This article is from 2007.
Jess Weixler is so all-American she looks like she’s jumped straight out of a photograph of high school cheerleaders. Her long blond hair and blue eyes make her the archetypal American beauty – just like all those Britney Spears wannabes lusted after by teenage boys in countless movies.
But looks can deceive. Weixler is a Julliad-trained actress known for her cutting humour and shrewd intelligence. Her choice of roles also marks her out as anything but the popular girl. Her brilliant turn in director Mitchell Lichtenestin’s Teeth as a teenage girl afflicted with vaginal dentata (the less you know about what that is the better) could do for her career what Blue Lagoon did for Brooke Shields. The film is played straight, thus making Teeth all the funnier. It is also the reason the rising star took on the role.
‘I wasn’t surprised it was funny,’ she says. ‘I laughed out loud when I was reading the script. We had to play it very grounded in order to achieve any level of sympathy for the character, for people to get into it in the first place.’
With admirable modesty, Weixler says it took her some time to decide whether she was up to taking the part. Post-Julliard she’s been more comfortable doing stints on the New York stage than goofing around in front of the camera in what could easily have been a throwaway teen comedy.
‘It took me a few days to decide if I could do it, because it was so far out there and I wasn’t sure I wanted to be the girl with vaginal dentate or that I could pull it off. It was only when I started to see her as a superhero, a girl who goes from no power to confusion to power through ownership of her body that I saw it as a great role.’
The 25-year-old delivers on her promise with a beguiling performance. She has an innocence about her that gives her performance an authenticity even when the film is at its most extreme. It’s full of the clichés of high school movies, and is notably reminiscent of a John Hughes film in portraying how difficult it is to find love as a teenager. Weixler, a self-confessed fan of the genre quips: ‘That’s why I’m trying to sell this film as a date movie.’ No doubt after Teeth comes out a generation of kids will be fantasising about dating her.
Teeth, Cameo, 16 Aug, midnight, £7.95 (£5.50); Filmhouse, 19 Aug, 9.45pm, £7.95 (£5.50).