EXCLUSIVE: Rebecca Romijn Thinks Jerry O'Connell Should Host 'Live!', Disses Kendall Jenner & Gigi Hadid as 'S
By James Patrick Herman
Rebecca Romijn, who is
perhaps best known on screen as the shape-shifting mutant Mystique in the X-Men
franchise, has transformed herself into a reality show host as well as a TV
producer of GSN’s Skin Wars, the body-painting competition that proves
beauty is not only skin-deep.
caught up with Romijn, 43, over the weekend to talk about her take on Jennifer
Lawrence’s interpretation of her beloved comic-book character, her husband possibly co-hosting Live!, role models on
magazine covers (she loves Sports Illustrated but don’t even get her
started on Vogue), Gigi Hadid and Kendall's Jenner's modeling careers and her unlikely lifelong style inspiration: Prince.
ET: What are some surprises we can expect from season
three of Skin Wars, which premiered last week?
Rebecca Romijn: The show is about transformation and
our producers are great at coming up with amazingly creative challenges. My two
favorite this season? One is an underwater challenge. I didn’t even think that
could be a thing. It required a lot of sealing of the paint, but it turned out
so beautiful. My other favorite is a breast cancer survivor challenge. We
brought in young breast cancer survivors and painted them as warriors. It was
such a moving experience for everyone. A lot of these women have never looked
at themselves in the mirror since having mastectomies. To be painted -- and I
speak from experience -- is such a metamorphosis. When you see it for the first
time, it takes your breath away. And watching these breast cancer survivors
look at their reflections for the first time once they were painted as these
beautiful warriors? There wasn’t a dry eye in the house.
How long did you spend in the makeup chair to play the
blue mutant Mystique in the X-Men movies?
The first time they did my makeup test for Mystique it was 12
hours. We eventually got it down to nine for the second movie [X2: X-Men
United]. For the third one [X-Men:
The Last Stand], we got it down to seven. But still, to be on set by
9 a.m.? My call time to get to work was midnight.
Your personal history of body painting extends to
magazines in addition to movies, correct?
I was the first model ever painted for the Sports
Illustrated Swimsuit Issue.
They always have a section of painted swimsuits [on models] and the first year
they did it was the year that I was on the cover. That was not even my whole
body -- the painting was a swimsuit with a shirt tied over it. And that was a
13-hour paint job.
Absolutely! Ashley Graham is one of the most beautiful women
I have ever laid eyes on. She is incredibly healthy and I think it’s fantastic
that SI is opening up our standards of beauty to include somebody that a
lot more people in our country can relate to. Women don’t get sexier than
Ashley Graham -- she is just as hot as can be.
As a former fashion model, what are your thoughts on the
new generation of models such as Kendall Jenner and Gigi Hadid, who are more
famous for their social media presence than their runway experience?
No one has proven yet that numbers of followers translates
to revenue. So it is frustrating. I know a lot of people -- legitimate
fashion people -- can’t stand it. Hate it that these, you know, social media
stars are now the supermodels in fashion. They are not true supermodels. And
the thing is, I have always looked to Vogue magazine to lead the way, not be
a follower. I rely on Vogue to set the standard, not follow what
everybody else is doing. So I have been disappointed that fashion magazines
have been supporting this trend of social media stars to set our style
standards. But it will change; fashion always does.
Your costar from the first three X-Men movies, Famke Janssen, has criticized the apparent “sexism” of the recent time-tripping
films in which older versions of the same female character have not been
brought back, unlike the older male characters.
I am glad that she said it and put it out there.
Do you agree that this is yet another example of sexism --
and ageism -- in Hollywood?
I haven’t thought about it much because they signed us to
these movies three at a time, so my contract was for the first three. It’s a
contractual thing. I don’t have an opinion on whether or not there is some kind
of double standard going with regard to bringing back the older men [Patrick
Stewart and Ian McKellen] but not the older women. I’d be
happy to go back and reprise that role sometime but maybe they have moved on.
Maybe they just want to keep going younger. People tweet at me all the time: “Would
you ever go back and play Mystique again?” Um, do people realize that it’s not
my choice? [Laughs] Have I been asked? No, I have not been asked.
Jennifer Lawrence is doing a fantastic job. I could not
think of a cooler girl to share that role with. It’s not like I take issue with
who has taken over the role of Mystique. She is a solid actress and she’s got
an Oscar, so she is doing something right.
I have no idea. The news is so new that it just blindsided
all of us. He was in the rotation before Strahan was hired -- it was down to
just a handful of people and he was definitely in the running then.
How do you think Jerry would do as Kelly Ripa’s new
I think he’d be great. I love watching him and Kelly
together. He and Kelly are awesome [together]. He was born and raised in New
York City, which I think is really important for whoever fills that seat. That’s
why people loved Regis Philbin so much -- he was a native New Yorker. It is
such a New York show, even though it’s national. Jerry is a wholesome married
man with children, and people can relate to that when they watch a morning
Would you two ever do a reality show together?
No, we would never. [Laughs] Just doing Skin Wars
-- you know, hosting a reality competition series was not something that I was
seeking out by any means. I am used to working in scripted [television]. But
when this came my way, it seemed interesting. I love watching reality shows. I
always get invested on my own sofa, so I thought: Well, if I have a front row
seat to a reality competition show with subject matter that I feel close to, I
wonder if I will be just as invested? And I am. I feel for these painters and
get very involved. I am just a host, not a judge, but of course I’ve got my own
opinions -- which I can’t always keep to myself. And it’s really fun. So that
is the closest to a reality show I would ever get. Jerry and I would never put
our private life out there like that.
I can’t help but wonder how Jerry feels about makeup,
since he has appeared on RuPaul’s Drag Race. Would he ever do drag?
He has never done drag-drag, but he did something with
America Ferrera a few years ago. It was some sort of Broadway Cares charity
event night where a number of performers were putting on acts to raise money.
America and Jerry and two other guys -- the three guys were her backup dancers,
and they were all in drag. That is the closest Jerry has come to actually doing
drag. But yeah, I think he is open to the idea of being painted.
Long before Jeffrey Tambor won awards for Transparent,
you played a transgender character on Ugly Betty.
I loved playing Alexis Meade. And I was so proud to play
her. You asked me if Jerry would ever do drag. There was one episode where
Alexis got amnesia and had forgotten that she had undergone the gender change
operation. So she couldn’t stop playing with her boobs. But she couldn’t
remember how to dress herself or put on makeup or walk in high heels. I needed
to know what a man who has never worn heels looked like trying to walk around
the room. So I made Jerry wear my shoes for an hour. Oh, God. It was so funny!
We are having an Ugly Betty reunion at the ATX Television Festival in
Austin this June -- the whole cast is showing up for it. I am really excited to
Your résumé includes singing as well as acting and
modeling. In fact, you once performed a cover of Prince’s “Darling Nikki” for
the 2005 album, Electro Goth Tribute to Prince. How are you coping with
I am devastated and I haven’t stopped crying. My very first
concert was Purple Rain when I was 13. I have had the honor of seeing
Prince perform at least 20 times. I feel like everything I know -- everything I
have learned -- about style, sex appeal, attitude and generosity in performance
comes from him. I can’t even believe it. I am having a hard time wrapping my
head around it still. I think we all are. My daughters [twins Dolly and
Charlie] are already very familiar with Prince. My girls and I have been
blasting Prince since we heard the news, which is what I think he would have
wanted: for us all to have a party rather than to go into grief.
Finally, as the host of Skin Wars, I need to know: what is your favorite skincare product?
Oxygen Plasma from a company called KNUTEK. It’s
oxygen-infused and I put it on my face all the time. It is a miracle worker.
Skin Wars airs
Wednesdays at 10 p.m. ET only on GSN. Watch an exclusive clip from episode two
of the competition: