Unless you live in Europe, where the censors are decidedly more open-minded, you'll probably never see the shot in Todd Solondz's Storytelling in which Selma Blair is bent over and violated against a wall. A few months ago, when the pervy director (Happiness) screened this delicate sequence for the Motion Picture Association of America, the ratings board insisted that he give the scene a little more of a Disney feeling. Solondz, in classic passive-aggressive fashion, put a big red square over the shot. Red square or not, Storytelling remains a Todd Solondz film, and Blair still appears full-frontal. Not to mention the line she's asked to scream repeatedly—a line, frankly, that we probably shouldn't print ("Fuck me, nigger"). "I don't think that scene is such a big deal," Blair says, from the Hollywood dog park where she's decided to spend a recent afternoon. She pauses to pet her one-eyed mutt, Wink. "I wonder if it will be."
In Storytelling, the 29-year-old actress plays a college student who, after having an affair with a cerebral-palsy afflictee, is eager to get it on with her African-American creative-writing professor, played by Robert Wisdom (Face/Off). "When we shot that scene," Blair says, "it was a really strange atmosphere. The apartment was really hot, Robert was sweating all over my back—it felt very real. But in a way, it was easy. I was naked, doing things that were horrifying, but I felt bold, like I had the permission to break taboos. It was refreshing."
Blair's speaking loud enough to be heard—regardless of topic—over the incessant yelping and woofing; she seems to enjoy it whenever a pack of canines crashes into her, scattering purses, leashes, and the usual bark-park flotsam and jetsam across the lawn. Fetching in short hair (cropped after Storytelling's pink dye nuked her chestnut locks), a jean jacket, and shell toes, she has an easy humor and blunt nature that suggest an actress who knows exactly where she stands; a kind of punk-rock princess, too girlie to be Natasha Lyonne, too savvy to be Sarah Michelle Gellar. Take, for instance, the 1999 teen romp Cruel Intentions, which found her swapping saliva with Buffy. Blair now regularly finds herself discussing the teenage-lesbian-fantasy smooch with legions of drooling fans. "There's a funny scene in Not Another Teen Movie that spoofs the kiss with this 70-year-old woman in my part," Blair says. "They even had the spit string like Sarah and I had. I thought it was pretty cool. I've become an in-joke." Blair's comic ease isn't lost on her colleagues. "Some actors can be a bit standoffish at first," says Jason Lee, who co-stars with Blair opposite Julia Stiles in this fall's A Guy Thing. "Not Selma. She'll say and do whatever she wants, regardless of who's in the room. It's admirable."