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Gillette taps ‘New Girl’s’ Simone and others to survey the manscape

From left, Hannah Simone, Kate Upton and Genesis Rodriguez in Gillette's new "What Women Want" campaign, which will culminate in a live interactive webcast on April 18.
(Gillette)

Hannah Simone, the stunning British-Canadian-Cypriot actress who plays Zooey Deschanel’s model-BFF Cece on the Fox sitcom “New Girl,” is ready to sit down and tell the grooming-age male population of planet Earth exactly what she likes -- and doesn’t like -- when it comes to the manscape landscape. Oh, and she’s not alone.

Next week, Simone, alongside cover model of the moment Kate Upton and actress Genesis Rodriguez (Will Ferrell’s love interest in the 2012 movie “Casa de Mi Padre”) will decamp to a secret poolside location in Los Angeles to participate in a live-streaming, interactive webcast during which they will be fielding questions and dispensing advice on the tough (and occasionally scratchy) topic of men’s body hair grooming and styling.

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It’s an inspired bit of promotion for Gillette’s Fusion ProGlide Styler (a combination razor and body grooming tool launched in February 2012) , and it marks the first time the grooming products giant has tapped a woman -- not to mention three at once -- to pitch one of its men’s products.

In advance of the April 18 event, All the Rage had a chance to sit down with Simone and chat about her peripatetic upbringing, her love of fashion and what she prefers (grooming and otherwise) in a man.

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It was also a chance to see how the actress might handle the handful of silly questions that quite possibly will come her way.

All the Rage: Before we get to next week’s event, let’s go through your growing-up years -- you moved around a lot, didn’t you?

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Hannah Simone: I was born in London, lived in Canada -- but left when I was 6. We moved to Saudi Arabia, [then] Cyprus, [then] India then back to Canada. We were a nomadic family … we probably would have stayed in Saudi Arabia longer but then the war broke out -- nothing moves you faster than a war.

ATR: Last time we crossed paths, at GQ’s Men of the Year party, you were wearing a sparkly Talbot Runhof dress. And in a recent Los Angeles magazine fashion spread you were wearing another dress from the same label. Do you have favorite designers?

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HS: Oh, I loved that dress! I just did a photo shoot for “Glow” magazine in a gorgeous, green Lanvin dress and it was stunning and it just fit my body and I really loved it. I’m wearing a Peter Pilotto dress tonight to the British Fashion Council event, which is really exciting. I love him and I’ve worn him before.

I tend to be pretty loyal -- I’ve worn Mary Katrantzou a couple of times. I wore Romona Keveza for my first Golden Globes when we got nominated. For me fashion can be my connection to home -- and my home is a lot of places -- but I feel proud. I like being able to represent the cultures that I’m from; I’m English, I’m Greek, I’ve worn Naeem Khan several times -- an Indian designer. It connects me back.

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ATR: So can you describe this upcoming event in a little more detail? All I know right now is that it is taking place at a “secret poolside location.”

HS: So it’s going to be a live, interactive chat with men from all over the world. We’ll be on Gillette’s Youtube channel and everybody and anybody can [go there] and ask questions. It’s like we’re your friends and we’re going to help guide you with whatever questions and concerns you might have.

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ATR: Have you done a test run-through to see how it’s going to work? Or answered some sample questions to get the feel of it?

HS: No -- it’s going to be a completely live, off-the-cuff, anything-goes kind of event.

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ATR: Gillette hasn’t prepared you with any answers, or even any questions?

HS: No, nothing.

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ATR: I’ve taken the liberty of compiling a couple of curveball questions to see how you’ll do under pressure.

HS: So maybe this is the prep then?

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ATR: Imagine waking up in bed next to a sleeping man with an exceedingly hairy back. You have a Gillette Fusion Proglide Styler in your hand. What do you manscape into his back for him to remember you by?

HS: [Laughing] Well, if I’m waking up next to somebody, that probably means he’s mine and he belongs to me … I’d probably put my to-do list in for the day so I don’t forget anything. … [my] “New Girl” schedule: “Go to Fox lot …”

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ATR: What is the one grooming or cosmetics item you always have with you?

HS: Because I grew up -- for a lot of my important years -- in Cyprus on the beach, I have to be honest with you, I always have a razor -- I like my legs smooth.

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ATR: One of the trendy male grooming products right now is something called beard oil -- it’s a product formulated to soften and scent a man’s facial hair. If you could create the perfect beard oil, what would it smell like?

HS: Jasmine. I don’t know if that’s necessarily the most manly thing -- or if I’d even want it on a man -- but it’s a smell I really like. I love the smell of jasmine.

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ATR: How has all the globe-trotting in your growing-up years shaped your perception of facial hair? Do you have a favorite style?

HS: The good thing about growing up all over the world is that I’ve gotten to see [men’s grooming] across different cultures -- how men use it as a way to express their personality and their style. Which is why I think it’s cool that Gillette has created a tool for it. The men in the Pacific Northwest are different from the guys in Toronto who are different from the guys in Cyprus who are different from the guy in London. They’re all completely different but it’s still as important as the jeans you’re wearing or the jacket you put on.

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ATR: What does a guy’s grooming regimen say about him?

HS: It tells you if he’s someone who takes care of himself.

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ATR: Do you have an absolute deal-breaker?

HS: The only thing that would be a real turnoff and a deal-breaker is people who are rude to others -- like when you go to a restaurant and they’re rude to a waiter. That does not fly with me -- I’ll just turn around and walk out.

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ATR: What’s the most gentlemanly thing a guy can do?

HS: Go back to every cliché that your grandmother told you: hold open the door, say “please” and “thank you,” all those things matter. I think people think that’s old hat but it’s really sweet and we [women] appreciate it.

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ATR: One last question: Name one Hollywood man -- past or present -- who is the epitome of the perfectly groomed man.

HS: James Dean. You know he cared, but it just looked so … effortless.

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“What Women Want,” featuring Kate Upton, Genesis Rodriguez and Hannah Simone, April 18, at noon PDT via youtube.com/gillette.

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