The Real Prinze
Prinze Jr. settles back in his chair at a Los Angeles hotel where
he's talking to a reporter about his new film, Boys and Girls.
turns out to be the last interview for Prinze in what has been
a very long day. But as the clock nears 5 p.m., Prinze shows no
sign of wearing down. The 24-year-old Albuquerque, N.M., native
is all personality, a display that would put the Energizer Bunny
vintage Prinze, almost a carbon copy of the guy he plays in this
romp about figuring out romance the first time around, adult-style.
He's like his generation's version of Cary Grant, minus the affected
real life, Prinze already seems to have romance figured out. Even
though he has claimed time after time that he's the quintessential
nerd who never gets the girl, he's one-half of a 20-something
poster couple with Sarah Michelle Gellar, TV's Buffy the Vampire
Slayer. The two co-stars of I Know What You Did Last Summer seem
to have been involved for at least four months, though at first
steadily denied the relationship.
proved her own generational popularity by winning two MTV Movie
Awards, last Saturday, the night before this interview. and the
first of two days, Prinze spent talking about Boys and Girls --
and, apparently, Gellar.
trouble with girlfriend Sarah Michelle Gellar?
at the awards, one reporter asked Gellar about Prinze's announcement
at an earlier junket that he admires his girlfriend's healthy
hastily clarified: "She can out-eat me in sushi and that's
a shame that Freddie is gonna go home by himself tonight,"
retaliated Gellar, laughing.
the one who has his heart, but she's not the only woman impressed
by Prinze's many qualities. "He's classically cute,"
says Amanda Detmer, who plays one of his love interests in the
film. "And charming. And it comes across on screen. You can't
run away from it. Why should he? It's not hurting him at all."
beauty Claire Forlani (Meet Joe Black), who plays Prinze's longtime
friend and eventual love interest this time out, puts it succinctly:
"We did click. We had a blast. He's fun."
charming Prinze--named one of PEOPLE magazine's 50 Most Beautiful
this year -- is the son of the late comic actor Freddie Prinze,
popular star of the '70s sitcom Chico and the Man. Prinze Sr. died
of a self-inflicted gunshot wound at the height of his show's success
in 1977 after being divorced by his wife, Kathy Cochran. Prinze
Jr. was 10 months old at the time. When he was 4, he and his mother
moved to live near relatives in New Mexico. But while the father
was tormented by demons brought on by success and fame, his namesake
son seems to have charted a more even course.
a painful legacy
Prinze told a reporter three years ago, "No matter how rough
things get, everybody has a choice," he said. "The stuff
with my father? I chose to use that to make me strong."
up in New Mexico, Prinze was a self-described artsy type who liked
school plays. "I was doing the same thing I do now,"
he says. "The only difference is, I get paid to do it now.
Before, people just thought I was a weird kid."
weird kid, now a burgeoning matinee idol, is putting the finishing
touches on a very adult agenda with the release of his latest
movie: "When I was making She's All That , I said in
an interview I wanted to make three films for a specific generation
-- to become something like a video library for that generation,"
makeover romance She's All That would be the first volume. Down
to You took the star to college and, of course, romance. Now with
Boys and Girls he finishes the trio (covering a relationship from
high school through the last year of college), and clearly pleases
its star in the process. He says he feels it's his best work yet.
think everybody wants to know what the other sex wants and how
do you keep that? How do you not mess it up? I think that's what
this movie does," he says, adding, "I think everybody
can understand that and relate to that. It seems like it should
be more complicated than that, but it isn't."
life uncomplicated is what seems first and foremost on Prinze's
agenda, a lesson learned perhaps from his father's inability to
overcome his own problems at a young age. How'd he get to be so
smart? The notion makes Prinze laugh.
not that smart. That just came to me." And from where? "I
have no idea," he confesses.
matter. Life is good. "I'm the luckiest guy in the world,"
he professes. "I have a home that I love. I have dogs that
I love. I have a family that I love. I have a woman that I love.
I have a job that I love. You know? It can't get much better than
that," he says with a shrug of the shoulders and a goofy
who's gonna doubt a charmer like Prinze?
-- additional reporting by STEF MCDONALD
© 2000 People Magazine. All rights reserved.