Amanda Peet, actress, wife of screenwriter David Benioff and mom of two little girls ages 4 (Frances) and almost 1 (Molly), sat down at the Roosevelt Hotel in Hollywood last week to talk about motherhood and megawatt smiles.
As the new spokesperson for Crest 3D White 2 Hour Express Whitestrips, she offered tips for a healthy smile, as well as what she and her older daughter do to make brushing more fun. (Princesses and bulldogs, but more on that later.)
While I wasn't able to make it to the Roosevelt -- Ian and I were slaving over taxes in the Valley -- I did get the chance to speak with Peet over the phone. We talked about everything from our kids to her upcoming movie with director Terrence Malick to whipping out the breast pump in an airplane bathroom. And as many of you moms know, that last one is far from easy.
Here's the Q&A:
L.A. Story: How you balance motherhood with your acting career?
Amanda Peet: I don’t know that I have any wisdom to impart. I guess we think it’s an improvisation.
I got some really good advice once from my brother-in-law, who’s a pediatrician. When we were talking about my kids’ eating habits, he said something that a lot of pediatricians say, which is, 'Don’t tally up one day of eating. You take the tally at the end of the week.' So if one day they had macaroni followed by pizza followed by cookies, it’s OK as long as the week was good -- the week balanced out one bad day.
So I try to think about parenting that way, too. If there’s a time when I’m really busy and I’m working a lot, I try to make up for it later by having some really relaxing down time with my girls. There’s no magic recipe. I don’t know that there’s any way to not be tortured.
L.A. Story: How did you get involved with Crest?
Amanda Peet: They approached me, and I was shocked and honored, and I definitely think, especially for people like us, who are constantly multitasking, it’s really great to have a beauty product that works really quickly and looks really natural.
I like the idea that I don’t have to wear any makeup, and my husband will still say, 'Wait, what did you do? You did something.'L.A. Story: Keeping with the Crest theme, is it a struggle to get your older daughter to brush her teeth, or does she have fun with it?
Amanda Peet: We've had some struggles, but she’s on the easier end of that. We do use the little children’s/toddler electric toothbrushes, and so she gets really into which toothbrush she uses. And she acts them out. She has two princesses, and so we do a routine where one of them gets picked that night and the other one’s really upset, and then we discovered that she, Frankie, knows how to make the face of a bulldog where she sticks out her lower teeth, and so we do bulldog for her lower teeth. So I’ll say, 'Now, bulldog,' and she sticks out her lower teeth. We say 'upstairs and downstairs' for the upper teeth and the lower teeth. She just kind of got into it. I guess making things into little, tiny, fun tasks is the key to getting it done.
L.A. Story: I think I’ll have to try bulldog with my daughter.
Amanda Peet: She holds that look for like three seconds, so I always have to get in there really, really quickly.
L.A. Story: How do you plan on keeping your girls grounded in Hollywood?
Amanda Peet: I think about that a lot, and I don’t think it matters that much yet, but I know that it will. I don’t have any answers. I’m sure I’m going to improvise my way through that too, but I feel like my parents were really vigilant about our school work and our work ethics and also our athletic dedication, so I think that there was never really an emphasis on eating and food and looks and clothing. All that stuff didn’t hold a lot of currency in our household. We had dinner together and we had reading lists for the summer, and my mom dragged us to every museum and every play and every opera.
L.A. Story: You recently finished filming a new movie directed by Terrence Malick in Oklahoma, where I'm from. How did you like that experience?
Amanda Peet: I wasn’t there for very long, and we worked really long hours, so I didn’t really get a huge taste of it, but it was really beautiful. There was one area where we shot that was really beautiful. I had a really great time.
[Malick] couldn’t have been lovelier. He has a very, very particular way of shooting. He calls things out to you while you’re shooting, and it’s very, very different than other work that I’ve done. It was really special and really unique and really, really surprising. It was like the opposite of boring.
You just go to work, and they do a master shot and then a medium and then a close-up and then a close-up, and he’s nothing like that. He’s like a jazz musician. There’s a lot of variety, and he doesn’t do the same thing twice.
L.A. Story: Does he improvise, or does he have everything planned out?
Amanda Peet: He improvises and he lets you riff, and then he’ll shout something out to you that he wants you to say in the middle of the scene. It’s a very mysterious and wonderful, magical process.
L.A. Story: Did you take your family with you?
Amanda Peet: I did not, because I wasn’t going to be there long.
I took my pump with me. In fact, I know a funny story. I got on the plane, and they were like, 'Your bag is too big for the plane to carry on.' And I said, 'Listen, lady.' I was in a really cranky mood, and I was like, 'My pump is in here, and I need to get my pump out before I give you my bag to put under the plane because I’m breastfeeding.' And I was all self-righteous about it, and then I looked in my bag and I had forgotten my pump.
So, the producer of the movie went to a special store in the middle of Oklahoma and got me a special hand pump, which I wasn’t used to using. So disaster averted, thanks to those really awesome producers who were asked to do something way beyond the call of duty.
L.A. Story: I used an electric pump. I can’t imagine how hard a hand pump must be.
Amanda Peet: It’s really weird, because I’m that person who was used to the electric one too, and then the one that I bought that was a hand pump was a little bit like a bicycle pump that you pump up your tire with, your bicycle tire. So when Molly was a little baby, I used that one, and it was just comical. I was going into the bathroom in the airplane, and my elbow was bumping against the door, and they probably thought it was this crazy sex toy.
But weirdly, the one that the producers got me in Oklahoma was unbelievably awesome. I just had to squeeze my hand on this lever, and it just did all work for me. And I recommend it to everybody, and I gave it to my friend, and it's the best pump ever.
L.A. Story: What kind was it?
Amanda Peet: It was one of the Medela ones, but it just was different from the crazy bicycle pump one that I had that was two feet long. It's so hard going from your seat on the airplane to the bathroom on the airplane. I could barely hide it, and then if I hid it, it looked like I was hiding a machine gun. It just was not good.
Thank goodness, she said, that she's no longer breastfeeding.