Lauren Hutton: ‘I haven’t slept in 10 years’


The ‘60s and ‘70s were Lauren Hutton’s heyday as the fresh American face of fashion. In the new film “The Joneses” -- her first movie in 20 years -- hers is the predatory face of big corporations. Opposite co-stars Demi Moore and David Duchovny, Hutton, 66, plays the big cheese of a stealth marketing company, who dispatches faux families to live in huge houses where they hawk clients’ products by showing off their pricey lifestyle. The luxury marketplace is an arena Hutton knows well as a former magazine cover girl and a businesswoman with her own eponymous cosmetics line.

Why did you want to do the film?

I thought it was an extraordinary script, and a great idea, this stealth marketing. My character had worked with Demi when Demi was an 18-year-old, having her sitting on bar stools at expensive bars and ordering certain champagnes and certain cigarettes. And now she has little pods of these families all over the country, and she’s got them in rented houses for a year at a whack to heist all the neighbors. And I thought that capitalism could be as vicious as anything they ever came up with in the U.S.S.R.

And certainly to some degree, we do seem to be involved in that, don’t we? All these people who do double jobs of acting were on red carpets wearing diamonds and $20,000 dresses, and that’s a full-time job. I never did that.

In various ways, your career has been about marketing as a model and as a businesswoman. Has your approach to marketing evolved over the years?

It evolved in the beginning. I’m the only model I know of who refused to do cigarettes, even though I was a user. Virginia Slims wanted me to be their first model because I was a big deal, and I refused to do it.

How come?

I’m a user, but I’m not a pusher. Those are two different things. And it was very easy to see that this was aimed at young girls. I might as well be a kingpin in Mexico. The biggest drug- lords in the world were the tobacco people.

One of the scariest things was the first Vogue collection I had. This was the mid- to late ‘60s, and I got to go to Paris for the first time with [photographer Irving] Penn to do the collections for Vogue. They asked me to do a leopard-skin coat. And I remember my heart going up and down to my feet, and I realized I couldn’t possibly put that on. Even if I hadn’t already been to Africa two times I knew what a leopard was and how rare they were. I said to [editor] Polly [Mellen], “I can’t do this.” And she sort of puffed up.

First Polly told Penn. And I’m cowering back there. Actually I was starting to get some of my stuff together, because I figured I was going to be on my way back to New York. Because you don’t say no to them, especially when it’s your first collection and you’re a little beginning model. And Penn said, “That makes sense. I won’t shoot no matter who you put it on.”

So anything I wouldn’t do myself or use myself as a model, even when I was a little young model, I wouldn’t do.

The only thing I’ve done that I wasn’t proud of doing was Slim Fast. But I did lose 10 pounds with it. I had gotten up to 140, which is huge for someone who spent all their life at 116. But you can only do it as a crash diet.

At any rate, it’s definitely out of hand. I often think it’s like open season on the American public at all times. Shoot the U.S. consumer any way you can. . . . I think the world’s on fire. I haven’t slept in 10 years.

I wanted to ask you about posing for Big. How did that come about?

You mean why did I do nudes? I had never really done it. All your career you get asked by Playboy and by this and that, so I never did any of that stuff. I had young sisters, and I didn’t think it was good for them in school to have a nude sister. I didn’t want people looking at me going down the street and making me more of a mark than I already was.

But then by the time I was 61, I thought it would be good then because I was in good shape, and I wanted to show them what a 61-year-old looked like. Without fake this and sucked out that. All you have to do is just take care of yourself.

What kind of response did you get?

My goddaughters liked it. I guess I got a good response. Big was a strange magazine. It must be sold in Europe. It only comes out four times a year, and the whole issue will be on one subject. Like Brancusi or San Francisco.

So you’re modeling for Ashley and Mary-Kate Olsen’s clothing line?

They were 21, and they were starting out this thing called the Row. And I saw the clothes, and they were wonderful, real simple, minimalist designs. And they asked me if I would do this look book. And I think at that time I was 63, and I thought, “That’s cool.” They wanted me to move around, and I said, “I don’t model anymore, and it’s an art. So you have to help me.” Ash had a place on the beach, so we did it at her place. And both of them would dance, we had this music piping out, and I was in this studio on the beach with good light. And they would dance on the deck, and I would do what they were doing. And it was good.