Exclusive: Leslie Bibb Carves Out New Path as Goofball & Producer

by Stacy Lambe 8:49 AM PST, December 12, 2014
Photo: Entertainment One

Like Reese Witherspoon, Leslie Bibb is taking her career into her own hands as producer of Take Care, her new indie rom-com  written and directed by Sex and the City writer Liz Tuccillo. 

“That’s really me,” Leslie Bibb tells ETonline of Frannie, the makeup-free goofball seen on screen.

Probably most famous for her two short-lived TV series—Ryan Murphy’s teen soap, Popular, on the now defunct WB network and ABC’s GCB with Kristen Chenoweth—and her supporting roles in Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby and the Iron Man franchise, the 41-year-old actress has built a career on playing stunningly beautiful characters with fierce attitudes. But now, she’s letting that all go in favor of a more earnest persona.

“It was scary at times. It was like, ‘Here I am,’ ” Bibb says. Terrified at first, the actress found new personal freedom once she learned not to fight her disheveled appearance. “It was really lovely to go to work and forget about it.”

Although still naturally beautiful, thanks to her model good looks that first earned her attention on The Oprah Winfrey Show in 1990, Bibb was forced to rely on physical and emotional comedy while bound in a leg brace and arm cast for much of the 19-day shoot. “I loved the physical impediment of it,” she tells ETonline. “I loved the idea of working with that until, maybe, day six.” But for her, it was part of the challenge that helped her get—and stay—in character.

Photo: Entertainment One

And when not on camera, Bibb flourished in a new role as producer alongside Tuccillo, who she grew quite close to when the two took on casting and editing duties together. Only her second time working behind the scenes, the actress embraced the challenges of bringing an creative concept to the big screen. “I like taking somebody’s idea, or story, or fantasy about what they want to do and helping make that a reality,” she says, ready to do more production work. “That’s a cool thing for me.”

When asked if she wants to be producer in order to create more roles for herself or other women much like Reese Witherspoon did this year with award season favorites, Gone Girl and Wild, Bibb says that it's just one aspect of it. While, for her, it’s largely about surrounding herself with creative people, she does profess there needs to be more women in film. “I had not been on a set with that many women,” she tells ETonline of her experience making Take Care, which included women in nearly every facet of the production, from Tuccillo down to the prop master.

WATCH: Reese Witherspoon Reacts to 'Wild' and 'Gone Girl' Oscar Buzz

If she continues on her newfound path, Bibb just may find herself in similar shoes as Witherspoon, who is both earning accolades and turning heads as a powerhouse producer in Hollywood. Sure, the idea is a far cry from Brooke McQueen, who audiences first saw on Popular fifteen years ago, but if Witherspoon can shed her all-American girl past, why can’t Bibb?

“I’m going to take over the world one day,” she says, laughing. Let’s hope she does.

Watch an exclusive clip of the opening scene from Take Care, which is now in theaters and available on Video on Demand: