The Girl Next Door is back on 24, and Elisha Cuthbert is the bright spot of our day all over again.

This feature originally appeared in Complex's February/March 2009 issue. 

We know Canada as our unassuming neighbor (a.k.a. North North Dakota), but sometimes it can really come across as a smug prick. it’s hard not to feel it looking down at US figuratively as well as geographically, thanks to its progressive health-care system, penchant for non-violence and world-renowned sense of humour (they add the “U” because the Queen said so!). We forgive its arrogance, though, because it gave us golden goddess Elisha Cuthbert. The curvy 26-year-old former child star from Montreal moved to Hollywood at 17 to make it, and make it she did—into our fantasies playing jailbait in Old School, a down-to-earth porn star in The Girl Next Door and agent Jack Bauer’s daughter in the real-time TV smash 24. In other words, sorry, Canucks—she’s ours, even if she clings to her old country’s ways.

Do you think Dennis Haysbert playing the president on 24 helped the U.S. adjust to the idea of a black commander-in-chief?
[Laughs.] Possibly. I remember how much people responded to him as the president on the show and in public: The guy couldn’t go anywhere. To think that a TV show has any bearing on what’s going to happen in the country is a bit much, but [maybe] it loosened up the boundaries.

As a Canadian, were you surprised that the U.S. elected a black president?
Now that it’s happened, it almost feels like…like it’s what’s supposed to be, which is kind of crazy. When it was confirmed that Barack Obama was going to be the next president, I got very emotional—and I can’t even vote! If you know anything about American history, you know what a huge step this has been for the country. I’m very proud of the U.S. for making some big changes.

 

When do you ever see an ugly-looking actress?

 

If you knew you had 24 hours to live, what would you do?
I’d probably just spend it with family…maybe go have a Big Mac. [Laughs.]

There are some great Kiefer Sutherland drunk stories out there. You two ever share any memorable drinking sessions?
Um…I have, but I wouldn’t tell you. [Laughs.] When it comes to 24, I know these people’s families. He’s a lot of fun to hang out with, I’ll tell you that.

Who has hotter groupies: Kiefer or your The Six Wives of Henry Lefay co-star Tim Allen?
Oh my God! [Laughs.] I don’t know what kind of groupies they get.

Women didn’t show up to the set for them?
No! I think they’re both in a place where they’ve been there, done that, but back in the day, there’s no telling what kind of groupies [they got]. It’d be kind of a tie, I’d have to say.

 

Does being a child star in Canada come with as much baggage as it does in the States?
Not really. Canada has been really supportive, and I think the main comment that I get is, “We’re really proud that you went to L.A. and you made it,” and it’s just always been really positive. They don’t look at me as this sort of awkward child star. They’ve come along for the ride and been really respectful.

 

It’s not looking for someone with the perfect breasts. It’s trying to find someone that looks natural.

 

Is there a paparazzi problem there?
Gossip magazines are definitely being sold, and in big numbers, but I think I have more of a private life [in Canada] than I do in L.A., and it’s nice. But I think it’s how you conduct yourself, too. I mean, there are a lot of celebrities in the gossip magazines that draw a lot of attention to themselves. I try to stay busy with work as much as I can and really keep quiet when I’m not.

Typically, relationships between athletes and actresses get a lot of attention. You’ve dated a couple of NHL players [currently Dion Phaneuf, previously Sean Avery], but you don’t get nearly the same attention as Kim Kardashian and Reggie Bush. Is that because hockey isn’t huge in the U.S., or is it because you lie low?
I think it’s just because my personal life is my personal life—I stay private about it. There are always people who are going to wonder and be very excited and want to know about what’s going on in your private life; it’s up to you to keep those boundaries.

When you were working for Popular Mechanics for Kids, Hillary Clinton requested to meet you. What was your meeting like?
It was just her, and she was a very gracious and lovely woman who made us feel comfortable. I probably was 15 or 16 years old and extremely nervous. But she was very kind—actually, I still get invitations to her charity events in Los Angeles. Talk about follow-up. [Laughs.]

Were you rooting for her against Obama? Do you think she would make a good president?
I think she’s completely capable, but I was really kind of, “either one.” When you’re not capable of going to the polls and voting, your perspective on the campaign is much different from someone who has to pay attention and make an informed decision. I was just like, As long as we have one of these two [Democrats], I’ll be happy. We’re a very liberal country. For us to understand Bush [was] a little bit more complicated.

You don’t do nudity but instead employ body doubles. What’s the process in selecting someone? I’ve only had to do it twice. To be honest, it was really quick and pretty basic. I saw three girls and chose one out of the three. It wasn’t a long, drawn-out process. It’s not looking for someone [with] the perfect breasts. Nothing to do with that, really. I think it’s trying to find someone that looks natural, someone that looks good.

You mean someone who acts natural in front of a camera or someone, y’know, natural?
You never see their face, right?

You’ve said that you like to take roles that challenge and scare you. What role would do that at this point?
Probably a musical. [Laughs.] I can’t imagine how much work it would be to make that legit. There are very few musicals that I’ve liked, so that would definitely freak me out. I’ve just only recently felt comfortable doing comedy. Tim Allen taught me a lot about timing. Comedy can be a lot scarier to take on than drama.

Really?! It was less difficult playing a victim of incest and a victim of torture?
The only thing difficult about Captivity [her 2007 torture-porn film] was having to reshoot so much and it turning out to be a movie that really wasn’t the original concept. Doing The Quiet, there were difficulties producing, but I had a great time doing it.

 

Some people criticized Captivity, saying it was misogynistic. How did you reconcile doing the project with being a strong woman?
I think it got really twisted from start to finish. It’s unexplainable,what transpired when we were making it, and having to go back and add more horror and gore, and what happened in the media. My job really starts and finishes when we’re filming. I have no control over what a studio or a production company wants to do with the film after I’m done with it.

 

I think it’s how you conduct yourself, too. I try to stay busy with work as much as I can and really keep quiet when I’m not.

 

Since you’ve had reservations about showing skin, is there any similar reservation to the violence in movies like that?
The original film had no violence at all, and then the movie turned into something completely different. I wish, actually, that I had had a lot more say-so in the situation, but unfortunately in that case I didn’t. But would I do a film like Wanted, like Angelina Jolie did? Hell, yeah.

So, you’re into comics?
I’ve been a fan since I was younger, yeah.

Do you still follow them?
I had a favorite as a kid called The Maxx; MTV ended up doing a cartoon version of it. I have the entire set of that, and that’s always been my favorite and kind of still is. I thought it was very smart and really deep and that the art was like an underground world. I really used to like the Japanese art with manga and all that stuff, but The Maxx is always my favorite.

Do you have a dark side to you?
In what way?

Do you enjoy watching people get pummeled?
No.

But you’re a hockey fan!
Actually, I’m pretty conservative and anti-confrontational. I’m not a big fan of confrontation—that’s probably the Canadian in me.

Really? I thought most hockey crowds go nuts for fights.
I think the worst would be watching Ultimate Fighting, you know? Hockey can get really aggressive and fights definitely break out, but they’re regulated and there are officials there. It’s almost calculated. I think football’s a lot harder to watch sometimes.

Your bio says you’re a former foot model. How is it being selected for a specific body part?
You know, everyone goes there with me—but I was 6 years old! I have no sort of affiliation with foot modeling. Yes, I did that as a child, but it was not bare feet; it was in a kid’s catalog with rubber boots on.

That’s not nearly as sexy. Our apologies.
I think the Internet created whatever it is they wanted to create with it.

Well, it is out there on the Web, so do you get any weird foot fetish requests from people?
No, no. As far as what?

Like fans asking, ”Can I kiss your feet?”
No. I mean, I don’t know what they talk about on blogs, but in person, no.

Speaking of blogs, you’ve been on a lot of those 100 hottest women lists. Who do you think are the five sexiest women alive today?
I leave it to the experts to deal with that. When do you ever see an ugly-looking actress?

WATCH ELISHA'S BEHIND-THE-SCENES VIDEO: 

ADDITIONAL CREDITS: (STYLING) Tara Swennen for the Wall Group. (HAIR) Mara Rozack for Tresemme at TheMagnetAgency.com. (MAKEUP) Monika Blunder for Dior Beauty at the Wall Group. COVER, FIRST, AND SIXTH IMAGES: Dress by Sass & Bide / ring by Bochic / bangles by Borgioni / tights by Wolford. SECOND IMAGE: Tuxedo jacket by Bebe / jewelry by IsharyaSEVENTH IMAGE: Bracelets by Armenta / tights by Bebe. THIRD IMAGE: Necklace by Tobi Tobin Design. FOURTH IMAGE: Shirt by Enza Costa / leggings by Members Only / necklace by Erickson Beamon (worn as a bracelet) / FIFTH IMAGE: Bracelets by Armenta / trenchcoat by Bebe.