March 2001 (US Maxim)
THE FULL MONICA
By BOB IVRY
Meet the star of Patch Adams
and Along Came a Spider—another tousled, troublemaking Potter
who’s casting a magic spell.
The second thing you’re liable
to think after hanging out with Monica Potter for a while—right
after the thought we can’t repeat in these pages—is,
What’s a nice girl like you doing in a business like, er,
As a matter of fact, Monica is so not–Hollywood
that, despite being named to every buzzmeister’s “breakout
star” list, the Midwest native still stubbornly insists
on living in Cleveland. That’s right, the one in And how
many starlets do you know who can raise two young sons between
plum roles in movies such as Con Air and Patch Adams? Luckily
Hollywood is more than willing to come knocking with topflight
projects, including the current comedy Head Over Heels, in which
she plays a gal sharing a pad with four supermodels, and the upcoming
Kiss the Girls sequel, Along Came a Spider, in which she plays
a hard–nosed Secret Service agent.
If Monica’s path to stardom seems
unconventional, get a load of her backup plan: joining a convent.
Yeah, we doubt it, too, but just to be safe we decided to take
her confession now.
Don’t take this the wrong
way, but why in the name of God do you still live in Cleveland?
It’s a great place to raise kids. I had a very happy childhood
there, growing up on a special street where everyone knew everybody.
Now I live literally four minutes away from there, and I love
it so much I’m looking for a house on the same street where
I grew up.
What do the good citizens of Ohio say when they bump into
They say, “You look like that girl from Patch Adams. Doesn’t
she look like that girl from Patch Adams?” They don’t
think it’s me, because what would the girl from Patch Adams
be doing in a thrift store in Cleveland?
Why don’t you dig Hollywood?
I used to live there, but except for a one–year period after
my divorce I never went out.
Tell us about that year.
I got married at 19 to the second boyfriend I ever had, and I
never sowed any wild oats. So right after it ended, I got caught
up in the Hollywood thing. I was a real party girl for a while.
Sounds like fun.
I thought it was for a while. I did some pretty silly things.
There was a party for Matt Damon and Ben Affleck, and I’d
never been to a Hollywood soiree before, so I was trying really
hard to be cool, and I just got bombed. Everybody there was nice
and mellow, and I was like the Tasmanian Devil, running around
doing shots and acting like a complete jackass. I crept behind
people’s backs and made funny faces. I remember standing
between Jennifer Aniston and Brad Pitt, and I was, like, “You
guys are such a cute couple.” People were going, “What
the hell is wrong with her?” My head was spinning, and I
passed out in the cab on the way home. When I got there, I walked
up to the front door and just dropped to the ground. After I finally
made it inside, I threw up all night.
You make the Hollywood lifestyle sound so glamorous.
That’s me—the epitome of glamour.
How did you get your start in acting?
When I was a kid in Cleveland, I used to do imitations of people
on the street. There was an old German man who’d have these
drunk hookers come over; one of my favorites was named Donna.
She had black teeth, smoked cigarettes, and would pretend she
was Marilyn Monroe. Her dress would always be stained with coffee
or wine or something, and she would walk up and down the street
screaming at no one. It was sad, really, but we didn’t know
it, because we were kids. I imitated her, but I learned something
from her, too: Go to the dentist. No, I learned that everyone
has a dream and you have to stay on the right path to get there.
Sounds like good training for working with Robin Williams.
Nothing prepares you for that! Robin reminded me a lot of my dad—same
mannerisms and facial expressions. Which was bizarre when I had
to kiss him in Patch Adams.
Sounds absolutely terrifying.
It’s all about the work, right?
You said you married your second boyfriend when you were
19. Who was your first?
When I was 16, my dad moved us to a small Alabama town called
Arab. There was a kid who lived next door who was a year older
than I was. He would take me out after school and teach me how
to drive a stick shift, and then we started dating. So I guess
I am the girl next door. My family had a guesthouse in the back.
He’d jump over the fence, and we’d go there and make
out. My sisters would be tapping on the window, saying, “We
see you!” The night of his eighteenth birthday was the first
time I had sex. I was 17, which I guess is pretty old now. I hope
to God my dad doesn’t read this magazine!
In your big break, Con Air, you played Nicolas Cage’s
wife, one of, what, only two women in the whole cast? What was
It was fun. I like being around guys; I had a blast with them
in Las Vegas. I was the only girl, and we just hung out. I went
to a strip club with all of them, and I was, like, “This
is cool.” And John Cusack taught me how to shoot craps.
Was it as fun to hang out with a pack of models for Head
It was like four years of college crammed into a couple of months.
I mean, we weren’t having pillow fights, but going out clubbing
was hilarious. We dressed down a lot, but they’re all tall
and you see them anyway.
So how did you handle it when guys hit on you?
Guys don’t hit on me.
Convincing. You pass the audition.
I’m not kidding. I think I put out a let’s–be–pals
vibe. Guys see me as a friend. And it really wouldn’t be
so bad to have more guys hitting on me. But I’m usually
really good friends with the guy before we move to the physical
What kind of guy gets that break?
The perfect man is quiet and exudes that man thing but still has
feelings. I want someone to be relaxed and trusting, laid–back
but not lazy, a hard worker but not so hard that I don’t
get the attention I need.
How do you feel about sex scenes?
I won’t take my shirt off in a movie. I had a sex scene
with Vince Vaughn in A Cool, Dry Place and you never saw any of
my body. I had them make me a special bra that would fit around
my back so I wasn’t naked and pressing up against Vince,
although I love him. He’s a great guy. I won’t do
nudity…unless it’s a comedy role, for fun, just clowning
around, like wearing a wig and dancing around in boots. Then I
might do it.
Wow, what a coincidence. We have a wig and a pair of boots
I said I might do it.
But you started out as a model, right? Didn’t you
get used to showing some skin?
I did a lot of lingerie ads when I was 19 and 20 that my parents
would see in the Sunday paper—you get paid double for bras
and underwear—and I had no problem with it. Everyone has
to wear underwear. I had more of a problem wearing stuff like
leopard–skin hot pants. They didn’t seem natural to
Is what they say about blondes true?
That they have more fun—or that they’re dumb?
Oh, we never heard the one about blondes being dumb.
Funny. My question is, why does everybody want to be blonde? The
grass may always be greener, but once you hop the fence, you step
in dog crap.
Nicely put. Is that sort of what it’s like being
I don’t know. I’m not here to be a celebrity. I’m
here to be an actor. I love acting, and I see it as a way to achieve
what I really want to do.
I want to help children. One way I know how to do that is to be
a successful actress. The other way is to be a nun.
Pardon us—did you say nun?
I have a lot of respect for nuns. I grew up Catholic and kind
of spiritual. I really like nuns’ way of living. I like
the order they keep. I think it would be fun to sit there with
the sisters and play Yahtzee or Scrabble. I know it sounds weird.
Weird isn’t a strong enough word.
I’ve talked to Sister Mary Margaret up at the Lord’s
Shrine in Cleveland. I asked her what I have to do to enter the
convent. I told her I was divorced. She goes, “We’d
still take you.” I told her I’m 29. She’s, like,
“We’d still take you.” I told her I have kids.
She’s, like, “They have to be over 18.” So if
I don’t find someone to be in love with by the time I’m
45, I’m going to the convent. I kid you not.
So you’re looking for a guy to save you from a lifetime
of playing board games with the Sisters of Mercy. Sounds like
Well, I am high maintenance. But you know, I’m worth it.