Cameron Diaz's screen career is continuing to evolve pretty nicely. Her latest project Knight and Day sees her team up with Tom Cruise for the first time since their partnership in 2001’s Vanilla Sky, playing June, an “ordinary” girl who boards a plane she wasn’t supposed to get on with a secret spy. After that, there’s a romcom, Bad Teacher, with her ex-love Justin Timberlake (yes, really) but no - they’re not back together. Blissfully unattached, ambitious as ever and content in her career and private life, Cameron’s even willing to admit that true love’s not all it’s cracked up to be.
Knight and Day is the second film you’ve made with Tom Cruise. Was it fun working with him again?
We always knew we had an amazing chemistry. We bounced off each other then and that was ten years ago. It’s crazy to think about. We have a great rapport, and I feel really safe with him. That’s a really big thing for actors - he took such good care of me on that movie. I also wanted the opportunity to work on a film in which I didn’t kill him!
How has your life changed in the last decade?
I’ve certainly grown up. I’m much more mature than I used to be. I’m still a 14-year-old boy at heart but my life is totally different to how it was when I was 27.
It’s also been ten years since the first Shrek film, and now the fourth and final instalment, Shrek Forever After, is out in cinemas. Will you miss it?
So much. You don’t realise what you have until it’s going, and I really didn’t know how much a part of me Fiona and Shrek have been. It’s kind of heartbreaking. I feel like I’ve been part of something that’s good in so many ways, not just as a successful film but [in terms of] what it puts out into the world and what it says to people. Shrek has not only changed what we teach our children about fairytales, it’s a great representation of the way we see ourselves as women now. We could have a whole different ideal in ten years’ time - you never know what the tide can bring in.
What do you think the Shrek films say about love?
True love finds you. It’s destiny, fate. There is someone out there you are meant to be loved by and you are meant to love, but I think the big misconception in our society is that we’re supposed to meet [the one] when we’re 18 and we’re supposed to get married to them and love them for the rest of our lives. Bullshit.
You’ve just worked with your ex, Justin Timberlake, on Bad Teacher. What was that like?
So funny. He’s hilarious. I’ve laughed a lot making movies and I’ve been very spoilt, working with people like Tom, Mike Myers, Eddie Murphy. When Drew, Lucy and I did Charlie’s Angels that was off-the-charts fun.
Who would you like to work with that you haven’t yet?
Michelle Pfeiffer or Meryl Streep. I watched The Devil Wears Prada again yesterday when I was on the plane and Meryl is incredible.
You seem so driven. Do you think you’re ever in danger of being too dedicated?
Well, let’s put it this way. If I throw a piece of paper towards the bin from far away, and it doesn’t make it, I can never just leave it alone. I have to get up, get the piece of paper and try again. If I didn’t do it, I wouldn’t be able to sleep that night. I’ve never had that mentality of going into something half-arsed; I just can’t go halfway with anything. My parents always told me that I didn’t have to be the best but I should always try to do my best.
You seem to have so much energy.
I know. (Laughing). It’s crazy. My friends are like, “What is your problem? Are you not tired?” I was exhausted a couple of months ago because I’d done Knight and Day for six months with no time off and then went straight to the next movie. I don’t get exhausted very easily but I really tapped out my battery and I just had to sleep. I slept and it’s amazing. It’s the key.
Is it difficult to be true to yourself in Hollywood?
Actually, I think what happens in Hollywood is that people don’t change much. I feel like people become more who they really are. That’s what fame does – it will only bring out in you what is truly within you. So when you see people acting like arseholes, they really are arseholes!
Do you think it’s also about the choices you make?
Yes. Two things happen [when you become famous]. One: every door is open to you, so it really is your choice as a person to know what your boundary is. Two: you have to be accountable for what you do. If you say things in public you’re going to be accountable for them later. You either live right morally for yourself in this business, or you don’t. That’s how I deal with it.
Photos: Rex Features