By Jane Gordon
Jennifer Love Hewitt on dating her co-star: 'The idea of two actors in a relationship can be explosive and scary'
Not many people are happy to take their work home. But Jennifer Love Hewitt, who plays a clairvoyant in TV's Ghost Whisperer, loves unwinding in the evenings with her co-star and real-life boyfriend Jamie Kennedy - a man who understands her passion for heels.
There are quite a few - oddly connected - reasons why Jennifer Love Hewitt is walking tall these days. For a start there are her shoes.
Today she is wearing a pair of slightly scary Louboutins that push her tiny 5ft 21/2 in frame to a disproportionately lofty height.
They were a gift, she says with a sheepish smile, from her boyfriend Jamie Kennedy who is one of the other reasons why she is feeling so, well, elevated right now.
The 30-year-old actress and the 39-year-old comedian and actor met on the hit US TV series Ghost Whisperer, which has given as big a boost to Jennifer's career as those shoes do to her stature.
'Jamie is a good man with shoes; he will buy you any shoe you want because he loves them. He knows a way to a girl's heart,' she says as she sits down to talk about shoes, the show and (the topic she finds most irresistible) her relationship with her co-star.
In more ways than one, then, Ghost Whisperer - now in its fifth season in the US - has turned Jennifer's life around. At the time that the drama premiered - in 2005 - Jennifer's promising early career was on the wane.
Born in Texas to Patricia, a speech therapist, and Herbert, a medical technician, the young Jennifer (Love is her middle name) was a natural performer.
After she won the Texas Our Little Miss Talent competition the family - Jennifer, her by now divorced mother and her elder brother Todd - moved to Los Angeles, where Jennifer got her first break, aged ten, presenting on the Disney channel.
Teen roles in several TV series and a spin-off music career eventually led to a starring role - at just 18 - in the hugely successful film I Know What You Did Last Summer
'Now the papers are saying I'm too thin. They are never happy'
Parts in the sequel and in Heartbreakers alongside Sigourney Weaver followed, but by 2005 the one-time holder of Maxim's 'Sexiest Woman in the World' title had slipped to number 29 in the rankings and her most successful roles were as voice-overs in cartoons such as Garfield and The Hunchback of Notre Dame II.
Taking on the role of Melinda Gordon - the central character in Ghost Whisperer, who is able to see and communicate with the dead - has turned out to be the best career move Jennifer has made.
As producer and occasional director of the show, she has gained confidence and earned a degree of respect in a difficult industry. 'I was brought in as an actor first and towards the end of the pilot I was made a producer.
'It's exciting as a 30-year-old female in the entertainment industry to have people offering you a producing role. One of the advantages is that it gives me the chance to be a sort of angel over my character's integrity.
'It's a gift to be able to have control over what your character does and doesn't do,' she says.
Jennifer with boyfriend Jamie Kennedy, in Ghost Whisperer
The arrival of Jamie's character Eli James (a psychiatrist who shares Melinda's gift of seeing ghosts) in series four has given Jennifer another reason to be grateful to Ghost Whisperer, although she insists that she had no influence over his casting.
'I was excited when I heard that he was going to be on the show and I thought he was really talented. We had met, actually, when I was 18 and I thought he was cute, but we didn't see each other again until the show.
'The idea of two actors in a relationship can be explosive and scary, but the good thing is that he is also a writer, a comedian and an entrepreneur.
'One of the great things about working together is that in the evening we don't have to have an hour-long conversation about how our day went; we know,' she says, unconsciously fiddling with the Cartier love bracelet on her wrist (another present from Jamie).
It's difficult to work out the exact chronology of their relationship because until January 2009 the actress was engaged to Scots actor Ross McCall.
Two months later, after rumours of on-set chemistry, Jamie admitted in a radio interview that he was seeing his co-star, claiming that she was his perfect woman. 'You are hot. You can sing, you can dance, you're, like, so smart and, wow, you can cook pasta fagioli, too,' he said.
Jennifer and Jamie at a premiere in Los Angeles last November
Three months after that, when Jennifer was asked about rumours of an engagement, she seemed to be issuing an ultimatum when she said, 'If by this time next year we're not planning something, then there's a situation.'
Then in July, during one of his live comedy performances, Jamie spontaneously proposed, and she accepted - although their publicists deny a formal engagement.
Has she, I ask, put pressure on him for a ring? 'The engagement thing was blown out of all proportion. When I made that comment about there being a "situation" I wasn't really giving him a time clock. If it's going to happen it will happen, but right now we are not rushing anything. We are both just really happy,' she says.
There is no doubt that the relationship has given Jennifer a new physical confidence. Four years ago unflattering pictures taken on a beach propelled her into the celebrity size debate. The mere mention of this issue infuriates her.
Not, she insists, because of any worries she has about her weight but because of the effect such stories have on the young girls who read the celebrity magazines that labelled her 'fat' (she has never been more than an American size two, UK size six).
'One of the magazines admitted that it had added extra weight to the pictures, and it concerns me that young girls reading those stories don't know that. All they know is that they are sitting at home, maybe four or five sizes bigger than me, and their role model is called a "big house" - what does that do to them?
Young girls don't know what has been airbrushed and what hasn't and I think it's very irresponsible,' she says with evident emotion, and continues, 'I think we are feeding eating disorders; we are promoting sickness to girls using celebrity role models.
'Not just me - they have done it to Jessica Simpson and other young female celebrities. Every time you turn around a different girl is "fat" in the eyes of the media. And it's not fair and it's not true and it's not smart because we are not fat.'
Jennifer insists that the 'weight police' have not pushed her into excessive dieting or a punishing work-out regime. One of the most frustrating things about the media obsession with weight, she says, is that it is impossible for a celebrity to win.
'Now the papers are saying I am too thin. They are never happy. I eat normally and I do have a work-out programme but I do it because it makes me happy and because people in my family have had heart disease and I don't want to die early. I am doing it for me not the media,' she says.
Filming Ghost Whisperer involves long hours and gives her little time for taking on other roles (in the break between seasons this year she made an as-yet-unreleased movie with Jamie called Cafe
But at the end of season four Jennifer's character Melinda was about to give birth - might life imitate art for the actress?
'I would love to have kids, but I have no idea when. I used to try and work it all out and then I realised that life is so much better when you don't plan it. I know that I will have children one day.
'But first things first,' she says with a grin as she grabs her Chanel bowling bag (another Jamie present) and rushes off to meet her boyfriend. As she reaches the door she pauses for a second and adds: 'I am just really happy in the here and now.'
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