddenly I got really nervous. In the reading he asked me to do it three different ways: really quiet, medium, and loud. It was a breakup scene between Til Schweiger and I. I just went full out, and I was screaming and crying and throwing things. And he was like, ”That was good. You got the part.”

Was the ”Driven” set the ultimate boys’ club?
Yeah, but if you’re the only girl you’re the center of attention. And every girl likes that. I got to drive the car, but not very fast. But I was right in the pit lane every time they did a pit change and that was really cool. I definitely have an affinity for racing now.

But you’ve had a bigger adrenaline rush than car racing…
A group of us from the movie went to the Indy 500 just for fun, and we got in a plane accident on the way home. The plane lost power and we ended up landing in a field. During the first half of us falling, I was like ”OK, OK, I’m going to die.” And then I was like, ”Well, I’ve got my video camera here, so I might as well tape my death.” So we taped the entire thing and then used it so that the charter company wouldn’t charge us for the flight afterward.

The big ”sell” moment in the ”Driven” trailer isn’t the car crashes. It’s you getting out of a swimming pool. Whose idea was that?
It was Renny Harlin’s, the director, and Sly’s. It was so inevitable. They came and asked how I’d feel about a pool scene. And I thought ”Oh, I knew this was coming,” because I was a model and they’d probably want to stick something like that in. It’s actually one of my favorite scenes.

”Planet of the Apes” is possibly the most anticipated film of the summer. What were some of the highlights of making the film?
We shot parts of it on the soundstage where they shot ”The Wizard of Oz” It was great. I did almost all of my own stunts, including a whole bunch of horseback riding. I’m galloping through the water with all of these fireballs coming from behind. I got tackled by apes, I killed apes, and I had my little knife. It was so physical and fun.

More importantly: Just how skimpy does your costume get?
It’s small, but not so bad. Not like Raquel Welch or anything.

For half our audience, I’m afraid that was the wrong answer.

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  • Movie
  • PG-13
  • 120 minutes