JILL RITCHIE & MEAGAN GOOD Contributed by Michael J. Lee, Executive Editor for Radio Free Entertainment
March 14, 2005
Originally a movie short that found success on the indie circuit, D.E.B.S. quickly caught the attention of Hollywood and was remade into a feature film. Written and directed by Angela Robinson (Herbie: Fully Loaded), this action/comedy focuses on a quartet of cute girls who are recruited into the world of espionage via a secret test hidden within the SAT: Amy (Sara Foster), the academically perfect protege who is the pride and joy of the D.E.B.S. academy; Max (Meagan Good), the group's take-charge, trigger happy, de facto leader; Janet (Jill Ritchie), the enthusiastic rookie who steals the show with her wide-eyed, comical innocence; and Dominique (Devon Aoki), the slightly nihilistic, chain-smoking French nymphomaniac with the shortest skirt. When a chance encounter leads to Amy falling in love with the feared nemesis of the D.E.B.S., Lucy Diamond (Jordana Brewster), the loyalty of these secret agent schoolgirls is put to the ultimate test.
In this interview, actresses Jill Ritchie (Herbie: Fully Loaded) and Meagan Good (Friday) talk about their experience of working on this charming film.
MEDIA: Jill, how did you get started on the path to acting?
JILL: I grew up in Michigan far away from this business, and I did a play when I was in elementary school and I just loved it. And I took a lot of dance classes, voice, singing lessons, and stuff.
MEAGAN: You should see her legs! She has the best legs!
JILL: [laughs] I did ballet for like fifteen years, and just developed the passion through being on stage and dance recitals and doing local community theater. And eventually, when it came time to go to college, I applied to schools that had theater programs, and I ended up getting into USC. And that's what brought me out to LA. So for me, it's been pretty much a lifelong passion and desire.
Who gave you your first break?
JILL: Angela Robinson is one of them! And if you want to call "first break" as in first professional job where I got paid and got my SAG card, I had one line on 90210. And it got cut! [laughs] I told everybody to watch it, and it was cut! But that would ultimately be my first paying job.
And Meagan, what about you? How did you get started in this business?
MEAGAN: I grew up in Valencia, California. And other kids did ballet or basketball or something like that, and I just had auditions. And it was never something I was forced into doing, it was just something that I enjoyed and had fun doing as a hobby. As I got a little bit older, I was out of the business for a year, and I missed it so much that I went back at 13. And I booked my first movie that year, which was Friday, and I read for a movie called Eve's Bayou. But when I started out, I was doing extra work on Doogie Howser and Amen.
What led you to D.E.B.S.?
MEAGAN: Well, first I saw the short. And I thought the short was so funny, and I just loved the idea and the characters, and then I read the script, and the script was even better. I fell in love with Max, and I went in and I read with Angela for Max, and here I am.
JILL: And I did the short film originally, so I've been a part of this project for quite a while. And if I was going to do the short for no money, I was definitely going to do the feature! [laughs] No, but more importantly, the short was a great experience. I knew Angela Robinson was going to be something great, and you always want to work with people like that and develop relationships. And aside from that, the material is fantastic. An all female film doesn't come around all the time, so we got to take those opportunities.
Jill, what elements did you get to add to your character in the feature film that were maybe missing in the short?
JILL: I just got to embellish it more, take it on more, you know? It's the exact same character as the short, and Angela actually said she kind of wrote it in the feature catered towards the way that I played it in the short. So it was almost like I got to find the character in the short, and then in the feature, really just have a lot more to do.
What was your experience of working with director Angela Robinson, who has both D.E.B.S. and Disney's Herbie: Full Loaded coming out this year?
MEAGAN: Angela's great, because when you work with a lot of first time directors, there's always the fear of them being indecisive, not knowing what they want, changing their mind in the middle, and she knew exactly what she wanted. She knew each one of these characters inside and out. It was a pleasure to work with her because she's easy to work with. She let us trust our instincts.
JILL: She's a very competent director, exactly what Meagan said. I've had the pleasure of working with her from the short, and I worked on Herbie with her, too. She has not changed. She's the exact same way. She's just as grounded and knows her stuff.
Did you suffer any bumps or bruises while doing the stunts in D.E.B.S.?
MEAGAN: I got a few bruises, and I gave her some by accident [motions to Jill].
JILL: [to Meagan] You did?
MEAGAN: Crawling on the ground with my gun, I actually popped her in the bottom of her elbow.
JILL: [to Meagan] That's right! I totally forgot about that!
MEAGAN: It was so heavy, I felt so bad.
JILL: That did hurt.
MEAGAN: [to Jill] I'm sorry! I hit my head like twice. But not in a bad way. It was actually all right.
JILL: [to Meagan] Oh, and remember when I got the thing stuck in my ear?
MEAGAN: Oh, she got...what do you call it?
JILL: You had to put these earplugs in your ears when you shoot guns because of how loud it is. And I was sticking one in, and suddenly I was like, "I think it went in too far. Meagan, do you see it?" She's like, "Nope, I don't see it." I'm like, "Oh my God. It's gone!" [laughs]
MEAGAN: It was kind of far in there.
JILL: Yes. Had to get these big tweezers and pull it out. And I was, of course, worried if I'd ever be able to hear again.
And speaking of hearing, what kind of music do you enjoy these days?
MEAGAN: Gwen Stefani.
JILL: I love Gwen Stefani, too.
MEAGAN: Aaliyah's always a favorite of mine.
JILL: I like rap and hip hop!
MEAGAN: [laughs] She likes rap and hip hop, I like alternative and rock.
How similar do you think you are to your D.E.B.S. characters?
MEAGAN: I think I've got little pieces of Max. Like not taking any S-H-*-T, and her being good-hearted and wanting the best for the people around her. Sometimes being a little bossy with that, but having the best of intentions.
JILL: Little bit psychotic.
MEAGAN: [laughs] A little crazy and witty. But I think they're just smaller undertones for me, and she's kind of like the elaborated version of that.
JILL: I think I'm like my character a little bit more than I thought. Just the overachiever in her and really wanting to be the best and please everyone and do the right thing. I think that's how I am as a person. So maybe I'm a lot like my character.
So now that you're pros at playing spies, any opinion on who should be the next James Bond?
JILL: Who should be the next James Bond? Clive Owen. He's my favorite new actor.
MEAGAN: He's such a good actor. I love him.
JILL: Got a lot of depth to him, too, you know?
MEAGAN: He's incredible. In Closer, I was like, "I'll watch the movie just to see him." And it's not even that I'm like, "Oh, he's so beautiful." I just think he's incredible. He's got it.
JILL: He's just got presence. We need a James Bond with depth.