Molly Sims has been in a funny mood since leaving Las Vegas.
The Murray native spent five years on the NBC series, and since it ended in 2008, she has been in the Jim Carrey film Yes Man, played a key role in a hit Saturday Night Live Digital Short film and now stars in the new cheerleading comedy Fired Up!, which opens Friday.
“I really love it,” Sims says of comedy. “It's something that I figured out doing Vegas, it being more of a dramedy. I'm that girl who never took herself too seriously and I'm kind of clumsy, so yeah, I love comedy.”
That latest role takes Sims, 35, back to her own cheerleading days.
“My girlfriend Candy Outland whipped out a photo from 1990 and sent it to me last night from Murray cheerleading,” Sims says, “and our hair was un-freaking-believable. I cried laughing.
“Cheering is full-time in the South: bonfires, decorating lockers, painting windows, doing parades. It's competitive. It was fun.”
Fired Up! brought all that back — “the short shorts, the ribbons in the hair and the curls, … the back handsprings, throwing them up in the air” — although in the film, she plays the co-director at a cheerleading camp attended by two former football players and a whole lot of girls.
The guys figure out that they have a much better chance of getting girls at cheerleading camp than football camp, and a teen sex comedy ensues.
John Michael Higgins, of Kath & Kim, plays Sims' husband and co-camp director.
“He's one of the most talented comedic actors I know,” Sims says. “He was one of the reasons I signed on to the movie.”
This comes from an actress whose last role was as the woman who dumped Carrey in Yes Man.
“You really understand why he is paid $20 million, because he is so funny, and he will put in the work,” Sims says of Carrey. “He's a perfectionist.”
Film and TV acting is a relatively new undertaking for Sims, who first made a name for herself as a model. Besides appearing in ads for a slew of products and designers, including Chanel and Old Navy, Sims has appeared in the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue five times.
One of Sims' most popular recent appearances, though, has been in one of the more risque installments of Saturday Night Live's Digital Shorts film series.
“I have never been in anything that went viral like that,” Sims says of the video, which first aired on SNL on Dec. 6 and remains one of the show's most popular clips online. As of this week, it has been viewed more than 26 million times on YouTube and almost 1 million times on NBC.com.
In the skit, a spoof of a Pet Shop Boys-like music video, Sims plays a nightclub conquest who gets SNL comic Andy Samberg, um, prematurely excited. The title? J--- in My Pants.
“They sent me the music,” Sims says, “and you can imagine when I heard it, I was like, ‘Are you kidding me?' ... I thought, ‘How am I going to explain this to my agent?'”
Or her family and friends?
Sims says she was selective about whom she called and told to watch the video, but given its popularity, she says, “I'm going to be known as the girl from J--- in My Pants. It's going to be my Oscar-winning moment.”
Not having a TV series occupying her time gives Sims a lot more time to work in film, and to get back to Kentucky. She has become a regular at the Kentucky Derby and the Barnstable-Brown Derby Eve Gala, and she likes her mother's home cooking.
But these days, her favorite role is Aunt Molly, spoiling her new nephew.
She says, cheerfully, “His name is Merritt Alexander and he's 6 months and he weighs 19 pounds and he's fat and he's awesome, and I love him.”