Shane shows us why sometimes... it's kind of good to be bad.
Shane West has a split personality, and he's cool with that, considering he was born under the zodiac sign of the Twins. "I feel like a lot of people do, whether they're Geminis or not," says Shane, whose birthday is June 10. "A lot of times I like to go out, have fun and talk to absolutely everybody. Other times, I just want to hide."
Tonight isn't one of those times. Shane has invited me to dinner at the hip L.A. restaurant Falcon, where I find him sitting at an outside table. He's lighting up a cigarette, although the 24-year-old actor from Baton Rouge, La., swears he's going to quit.
Shane's made his name playing bad-boy teens on TV shows like the now-defunct drama Once and Again and in films such as 2001's Get Over It and last year's hit A Walk to Remember. But in person, he's mature and professional -- an extraordinary gentleman who knows he's got a few bad habits. (Along with smoking, he bites his nails and admits to a little "experimentation" with pot in high school.) "He likes to play the bad boy," says Once and Again costar Evan Rachel Wood. "But he's not fooling me -- he's the sweetest guy in the world."
He'll get the chance to save the world in this summer's action flick The League Of Extraordinary Gentleman. Based on the comic book in which charcters from literature "band together to fight evil," Shane plays Tom Sawyer, who has grown up to be a Secret Service agent. By the time the film comes out, he also hopes to have signed a recording contract with his punk-rock group, Jonny Was, which he helped form in 1999.
Tom Sawyer? Punk rocker? Which is closer to the real Shane West? You be the judge.
1. HE PUTS FAMILY FIRST: Shane grew up with a single mom. "My parents did it smart when they divorced," he says. "I was about four, and my sister [Simone] was a year and a half younger. So we didn't really comprehend what was going on, but when we asked to see our dad, [our mom] would take us to see him."
It was harder when Shane's mother, Catherine, a lawyer, moved the family to L.A. in search of a better job. "I knew everyone [in Baton Rouge], because we all went to the same school," says Shane, who was 10 at the time. To keep himself company in his new hometown, he got creative: "I had two invisible friends, Ned and Jack, named after characters in the book Little Men. But I never brought them with me to school. That would not have been wise."
2. HE DOES THE RIGHT THING: Money was so tight the first few years in L.A. that Shane's family lived in temporary housing in Compton, Calif. "My sister and I were the only white people in school," he recalls. "It was the nicest group of kids I've ever run into." The experience stayed with Shane. Today he and his mom are involved in several charities, one of which helps the homeless.
3. HE'S HIS OWN PERSON: "I was the weird one," admits Shane of his L.A. school days. [The family moved from Compton to Norwalk, Calif.] "I had long hair, a southern accent and Payless shoes. I didn't fit in. But I'm glad I didn't have the money to fake it. At least I was real."
4. HE'S NOT A HEARTBREAKER: "The girls I had crushes on [in high school] were impossible to obtain, and the girls that had crushes on me, I would never have a clue.... I'd get so nervous, I wouldn't speak." In fact, Shane didn't have his first real girlfriend (or lose his virginity) until he was 19. "It was in a hotel [after] a big party," he says of his first time.
5. HE LIKES REAL GIRLS: "The first things I notice are their eyes and smile," says Shane. "I'm not a big makeup fan; I like them to be natural."
1. HE'S A JUNK-FOOD JUNKIE: When he moved to L.A., Shane tried so hard to fit in he became a vegetarian. "[We] were, like, the first family of tofu," he says. Not anymore. His favorite late-night snacks include Nestle Crunch bars and tortillas and cheese. And he's discovered Red Bull. "You have two or three of those, and you ain't sleeping anytime soon."
2. HE'S INTO PUNK ROCK: Shane grew up listening to punk bands like the Clash, before graduating to heavy metal acts like Motley Crue. Then came Green Day's Dookie in 1994. Says Shane, "It was the album of my life."
3. HE WEARS MAKEUP: Black nail polish and eyeliner, to be exact, when he play guitar and sings with Jonny Was. "It's fun to play dress-up," says Shane. "But I'm never prepared. I don't have a sharpener [for the eye pencil]."
4. HE'S A TATTOO LOVER: "It's 'Gemini' in Celtic," says Shane of the tattoo that sits between his shoulder blades. (He got it in Hollywood on Sunset Boulevard.) Shane likes them on girls, too. "It is," he says, "a weakness of mine."
5. HE'S READY FOR HIS [NAKED] CLOSEUP: "I'll show my butt [in a movie] if I have to," says Shane. "I have an OK butt." And full-frontal nudity? "I'll have to see how much money I could get for that."
BORN: June 10, 1978
FAVORITE ACTORS: Johnny Depp, Sean Penn and Bill Paxton "because they're natural and not overly dramatic."
ACTING 101: "I was forced to take drama class in high school because I needed one more credit [to graduate]."
PERSONAL STYLE: "Punky chic with old-school rock and roll."
SHANE'S GANG: Bandmates Ben Gould and Jerry Fitzgerald and actors Ben Foster and Colin Hanks.
CAR TALK: He was so in love with the 1967 Camaro he drove in A Walk to Remember, he bought it for $5,000.
FAMOUS EXES: Rachael Leigh Cook and Dina Meyer.
ROMANTIC STATUS: "I'm staying single right now.... The last thing on my mind is a relationship."
HE'D NEVER BE CAUGHT DEAD IN: "A boy band or a Speedo."
A Talk To Remember
Shane answers your questions!
Who is your ultimate romantic co-star?
I used to want it to be Angelina Jolie; there's definitely some sex appeal there. Who would it be right now? Can I give you 10 answers?
What was it like working with Mandy Moore in the film A Walk to Remember?
It took a couple of weeks for us to bond because she had heard that I was this punk-rock conceited jerk, and I thought she was this pop-star-diva priss. But she's such a sweetheart that it's hard not to get along.
Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
In an alleyway [laughs]. No, hopefully, still doing movies and, hopefully, the band will have several albums out.
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