Victoria Silvstedt Interview

Playmate of the Year Victoria Silvstedt

Victoria Silvstedt is on a hot streak. Having earned the title of Maxim’s Woman of the Year and Playmate of the year within a five-year time span, Silvstedt is finally getting the opportunity to act and show she is more than just a pretty face. Chris Neumer talks with Silvstedt about the perils of being gorgeous and the benefits of horrific skiing accidents.

by Chris Neumer

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CHRIS NEUMER: I am doing very well. How are you?

VICTORIA SILVSTEDT: Good. I’m in the car driving. I want to make sure that you can hear me.

CHRIS NEUMER: Oh, I can hear you. And I can hear you driving. What city are you in?

VICTORIA SILVSTEDT: I’m in Los Angeles.

CHRIS NEUMER: Ahhh. Doing the phone interview in LA while you drive. That’s got to be good times because you can’t be too angry or too upset. Where are you in LA right now?

VICTORIA SILVSTEDT: I’m just passing Central Plaza. I had lunch with my girlfriends and I’m going into a meeting. I’m doing a play tomorrow night at this theater here in LA and I have to meet with this director now and I have to have him approve what I wrote. (Laughter.)

CHRIS NEUMER: Which play are you doing?

VICTORIA SILVSTEDT: It’s called “Pieces”.

CHRIS NEUMER: Like the food?

VICTORIA SILVSTEDT: No pieces, like Pieces of Ass. The show was really popular in New York and now they came to LA for one month. A couple of nights they have a celebrity guest come on and do a five-minute monologue in the middle. This is what I’m doing.

CHRIS NEUMER: And this is what you are doing? What is your monologue going to be on?

VICTORIA SILVSTEDT: Basically it’s all about how hot chicks are perceived in life. I’m going to talk about some of my experiences when I first came from Sweden six years ago, kind of naive and barely spoke English. Kind of what happens and then give a couple of examples.

CHRIS NEUMER: So how are attractive women perceived? I’m curious to hear.

VICTORIA SILVSTEDT: Oh, you know. (Laughter) Especially when you are tall. I’m just speaking from my own experience, being tall, blonde, buxom and Swedish and most people think not too bright. It’s obvious that people think that. You know I don’t mind it. I’m just kind of playing it up and enjoying it. I make fun of myself too. I honestly don’t really care. Some girls are really sensitive about that, but I know who I am and I have fun. So what if I look like this.

CHRIS NEUMER: It’s interesting that you can turn it like that. It seems that most women strive to be tall, beautiful, blonde and busty. Here you are telling me that people are giving you a hard time for being the ideal.

VICTORIA SILVSTEDT: Well, yes I guess. I can’t speak for everybody. If they think I am this perfect creature, I wouldn’t think everybody would think that but some people might think that. It’s funny that the biggest laugh I get is, “Oh my God she’s not that stupid at all!” People expect immediately because of the way I look that, “She must be so fucking stupid.” I like to see the surprise on people’s faces, “God, she’s actually quite smart.” I like to kind of surprise people that way though.

CHRIS NEUMER: It’s certainly better than being thought of as incredibly brilliant and coming off and being sort of average. People think, “God she’s got to be stupid!” This was one of the things that I was interested in talking to you about. I’ve talked with a lot of other actors and people. A lot of people are afraid that they are going to get type-cast, that they will be known as one thing and they have to be stuck with it. Do you ever find that, again being blonde and beautiful is like an anchor around your neck or prohibits you from doing certain things that you want to do?

VICTORIA SILVSTEDT: Yeah, obviously it has, but why should I work against it. This is who I am and what I am about. I think you should try to use it to an advantage and not try to work against it. People in this town, all my agents and some of my managers, they are always saying, “You have to change, you have to change. You have to be this. You have to be that.” I’m like, “Guys, this is who I am, this is what I look like and I do what I can do.”

CHRIS NEUMER: What kind of changes are they looking for?

VICTORIA SILVSTEDT: You have to cut your hair really short. You have to cover your boobs. Should I shrink myself too, cut off a couple of centimeters? I think you should be proud of who you are and use it to your advantage. That’s what I’ve been trying to do.

CHRIS NEUMER: Why not? Do you ever have to work on sort of crafting the image of Victoria Silvstedt that America knows? I ask because I’m assuming that you are more of a real person than we see in the Stuff Magazine or Playboy.

VICTORIA SILVSTEDT: I don’t wake up in the morning thinking, “God, I’m such a hot chick. I’m such a babe. I want to play it up and live it up everyday.” Unfortunately the work that I do and the way the public perceives me is that I’m the hot, tall blonde. Of course I play it up. Even in photo shoots I play it up, you know what I mean? I work it; I click it on. I turn it off when I go home. Back to being casual and as natural as I can, but I love clicking it on. It gives me a kick.

CHRIS NEUMER: Again, why not? I was thinking about this and I was looking at some of the other interviews that you have done and I was interested in how you react to a lot of the questions. I was interviewing Debra Winger and her husband once and I asked what the budget of their movie was. It seemed like a fairly innocent question. Her husband said, “You know if you had asked that question when I was growing up, my father would have hit you in the face.” I was like, “Wow!” I found some questions here. One of them was, ‘Would you ever consider being with a woman?’ Another was, ‘How often do you wear a bikini?’ A third was ‘Who has the nicest butt you’ve ever seen?’ I thought to myself that if I tried asking these questions of a woman on the street, I figured that I would get slapped. Do you ever have a knee-jerk reaction to questions of that sort, like what the hell are you talking about?

VICTORIA SILVSTEDT: Of course I do sometimes. I just sort of play around with it. I mean I don’t give away everything. I’m kind of like, “You really want to know this?”

CHRIS NEUMER: You said there have been some questions that have floored you. Is there an example of one that you can throw forth?

VICTORIA SILVSTEDT: You know especially the English press, they always try to blow up things. They say, “I know you like sex with other women. You like this, you like that.” Maybe I said half of what’s there and they want to blow it up even more. Yeah, I’ve had some crazy questions.

CHRIS NEUMER: Are you ever tempted to throw in references to Shakespeare or to make a reference to Ibsen’s Doll House and say that you kind of feel like Nora in certain cases and be left with a blank stare when they don’t know what you are talking about?

VICTORIA SILVSTEDT: You are giving me good advice there. I’m going to pick that up from you, OK?

CHRIS NEUMER: Feel free. I read somewhere that you said that you much preferred acting in films to that of TV. You said TV was a job and films were essentially a paid vacation.

VICTORIA SILVSTEDT: No, I never said I preferred one over the other. I just said that I really enjoyed doing movies because the movies I’ve done so far have these incredible sets. When I did Boat Trip it was around the Greek Islands and when I did Out Cold it was up in Vancouver and around the mountains in Canada. So far the sets that I have been on have been just amazing.

CHRIS NEUMER: Does a lot of that have to do with the location?

VICTORIA SILVSTEDT: Yeah, absolutely, the location, the movie itself. Most of what I’ve done is comedy and I think it sets a special tone on the set because if you are doing a comedy, the ambiance is different from maybe doing a drama. You know what I mean? It’s light and fun and the places I’ve been are just amazing. That’s why I probably said that because I’ve been lucky and I’ve been going on great vacations so obviously I prefer the movies for that reason.

CHRIS NEUMER: So if you were shooting a depressing suicide drama over in the middle of Czechoslovakia or the former Czech Republic, that would be a different story?

VICTORIA SILVSTEDT: Probably, but that would be challenging in its own way. I’ve never done that so it would be an experience in its own.

CHRIS NEUMER: Now is that anything that you strive to do? As you’ve said, you have done a lot of comedy. Is there any sense that you want to broaden your horizon in that respect and take on a dramatic project? Tackle that drama about the orphaned Czech girl who grows up and starts helping indigent amputees?

VICTORIA SILVSTEDT: I wouldn’t mind trying something new. I would definitely want to have that challenge. I would definitely welcome that. It’s a matter of proving it to yourself too. It’s an amazing fulfillment if you take on something like that and you actually do it. I don’t care about proving to others that I can do it. It’s more of a self-fulfillment. I want to prove to myself that I can do this.

CHRIS NEUMER: That brings up an interesting point. I’ve been looking at what you have done; you’ve sung, you’ve been a Playmate, you’ve co-starred opposite an Academy Award winner in Boat Trip, and I saw recently that you even had a doll made of your likeness.

VICTORIA SILVSTEDT: Laughter. Isn’t that crazy?

CHRIS NEUMER: It is and I thought of all these things that you’ve done, are there any of the accomplishments that are more satisfying to you than others?

VICTORIA SILVSTEDT: I love singing. For me it is more of a hobby than anything. I don’t think I could ever make a career out of it. It was one of those things that I was so lucky to get a record contract with EMI and they were so willing to release my first album. I loved doing that. It was such a great challenge, but I can never see myself making a full-time career out of it. I still do a lot of modeling and all that stuff and that’s great. I’ve got to ride it out while I can because it’s not going to last forever. I think the transition to acting is more long-term career. I would say it is more fulfilling for me to do the acting than anything. No more dolls.

CHRIS NEUMER: No more dolls, that’s it. You mentioned the acting and I know lot of other top models have attempted to bridge the gap between modeling and acting. Not a lot of them have succeeded. I don’t know if you remember Cindy Crawford tried to do an action movie. I think it was back in ’95 and just flopped! Then I was thinking I know there was some model, I thought it might have been Halle Berry, I wasn’t sure if she started modeling before or after the acting–

VICTORIA SILVSTEDT: She was like a Miss USA or something.

CHRIS NEUMER: Yes. It seems like a lot of models try to turn to acting and you look in the past and it hasn’t worked. Is there an inherent stumbling block between modeling and acting or is it just on a case to case basis?

VICTORIA SILVSTEDT: I think it’s a more case-to-case basis. That’s what I believe. There are so many amazingly beautiful women out there and maybe they don’t have a great personality. It just depends. I think Cindy Crawford had a great personality and maybe she was too known as a super model. She was the biggest super model in the world. I think being that big of a super model that was all people would see her as. Look at Molly Sims for example. She was a big model, but not like Cindy Crawford. I think it was easier for her to come into acting and that’s because she has a great personality and she’s obviously beautiful and it worked for her.

CHRIS NEUMER: What was the last name that you just threw out after Cindy Crawford’s?

VICTORIA SILVSTEDT: Molly Sims. She’s doing a Las Vegas show and she’s the host of something for MTV for fashion. There are a lot of beautiful women who were models before they became actors but it’s not going to work for everybody.

CHRIS NEUMER: No, that’s true. Do you do or have you done a lot of runway modeling?

VICTORIA SILVSTEDT: I did some when I was in college, years ago when I was anorexic. I’m too big of a girl now. I wouldn’t fit into those clothes.

CHRIS NEUMER: Did you find that before the show you had to get in character for the show? Did you find that was at all similar to getting into character on a film set?

VICTORIA SILVSTEDT: Every fashion show has a theme and you have to do whatever the designer wants for the show. Part of it is definitely getting in character, yeah.

CHRIS NEUMER: Is there a place you go to get into character or do you just look at it as sort of pretending or just putting on an aloof air?

VICTORIA SILVSTEDT: I was Inga from Sweden. I could do it with my eyes closed.

CHRIS NEUMER: By the way what’s with that? I noticed that you have played an inordinate number of characters that are named Inga or Ingrid.

VICTORIA SILVSTEDT: I know. Have it written on my forehead. The only place in the world where I’m not looked at like that is in Italy. I’ve played more roles of depth. In Italy I’ve done three movies, the last two lead roles. One time I played Kim Novak in the movie in the fifties. That was amazing. I had to get into her character. I had to watch her old movies and I could do it in Italian.

CHRIS NEUMER: Are you fluent in Italian?

VICTORIA SILVSTEDT: Yeah, well I dubbed 3 movies in Italian. I studied the script so I knew it by heart. Yeah, I speak Italian. That’s the only place where I get a chance to prove myself. There I get a chance. The work I’ve done here in America is more the Inga role. I want to prove … this is what I did in Italy. I had two lead roles as this and this and this and I’m not Inga.

CHRIS NEUMER: What do you think the difference is between the Italian films and the American films? Is it just sort of within the culture itself or is it again the director?

VICTORIA SILVSTEDT: I think for comedy the Italians are a little more over the top.

CHRIS NEUMER: How so?

VICTORIA SILVSTEDT: Things are a little more bigger and they are such a different type of people. With the Italians everything is big. Mama Mia. They just love anything beautiful. Like here if you are beautiful in LA, it is almost harder. There they don’t judge you just by your looks.

CHRIS NEUMER: They don’t?

VICTORIA SILVSTEDT: They do not judge as much for your looks. I mean they give you a chance. They feel if you are only beautiful you have a chance to do more. I’ve gotten the chance to host a TV show there and to do 3 movies. For me it’s been really really good to act there. I just hope there would be more of that here.

CHRIS NEUMER: If I recall correctly, you just finished shooting over there.

VICTORIA SILVSTEDT: Yeah, I spent 3 months in Tuscany this summer. The movie just came out there on Halloween so I was there for some days promoting it. I was on billboards all over Italy and I was really promoting it. It opened up and it did really well the first couple of weeks. I don’t know where it is now, if it is still in the top or …

CHRIS NEUMER: What’s the title of that film?

VICTORIA SILVSTEDT: It’s called (something in Italian). It means My Life With Stars and Stripes, like the American flag with stars and stripes. I play an American mom. I have problems in my marriage and I go to Tuscany to visit some friends and I fall in love with a Tuscan farmer.

CHRIS NEUMER: It sounds a lot like Under the Tuscan Sun .

VICTORIA SILVSTEDT: Yeah, it’s so funny. I was watching that and I said, “Oh, my God. It’s like my movie.”

CHRIS NEUMER: Hopefully your movie was good though.

VICTORIA SILVSTEDT: Ahhh. It’s so funny. It’s cute funny. There are some cute, funny scenes in there.

CHRIS NEUMER: Well that certainly makes a difference. Do you get a chance to watch many films? I know that you travel all about all the time.

VICTORIA SILVSTEDT: I watch them on the airplane. Every film comes on the airplane.

CHRIS NEUMER: Well, that’s hardly the best place to watch them though. Are there any particular roles that you’ve seen in the last year that you look at and say, “God, I wish that I did that or could have had the opportunity to do that”? Airplane viewing or otherwise?

VICTORIA SILVSTEDT: I always wanted to be a Bond girl but that might be somewhat of a stretch. I love Gwyneth Paltrow and think she is amazing. She’s so naturally beautiful and I love what she’s been in and I think she’s a great example of a really good … she’s beautiful and blond, but she goes all the way. I look up to her.

CHRIS NEUMER: Do you look at any of her roles in particular and think that is something you would like to try or is it just sort of a career focus in general?

VICTORIA SILVSTEDT: No, it’s just her as a person, the way she looks and acts. She’s got brains and I just look up to her as a person and also as an actress. I’m not saying any particular role but I’m trying … I think she is amazing. I’ve seen a lot of her movies. I just saw that funny movie View from the Top. It’s strange to see her as a character like that because she always plays in Shakespeare and all those movies. In View from the Top she was so cute and funny.

CHRIS NEUMER: Straight out of the trailer.

VICTORIA SILVSTEDT: She can do it all, you know.

CHRIS NEUMER: Not in that movie. Moving on though… One other thing I was curious about. I know you got into modeling based on a skiing accident.

VICTORIA SILVSTEDT: Yeah, I had a skiing accident. God knows where I would be if I didn’t have the accident.

CHRIS NEUMER: What happened? I’ve done a little bit of skiing myself and I’m curious how you hurt yourself so badly in that skiing accident? What did you do?

VICTORIA SILVSTEDT: I was in a downhill race and going really fast. They have this big jump in every race and I didn’t go down early enough to cover myself. You know you have to go down really deep right before the jump.

CHRIS NEUMER: Like into a crouch?

VICTORIA SILVSTEDT: Yeah, go down fast enough so I came flying right up and rolling and boom, boom, boom and landed on my shoulder. My mom first off wouldn’t let me race anymore. I think I got a concussion. How do you say ‘concussion’?

CHRIS NEUMER: Uh, just like that. Concussion.

VICTORIA SILVSTEDT: I hurt my shoulder and then I kind of lost my appetite for racing. My mom wasn’t really keen on it. My dad was the guy who was pushing me. He was the captain of the local ski team. I think he wanted two boys and he got two girls.

CHRIS NEUMER: So he just sort of pretended you guys were boys?

VICTORIA SILVSTEDT: Exactly. And then finally when I was in senior high I wanted to try to find out what it’s like to be a lady.

CHRIS NEUMER: And that seems to have been treating you pretty well.

VICTORIA SILVSTEDT: Oh, yeah. I never planned to be in business, but I always knew I wouldn’t be skiing the rest of my life. And I knew I was going to get out of my village. That I knew.

CHRIS NEUMER: How big was the village? You keep saying small village. How many people?

VICTORIA SILVSTEDT: I was born in a little town very, very far up north, close to the Arctic Circle.

CHRIS NEUMER: So you would have to deal with the 24-hour sunlight at times?

VICTORIA SILVSTEDT: Yeah, it was very depressing in the winter. I don’t know how I survived in the wintertime. There was no sunlight. That’s why I crave it so much now I think. Every time the sun is out I have to run outside.

CHRIS NEUMER: That seems like it would make some sense.

VICTORIA SILVSTEDT: It was very small. We had one local store and a few local pizzerias and a discotheque, a nightclub. That’s about it.

CHRIS NEUMER: Wow. Do you have any number like 1,000 people, 2,000 people?

VICTORIA SILVSTEDT: No, no, more. It was still a little town about 10,000 people. I call it a small village because 10,000 people are spread out around the town. It’s not that big.

CHRIS NEUMER: No, and especially is you are in LA. 10,000 people … Come on, you’ve cut off that many people while you’ve been driving. Is there anything else. I certainly don’t have any other questions.

VICTORIA SILVSTEDT: No. We’ve covered most of it.

CHRIS NEUMER: Anything interesting I should know about your approach to acting, anything like that?

VICTORIA SILVSTEDT: I have an upcoming project in England. It looks like I’m going to be doing the TV show called Denial that is kind of a Sex in the City copy. We’re going to start somewhere around February or March of next year so I have that to look forward to. Once again, I’m going to play the hot model who comes to London. I’m going to be a model in the business. It’s a bigger role but I’m not going to be named Inga though. So that’s a good thing, that’s a stretch.

CHRIS NEUMER: Well, let’s not call it a stretch, but it’s definitely a step in the right direction. I just thought of one last question for you. You mentioned Italy and I was thinking of Monica Bellucci who is Italian and she was a model. She has been doing outstanding work in terms of acting and projects, not necessarily American projects, but she has done a lot of French and Spanish things and has been garnering rave reviews. Is that type of thing where you would stay out of the limelight in America, but continue to work in Italian, English, French productions anything that appeals to you?

VICTORIA SILVSTEDT: I speak French so I would love to do that.

CHRIS NEUMER: How many languages do you speak? I’m assuming you speak Swedish.

VICTORIA SILVSTEDT: Yes, French, Italian and a little bit of English. That’s only four.

CHRIS NEUMER: That’s only four. Okay.

VICTORIA SILVSTEDT: When you grow up in Sweden, you have to have a second language no matter what. Two is a given. I think it is amazing what she is doing. If I could do what she is doing, a lot of European productions, I don’t mind. I don’t feel like I have to have a break it in America to be satisfied. I’m not desperate for that.

CHRIS NEUMER: What would satisfy you? What a situation that’s ideal for you? Is it just now, today Friday? Is this ideal for you or is there something more that you are striving for?

VICTORIA SILVSTEDT: I’m striving to prove to myself that I can do other more challenging roles. I want to do a role here where I’m not Inga. I want to do a French movie, maybe more movies in Italy. It’s such a great feeling when you complete a movie. You’re like “Wow, I actually did it.” I just want to keep on working more whether it’s here or Italy or France or whatever. We’ll see what happens. I kind of take day by day as it comes. I have dreams and goals but you just kind of go out and make the best of it.

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