Beauty tells lies

David Hasselhoff's loss is Calgary's gain.

New resident Erika Eleniak, who shot to fame on the jigglefest known as Baywatch, doesn't sound like she's all that interested in heading back to the beach for any reunion flick. "I'm reserved about it," says the 32-year-old blond beauty from her spanking new Calgary digs. "It would depend on a lot of things. It's been hit-and-miss with what other cast members have signed on." Last reports had the buff lifeguards donning their red swimsuits one last time for something called Baywatch Blast on the Fox Network in February. "You probably know more about it than I do," Eleniak says.
Instead, she's busy making movies and promoting her latest, a locally shot thriller called White Lies, which has the distinction of being the film that introduced her to our fair city. And sort of like that Remington guy who liked his shaver so much he bought the company, Eleniak liked Calgary so much, she decided to move here from the smog of L.A. "I fell in love with (Calgary)," she says. "Plus you're close to everything. L.A. is only three hours away."

First blockbuster

White Lies, which stars Eleniak, model Monika Schnarre and Calgary's own Jann Arden, opens tomorrow. But that's not Eleniak's only upcoming release. In fact, her next already has a place in history. E.T: The Extra-Terrestrial, which featured Eleniak as the girl who smooches Elliot (Henry Thomas), is being re-released in March. Aside from the secrecy that surrounded the production, Eleniak says she best remembers director Steven Spielberg. "He was just very cool. I was incredibly nervous (about the kissing scene) and I remember him coming over to talk to me. It was just a little peck, but I was only 12 and Henry was 10."
She was all grown up, of course, by the time she landed the role of buxom lifeguard Shauni McClain. The success of the series -- as well as her stint as a Playboy Playmate -- launched her career. "Career-wise, it was huge for me, especially in the foreign markets. It was seen by the world." Which made getting more serious roles harder. "If you want to be taken seriously, you've got some proving to do ... But I have absolutely no complaints, because of what it's done for me (in foreign markets) and the people who I worked with were awesome."

'Great opportunities'

Nor does she regret posing nude for Playboy. "I was so young. You make the best choices you can. I had already been working for about eight years and it wasn't a career choice -- it was a personal choice." Would she recommend it to actresses now? "It depends on why you're doing it. If the sole purpose is nude photography, then that's the only arena to do it in, because it's classy and been around forever," she says. "But if a young girl wants to become Meryl Streep, I'd probably tell her to think twice about any choices she made. "I've made a lot of career choices with sexier types of roles, but by the grace of God, I've gotten great opportunities," says Eleniak, who also popped semi-nude out of a cake in the Steven Seagal shoot 'em up Under Seige.
Eleniak spoke to the Sun before heading back to Los Angeles, where she's filming another movie, The Betrayal, until the end of December. "It should be pretty fun. I get to play a mom for the first time," says the 32-year-old actress. She also expresses high hopes for The Opponent, also due next year, in which she plays a boxer. "To be honest with you, as far as physical endurance and strength, I have more now than when I was younger."
Eleniak -- whose father was Canadian and has recently secured her dual citizenship -- will be back in Calgary for Christmas, where she lives with her boyfriend, a key grip in the local industry. A self-proclaimed "mountain girl," she even seems undaunted by the very un-beachlike weather. "I'll be the only enthusiastic shoveller in the city."