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28 November 2010 @ 08:33 pm
Article from USA Today  
For 'nerd queen' Carla Gugino, change of pace is key

By Scott Bowles, USA TODAY

LOS ANGELES — Carla Gugino runs a hand through a mop of brown curls, crosses bare feet and lets out a sigh that seems to dissolve her slightly into her living room sofa.

"I know it sounds strange, but Los Angeles feels quiet to me," says Gugino, relaxing after returning from her other home in New York. "I love that city, but it's non-stop. I need a change of pace, or I go a little crazy."

Change hasn't been much of an issue for the 39-year-old, who co-stars in the Dwayne Johnson action film Faster, which opened Wednesday, collecting $3.5 million in its first two days, according to Variety.

Since leaving modeling to pursue acting full-time in 1988, Gugino has cruised through 66 film and television roles, from Entourage's wily powerbroker Amanda Daniels to Spy Kids trilogy family matriarch Ingrid Cortez to Robert De Niro's sultry lover in Righteous Kill .

But if Gugino is making a name for herself, it's as geek goddess.

Consider her fanboy resume: Sin City, Watchmen and Zack Snyder's upcoming femme fatale project, Sucker Punch, in March.

The Sarasota, Fla. native would seem an unlikely candidate for nerd queen. Her home, located a few blocks from the Kodak Theater, site of the Oscars, brims with broken-in furniture, colorful pillows antique rugs and the occasional script. Not a comic book to be found.

Gugino, though, treats most roles as if they were Shakespeare, colleagues say. And the hours she logs at comic-book gatherings and sci-fi conventions do not go unnoticed among fans. One smitten blogger deemed her the "Icon of Comic-Con."

"I think it's her willingness to go all out for her roles," says Jenna Busch of the blog column Girl Meets Lightsaber, dedicated to all things pop culture. "We geeks just want someone who gets as excited about genre material as we do. Carla seems to do that for every role."

Snyder says he bumped into Gugino at a comic-book event and recognized her from the pulp film Sin City (which she chose over The Pacifier because of her fondness for director Robert Rodriguez ). He offered her a role for his comic book adaptation Watchmen on the spot.

"I admit, I was a little starstruck," he says. "She has this fanboy cred that's hard to explain. I wasn't going to make her read; I just know I wanted her in my movie."

A lot of directors do. With her retro style and deep voice, Gugino says expected roles to come later in her career.

"I knew people thought I was older than I was," she says. "So I hoped to hit my stride around now. I'd like to think I have."

Still, Gugino is hardly the iconic comic book damsel. She's well aware of how Hollywood treats women as they eclipse 40. One of her first film roles came in 1993, as Robert De Niro's daughter in This Boy's Life.

Fifteen years later, she was cast as his lover in Righteous Kill.

"I don't think that would happen to a lot of actors in this industry," says Gugino, who worked as a teenage fashion model and remains a devoted stage actress. "When most 40-year-old actors get a girlfriend in the movies, she's 28. It doesn't work in reverse."

Gugino catches herself sounding angry. "I can't complain about all the work that's coming," which will include the comedy Girl Walks Into a Bar with longtime boyfriend Sebastian Gutierrez in December. and Mr. Popper's Penguins in August with Jim Carrey.

Don't bother trying to find a through-line to Gugino's career, though. She gave up long ago.

"I don't know if there's an overarching goal," Gugino says. "I still get excited about all kinds of movies. There are great directors doing all kinds of genre. I don't think of one as arty or nerdy. I guess that's why they let me hopscotch around. That's what I really love to do."