Hometown: Toms River, N.J.
Where you might have seen her: Fox Searchlight’s pic ‘Whiteboys,’ directed by Danny Hoch.
Endearing fact: This virtually accentless Jersey girl still occasionally football, ‘foopbawl.’
Piper Perabo’s biography is all of three paragraphs long. Only 23 years old, you’ve probably never heard of Perabo, but after this summer, you will have — and probably time and again thereafter.
Last year, her only feature experience was “Whiteboys,” a Fox Searchlight pic with Off Broadway artist-cum-filmmaker Danny Hoch (“Jails, Hospitals and Hip-Hop”).
“They told me I’d gotten the part for ‘Whiteboys,’ and that they’d negotiate an offer,” she says. “And I was like, ‘Are you kidding?!? I’d do it for a turkey sandwich!’ And so then my agent said, ‘OK, you probably want to keep that to yourself for now.'”
Perabo isn’t likely to be compensated in lunch meat of any kind after this summer. She’ll topline Disney’s “Coyote Ugly,” from producer Jerry Bruckheimer, and also will appear in Universal’s “The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle,” opposite Robert De Niro and Rene Russo.
The transplanted New Jersey girl and recent Ohio University grad, (a theater major, naturally,) Perabo is as quick to acknowledge her youthful inexperience as she is to tell you how eager she is to remedy it.
“Working with De Niro, it was a little bit surreal,” she admits. “Everytime he’d say ‘Hi’ at work, I’d have to think, ‘Just talk. Open your mouth. Try to say something not stupid.'”
But she also says the experience of working, even just watching, iconic thesps like De Niro was instructive.
“He’s a very quiet guy, and very intense. I mean, every actor has his own process, but the way he works was most interesting, it doesn’t seem like anything distracts him,” Perabo says.
To that end, she hopes to keep working with “experienced people,” singling out helmers like Baz Luhrmann and Anthony Minghella as wish-list helmers, ones she says “are making really important films, and film the world as I see it.”
Despite such serious intentions, the rising star still conveys the devilish enthusiasm of a puppy that knows it’s gnawing on your good pair of Manolo Blahniks:
“I just wish they’d start saying my name right, it gets my Dad so annoyed when they don’t,” she grouses, then adds by way of cheerful instruction, “It’s actually ‘pair-a-bow,’ like if your staring down at your sneakers, you’d see a pair of bows.'”