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As single thirtysomething Bella Bloom on CBS’s “The Ex List,” actress Elizabeth Reaser suffers through more bad dates than any girl deserves. On the other hand, she also gets more than her fair share of smooches with hunky co-stars. In the one-hour romantic comedy, premiering Friday, Reaser stars as a San Diego flower shop owner who, after being told by a psychic that she has already dated and dumped the man she’s destined to marry, tracks down her exes one by one. The catch? She only has a year to find him.
“I love how vulnerable and ridiculous Bella is,” says Reaser as she settles into a chair in the hair and makeup trailer at San Diego’s Stu Segall Studios, where the series shoots. “I can really relate to that. When you’re single and you’re dating, it’s embarrassing.”
This story first appeared in the October 2, 2008 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
When the actress saw the script, which is based on an Israeli series, she knew she wanted the part. “I waited for them to offer it to some movie stars, and when they turned it down they gave me a call,” says Reaser, who will be recognized by “Grey’s Anatomy” fans for her 17 episodes as the faceless “Jane Doe” who has a fling with Dr. Karev (Justin Chambers).
On “The Ex List,” Reaser, a Michigan native, has to juggle more than one love interest and more than one make-out scene. “I used to be so nervous and giggle with Justin,” says the Juilliard grad. “But now, I’m just like, ‘Who is it this week?’”
Though some conservatives might criticize her character’s freewheeling behavior, Reaser is staunchly behind Bella. “I love that [the show is] very unapologetic about looking for love because I feel like, as a single working woman, I’m not supposed to want to have a boyfriend or something,” she says. “I think there’s nothing wrong with wanting to have love in your life and a man.”
Along with all the men, the part of Bella brings with it a body-conscious wardrobe of bikinis and minidresses. “That stuff is so stressful as a grown woman,” says the size 2, 33-year-old. “I’m no spring chicken. There’s a lot of work involved with wearing a bikini at my age,” including surfing lessons, a vegan diet, Pilates and a skilled application of body makeup. “Now we don’t even have time for the spray tan so I just have to be really careful,” she says. “Although on Sunday I had cinnamon rolls, and then I had a burrito, and I was like, ‘You know what? I’ve gotta live!’ I should just find, like, a hot 18-year-old body double to do all my running down the beach and then I eat the burritos.”
Next up, Reaser stars in “Twilight,” December’s much-hyped vampire flick based on the book of the same name. This time she went through an opposite transformation — including pale skin, a honey-colored wig and contacts. Already, she’s getting attention from loyal readers of the cult novels. “I meet kids that know I’m playing Esme,” she says. “I’ve never really experienced that type of passion. I loved the books so I was excited, but I didn’t know the extent of the fan base.”
But before that film comes out, Reaser says she is adjusting to life as the star of her own television series. “I’m so busy, I’m really just trying not to freak out.”