Usher Lures Emmanuelle Chriqui Away From Lesbian Roles

Usher Lures Emmanuelle Chriqui Away From Lesbian Roles

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Whenever you cross a music superstar with a bodyguard film, you're bound to get comparisons.

OK, so it's not 'The Bodyguard,' but in the Usher-starring 'In the Mix,' the reigning king of R&B plays a hot New York DJ hired to protect a mob boss' beautiful daughter, played by Emmanuelle Chriqui. But while the premise may sound a bit familiar, the stunning, raven-haired actress says their film is not an update of the 1992 picture starring Kevin Costner and Whitney Houston.



'It's a little, a little bit like that film,' Chriqui said. 'But it's got influences of [many] different things, that being one of them.'

Chriqui calls her relationship with Usher in the film 'something that begins bitter and becomes sweet.' In the flick, out November 23, the 27-year-old Canadian actress plays Dolly Pacelli, the daughter of an Italian don. After getting caught up in one of her father's crossfires, Usher is assigned to watch over her, but not without some coaxing.

'[His character] is an old friend of the family's. We've grown up together,' she said. '[After the] shootout on our family, my dad says to me, 'You can't go out unless you have a bodyguard.' So I choose Darrell, thinking he's going to let me do whatever I want, [but instead] he says, 'No, I have to respect your dad.' ' That type of friction leads to some major sparks between Dolly and Darrell.

During a set visit, Usher called the film 'a real story about love.' The singer, who also executive produced the film, had nothing but praise for his new leading lady. 'She is just a natural talent, a graceful, truly beautiful, charismatic woman,' he said. 'I think that every Italian woman would feel like, 'That's my story. That's me.' '

The film, directed by Ron Underwood ('City Slickers'), also features Chazz Palminteri as Dolly's gangster father. 'Getting to work with Chazz has been a dream come true,' said the actress, who starred opposite 'NSYNC heartthrob Lance Bass in 2001's 'On the Line.' 'Truly, he is such a pro, and I just feel like the luckiest actress [to be able to work with him].'

The rising starlet, who just wrapped up a recurring role as Sloan, Kevin Connolly's love interest, on the recent season of HBO's 'Entourage,' can also be seen in the gross-out comedy 'Waiting,' which hit theaters earlier this month (see ' 'Waiting' Staffers Ryan Reynolds, Justin Long Come Clean With Raunchy Recipes' ). The film follows the long days of stoned busboys, frustrated waiters and stingy tippers at a generic restaurant. 'I play a lesbian bartender,' she laughed.

Chriqui, who also appeared in two episodes of last season's 'The O.C.' as a jilted lesbian's ex-girlfriend, has more projects in the works. She will appear in 'After Sex,' a witty romantic comedy that examines relationships between nine diverse couples. It's due in March 2006.

Last on deck for Chriqui is 'Waltzing Anna,' a heart-tugging romantic comedy that tracks an egocentric doctor's journey after he is ordered to work in a nursing home for six months. The actress will step into the shoes of Nurse Jill, an in-house physician who catches the doctor's eye. No release date is set as of yet.

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