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Our Interview with Sarah Shahi

Ever since she got us hot and bothered as Tony’s scorching seductress in The Sopranos, Sarah Shahi has been making her case as the small screen’s most lust-worthy star. From playing a lesbian DJ on The L Word to her current role as the legal profession’s hottest mediator on Fairly Legal, she’s shown a knack for combining smarts and sexiness like few other actresses in the game. Here Sarah tells Maxim about embracing her boobs, going down, and friends with benefits.

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177 Cover - Sarah ShahiHow does it feel to be “TV’s Sexiest Star”?
Well, there are a lot of incredibly gorgeous women out there, so thank you. Do I get a trophy?

We can arrange that.
Good. I want a trophy, a sash, a crown, the works. Growing up, my mom always taught us not to be ashamed of our bodies. She told us to embrace our boobs like we embrace our hands. And one day she did, when she bought me a bra and embraced both of them! The guy asked what size I was, and she said she didn’t know, so she grabbed ’em and said, “This size!”

Are there any TV stars you find especially sexy?
I saw Madeleine Stowe from Revenge recently, and she totally blew me away. And growing up I loved Morticia Addams and Lily Munster on one hand, and Jeannie from I Dream of Jeannie on the other. Two completely different ends of the spectrum, kind of like me. I have an incredibly dark, mysterious, witchy side and another side that’s very bubbly and cheerleader-esque.

You actually got your start as a Dallas Cowboys Cheerleader. How did that happen?
I did a lot of theater growing up, and in college I was in the musical Chicago. Everyone knew I wanted to be an actress, so they said, “Why don’t you try out for the Cowboys Cheerleaders?” because back in 1995 they were on Saturday Night Live. So I figured that could be my way in; I tried out just to get on SNL.

Were you a Cowboys fan growing up?
You know, I never really paid attention to sports, which, coming from the mecca of football in Texas, is kind of odd. I played sports, but I was nerdy. Having a single mother, the pressure was on me to get good grades and a scholarship and go to college.

Your first big movie was Old School, which is a classic. What was that like?
Well, in one of my scenes, my character attends a blow-job class, and being the Method actress that I thought I was, I went ahead and took a blow-job class myself because I wanted to be really good in the scene.

Wow. Just…wow. Did you get to hang with Will Ferrell at all?
Oh, I got to see Will in all his naked, hairy glory. Todd Phillips, the director, told us that Will was really nervous, so we shouldn’t look at him. But my eyes were drawn to him like a moth to flame. I couldn’t not look. His butt was like a flower. A really hairy flower.

And the next thing you know, you’re on The Sopranos, having a crazy, drug-fueled night in Vegas with Tony.
That was a big deal for me, considering the number of people who watched that show and the role I had. To be able to manipulate Tony Soprano like that was pretty awesome. I mean, James Gandolfini and I went toe-to-toe.

That would scare the shit out of us.
I think he loved me for that. I just pushed everything back in his face. I had to be seductive toward him and really go for it. I actually got more attention from one episode of The Sopranos than I did from two years of The L Word.

To read the full interview, pick up the latest issue of Maxim!

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