Cameron Diaz testified she wasn't ashamed of topless pictures taken early in her career by a photographer she said later threatened to sell them before the "Charlie's Angels" sequel premiered in order to portray her as a "bad angel."
Confronted with the 1992 photos of her in fishnet stockings, leather boots and, in at least one shot, holding a chain attached to a male model's neck, Diaz said Thursday she wasn't enthusiastic about releasing the pictures, although she did believe her bare breasts looked good in them.
"At least I have that going for me," she recalled thinking.
The talkative movie star giggled and smiled through more than three hours of Superior Court testimony in the criminal trial of the man who took the photos and 11 years later tried to sell them back to her for $3.5 million. But she became forceful and adamant when describing the signed model release form that photographer John Rutter said gave him ownership of the photos.
"I have never signed my name like that," said Diaz, whose screen credits include "The Mask," "There's Something About Mary," "Being John Malkovich" and the animated "Shrek" films. "It's not my C, it's not my A, it's not my Z, it's not my D."
Rutter, 42, is charged with attempted grand theft for the alleged blackmail scheme, forgery for the signature on the form and perjury for declaring in a separate civil case that the signature was authentic. If convicted, he could face up to six years in prison. An extortion charge has been dropped.
Diaz, wearing a brown V-neck top, gray pants and black high heels, laughed about her early modeling career, describing the May 1992 photo shoot in an abandoned warehouse as something where she went for a "big-haired kind of vixen" look in hopes of appearing in edgy European magazines. Photos from the shoot without her breasts exposed appeared in French and Greek magazines, and two shots were displayed for jurors Thursday.
She said she worried her boyfriend at the time wouldn't like her posing topless but added, "It was a professional shoot. It wasn't like in a back alley, 'Take your shirt off.'
"I was probably exploring the possibility of my body," she continued. "I wasn't ashamed to be out there like that."
The 32-year-old actress testified she didn't see Rutter again until he arranged a meeting in June 2003 on the week that "Charlie's Angels: Fully Loaded" was released. She said he told her prospective buyers were now willing to pay $5 million to use the photos and an accompanying video of the shoot in what would be a worldwide campaign that would include a 40-page magazine spread and ads on "buses, billboards, kiosks."
She said Rutter also told her the unidentified buyers were "going to use this against you."
"'They're going to put good angel, bad angel, and it's just not a really good thing for you, Cameron,"' she said he told her.
Diaz said she proposed a partnership in which she could control the release of a few photos and profits would go to Rutter and a charity. She testified that Rutter refused, saying he needed to be paid $3.5 million within two days or he would release the photos.
"I said, 'You're blackmailing me, John. This is extortion,"' she testified. "I had never felt so violated. ... It leaves a hole in my chest. I was sick to my stomach."
In a fast-moving cross examination before Diaz left the stand, Rutter's lawyer portrayed the Venice photographer's proposition as simply a "business opportunity" in which Rutter gave Diaz "right of first refusal."
Defense attorney Mark Werksman suggested Diaz was trying to unreasonably suppress photos she considered damaging even though she has often posed provocatively when it benefited her career.
Werksman pinned to a display board four Maxim magazine pictures showing the actress in a bikini with her "Charlie's Angels" co-stars.
"It was a sexy movie, right?" the attorney asked.
"Thank you, I guess," Diaz responded.
The actress is also suing Rutter, an action that is pending in civil court. Meanwhile, a judge has issued a permanent injunction prohibiting Rutter from distributing the photos.