Rachael Leigh Cook and Daniel Gillies are coparenting goals. More than a year after finalizing their divorce, Cook, 43, says that the two are “happily divorced” as they raise their daughter Charlotte, 9, and son Theodore, 7.
In her new film, Spirit Halloween: The Movie, Cook’s character Sue is remarried, which doesn’t sit well with her son Jake, played by Donovan Colan. The actress could relate to the dynamic having split from Gillies, 46, in 2019.
“We still share Halloween. We go out walking around together and my kids like my boyfriend [Kevin Mann] a lot and we’re slowly just navigating what that looks like and it’s tough. It’s tough and it’s certainly relatable to so many families out there,” she exclusively told Us Weekly while promoting the movie. “So I hope that this is a nice touchpoint for kids who have a new step-sibling. Maybe take a little bit of a cue from that.”
Cook and the Vampire Diaries alum announced their split after nearly 15 years of marriage. They share joint physical and legal custody of their two children.
“The past is the past. The past literally has zero relevance to every single day forward,” she added to Us, explaining what advice she’d give others who are in the same situation. “That’s the thing. We did a little bit of therapy to navigate our separation actually. And that’s the No. 1 thing that’s different from couple’s therapy when you’re going through separation. Divorce therapy is — you don’t get to bring up anything that didn’t happen incredibly recently unless it’s relevant to the days in the future. That’s the best piece of advice I got and would give.”
As the family gears up to go trick-or-treating together, it’s unlikely they will do themed costumes.
“They think that my costume ideas are terrible. They never want to be anything I suggest,” Cook said, laughing. “I think that’s just sort of a rite of passage when you’re a kid. My daughter wants to be something this year that involves a lot of fake weapons that are not gonna fly at her school, I think maybe, or even around the neighborhood. And she’s a very mild-mannered child, so I’m super confused. I was like, ‘We could make them on a cardboard, wouldn’t that be fun?’ And she’s like, ‘Absolutely not.’ I don’t know what’s going on there, but we’re gonna figure it out. It’s gonna be great.”
She has earned some bonus points with them by starring in her latest project, however.
“I am a huge fan of Halloween because it’s a no gift giving. No thank you. Don’t wanna do it,” she mused. “I have so many fun Halloween memories and I hate myself a tiny bit every Halloween that I walk my kids into Spirit Halloween and let them pick a costume. But thank goodness for Spirit Halloween, it’s, like, saving my life over here. So when I heard that they were making a movie — Spirit Halloween is kind of its own holiday. When you start seeing stores pop up, you’re like, ‘Oh my gosh, I think it’s Halloween time.’ So when I heard that they were making a movie and I happened to tell my kids that I was reading the script for it, they were like, ‘Well, you have to be in a good movie. Like, that has to happen for you sometime soon. Right? Like, you gotta do this.’ And I was like, ‘You guys.’”
She added: “I feel like every actor around my age, let’s just leave it at that, does these interviews saying, ‘I made this one for my kids.’ I’ve just heard that so many times. But I am that person now who’s like, ‘Yeah, this one’s for the kids.’”
The Love, Guaranteed star recently let her daughter watch her 1999 hit She’s All That for the first time, and brought her to the premiere of its sequel, He’s All That, last year.
“But other than that they haven’t seen that many things that I’ve done. I think they like me in the role of mom,” she gushed to Us. “I think that they are the toughest audience out there. Cause they’re like, ‘No, no, that’s just you with somebody else calling you a different name. I don’t know what to tell you mom, sorry.’”
Unfazed by their famous mom’s success, Cook doesn’t foresee her kids following in her and Gillies’ footsteps either — at least not yet.
“My daughter does not have interest in it — of late or yet, I wouldn’t say. She told me one time that she went to school and that she was bored because they keep making her read quote, ‘All these stories about things that didn’t even happen.’ So I don’t know if playing make believe is for her, which is amazing,” she recalled. “And my son I think is a little bit, my little sweetie, I think he’s a little introverted for that for now. He’s very like one on one, very social and fun. But yeah, if you sort of said like, ‘Go out there and jazz hands a little bit,’ I’m not sure how he’d feel about it.”
Spirit Halloween: The Movie is now streaming on VOD.