By ANGELA DAWSON
Front Row Features
HOLLYWOOD—Claudia Schiffer lookalike Sarah Wright got her start in the 2006 American sitcom called “The Loop,” starring Mimi Rogers and Bret Harrison. Though she was on the series for only one season, it’s where the Kentucky-born former model was introduced to her future husband, actor Eric Christian Olsen, as well as her other love, comedy.
Wright, who has since co-starred with Anna Faris as a sorority girl in “The House Bunny,” and in the Demi Moore-directed “Streak,” now has her first leading lady role in the college comedy “21 & Over.” The film marks the directorial debut of Jon Lucas and Scott Moore, who wrote the monster hit “The Hangover.” Like that earlier work, “21 & Over” is about a group of guys who spend one crazy night on an alcohol-fueled adventure. Only, in this one, they’re college age.
Wright plays Nicole, a pretty co-ed who attracts the attention of Casey (“Pitch Perfect’s” Skylar Astin), and nearly distracts him from his mission to get his wasted friend home in time to make an important meeting the next day that could affect his future career.
Dressed for an interview in a lovely full black lacy skirt, accentuated by a green blouse and plum-colored Jimmy Choos, the 29-year-old blond says working on “21 & Over” served as sort of a stand in for her college experience, since she was busy modeling abroad during her own formative years.
Having recently wrapped another comedy, “Walk of Shame” with Elizabeth Banks and James Marsden, in which she plays one of Banks’ best friends, Wright is an actress to watch.
After a six-year courtship, she and Olsen tied the knot last June at scenic Jackson Hole, Wyo. The Hollywood couple is the proud pet-parents to Akitas Dakota and Delilah.
Q: Congratulations on your wedding.
Wright: Thank you.
Q: How’s Eric doing?
Wright: He’s amazing. He’s crushing it (playing a detective on “NCIS: Los Angeles”).
Q: You started modeling when you were pretty young. How much time did you spend overseas?
Wright: I was in Japan for 3-1/2 months when I was 16. I turned 17 while I was there. I did my senior year of high school on the Internet for half a year. Then I came back home (to America) and finished with my class. Then when I went to Greece, I was there for almost two months. I was living in a models’ apartment, which was within walking distance of the Parthenon. When I was living there, the Olympics were coming the next year so it was all under construction. My first day, I got lost for 2-1/2 hours and kept asking people to help me. It took a while to get used to the place and I was by myself. It was pretty crazy but it was a great experience. I learned a lot about myself and about the world while I was there.
Q: What did you do on your 21st birthday?
Wright: I feel like I had my 21st birthday when I was 18 or 19, because I started traveling and doing stuff so young. I had a couple of wild and crazy nights in Japan and Greece. So for my 21st birthday, I had sushi and wine and saki. (She laughs.) It was really boring. I’d already gotten past all those places. Food is all I ever really think about: sushi and pizza rolls.
Q: Because you didn’t go to college, was making “21 & Over” kind of like your college experience, right?
Q: Do you have a favorite scene?
Wright: The last scene with Skylar and me was just so sweet. I loved it. Also, the scene in the bar where we first meet was the same one that we did for our audition. I was looking most forward to doing that and getting it on film because it was a great scene and we got to do a lot of improv. We went really far with it and really dirty with it. They reeled it in for the movie.
Q: It seemed like a genuine pickup scene.
Wright: Thank you. I loved that we were able to give each other a hard time because that’s kind of how my husband and I are with each other. We’re kind of snarky.
Q: When you got the script by the writers of “The Hangover,” were you concerned that you’d have to go topless or do something embarrassing in the movie?
Wright: I read the script and I was so excited that the character was a bigger role than typically in a guys’ movie. Usually, the girl has to get naked or say something crazy. So when I read the script, I thought, this is awesome. I thought, for sure I’d have to take my top off. So I was excited that I didn’t have to say or do anything too crazy or out there.
Q: Did you like your character?
Wright: Yeah. Nicole’s kind of a free spirit and I feel similar to her in a lot of ways.
Q: How long were you on location?
Wright: We were in Seattle for 27 shooting days, but with fittings and weekends, it was almost two months.
Q: Did Eric visit you while you were there?
Wright: No, because he’s on a show that shoots all the time. But I had a few three-day weekends, so I’d come home and see him. There were times where Skylar, Miles (Teller) and I would go to music festivals in Seattle We went to an art festival, which was really fun. I actually bought a piece of art from a local artist that’s hanging in my house. It’s so cool.
Q: There’s a scene where you and Eric play a party game called “Suck and Blow,” where you pass a card by sucking and then blowing it into your partner’s face without dropping it. How tricky was filming that scene?
Wright: We had to practice. It isn’t easy and (Skylar) got jealous because I was wearing lip-gloss, so the card would stick to my lips a bit easier. It’s funny because it’s supposed to look sexy but it’s really an unattractive game. It was supposed to be our bonding moment but we were really getting into the game.
Q: You look absolutely gorgeous in this film.
Wright: Thank you. I give a lot of credit to our director of photography (Terry Stacey). He made me look so young. He lit me so well. (She smiles.)
Q: Were you a fan of “The Hangover?”
Wright: I was a HUGE fan.
Q: What’s your passion?
Wright: I love doing comedy. Comedy is a huge passion of mine. It makes me feel so good and so happy. There are other things in life outside of acting that I love. I’m really into horticulture. (She laughs.) I’m really a nerd. I’ve been taking classes at UCLA (University of California at Los Angeles) for horticulture. I just want to be able to plant a garden in my backyard and eat out of my own yard. I grew up on a farm in Kentucky and that’s the way we lived our lives. When you live in a big city, you sort of lose that. So that’s something I want to incorporate into my life again. It’s easy to do other things while you’re acting because you have so much downtime between projects.
Q: Are your pets kind of like your kids, for now?
Wright: Yes. My husband had our oldest dog (Dakota) first and we got the younger dog together. The younger (Delilah)—she’s such a little devil. It took us eight months to housebreak her. We were scared. We were like, “Will she ever listen to us?” But she’s great now. And they’re very very protective of us.
Q: Do you own a house?
Wright: Yeah. We bought a house about a year ago and spent nine months remodeling it. I’m working with someone to design the backyard. She’s going to help me do it. I want to be very hands-on with it.
Q: You wrapped “Walk of Shame” yesterday?
Wright: Yeah. We shot here in LA. It was so cool—me and Elizabeth Banks. I play this very unaware character. She always says the wrong thing and believes everything she says. It surprises you at times. It was such a fun character to play.
Q: Do you ever go home to Louisville (Kentucky)?
Wright: I used to go home a lot when my parents lived there, but they’ve moved to Arizona to be closer to us. My brother (Samuel) is a Marine. When he’s back from Afghanistan, he’ll be living there as well. This is his fifth tour. He’s supposed to be home in May. He’s an EOD guy and he works on a small base. It’s like “The Hurt Locker.” He’s a bomb disposal guy. There are just a small percentage of guys that do that so I don’t know if he’ll be able to get home sooner.
Q: He’s your younger brother?
Wright: Yeah, by four years. They’re sending “21 & Over” to Afghanistan for him and the other guys there to watch.
Q: You, of course, starred in “The House Bunny” a few years ago, which was pretty popular. Were you surprised there wasn’t a sequel?
Wright: Yeah. If it had come out post-“Bridesmaids,” I think it would have done even better than it did.
Q: You’ve got some beautiful jewelry on.
Wright: Thank you. All of it is by Jennifer Meyer.
Q: Did you get to keep any of your jewelry from the movie?
Wright: I kept a couple of the bracelets.
Q: Do you consider yourself a comedienne?
Wright: Not really. My husband is a comedy guy. He always says he loves that I make him laugh, and I always say he makes me laugh. I don’t think of myself as a comedy person but I am very goofy and I know it. I’m also a little bit of a nerd. That’s the only thing I can tell you about myself.