Olivia Munn on Confidence, Comedy and Style
It’s hard to imagine that Olivia Munn, the actress starring in this summer’s The Babymakers (out August 3), ever struggled with confidence. With charming freckles, pretty features and curves enviable enough to earn her a Maxim cover, she's nobody's idea of a wallflower. And, despite her pleas otherwise (“I have a really horrible sense of humor”), she’s funny (so funny that she was a The Daily Show with Jon Stewart correspondent). But just like any other woman, Munn struggled to find confidence.
“When I was 16-years-old, I had just moved from Japan to Oklahoma and didn’t know anybody…I kept unsuccessfully trying to keep up with these other girls in school and I had this moment where I was like, ‘There’s always going to be somebody prettier and taller and thinner and richer who has better style than me',” Munn says. “I thought if I just put all the energy I was putting into keeping up with them into becoming my best me, then that’s much better.”
Since that revelation, Munn has landed roles including money honey Sloan Sabbith on The Newsroom, Channing Tatum's booty call Joanna in Magic Mike and now the baby-crazed Audrey in The Babymakers alongside funnyman Paul Schneider, who after failing to get his wife pregnant, recruits friends to steal a deposit he left at a sperm bank years ago. With a real acting chops and fresh sense of personal style, Munn seems unstoppable.
Munn recently talked to Lucky about The Babymakers' cast's camaraderie, her accessory obsession and why she'll never look like Cate Blanchett on the red carpet.
Lucky: What about The Babymakers stood out to you and made you want to play Audrey?
Olivia Munn: There are a lot of really funny movies that don’t necessarily read as funny on the page, but I when I was reading Babymakers there were literally moments when I was just laughing out loud. I’m a big fan of Paul Schneider and when I was reading the script I loved the dynamic between the couple. It wasn’t this normal couple that you see where the girl plays the sweet, good-hearted one and the guy plays someone kind of fumbling through. I like that they were a young couple that have a really good sense of humor and really like each other. And also, I’ve seen bank job movies, but I’ve never seen a sperm bank job movie.
How was the cast's chemistry on set?
It was so great because it’s a comedy so you’re still just really funny people. Everybody had this mentality of no one wanting to be the star of the film, everyone just wanted to tell the story and make people laugh. So I think you end up seeing that on camera: everyone creating scenes and moments together—that’s chemistry and camaraderie you see on screen.
Moving on to some style questions, since we are a fashion magazine: How would you describe your sense of style?
What I feel most comfortable in is things that are tailored and ladylike but feel and look effortless. I don’t like anything that feels overdone. It’s a bit of a dichotomy in that I like it to be tailored and ladylike, but then not feel like it’s done up. So a lot of times with my hair and my accessories I’ll try to play everything else down if I’m going to do a more distinct outfit. But overall, definitely effortless, tailored and ladylike.
How do you strike the balance between sexy and ladylike?
So often as women if we embrace our sexuality, if you want to feel pretty or be pretty, there’s always this feeling of needing to apologize for it. There are a lot of women who end up going one way or the other because you don’t want people to think that if you embrace your sexuality then you must be promiscuous, and if you’re super ladylike and conservative, then you must be A completely straight arrow. I just think that that you can be all of those things; you can be a lady and also embrace your sexuality. I’m not going to shy away from my curves because if you try to cover them up, you just end up looking kind of frumpy.
How do you decide what you’ll wear on the red carpet?
The red carpet is definitely newer for me. I used to work with stylists and there are some really great stylists out there, but I’m multi-ethnic and I’m barely five-foot-four and I’ve got hips and a butt and boobs. I’m not this normal, stick-thin actress. I really can’t go on the dress being beautiful on the hanger, because it may not look good on me. When I was working with stylists, they’d put me into these things that were so fashion-y that it looked so sad on me, like I went back to like junior year in high school like ‘This is a sad attempt at looking like those girls.’ Like there’s Cate Blanchett and then there’s Olivia Munn trying to sadly rock the Cate Blanchett look, which would even make Cate Blanchett sad, I’m sure, if she ever saw it.
So, I actually stopped working with a stylist and began to contact the designers myself. It’s more time consuming, but for me, it was important to do it myself so that I didn’t feel pressured to put on certain things. If I fumbled, then at least I felt like I fumbled because of a mistake and not because I let someone push me into something that I wasn’t confortable in. That said, one of my best girl friends works at Vogue and I’m so lucky in the sense that I will pull an outfit together and then will send her a million pictures and she’ll be the one to say, ‘There’s no way you can wear that and have your hair look like that. You look like a football wife, don’t do that.’ She’s been my saving grace.
What are some of your favorite brands and designers?
I’ve been wearing a lot of Sole Society shoes and I like to buy online a lot as there's such a variety and pairs at all prices. I mean, I buy such expensive shoes sometimes and if you’re walking in New York and you hit one grate and the next thing you know, the back is completely torn up and it costs so much to fix it. I do enjoy, obviously, still having those really beautiful designer shoes, but I enjoy saving my money more. I also love Express. For some reason, a lot of other lines don’t always work on my body type, but I wear Express jeans all the time. And I wear a lot of ASOS stuff because I love going online shopping where they have the video of the girl walking on the runway because you can see exactly how it looks. And I absolutely love Kate Frances, a brand that I accidentally stumbled on. I also love Armani and Neil Lane for the red carpet. And Carolina Herrera styled me for my press tour last fall and I love how ladylike and fitted and beautiful those pieces were. I’m also into Dolce & Gabbana for really great, classic, sexy looks for women.
What about accessories?
My very first designer purse was an Yves Saint Laurent purse. I was in Paris for my birthday, it was my first time ever going and I loved it, and I went to this really amazing vintage store and got a 1970s vintage Hermès purse that I just love so much and I also got this vintage Dior clutch. My aunt gave me this collection of 30 vintage Coach bags, like the ones that they’re remaking now, in almost every color and colors that you don’t get to see anymore. They're my favorite thing.
Who do you look to for fashion inspiration?
I love Michelle Williams, how she dresses in such pretty ladylike things, and it feels like she’s just dressing for her and her body and her personality. Also Rachel Bilson has such a great, everyday casual style and always looks so effortless and comfortable. And Zoe Saldana; I think she always does such a great job on the red carpet and in real life—there’s such a nice balance between the two.
What’s next for you?
Right now, I’m just making sure that I’m doing a really good job with all of these opportunities that I have. The caliber of the people I’ve worked with is so high and so wonderful and I know how lucky I am. My career goal is just to do the work that I’m doing right now to the best of my ability and keep learning and growing. I love being part of ensembles and working with great producers and directors and writers.
Photo: Getty Images
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