Rachael Leigh Cook is thriving! ET's Deidre Behar spoke to the 40-year-old actress, who opened up about life after divorce, the new man in her life, and her upcoming Netflix movie, Love, Guaranteed.
Cook and her ex-husband, Daniel Gillies, first announced their split in 2019, before officially filing for divorce last month. While Cook admitted that deciding to separate was "really hard," she and her ex have found a way to make it work.
"It was really hard when Daniel and I decided to separate because of the massive implications that come with that and the upheaval, but honestly, we're really good," she says. "We're friends now. We talk about things that we never talked about before because we have this new relationship."
"He'll tell me about dates that he goes on and funny things that might have happened and we genuinely laugh about it," she adds. "I don't know. Divorce needs a new publicist. It's not that bad."
The pair share two children -- Charlotte, 6, and Theodore, 5 -- and have found a way to co-parent seamlessly.
"I don't find that part any more difficult than when we were parenting-parenting," Cook says. "It's pretty cool to be able to divide responsibilities [50/50]. I kinda recommend it."
While all is good on the parenting front with her ex-husband, Cook is facing a new parenting dilemma -- when to introduce the tots to the new man in her life.
"I just don't know exactly how to do that," she admits. "I gotta read books about how to do that first. I don't wanna mess it up."
Cook and her producer beau, Kevin, first met through their mutual friend, actress Judy Greer. Though he's yet to meet Cook's kids, the actress confirmed that she's in love with her boyfriend.
"I love his perfect heart. He's magic...He's a producer. He has incredible taste. He's the greatest guy," she gushes. "He's fine with working really hard and doing great things and he does so much for other people. And then he will watch unlimited seasons of 90 Day Fiancé with me."
Not only does he watch 90 Day Fiancé, Kevin planned a whole romantic gesture around the reality series.
"I was having a day where I was like, 'Ugh, I didn't nail that scene yesterday. Ugh, I wonder if we got it. I need to talk to the producers.' And then I was talking to this very nice guy who I've been dating for a minute and he was just like, 'Well, it's gonna be great. I'm sure you were great. Don't worry about it,'" Cook recalls. "I didn't think much about it."
"And then, in a beautifully thoughtful gesture, he sent me a Cameo from one of our favorite reality TV personalities... Usman, because of course," she continues of 90 Day star Usman Umar. "He's the most genuine. He's praying for me and he loves me and I can prove it because I have a video."
It's gestures like that that made Cook feel like she's "been living mostly in the romantic comedy space the last couple years," a feeling that eventually led her to conceptualize, produce and star in her new Netflix flick. In Love, Guaranteed, Cook stars as a lawyer who takes on a client (Damon Wayans Jr.) who wants to sue a dating site after he's unable to find love.
"It's fascinating to me that people can claim personal harm via false advertising. So I was like, 'How can I work that into something?' And then I thought [about] all these dating apps, these dating websites. They are right on the edge of saying we guarantee you will meet the love of your life if you give us all this money," she explains. "So I was like, 'What if someone sued a dating app because they guarantee you love, and then somebody doesn't get it?'"
Eventually, Cook helped to cast Wayans Jr. in the role, something that was more fated than it initially seemed.
"He was reading the script on his iPad in bed at night and his wife says to him, 'What are you reading? What's it about?' And he goes, 'Rom-com. It's about a guy who sues a dating website.' And his wife says, 'Oh my gosh, my friend XYZ just filed a lawsuit against a major dating site,'" Cook shared. "Luckily, Damon believes in signs like that and he really liked the script and we were off to the races."
While Cook praised Wayans Jr. for "killing" his role, she did jokingly note that he "made it tough" for her to make the flick she originally envisioned as well.
"When you read the script, he's supposed to read as kind of a cad. You're supposed to understand that when his character comes into my character's office and he's like, 'See, I went on 1,000 dates and I never found love.' It's like, 'Yeah because you're kind of a jerk,'" she says. "Damon is so likable that I'm playing the scene like he's a jerk and he seems like a perfectly lovely guy, so I look like a total Karen. It's really bad."
Between her good relationship with her ex, her flourishing love life with her new man, and her career momentum, Cook is feeling "really good."
"I'm really putting my energy and myself forward and not being afraid to say, 'You know what? I've seen some things and, yeah, I do know some things, and maybe I do have something to say that you would want to hear,'" she says. "[I'm] just feeling better and better about putting that out there. I look forward to being increasingly creative, working hard behind the camera as well as in front, and diversifying quite a bit."