Marisa Tomei on staying fit, her dream roles and avant-garde fashion

Anthea Simms

“When I was doing publicity for The Wrestler people were asking me what I do [to stay in shape]. It was kind of bothering me at the time because I wanted to talk about the movie and acting,” says Marisa Tomei on the phone from Los Angeles. Now, the 45 year-old Oscar winner is ready to dish on her fitness secrets, having recently released a new workout video called Core & Curves featuring celebrity trainer Key Son. We caught up with Tomei to discuss staying fit, her dream role and her love for avant-garde fashion.

Flare: Core & Curves focuses on strengthening the small muscles that lengthen the body and features 3 separate workouts—Best Legs Workout, Ten Moves in Ten and Body Definition with Toning Band. How often do you do this entire routine?

Marisa Tomei: “When I’m getting ready for something I do it five days a week. After I did the videos I was so burnt out that I didn’t do it for like 2 months though (laughs).”

F: You’ve played so many wonderful female leads including your Oscar winning performance in My Cousin Vinny. Two of your films—Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead and The Wrestler—have called for nude scenes. How challenging were these parts for you?

MT: It’s definitely difficult. It wasn’t something I was really seeking out (laughs). I was never really sure if I was doing the right thing, but both films turned out to be really well received.

F: Besides the red carpet, what motivates you to stay in shape?

MT: “I think about my grandmother and how healthy she was for as long as she lived. I’m basically trying to have a lot of energy and vitality to accomplish the things that I want to accomplish. I also want to keep things as simple as possible and not have them eat up a lot of time.”

F: You have several films in the works now—Cyrus, a comedy starring Jonah Hill, John C. Reilly and Catherine Keener; Salvation Boulevard—a dark comedy with Greg Kinnear, Jennifer Connelly and Pierce Brosnan; and a yet untitled project with Julianne Moore and Steve Carell. Who is left on your wish list to work with?

MT: “I would love to work with Sean Penn, Gena Rowlands again, and Jane Fonda. I never did [Fonda’s] workout tapes, but I remember my mom did. I admire her so much. She’s an incredible, incredible woman!”

F: At this point in your career, what are you striving for?

MT: “I would like to do some more period films and I would like to also do some strong romantic comedies and go back to where I started. I love The Lady Eve! I like the way Barbara Stanwyck was a tough broad with mush underneath who handled all of these men.”

F: You’re one of the few actors who has successfully maintained some privacy in your personal life.

MT: “I’m super private inside so I don’t really think I could handle it. I feel really lucky. I avoid doing the red carpet with dates, that’s always felt kind of awkward to me. Maybe that’s part of it.”

F: Do you enjoy the red carpet?

MT: “No, it’s just kind of part of it. But I do like dressing up. I like some more avant-garde designers like threeASFOUR and Haider Ackermann and a lot of vintage stuff. I always seem to revert back to vintage. I’ve always been someone who goes to flea markets and garage sales. It’s really fun.”

F: If you weren’t acting, what do you think you would be doing?

MT: “I co-directed a short film for the first time this year called Woineshet for a PBS series that will be on next year, based on the Nicholas Kristof book Half the Sky. It’s about women and girls around the world who have made huge differences in their countries and communities despite all odds.”

F: You have a Hula Hoop exercise video coming out later this year, which is also with GAIAM. Do you foresee doing any other videos?

MT: “[I don’t know], It was kind of grueling. I have some other teachers that I work with and I think it would be lovely to share their knowledge so we’ll see how it goes.”