Exit Interview: Ali Larter

Cherry Hill’s hot, vibrant-haired Heroes star comes to theaters this month in Resident Evil: Extinction

When we first interviewed Ali Larter, she was best known for wearing a whipped-cream bikini in a movie with the Dawson’s Creek guy. Now, thanks to her role on NBC’s hit drama Heroes, the 31-year-old is a staple of tabloids, fashion glossies and hot-babe lists. Larter probably wanted to promote her new horror flick, but was derailed while reminiscing with her dear friend, Exit Interview.

I subjected you to one of these back in 2001. What are your fondest memories of that interview? Oh my God! [pause] I’m always excited to talk to anybody from my hometown. It keeps it real. People from the tri-state area totally shoot straight.

It clearly had a huge impact on your career. If that’s the way you want to spin it. [laughs]

In the spirit of keeping it real, you came off a bit snobby back then. But it seems that the more success you’ve had, the more likeable you’ve become. Well, I actually don’t see a change in me, so if I was a snob then, I’m probably a snob now. Not the best way for you to start an interview. If we’re keeping it real, is there something I said to you that made you uncomfortable?

It was more that back then, you were still an up-and-coming actress, yet the vibe I got from you was “Been there, done that.” Actually, at that time I moved to New York and took some time off to define myself outside the pressures of the industry — to sit on park benches and think and be around different kinds of cultures. Part of me really needed to know if this is what I wanted to do with the rest of my life. But when I tried to force my way back in the business, it didn’t welcome me with open arms. No one can tell me they handed me this round. I earned it.

Do you find time to come home? I was just home for a wedding. I was in Philadelphia for the day, and I went back to the Art Museum, I saw King Tut at the Franklin Institute. My sixth-grade class had sleepover night there. I remember how big and scary and exciting that was. Then I had cheesesteaks at Pat’s, I went to the Liberty Bell — all the things I experienced in my youth.

So with the success of Heroes and the attention you’re getting, how weird is it to see yourself in the tabloids? It’s crazy. It’s definitely part of the industry at this point. For me, the line is drawn when it becomes about self-promotion. I always want to keep a bit of mystery about myself. As an actor, I don’t want people to know everything about me.

Do you stress out knowing that what you wear to Starbucks might end up in a “fashion don’ts” column? I would crack up. Luckily that hasn’t happened to me, but you never know. I don’t worry about it. I rock my own style. If people are vibing it, great. If they’re not feeling it, you know what? Flip the page. They’ve been kind so far. Fingers crossed, they’ll keep being nice to me.

I’d like to recycle a question the New York Post once asked you: How do you keep your hair so vibrant? [laughs] Um, I don’t know!

You said, “I use shea butter treatment. It smells so good.” I still use it. I don’t believe you have to spend a lot of money. Sometimes I use Dove shampoo, and then I’ll buy an expensive conditioner.

Right. But I mix it up. Even with face-wash. I don’t think you need to spend a lot of money on every product.

You’re not going all Catherine Zeta-Jones and washing your hair with caviar? No. My mother would kill me. [laughs]

You also made it to number six on Maxim’s Hot 100 list. Which sluts beat you for the top five? [laughs] When I first got the call, I thought they said I was 100. I was like, “My God, I’m barely sliding in there!” It’s all a laugh. I don’t invest energy in these things. That’s a recipe for disaster. If you think I’m hot, I love it. I’ll keep rockin’ my style and hopefully keep turning you on. But it’s funny, that’s something that around the world, people have been saying things to me about.

Exit Interview is also discussed around the world. Wow.