Rachael Leigh Cook Discusses Going to “Movie Jail” for ‘Josie and the Pussycats’

     August 31, 2020

You know what’s inspiring? Watching someone find their niche in the industry not once, but twice. As a kid growing up in the 90s, Rachael Leigh Cook was a major part of setting the romantic comedy standard with She’s All That. (Not to mention being part of other personal favorites like The Baby-Sitters Club, All I Wanna Do and then some.) Phase two of Cook finding something she’s great at and excelling with it? Not just starring in romantic crowd-pleasers like her new Netflix movie, Love, Guaranteed, but using her industry knowhow to produce these movies as well. The thing is though, it did take Cook a little bit of time to hit that stride courtesy of a bump in the road that’s pretty much entirely out of control – starring in a highly anticipated movie that flops at the box office.

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Image via Netflix

While talking to Cook about the 90s romantic comedies she enjoys watching most, Can’t Hardly Wait came up and, it turns out, Cook actually auditioned for the Amanda Beckett (Jennifer Love Hewitt) role and that wound up paving the way to Josie and the Pussycats:

“That’s our directors and writers of Josie and the Pussycats. I love that movie. I actually went in for that movie. Apparently that’s how they ended up casting me in Josie, it was off of that because I went in for the Love-Hewitt part. She was already in negotiations. I think I was brought in as a back-up meeting. But luckily, they remembered me from that.”

While 2001’s Josie and the Pussycats ultimately went on to become a cult classic, the film had a very rough run at the box office. The movie has a reported production budget of $39 million and only managed to pull in $14.9 million at the worldwide box office. There are loads of factors that can contribute to a movie crashing and burning at the box office, but unfortunately, no matter where the blame lies, sometimes a flop can affect an actor’s momentum and that’s what happened to Cook:

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Image via Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer

“What’s great about being 20, I was basically a teenager, when something like that happens is that no one really explains to you that it’s not just not great news; it’s news that’s gonna continue to affect you in a very real way for a long time. And truthfully, only time can kind of show you that so I understand why no one wanted to raise their hand and be like, ‘This is not good for sure.’ [Laughs] But it was not! We all sort of went to, what’s in the industry called ‘movie jail’ for that box office ‘failing’ and it took many years for people to get that movie. I’m just glad that we made something that I’m still proud of. It was a little bit of a bumpy road onward from that, but we have something great to show from it and we’re talking now about a movie that I really love, so I guess it all turned out the way it was supposed to be.”

It’s not fun imagining the disappointment Cook must have felt back in April 2001, but she did manage to emerge from “movie jail” and put herself in a position where she’s playing a major role in crafting the films she takes on. And, to top it all off, she’s doing that with a passionate Josie and the Pussycats fandom at her back.

For more from Cook on her experience making Love, Guaranteed, her favorite memories from working on She’s All That with Freddie Prinze Jr., the incredibly swift shooting schedule of a Hallmark movie and loads more, keep an eye out for her full episode of Collider Ladies Night dropping on Tuesday, September 1st.

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