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Playing an outrageous, foul-mouthed bad girl in Bad Teacher is just the best, says Cameron Diaz in these extracts from the background notes on the making of the film.

“Elizabeth isn’t a teacher because it’s noble – it’s just a job, a necessity: she has to pay the rent,” says Cameron Diaz, who plays Elizabeth Halsey, a teacher redefining that noble profession in Bad Teacher. “In fact, her whole motivation is to find a way that she never has to teach again.”

The opportunity to play a character that is so over-the-top outrageous but at the same time fully drawn is what appealed to Diaz. Diaz enjoys pushing the envelope – as she did in the worldwide hit There’s Something About Mary – but she says that this kind of role doesn’t come along all that often. 

"so subversive and brilliant and so funny"

“You just don’t come across parts like this. It just doesn’t happen. And particularly for women. The script is just so subversive and brilliant and so funny. By the time I finished reading it for the first time, there was no question – I had to play her.”

“She’s driven to get money so that she can get a new pair of boobs,” Diaz explains. “She’s looking for a guy who is rich enough to take her away so she never has to work again, and she’s convinced that if she gets those D-cups they’ll be her ticket out.” 
“Cameron has got this great thing: she is completely fearless,” says director Jake Kasdan. “She enjoys being dirty and edgy and she’s completely open-minded about what might work. She was the perfect person to be at the centre of this and it was a real gift for the writers and me to be working with her.”

Describing Diaz’s character, Kasdan says, “Elizabeth isn’t a bad person – she just has terrible, terrible values.”

“She isn’t aggressively mean – she just thinks she’s above it all,” Diaz explains. “She has no passion for teaching, no desire for the kids to learn anything. Even when she finds out she can get a big payday if the kids do well on the state test, it doesn’t make her want to be a better teacher; she just wants the scores. I love that she never changes.

“Elizabeth isn’t a hard worker, but she knows how to work it and she’s a piece of work,” says Diaz. “She shows up for the car wash in a pair of short shorts and heels and a shirt tied up, washing cars for the parents. It all seems pretty simple to her – she worms her way into being in charge of the car wash and then takes her cut of the earnings.”

"the only actress in the world who can pull that off"

Kasdan says, “Cameron is probably the only actress in the world who can pull that off, because she is the only person I can think of who can be that funny while looking that hot. She’s just completely hilarious in that scene.” 

“I wanted her to be the sort of girl who cares about the way she looks more than anything. She used to have a rich boyfriend, and even now, she spends her money on all the wrong things. You don’t show up for school as a teacher wearing Christian Louboutin heels!” Diaz explains. “But for Elizabeth, it’s all about the heels. She wants to be seen – she believes she’s above her job and everyone there, and with the heels, she’s literally above everyone else.”

Published July 21, 2011

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