casYou don’t think that you will go to the press junket for Warner Bros’ Dukes of Hazzard movie and stare evil in the face. I’m not talking about anyone involved in the production but rather a group of journalists that were so blackhearted Satan wouldn’t grant them an interview. These people come out of the woodwork when a junket features the kind of celebrity whose name and picture automatically sells magazines due to scandal, and this time it was Jessica Simpson, who plays Daisy Duke. I was lucky enough to not be at a roundtable with these vultures, but another web guy – whose identity I am protecting – was trapped with them. He was so disgusted by their rude and nasty questions to Simpson that he walked out and went home.

Apparently she took the Spanish Inquisition in stride. I have to say that I respect her for that. Jessica Simpson is one of those magical celebrities who are famous simply for being famous, like Paris Hilton, and there’s almost something admirable about the sheer will power it must take to become a star for no good reason at all.

That may change soon. Simpson, who most people know from her stunning stupidity on MTV’s Newlyweds, one of the finer reality shows, is the brightest spot in Dukes. As Daisy she’s sexy and funny and seems to be getting the tone better than the rest of the cast. In real life she’s very beautiful and rather personable. Anyone looking for a Yogi Berra-like malapropism in this interview will be disappointed.

Q: You looked like you had fun playing up the sex appeal of this character. Is there a line you won’t cross?

Simpson: Oh, there’s a lot of lines I won’t cross. I did have fun playing up the sex appeal of Daisy Duke because she’s a woman, she’s a smart woman and she definitely knows how to use her body!

casQ: Did you learn anything from her?

Simpson: I took a lot away from the set. I took a lot from Baton Rouge and just being in the Daisy Duke shorts.

Q: How would you say she’s smart?

Simpson: Um, she was the brains behind getting everybody out of trouble all the time. She would always undo everything that was all wound up.

Q: How many pairs of shorts did they have you put on before you found the right one?

Simpson: Over a 100. Yeah, and I did do a different butt pose for the whole thing. And do Polaroids. Like it had to hit every – it had to fit perfectly. The girls had to like it and the guys had to like it. And I had to like it, or else I wouldn’t have been able to walk with confidence, which would speak for itself …

Q: So how did you go from walking with confidence to washing the General Lee in a pink bikini?

Simpson: I look at the General Lee and the bikini and all that stuff, that was Daisy. I don’t – I mean that was definitely me playing the role. Me as Jessica Simpson, I could never do that. I couldn’t even walk on the beach in a bikini. I lay down under a blanket! I’m really shy, so … but I wanted to carry that over to the music video as well.

Q: What was it in your audition that impressed the directors?

Simpson: My first audition I was very shy. I was really shy. I didn’t nail my first audition. I had to come back. They wanted to screen-test me anyway because it was already in the press that I had the role! That put pressure on me already, it was something that I wanted really bad, but I should have ever said it to the press – I should never have said that I wanted the role. But actually, doing that, it – I told myself that you have to get this. When you walk in to do that screen-test, you have to walk in as Daisy Duke. So I went and worked one time with acting coach Larry Moss. He was basically saying, Just do what you’re doing. I was confident – y’know, he has trained a lot of amazing women like Hillary Swank for Million Dollar Baby. I was like, all right! I’m gonna go out there and do what I was doing. And just do what I would do.

Q: Why did you want the part so badly?

Simpson: I wanted to do a movie. It was the perfect time for me to do a movie and I thought playing up the whole southern sexy thing would be great. And to kind of show strength, because a lot of people haven’t really seen that from me. They see my ditzy side and my fun and dorky side and my obsession with clothes and all those things that are a part of me, but they haven’t seen a lot of strength as a woman, and I thought that Daisy Duke would be a great way to show it.

Q: What’s your relationship like with the press? On the one hand, you need the press for your career. On the other hand, it can be so invasive and so intrusive. How do you deal with it?cas

Simpson: I don’t even really know. I just do what I do and I go where people tell me to go and I just speak my heart, speak my mind, and I don’t even really think about it. I try not to. A lot of people are out to get you and bring you down, but I think that through it all, when you persevere through stuff like that, you really can’t complain about it. I can’t complain about people wanting to write about me. That would be stupid. I can complain about the actual article, the fact that I’m in the magazines and that there’s the paparazzi … it’s just a part of it.

Q: What’s the biggest misconception about the South that you’d like to correct for people?

Simpson: The biggest misconception about the South? Everybody thinks the South that everybody’s riding horses and wearing cowboy hats, y’know? I wanted to do Dukes of Hazzard because what I loved so much about the South is how tight the family bonds are. The families always have each other’s back and I also love – especially about Dukes of Hazzard, I love that everybody is so friendly, everybody knows each other, everybody roots each other on, but then you have like the Boss Hoggs. That’s very much like the South. It’s the story of the South. It’s the good cops and the bad – y’know, the bad – it’s definitely – I mean, maybe it’s because I grew up watching too much Dukes of Hazzard, but I also grew in small towns like McGregor, Texas, where my grandparents had a ranch and the whole thing.

Q: We’ve watched you grow up on camera. Are you comfortable with people knowing as much about you as they do?

Simpson: Me being open with my marriage and as an individual and letting people enter my privacy, that’s what made me succeed. That’s what put me here right now and I would – I absolutely do not regret that. But I do think that it’s time to make some things more private and sacred and you always feel like now that people are out to get something out of you. But I can’t look that way and the – what with the decisions that I make in my career from here on out are decisions that have been brewing for a very long time, but being open with my privacy is what – it made it all happen.

Q: What pitfalls do you want to avoid in your movie career?

Simpson: A bad script! [Laughs] And that’s another thing, that there’s a lot of movie projects that I’m looking but there’s this one movie called Major Movie Star that is with Billy Gerber, producer, and it’s a Goldie Hawn, Private Benjamin kind of role. My mentors are Goldie Hawn, Dolly Parton, – Dolly Parton is my absolute favorite because she’s an amazing woman, she’s an amazing blonde, great Southern lady, amazing songwriter/singer, all of it. She has her own theme park!  She has a legacy, and I hope to be doing the same thing as her.

Q: I’d like to know what’s on your iPod and your Tivo at the moment.

casSimpson: Tivo? Entourage and Desperate Housewives, we’re waiting for the next season – and Lost! But I don’t really have time – I don’t have time. But I do know how to work it. I know how to work the Tivo. That’s a step. My iPod … I have a lot of stuff on my iPod right now, because I just finished a record. My new record is going to be called And the Band Played On, and it’s an inspiration from everything – from Fleetwood Mac to Patsy Cline, Billie Holiday, Etta James … really, I can’t find music now that I really loved, so I went back to the music that I missed out on, and it’s called And the Band Played On because two generations have continue …

Q: What is your priority right now? Your movie career or your singing career?

Simpson: It’s all a priority. I’m trying to balance everything. I have a workout video that’s about to come out. I have a clothing line called Trendy, shoe line that’s about to come out. I’m a little busy. But I try to make everything a priority. I put my hands in everything, and I make sure nothing comes out that I don’t approve or am creatively involved in.

Q: I read that growing up in a strictly religious upbringing, that being on the set was actually quite liberating. What was the most profound experience for you?

Simpson: Y’know, it was really just the fact that I wasn’t with my family every day. My dad’s my manager, and my mom would always dress me. It’s a family business, but they didn’t come out on set like twice. SO I had those three months to – I was living with my – all my girls – my girlfriends – and just had fun. It was like Sex & the City, but without the sex! My husband was there for a month and a half. But it was like girls night out all the time. It was so fun, so fun. But that’s all I was talking about.

Q: Did Willie Nelson ever try to get you high?

Simpson: No, no, he didn’t, because he knows that I’m a singer and he knows that I don’t, because we spoke about it. I questioned him: I was like, how do you do that and not lose your voice? I can’t even be in a smoky bar and talk the next day.

Q: How does he keep his voice?

Simpson: I don’t know. He says that that cures his voice. [Laughs] No, I don’t know anything about – I don’t know.

Q: Are you back with your family?

Simpson: Well, my mom and I had a meeting on my clothing line last night, so I went to dinner with my mom last night. But we’re all over the place. My dad has so much going on that I don’t csaeven know how he gets to sleep at night.

Q: What made you want to get into the fitness industry and clothing?

Simpson: I’m passionate about clothing and I’ve always put together outfits. I like to make stories out of outfits. 

Q: And on the fitness side? Can you be a role model?

Simpson: Yeah, definitely, because I’m au naturel. I believe in really – I think that when you work – I’ve gained a lot of confidence in being Daisy Duke because I worked out so hard and I did it all on my own, so it gave me so much more confidence. So it just gives you so much confidence to say, Look what I did.

Q: What’s your dream project?

Simpson: I would love to do something like Nine to Five. I love Nine to Five. You can’t really get better.