Did you have fun at your Maxim shoot?
Are you kidding? So much fun! There was a smart-and-sexy schoolgirl theme going on, so it was awesome playing dress-up.
How did you go from child actress to math goddess?
When I got to college, I was intending to study film. But I found that my brain was feeling mushy, so I took a few math classes. I started doing really well at them, and solving equations was this, like, drug rush.
A drug rush from math?
It’s true! Then, after graduation, an article came out about a paper I’d coauthored in which we proved a new theorem. From that, I was approached to write books, and I knew I wanted to help girls not be afraid of math. My latest, Hot X: Algebra Exposed!, is coming out in August.
That’s quite a 180 from The Wonder Years.
I realized I needed to find out who I was outside of that show. My whole life people called me Winnie Cooper, and it was important for me to find out what else I had to offer.
Can math be sexy?
Totally! If a guy is skilled at anything, that’s attractive. There’s something very primal about that, and, sure, it can be as simple as figuring out the tip quickly.
What else turns you on?
Confidence is one of the sexiest things in guys and girls. Look at Michelle Pfeiffer: My God, she’s 50 years old, but she is still so sexy. If I were into women, I would be totally into her.
Now, everyone remembers when Winnie and Kevin first kissed. Was that your actual first kiss?
It was, yeah, for both of us. I was 12, and he was 11. That was only about a week after we’d met, and we totally had crushes on each other. But we never kissed offscreen, ever.
You must meet guys who hit on you because of your famous role.
I’ve always been really cautious about guys who have a Winnie Cooper fantasy, and I’m so glad about that. I mean, I can count on one hand the guys I’ve been with. It was really challenging, but I never gave it up too soon, if you know what I mean.