Only hours after she got out of jail early Tuesday, the celebutante told People magazine's Jess Cagle she intends to keep on partying.
Cagle, the magazine's assistant managing editor and an Early Show contributor, says she seems to have gained new perspective and humility while behind bars.
Cagle's interview with Hilton "was the first time I met her, so I went into it with the same conception of her that everybody else has," Cagle told The Early Show co-anchor Julie Chen. "I came out thinking that she was more engaging and more interesting than I thought she would be to talk to.
"When you see her — her character on 'The Simple Life' is this bubblehead, you know, with this breathy little voice. When you talk to her, she's — she has a deeper voice. You actually have a conversation with her. She's not terribly introspective. But she's an interesting person. And much smarter than you think she is."
While serving what wound up being about three weeks in the slammer for violating the three-year probation she got after pleading no contest to alcohol-related reckless driving charges, Hilton released a statement saying the time there was changing her.
Jail was "very, very traumatic" for Hilton, Cagle says. "I think that it couldn't help but change someone. As far as I can tell, she's sincere when she says she really did become a much more spiritual person.
Photos: Paris Hilton Leaves Jail
"A lot of what happened in prison, or in jail, was that she spent a lot of time with a nun. She was in solitary confinement and did not talk to other inmates, really, except for the two women who were in a cell right next to her. They would kind of talk through the wall. But she spoke to this nun who really talked to her a lot about gratitude and, ultimately, she has this perspective that, 'You know what? This is 23 days in the clink in a life of insane privilege.' Everything from the wealth and the beauty to, 'When I get out of here, I'm going to be going home to a family who loves me.' And a job. And money. And 'A lot of the people who leave here will just end up back here. You know, they're gonna go out to a worse life.' "
2Cagle pointed out that Hilton said she "was shocked, somewhat, by the media attention. And she blames, maybe wrongly, some of people's perceptions on the media. But she definitely says, 'I have acted dumb, I have done this thing on "The Simple Life." ' And she does take some responsibility for letting that bleed over into what people think she's really like. She says, 'You know, I play a character on "The Simple Life." It is not who I am.' I think she's gonna be much more cognizant of that from now on."
But Cagle says Hilton told him she "will continue to go to nightclubs and she will party … which I think is healthy. … She's not saying, 'I will never do this again,' which we know would be crazy. Because she's a young woman, she's 26 years old. She's actually paid to go to parties.
"However, I think she is really tired of — first of all, she's maturing a little bit. But she's also tired of the airhead image that we know from 'The Simple Life.' She does realize that she has become a cartoon character to a lot of people."
Charity work is also in Hilton's future, she told Cagle.
"She says she's gonna try to do a lot," he says. "I talked to her 17 hours after she got out of jail. So, I don't think she's figured it all out. She has thought — she mentioned a few specific things, like she wants to maybe work on building a kind of halfway house or a program for women when they get out of jail, to help them get their lives back together. She gave that some thought. Multiple sclerosis, breast cancer — both of her grandmothers died of those diseases. She's interested in those."