As quickly as we met, Tara Reid mentioned she had introduced me one thing. She pulled a small orange satchel from her pocket and handed it to me. “I made it myself. I picked each bead,” she mentioned. Inside was a friendship bracelet made with turquoise, silver, and little rivets etched with phrases like “Lovely” and “Consider.” She suggested me to place it beneath moonlight to cost the crystals with good vitality. Reid, like lots of ladies who spent their whole grownup lives residing and dealing in Hollywood, is a bit of witchy, a bit of woo-woo, not that there’s something incorrect with that.
We spoke over the course of some days in Los Angeles, whereas the now-46-year-old actor was taking pictures a lookbook for her new sun shades line, Cult Queen, and a handbag made in collaboration with designer Michael Kuluva. Earlier than the shoot, she was reserved, nearly sleepy, however when the photographer lifted the digital camera to her sightline, she popped out her leg, supplied a smile, and for hours, turned on the attraction that made her profitable within the first place.
That is the form of habits one may anticipate from an actor whose early breakout roles cemented her as an approachable bombshell and America’s Subsequent Sweetheart. In 1998 she performed Bunny Lebowski, a former porn star trophy spouse who outlets consistently, within the cult basic The Massive Lebowski. In 1999, she was Vicky within the megahit teen comedy American Pie (and some sequels), the quintessential lady subsequent door who’s uncertain if she actually needs to have intercourse for the primary time together with her fool boyfriend.
However my favourite — and Reid’s — was her position in 2001’s Josie and the Pussycats. I all the time beloved Melody, the band’s dim however candy drummer. Within the Archie Comics that impressed the movie, she’s sidelined to punchlines the place she isn’t even in on the joke — everybody thought Melody was an fool, and so they handled her as such, however she was really only a perennial optimist. And Reid was the proper vessel for such a personality. “Everybody thought she was clueless, however she was really actually sensible,” Reid advised me.
Josie and the Pussycats might need appeared and smelled like a typical coming-of-age film, nevertheless it was really an incisive, brutal commentary on poisonous media tradition and the way simple it’s to lose your self within the fame machine. Who higher understands that cycle than Reid? “It doesn’t matter what I do, even when I ended performing tomorrow, I’m going to be well-known for the remainder of my life,” she mentioned. “It wasn’t like I cared about being well-known. It simply all form of occurred.”
On the daybreak of the 2000s, Tara Reid was the quintessential It lady: a bankable, stunning, blonde actor with glowing blue eyes, excellent for rom-coms and gross-out comedies. However simply a few years later, the shine had already began to put on off. There have been fewer starring roles, in comparable horny-slapstick motion pictures (2002’s school comedy Van Wilder, 2003’s hijinks-heavy rom-com My Boss’s Daughter). When even these disappeared, she confirmed up on actuality reveals like Hell’s Kitchen and Celeb Massive Brother.
Like so many Hollywood ladies of the period — Paris Hilton, Nicole Richie, Lindsay Lohan, Britney Spears — Reid’s profession and status suffered in her early 20s when she hit the celebration circuit and have become recognized for tabloid images of her outdoors Hollywood golf equipment sporting low-rise denims and chainmail halter tops. However there are large variations between Reid and her contemporaries: Particularly, she by no means actually discovered herself embroiled in any main scandal. “Yeah, I partied and had enjoyable,” she advised me. “We’d pop bottles of champagne. However who doesn’t?”
There isn’t any Tara Reid mugshot, no Tara Reid DUI, no Tara Reid jail sentence. “All of them have been in jail, all of them did fucking intercourse tapes, loopy shit,” Reid mentioned, referring to a few of her friends. She mentioned she by no means bought in bother on film units and was all the time on time. (The one story about her being late to a set is from 2018, when she was faraway from a flight for inflicting a “disturbance,” making her three hours late to filming fifth Borough.) “There’s nothing like that about me,” she mentioned. Nevertheless it didn’t actually matter — quickly, notion turned actuality.
In the event you ask Reid, her status as a celebration lady coincided together with her status as knowledgeable flake, two issues she considers patently false. Elevated publications largely ignored her — she may’ve been on the duvet of Maxim and Playboy and FHM, however that focus by no means actually transferred to extra roles or extra respectability. Quickly, her physique was endlessly dissected by gossip magazines, with zoomed-in images of her legs and abs picked aside by bloggers and readers alike.
There isn’t any Tara Reid mugshot, no Tara Reid DUI, no Tara Reid jail sentence.
Anybody who’s had their physique criticized by a merciless viewers, even an viewers of only one, can empathize. However Reid hasn’t had her large-scale redemption narrative even because the media has reconsidered narratives about many young white women who have been well-known within the aughts. Perhaps that’s as a result of her story isn’t tragic within the excessive: She’s alive, nicely, and nonetheless working. Monica Lewinsky had her identify splashed throughout each main newspaper on the earth, whereas Spears needed to battle for management of even the smallest a part of her personal life. Compared, what did Reid endure, other than the vagaries of fame? The world moved on; possibly she simply didn’t undergo sufficient. Nonetheless, the way in which the media handled ladies like Reid serves as a form of allegory for the sexist, focused, and unjustified methods ladies have traditionally been handled.
Reid isn’t bitter, however she’d have a proper to be. In her 20s, she was primed to be the following large factor, however as a substitute the roles dried up. She tolerated extra cruelty than anyone individual ought to. But, having survived the worst of 2000s tabloid tradition, Reid barely needs a lot as an apology. “I don’t need individuals to really feel sorry for me,” she mentioned. “I don’t need individuals to assume I’m hung up on that.”
So far as she’s involved, she doesn’t really require redemption, whether or not for her sense of self-worth or her profession. The best way the tabloids talked about her is outdated information. She hasn’t made any try to publicly rewrite her personal narrative. She isn’t writing a memoir or making an attempt to take a seat down with Oprah. She’s merely been working, now producing greater than performing, and residing a quieter life.
However hasn’t she earned an apology? As a result of, for all of the vitriol directed at her, when it comes right down to it, Reid solely did two issues: publicly loved her 20s and altered her physique in a method individuals didn’t approve of. Neither would have ruined her life had the general public not reacted so strongly. Her friends are getting absolution. So why can’t she get a break?
The present revival of early-aughts style — Von Dutch hats and denim skirts like those she used to put on to Hyde Lounge — brings again a extra private aspect of Reid’s troubles with the tabloids. “Once I see issues individuals put on generally, it jogs my memory of my mom,” she mentioned. “It’s a really melancholy feeling. She was nice. She was a boss.”
Reid’s mom died 4 years in the past, and her father round two years earlier than that, however she was all the time near them, even after transferring from her native New Jersey to Hollywood within the late ‘90s, when she was 20. The media response to her private life hit them the toughest. “My mother would say it wasn’t truthful. She mentioned, ‘I’m going to name these motherfuckers, inform them off,’” Reid mentioned. “She was extra offended than I used to be. She didn’t wish to be judged by her buddies, by me wanting unhealthy. If I may have fastened it, I’d have, nevertheless it wasn’t as much as me on the time.”
If she had develop into well-known now, Reid’s partygoing may appear to be run-of-the-mill celeb carousing. However within the aughts, it made her a tabloid fixture. Each night time out, each relationship, and each change to her physique was examined and derided advert nauseam. She was a TMZ and Perez Hilton mainstay — TMZ known as her “Franken-nipple” and a “train wreck,” and ran movies making enjoyable of her for being denied entry to golf equipment, whereas Perez Hilton lined a clothes line she was engaged on in a publish known as “Hookers Rejoice!” It was the period of Britney Spears being photographed with out underwear on and Paris Hilton’s intercourse tape. If gossip blogs wanted somebody to shit on that afternoon, well-known younger ladies have been excellent targets.
Celeb bloggers have been fast to publish close-ups of each path of cellulite on Reid’s physique, each fold on her midsection. Page Six routinely zeroed in on images of her chest, her abdomen, her butt, criticizing each fold and crease. In 2004, she went pre–social media viral when the highest of her costume slipped and uncovered her breast whereas she was at a celebration hosted by P. Diddy. “Tara Reid: Holy Lopsided Boobs!” proclaimed Just Jared in 2007, about red-carpet images of the starlet smiling placidly in a inexperienced costume. In 2008, she acquired unfavorable consideration for paparazzi photographs of her in a bikini on the seashore, which confirmed scars left over from a fumbled liposuction process. (The scars aren’t that excessive, however the response was so aggressive and swift, you’ll’ve thought she’d had a head transplant.) “It’s a ghastly, protruding factor, isn’t it?” Lainey Lui wrote on Lainey Gossip in 2011 about Reid’s midsection. “Prefer it may detach from her and begin killing issues. Half leather-based, half plastic, all gross.”
Too skinny and he or she was accused of getting anorexia, however even rumors of surgical changes earned sneering, as if making an attempt to evade mockery was equally worthy of derision. And the extra insulting headlines she needed to tolerate, the less roles she felt like she was being supplied. She’s nonetheless making an attempt to kind via the results. “Why would that have an effect on me a lot, particularly when there’s by no means ever been an article about me being unprofessional?”
In the meantime, she was definitely creating wealth for lots of different individuals. “Once I hosted [TMZ], Harvey [Levin] got here as much as me and goes, ‘We wouldn’t even have TMZ if it wasn’t for you. You have been all the time the one which was picked on. For us, it was excellent,’” she mentioned. “It wasn’t for me.” (Levin didn’t reply to requests for remark.) Bloggers like Perez constructed their very own empires on such cruelty. “I came upon we had the identical publicist, and I [said to the publicist], ‘You’re not defending me. All the things I let you know, are you telling him?’” she mentioned. “I feel he’s the one which ruined my profession, to be trustworthy with you.”
In an announcement to BuzzFeed Information, Perez mentioned he didn’t assume they ever shared the identical publicist, and he denied ever receiving tips on Reid from former or present publicists. However he nonetheless couldn’t assist himself. “I’m sorry for my previous protection of Tara Reid,” he mentioned. “I may have lined her then-sloppiness and problematic habits with extra empathy.”
There are lots of issues Reid doesn’t wish to speak about, however the largest one is concept about beauty surgical procedure. (Earlier than the interview, her publicist requested that I not ask any particular questions on what beauty work she has or hasn’t had accomplished, although she was prepared to debate the impression of the tabloid protection of her physique.)
Within the early aughts, she reportedly acquired two cosmetic procedures that drastically modified her physique in methods she now says she didn’t need. Her breast implants have been larger than what she initially wished (she mentioned she asked for B cups however acquired C’s as a substitute), and physique contouring left her with a midsection she once called “essentially the most ripply, bulgy factor.” She appears protecting of herself and her selections, which is smart contemplating how usually she’s needed to defend how she seems. “It was a horrible expertise and everybody stored throwing it in my face,” she mentioned. “Like, why are you being so imply?”
She figured her choices have been to both fade away solely, or to strive a brand new sort of public life. Whereas the tabloids have been choosing her aside, Reid turned to actuality TV, the dominion of stars whose A-list standing has evaporated. There was the 2005 E! docuseries Taradise, the place Reid tried out native delicacies and nightlife in locations like Greece, Italy, and Monaco. Reid appreciated making it however acknowledges it in all probability affirmed the misconceptions about her.
“Nobody is aware of the actual fact about all of the issues that occurred.”
“That’s the place, actually, I feel the celebration lady picture got here,” she mentioned. “I didn’t understand that will really harm me. I believed it could be enjoyable.” There was a 2011 stint on Celeb Massive Brother within the UK, alongside Irish celeb twins Jedward and David Hasselhoff’s ex-wife, Pamela. Then, in 2016, she appeared on Marriage Boot Camp: Actuality Stars together with her “boyfriend” Dean Could. She was kicked off the present on the finale when it was revealed that they weren’t a real couple. (Reid declined to debate the scandal in our interview.)
In 2008, she spent two weeks on the Promises Treatment Center, and to outsiders, it appeared like Reid was there to get sober. She mentioned that wasn’t the reality both. “I used to be courting a man on the time, he was very damaging. I couldn’t get away from him,” she mentioned. The connection was so abusive, she mentioned, that her group despatched her to rehab to interrupt them up. “The one method was to go to therapy. Everybody thought I had an actual downside, and that was the issue.”
Reid by no means wavers in her eye contact when she talks; there’s no insincerity in her supply. “Nobody is aware of the actual fact about all of the issues that occurred. This doesn’t even hassle me, as a result of I do know my fact, nevertheless it used to.” Reid talks low and sluggish, forcing you to lean in to listen to her clearly. “How lengthy are you able to be offended about one thing?”
Individuals who know Reid nicely paint a vastly totally different portrait of her than the tabloids did. Twenty years after Josie and the Pussycats, Reid nonetheless considers costar Rachael Leigh Cook dinner certainly one of her good buddies. Cook dinner was presupposed to be a bridesmaid at Reid’s marriage ceremony to Carson Daly earlier than it was known as off in 2001 — a breakup that tabloids and Daly attributed to Reid’s partying. “To some extent, I dodged a bullet,” Daly told Elle in 2012 in an article titled “I’m Residing Proof That the Good Guys Win.” “I used to be getting severe about my profession, and he or she wished to shoot motion pictures and simply celebration in her day without work.” (Reid didn’t have as a lot to say about Daly: “We grew aside,” she advised me. “We love one another, we care about one another, however I do know I can’t spend my entire life with you. In some methods, that’s the toughest breakup on the earth.”)
“I feel Tara’s somebody who, as sturdy and as outspoken as she might be when she must be, she doesn’t really wish to look backwards,” Cook dinner advised me over the telephone. “She’s all the time anyone who’s stored applicable blinders going ahead towards her personal finest, most optimistic path and trajectory.”
Cook dinner mentioned that she didn’t hang around with the identical “quick crowd” that Reid did, and possibly that insulated her from among the criticisms her buddy needed to cope with. However the unfavorable consideration struck her as unfair. “I don’t know the way she ended up as deeply mistreated as she was,” Cook dinner mentioned. “Folks would say, ‘Oh, she will be able to’t be the candy harmless individual, not if we noticed photos of her popping out of a membership in a crop high.’ That’s absurd.”
The aughts starlets who survived merciless press vortexes have accomplished it, partially, by in search of to vary their public narrative with domesticity. Hilton is a newlywed, Spears and Lohan are each engaged, and Richie has two children and a decadelong marriage to Joel Madden. Reid by no means adopted swimsuit, although she does have two canines (Bella and Beso) and a live-in boyfriend of 4 years. However she didn’t pursue household life in as public a style as, say, Hilton, who not too long ago starred in a actuality present on Peacock about her marriage ceremony. “I feel what they actually wished from me to make the following change was to get married and have children. Now, she’s a girl,” Reid mentioned. “They wished to see me have a household, and since I didn’t, it was nonetheless truthful recreation.”
Not that she hasn’t been supplied alternatives to retell her story, like Hilton did in 2020’s This Is Paris (the place she mentioned her trauma after being abused at a boarding college) or Lohan’s 2014 OWN collection (which adopted her path towards sobriety and tried profession relaunch). “I’ve been supplied one million occasions to do a memoir or a ebook,” she mentioned. “The explanation why I haven’t accomplished it [is] as a result of I’m not over but. Why now? As Justin Timberlake would say, I don’t want you to cry me a river.”
However doesn’t she need some form of reckoning? I’d, if somebody had publicly known as me “ghetto tits.” Her insistence that she doesn’t feels nearly like a reverse protection mechanism: She’s so used to individuals mocking her that she doesn’t wish to ask for an excessive amount of. To ask for an apology is to take a danger; it’s too intimate and susceptible a request from individuals who may nonetheless simply name her ugly.
Nowadays, bloggers like Lainey Gossip and Perez are providing up mea culpas, and it’s not socially acceptable to malign a younger girl for going out. “Different stars get a bit of bit loopy now. Jennifer Lawrence fell down the steps!” Reid mentioned, referring to that Oscars second in 2013. “She’s doing late-night speak reveals, ingesting a beer. If I ever did that, I’d be destroyed.” Nonetheless, Lawrence not too long ago gave an interview about how she needed to disappear from public life as a result of individuals have been getting sick of her and her relatable antics. The tradition hasn’t modified that a lot — if tabloids wish to drag a girl, they’ll discover a method it doesn’t matter what.
Reid’s story is a case examine for what occurs when the stardom you’re poised for goes sideways. Now, her relationship with Hollywood and the general public is an uneasy one — and nobody is aware of, not even her, what it’ll appear to be sooner or later.
In truth, a couple of months after I interviewed Reid, she was as soon as once more harangued after posting a photo of herself in a bikini. The feedback got here in swiftly, 1000’s of individuals assessing whether or not she might need an consuming dysfunction and criticizing no matter she’s accomplished to her physique through the years. (Reid has repeatedly denied ever having any sort of consuming dysfunction.) “You need assistance,” one follower mentioned. “Age isn’t everybody’s buddy,” one other mentioned. Later that day, Reid posted one other picture of herself, together with an announcement. “Right here is one other image from yesterday to indicate you I’m not too skinny. I’ve a excessive metabolism. All I do is eat,” she said. “To everybody who wrote one thing good and caught up for me, I really like you! And hold spreading that love, it’s the solely factor that can save this world.”
Reid appears like her 20s nonetheless coloration individuals’s opinions. “Even to today, there’s nonetheless form of a factor about me,” Reid mentioned. “Come on, guys. You may’t choose me by my highschool image. I’m 45 years outdated now.” The hope, possibly, is that individuals become bored with shitting on her. “Ultimately it’s going to go away, and it is going away,” she mentioned. “What are they gonna do? Choose on me after I’m 60? I’m a 90-year-old woman and I’ve a glass in my hand? Fuck off.”
In the event you’ve seen Reid in a film in the previous couple of years, it was seemingly one from the Sharknado franchise, the TV film absurdities about tornados stuffed with sharks. Reid isn’t divorced from how individuals understand her, nor does she have highfalutin concepts about her profession. Once I requested which of her motion pictures have been her least favourite, she didn’t stutter: “A number of the silly motion pictures I do,” she mentioned. “You recognize. It’s a paycheck.”
Earlier than filming the primary Sharknado, Reid was residing in London, making an attempt to recuperate from a decade and a half of ruthless media consideration. The town was the final spot on the American Pie Reunion promotional tour in 2012, and as a substitute of going dwelling, she stayed. Nothing was tying her to Hollywood anymore — her final large film, My Boss’s Daughter (a crucial bomb), premiered all the way in which again in 2003, and her seasonlong stint on Scrubs resulted in 2005. “I want[ed] to refocus and discover myself, my core once more. And it labored, I went there and I lived my life,” she mentioned. It was simpler — the tabloids let up, and he or she felt like she may mix in and do no matter she wished with out fixed commentary.
“My agent known as me, like, ‘All proper, Tara, you’re not working, we’re not doing something, you should work once more. You have to come dwelling,’” she mentioned. “So then they gave me this craziest, stupidest script I’ve ever learn in my entire whole life known as Sharknado.”
Reid credit it with reviving her profession. “It’s the worst film of all time. It’s so unhealthy that it’s really form of good,” she mentioned. “Let’s have a child within the shark in outer house. It’s so on the market. For Sharknado to carry me again is one thing I by no means would’ve anticipated.” Sharknado wasn’t a crucial or business darling by any means. However the film was successful all the identical: When it premiered in 2013 on Syfy, it had 1.4 million viewers, on a channel with a typical viewership of lower than one million. Its third screening a couple of weeks later bought 2.1 million viewers. (Sharknado 2: The Second One, bought 3.9 million viewers on a Wednesday night time.) With its aggressive dedication to campy terror, Sharknado is now a cult basic that conjures up midnight screenings and themed events.
In 2018, The Final Sharknado: It’s About Time got here out, marking the top of the franchise. However the Sharknado motion pictures uncovered her to a brand new viewers, as evidenced by a current flight she took from a trip in Mexico again dwelling to LA. “The flight attendant comes as much as me and he goes, ‘Oh my god, I so beloved your film.’ So after all, I mechanically assume [of] American Pie,” she mentioned. “And he goes, ‘Sharknado is every thing.’ I used to be like, Is that this actually occurring?”
Her subsequent undertaking is the forthcoming Masha’s Mushroom, a thriller about an overworked mom who throws a celebration for her daughter the place all of the visitors find yourself dosed with a hallucinogen. Reid performs the mom; Vivica A. Fox and Beverly D’Angelo additionally star. Reid can also be a producer on the film. Though she determined to become involved in producing as a result of roles for girls her age are famously arduous to seek out, she’s enthusiastic about it. “If somebody’s not gonna give me that likelihood, then I used to be like, I gotta make it for myself,” she mentioned. “I discovered an ideal script, nice director. I’m so happy with what we’ve completed.” Lastly, she’s on the opposite aspect of the Hollywood equation. “It was so humorous this time, calling up the brokers that mentioned no to me that I’d wish to make a suggestion to your consumer,” she mentioned. “To succeed in out to all these totally different corporations and me being the boss this time, it was like, the desk’s turned. It was past satisfying.”
It’s simple to root for Reid when she tells tales like this. She comes off as open and candy; she ended our interview by proclaiming “I really like you!” into my recorder. And whereas Reid advised me, again and again, that she didn’t need or want a reconsideration, I nonetheless need one for her. Whether or not she’s saying it as a result of it’s true or only a line for a tradition that has largely scorned her, she does appear exhausted from explaining herself. She’s tried repeatedly to make it clear that she’s productive, settled, type, and easygoing. It hasn’t labored to date. Showing in a well known film franchise hasn’t proved it. Refusing to interact in criticism of her physique hasn’t both. Desirous to be understood has solely led to disappointment, so why not neglect about it? Vindication isn’t every thing. What may anybody do to make amends? Cry her a river, after which what?
Reid has little time for regrets. “I’m wondering what else I’d’ve accomplished,” she mentioned. “Do I take it again? No, I don’t. It’s who I’m.”●
Tara Reid styled by Amy Lu