Former dancer Bree Turner has traded in her boogie shoes for the big screen.Photographs by Roger Snider.
BREE TURNER WILL NEVER LET FAME GO TO HER HEAD. Never ever. Not even if she becomes Angelina Jolie–level famous and has a mantel full of Oscars and throngs of adoring fans. Because she knows what it’s like to be the low man on the totem pole. See, Turner got her start in film as a dancer in movies like The Big Lebowski and Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me, and let’s just say that she and her fellow dancers were less than spoiled while on the set. “You were lucky if you got some water,” Turner remembers with a laugh.
Still, being in front of the camera excited her, so she decided to give acting a try. She quickly scored parts in Deuce Bigalow: Male Gigolo, The Wedding Planner, and American Pie 2. And while acting isn’t exactly what she had always thought she’d be doing -- her dream when she was a little girl was to perform as a chorus girl on Broadway -- she realizes now that her being in film makes perfect sense.
“I was a really colicky baby, and I cried a lot,” she says. “My mom would take me to movies, and it was the only time I’d shut up. I was so entranced by cinema. So I think it was actually always part of my destiny; I just took an unusual path.”
This month, 32-year-old Turner costars in The Ugly Truth opposite Katherine Heigl and Gerard Butler. “Katie’s character is a very type A workaholic who doesn’t leave a lot of room in her life for dating or falling in love,” she says. “I play the snarky friend and the voice of reason. I’m there to push her when she needs to be pushed and support her when she needs to be supported and loved.”
Turner knows the role well -- she spends as much time as she can with her own set of girlfriends. She’s also enjoying being a newlywed to Justin Saliman, her husband of one year, a surgeon. “Being married is awesome,” she says. “It’s a lot of work, but it’s wonderful for that reason. Even though you want to kill each other sometimes, the fact that you’re totally committed to someone is like nothing I’ve ever felt before.”
Turner says she and her husband love to play on their Wii and travel. “I’m actually pretty good at Guitar Hero,” she brags. And when she finds the time, she still enjoys taking an occasional dance class, although, she laments, “my kicks aren’t as high as they used to be.” But she harbors hope that one day, she’ll have the chance to star on Broadway. “That’s really ultimately my goal,” she says. It’s no wonder, then, that despite her onscreen success, she continues to be so humble: In her heart, she’s still a dancer, fighting to get some water.
Getting to Know … Bree Turner
When I’m not working: I like to go to the park and read and see movies and eat. My favorite food is a tie between Italian and Japanese.
What’s on my iPod: I just downloaded the new Ray LaMontagne album. I love anything that has a soul or blues influence. It’s got to move you deep down.
My favorite movie: It’s a tie between Terms of Endearment -- I’ve watched that 150,000 times, and I cry as hard each time -- and Die Hard.
Must-see TV: I love Lost. I’m obsessed.
My worst habit: I can’t have just a little bit of candy, so I keep no sweets in my house -- not chocolate but gummy bears or sour watermelon, things like that. If they’re in my house, I will eat them until I get sick.
Favorite city: New York City. I just went to Tokyo, which might be a close second for me. Tokyo has all the greatness of New York City in terms of the nightlife and the style and the luminaries, but it feels like L.A., because it’s really spread out. It’s very clean, very safe. It’s kind of like the perfect city.
I’d love to try: I really would like to work at a magazine. I’d love to be a guest editor or maybe start up my own magazine. I’m obsessed with typography. It’s a geeky hidden passion of mine.