American Beauty Goes the Extra Mile
by Jay S. Jacobs
If Candace Kroslak looks familiar, you may have seen her between the pages of your favorite magazine. As a model, she has done numerous shoots for magazines like Maxim. She was even in the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue. However, she no longer is content to just be known for striking a pose.
The acting bug bit her quickly and unexpectedly. “I started out modeling, so I did a lot of traveling from there,” Kroslak says. “When I came back to Chicago, I did a little part in a movie called Soul Survivors. It sparked my interest. I moved to LA and immediately started working.”
How does Kroslak feel her background in modeling helps her as an actress?
“It’s definitely more freeing. I know my angles.” Kroslak laughs, “It sounds kind of cheesy, but you learn your spots and to move with the camera. So, I think it makes you a little more natural. Also, it definitely keeps you in shape. Let’s put it that way.”
In the meantime, she has been learning the craft of acting through experience. Her first major project was a small role in Tim Burton’s remake of Planet of the Apes.
“I was only there for a few days,” she admits. “I just had a small part. But it was neat to work with Tim Burton, because obviously he’s like a huge director idol. It was incredible. Being one of the first things I did it was a little shocking. Overall, it was a huge production. It was a lot of fun. It definitely made me want to do more.”
Now five years into her acting career, Kroslak has done those films and guested on TV (CSI: New York, What About Brian?) She also was the star of a syndicated series filmed in Miami called Ocean Ave, which also starred former Saturday Night Live comedienne Victoria Jackson and model Victoria Silvstedt. The series was somewhat notorious for its lightning fast shooting pace – they filmed over 120 episodes in one year. This speed and the low production budget made the show get rather unimpressive public reaction. However, it was an important experience for her.
“Basically, Ocean Ave. was actor boot camp for me,” Kroslak laughs. “123 episodes in nine months. It was a lot of work – pretty much an episode a day. It was just a really good experience for me, learning-wise. Just working with other people consistently and having to be up at a certain hour every day. It was really good for me. It was like acting school crammed into one year.”
Just a few weeks before this interview, she was able to stretch her acting muscles, again taking a small role in the acclaimed sitcom How I Met Your Mother.
“That was fun. It was a quick take that day, but of course I got to work with some great actors again. It was a different part for me – it was kind of like the virginal girl,” Kroslak laughs. “So, it was pretty cool to play another different part for a day.”
Now she has her largest role yet, playing the female temptation role on the straight-to-video fifth film of the American Pie franchise – American Pie Presents: The Naked Mile. Kroslak plays Brandy, a gorgeous former bartender who meets the main character, the virginal Eric Stifler (John White), on the weekend of an annual college party where the entire student body strips down and runs a mile across campus. Eric has been given a free pass for the weekend from his girlfriend (Jessy Schramm), who is not ready for sex, so she allows him to do it with someone else that weekend with no recriminations.
Kroslak liked her character from the very beginning. It was also a thrill to be part of such a well-known comedy series.
“I love the American Pie franchise,” Kroslak says. “I think it’s one of the best teen comedies. So, I was really excited to do that. The naked mile part kind of scared me, but I also thought it was a great opportunity to liberate myself. So, I went out on a limb. I was so excited during the whole filming how comfortable it was and how close you get to your cast. So, it was a really good experience.”
Part of this good experience stemmed from the fact that most of the actors, like Kroslak herself, are not exactly well known. The fact that the video was a big break for most of them gave the set a camaraderie which most projects never reach.
“Because we’re all new, everyone is pretty humble still,” Kroslak says. “Also, we all of resonate on the same level. You all bond, like, ‘Oh, wow, this is the first real big thing.’ Everyone there, we’ve all become really good friends and stayed in touch, because it was such a breakout situation for all of us.”
Of course, there was one cast member who has serious acting credentials – and the one person who appeared in all five of the American Pie films. Kroslak only got to do one scene with legendary comic actor Eugene Levy, but she walked away totally impressed.
“You really see where it’s like a divine gift with certain people,” Kroslak says. “The timing, definitely improv-ing a lot of it, so natural and so funny and he’s got his thing going on. I really looked up to him, like, wow, one day maybe I can be like that. It was just really great.”
Levy was there as Mr. Levenstein, once again there to have uncomfortably frank conversations with the teen stars about their love and sex lives. It turns out that he was the founder and master of ceremonies for the title sequence – the naked mile – in which thousands of students streak across campus. It almost seems like a screenwriter’s creation to hang his story on and guarantee lots of gratuitous nudity. However, it turns out the ritual has a basis in fact.
“It’s real,” Kroslak says. “In New York and Michigan, they used to do that. They used to run the naked mile after midterms. All the sororities, fraternities, college kids, whoever, would get naked in one run through the quad, just wanting to celebrate the end of exams.”
Of course, it’s one thing to be one of hundreds of people running anonymously through the dark on a small campus. It’s another thing entirely to do it on camera for the world to see. However, Kroslak screwed on her courage and took the plunge.
“It’s funny, because I’ve been modeling for eight years and I’ve never done nudity or anything like that. But it’s just not me. It’s the character. That’s what made my decision. I was like, look, I feel comfortable with myself. It’s not like it’s Candace running down the street.” Kroslak laughs. “So, it wasn’t that big of a deal. I said this is an opportunity. I really want to do it. At the time in my life I was just trying new things, and I thought, well, let me just get naked for one minute.”
Maybe the main scene was built to titillate, and like any film that has the American Pie name there is more than its share of sexual and disgusting humor on display in the video. The interesting thing is despite all the sensational laughs – much like the first (and best) film of the series, The Naked Mile actually centers on sexual uncertainty and the emotional commitments of the act. This is most specifically in the main romantic triangle. It was this undercurrent more than anything that sold Kroslak on the script.
“Because the movie is kind of naughty and it’s so nuts, I think we needed to bring that element into it,” Kroslak says, “to bring a little balance to the picture. It was a serious story. This does happen. There are feelings involved and there is heart.”
In the end, Kroslak’s character was the big temptation for Eric Stifler to stray from his girlfriend, but it wasn’t played like the typical other woman role. Yes, she was willing, and she told him she had a thing for virgins; but unlike some of the other characters in the video, you could tell that their characters had made some kind of personal connection as well.
“It was really important to me to make the distinction that she’s not this slut that just does all these things. She actually is genuinely interested in this person and she wants to help him break out of his little virginity thing,” Kroslak laughs. “But at the same time, she’s not a malicious person. She has no other ulterior motives. She just wants to have fun and cares about this kid. I thought that was kind of important to show both sides.”
The same week that American Pie Presents: The Naked Mile is released to video stores, Kroslak has a guest starring role on the TV series Las Vegas. A good week for any actress with two big releases at the same time, so it has Kroslak feeling she has made the correct decision with her life.
“It’s extremely exciting. I really don’t even know what’s going on right now,” Kroslak laughs. “It’s all at once and it’s so fun and I’m definitely enjoying the ride and just trying to do my best.”
She is also enjoying the opportunity to delve into both comic roles and ones that are more dramatic.
“I really appreciate both of them,” Kroslak says. “You definitely have to do preparation for both. I tend to feel really comfortable doing comedy. But I also like to work and do drama. I like both, but I love to have fun every day on set, so comedy is something I really enjoy doing.”
Kroslak is happy that her modeling background provided an entrée into the acting world. However, just because she is beautiful does not mean that Kroslak is willing to coast on her looks. Nor will she be put up with being underestimated for them – she wants people appreciate her talent as well.
“We all have to start somewhere, and I feel really happy about where I started because it was just a really fun experience for me,” Kroslak says. “Growing up from here; I’d like to do more serious things. Be taken as an actor, not a just a hot chick. I don’t like how people just stick on that. I’d love [to have a career like] Meryl Streep.” She laughs. “Sally Field. Or Debra Messing would be amazing. Or even Heather Locklear and being on TV shows constantly. [I’d like to be] just someone who is serious about their craft and isn’t just doing it for whatever but does it because they love it and they’re good at it. That’s what I want to do.”
So now that she has gotten her feet wet in her first major starring role, what is next for Candace Kroslak?
“I can’t talk about it yet.” Kroslak laughs. “It’s in the works, but all I can say is it’s just going to be a really good year.”
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Copyright ©2006 PopEntertainment.com. All rights reserved. Posted: December 17, 2006.