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Last Updated: Friday, 29 July 2005, 13:53 GMT 14:53 UK
Cameron Diaz: Hollywood crowd-pleaser
It has been an eventful week for Cameron Diaz. On Monday, she won her battle with photographer John Rutter, who tried to sell topless photos he took before she became one of the world's most desirable and successful film stars.

And on Friday, she won a libel action against The Sun, which suggested she had been having an affair with a married man.

Cameron Diaz in 2005
Cameron Diaz earns a reported $20m per film
Hollywood's finest scriptwriters could not have written the story better.

A girl with a rough-and-tumble tomboy upbringing is signed up by a model agency after being spotted at a party aged 16.

She travels the world for five years, appearing in ads for Calvin Klein, Levi's and Coca-Cola, before a chance offer to audition for a movie.

She tries out for a minor role but, despite no acting experience, the director demands that she plays the lead female part.

The film is a global hit and the girl becomes one of the world's highest-paid actresses, enjoying fame and fortune beyond her wildest dreams.

It sounds like a far-fetched plot, but the Cameron Diaz tale is a real-life Hollywood success story.

Cameron Diaz, Martin Scorsese and Leonardo DiCaprio at 2002 Cannes Film Festival
Diaz teamed up with Scorsese and DiCaprio for Gangs of New York
Her first film was 1994's The Mask, opposite Jim Carrey, and she has gone on to appear in hits such as There's Something About Mary, Charlie's Angels and Shrek.

The daughter of a Cuban-American oil company foreman and an Anglo-German-Native American import broker, Diaz has said her childhood in Long Beach, California, was "very normal".

As a model, she had a string of exotic assignments but got fed up with her main work for clothing catalogues.

At 19, she agreed to model for Rutter, wearing fishnet stockings in a disused warehouse, because she wanted to present "images that are great images - rather than just a model who sells clothes".

She said she was "not ashamed" of the resulting shots. "I didn't think of them as pornographic. I didn't think of them as perverted," she told the court.

"My boobs looked good," she said. "At least I had that going for me."

Movie chance

Her model agency was in the same building as The Mask's casting director, who was looking for an unknown actress to play a nightclub singer in the zany comedy.

Initially reluctant, she auditioned to play a reporter but was called back a dozen times and grabbed her chance when offered the lead.

The film made more than $320m (185m) worldwide and Diaz's performance marked her out as a hot new talent.

A wrist injury forced her to pull out of her next role, in the film version of computer game Mortal Kombat, and she opted for lower-profile movies including The Last Supper, Feeling Minnesota and She's the One.

'Itsy bimbo'

She wanted "to get different scripts than the itsy bimbo parts I was being sent", she said.

Her reputation grew further alongside Julia Roberts in 1997 romantic comedy My Best Friend's Wedding before There's Something About Mary cemented her star status the following year.

Not only has she continued to shun "itsy bimbo parts", but she has also avoided being the only big name in blockbuster star vehicles - lessening the risk and pressure.

In Being John Malkovich, she played a frumpy pet shop worker and was the hard-nosed football team owner opposite Al Pacino in Any Given Sunday.

Cameron Diaz accepts her award for best dance sequence at the 2001 MTV Movie Awards
Diaz's awards have included best dance sequence at the MTV Awards
She capitalised on her glamorous appearance for Charlie's Angels - as a high-kicking secret agent rather than vacant blonde - sharing top billing with Drew Barrymore and Lucy Liu.

She lent her voice to Princess Fiona in animated smash Shrek, played Tom Cruise's ex-girlfriend in Vanilla Sky and was seen scrapping with Leonardo DiCaprio in Gangs of New York.

Hollywood heavyweight Harvey Weinstein campaigned for her to get an Oscar nomination for Gangs of New York, but that honour has so far eluded her.

She has, though, been nominated for four Golden Globes and won critics' prizes.

She also regularly appears in more light-hearted polls - ranging from sexiest women in the world in men's magazines to best dance sequence at the MTV Movie Awards.

Keen not to lose sight of the down-to-earth tomboy, she beat 'N Sync and the Backstreet Boys in a Celebrity Burp-Off at the 2001 Nickelodeon Kids' Choice Awards and proudly professes to have broken her nose four times.

'Violated'

But despite her childhood scrapes, she has struggled with the downsides of Hollywood fame.

She said she "felt violated" when Rutter tried to extort money from her for the topless photos and complained she has been "terrorised" by paparazzi.

Media interest has been heightened by relationships with fellow film stars Matt Dillon and Jared Leto and current partner, singer Justin Timberlake.

Eleven years after her screen debut, Diaz now sits alongside Julia Roberts atop the list of Hollywood's highest-paid female stars, commanding $20m (11.5m) per film, according to the Hollywood Reporter.

She puts much of her success down to luck and fun, but hard work and savvy decisions have gone a long way to securing her status as both a serious actress and pin-up idol.


SEE ALSO:
Man guilty in Diaz topless case
26 Jul 05 |  Entertainment
Diaz 'sickened' by photo threat
15 Jul 05 |  Entertainment
Diaz sues tabloid over 'affair'
02 Jun 05 |  Entertainment
Photographers sue showbiz couple
13 Nov 04 |  Entertainment
Actress Diaz hurt in surf fall
03 Sep 03 |  Entertainment
Diaz tops actress pay list
27 Aug 03 |  Entertainment


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