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Rachael Leigh Cook Breaks Down the Difference Between Rom-Coms in 1999 and 2023: They Need to Be ‘Updated’ (Exclusive)

Still a rom-com queen! Rachael Leigh Cook made a name for herself in romantic comedies like She’s All That, so she knows a thing or two about the genre.

“It feels really humbling and really special,” the Josie and the Pussycats star, 43, exclusively told Us Weekly while promoting her upcoming Netflix film A Tourist’s Guide to Love. “I don’t know how it’s happened that I’ve been allowed to be in the game this long, but I just feel really grateful for it. That’s not a fun or funny or splashy answer, but it’s just the truth.”

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Since making her big screen debut in 1995, the Perception alum has racked up credits in Hallmark movies, crime dramas and more, but she still loves making films in the genre that made her famous. A lot has changed in 24 years, though, and Cook thinks the movies should change too. That’s one reason why she participated in He’s All That, the 2021 gender-swapped remake of her 1999 classic She’s All That.

Rachael Leigh Cook Breaks Down the Difference Between Rom Coms in 1999 and 2023: They Need to Be 'Updated'
Sasidis Sasisakulporn/Netflix

“I was thrilled to be part of remaking She’s All That because a lot of the messaging in terms of body-shaming … does show up in She’s All That,” she told Us. “And you know what? I didn’t write it. There were a lot of other good things in the movie, but some of the messaging really needed to be adjusted and updated. So, I like being part of remaking things for this generation, and I like being able to continue to tell stories so that I can continue to be more fun and yet responsible in how those stories are told.”

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Her newest rom-com isn’t a remake, but it does offer an updated perspective on how to cope with a split: the breakup trip. Cook plays Amanda, a travel industry pro who takes a trip to Vietnam after she’s unexpectedly dumped by her boyfriend. She soon meets an expat tour guide, Sinh (Scott Ly), who helps her rediscover the joy of living.

The Minnesota native hasn’t been on any such vacation in real life, but she hopes the movie inspires viewers to strike out on their own when they need a change.

“I’ve been on a trip after a breakup that was just mostly me going, ‘Guess I’m gonna order room service by myself now while I do my job. This is a terrible breakup trip,'” Cook joked. “I will say, we make it look pretty good. I hope that becomes a thing.”

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The Get Carter star was previously married to Daniel Gillies, whom she wed in 2004. The duo called it quits in 2019 and finalized their divorce in 2021. The former couple share daughter Charlotte, 9, and son Theodore, 8.

While the Criminal Minds alum couldn’t relate to Amanda’s picturesque quest for romance, there were certain other aspects of her character that reminded her of herself. “I related to her unconscious desire for change and her stifled thirst for adventure and also her ambitions for her career,” Cook explained. “We can all relate to that. I think we all just wish we had 36 hours in a day sometimes, you know?”

A Tourist’s Guide to Love premieres on Netflix Friday, April 21.

With reporting by Mandie DeCamp

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