Director Tells a Thing or Two About Diaz

In Things You Can Tell Just by Looking at Her, Charlie's Angels hottie Cameron Diaz plays against type as Carol, a frumpy blind woman who has trouble getting dates.

"She prepared [for the role by going to the] Braille Institute [and] walking around blindfolded," recalls director Rodrigo Garcia. "I remember she had to go to the bathroom. She kept her blindfold on and went there and peed and washed her hands. I can imagine what that was like for some other woman, to find Cameron Diaz blindfolded, peeing in the stall next to you!"

Her character is just one of the five San Fernando Valley women whose lives overlap in unexpected ways in the ensemble film. Glenn Close plays an emotionally frozen woman taking care of her invalid mother, while Calista Flockhart plays a spacey Tarot card reader and Holly Hunter an uptight businesswoman with an unwanted pregnancy.

Despite its A-list cast, Things never made it to the big screen. Instead, it's debuting this Sunday on Showtime, where it won't get lost in the cineplex shuffle.

First-time director Garcia tells Mr. Showbiz that he found being surrounded by the crème de la crème of Hollywood's female acting pool somewhat unsettling. "I was terrified!" he admits.

Garcia, who is the son of Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist Gabriel Garcia Marquez, has worked for 18 years as a cinematographer on such films as Four Rooms and Mi Vida Loca. The experience hasn't calmed his nerves much, though.

"I was certainly nervous about facing Glenn on the first day," says Garcia. "But apart from being very friendly and funny, she was good. I discovered that [with actresses of this caliber] there isn't so much of a need to direct that much."

In one of the film's other vignettes, Kathy Baker's character, a frustrated children's author, falls for an incredibly charming new neighbor named Albert (Danny Woodburn) — who just happens to be a dwarf.

As much as anything in the film, this segment perhaps best sums up the truth behind the film's title: "You never know about people's lives, " says Garcia. "What you can see doesn't help you to understand."

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