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Amber Waves

"Judd Apatow is a teenage boy trapped in a grown producer's body," says up-and-comer Amber Heard, who appears in the director's film "Pineapple Express."

Some leading ladies find Judd Apatow’s immature humor slightly misogynistic — “Knocked Up” star Katherine Heigl called the film “a little sexist” in Vanity Fair. But Amber Heard, who appears in “Pineapple Express,” Apatow’s latest flick which opens Aug. 8, is more empathetic towards the director. Or at least not out to bite the hand that feeds her. “No one is more honest about the relationship straight boys have with one another,” says the 22-year-old. “Judd Apatow is a teenage boy trapped in a grown producer’s body.”

This story first appeared in the July 10, 2008 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

That much is apparent in “Pineapple Express,” a comedic caper in which the taste level is low and the characters are high (think “Cheech & Chong” meets “Mission Impossible”). Seth Rogen and James Franco star as the ne’er-do-well stoners who unwittingly witness a murder and promptly flee the scene. But when the duo realize they dropped a joint packed with an impossibly rare brand of pot (called, incidentally, “pineapple express”), they skip town, convinced the murderers will trace the weed to them and kill them next. Heard figures into the romp as Rogen’s love interest and foil, the neurotic Angie Anderson. “You meet Seth and Angie in the first scene and wonder, ‘In what world would these people be together?'” says the actress.

Offscreen, Heard is far more carefree. After being solicited by a model scout at 16, the Austin, Tex., native left her friends and family for the big city. “I had the option to stay in Texas and finish high school or go to New York,” recalls Heard. “Like any normal 16-year-old, it didn’t take me long to decide to go to New York.”

But after two years of “modeling and playing,” Heard was ready to pursue showbiz in earnest. She returned to Texas to finish high school. Almost immediately, she landed a small screen pilot called “Jack and Bobby” and a role on the prime-time football drama “Friday Night Lights.”

Those gigs gave her the courage to move to Los Angeles, where she booked forgettable teenage dramas and action flicks. When the script for “Pineapple Express” arrived, Heard says, “There was absolutely no way I was not going to do this project.” But she had to get the part first. During her audition in front of Rogen, Apatow and “Pineapple” director David Gordon Green, Heard was asked to improv her way through it. “It was the strangest thing I’ve ever done,” she says, still marveled that she made the cut. “Apparently I’m funny. I make people laugh a lot, but I’m definitely not in on the joke.”

 

This fall, Heard will show off her serious side opposite Billy Bob Thornton, Winona Ryder and Kim Basinger in “The Informers.” And next year, she will team up with “Gossip Girl” star Penn Badgley in “The Stepfather.”

“Once I’m done selling my soul to the silver screen I will go back to my craft on the stage,” she says facetiously. So for now she’s staying put in L.A. and working on losing her Texas twang. “I think it’s gotten worse in my old age,” Heard jokes. “It’s probably the heavy drinking.”