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My Secret Life: Mena Suvari, 33, actor

'My real-life villains better watch out'

My parents were… unconditionally loving.

The household I grew up in… Magical.

When I was a child I wanted to be… an archaeologist. It was just when I was little, I grew up in a house on four acres of property, it was built in 1870 and we'd find things and I had a little dig.

If I could change one thing about myself… My hair length.

You wouldn't know it but I am very good at… poker, but I think people know that. Also, my amazing organisational skills! I joke with my friends that I'll help them organise their closets. I'm very tidy.

You may not know it but I'm no good at… I'm not the best at math. I would run from an equation.

At night I dream of… peace.

I wish I had never worn… Oh, white patent leather pointy toe boots, knee high. Horrendous.

What I see when I look in the mirror… Appreciation.

It's not fashionable but I like… Everything is fashionable in some way.

I drive/ride… I technically drive a Mercedes, but I ride in – as a passenger – an 88 Monte Carlo.

My house is… like an artistic explosion, it's like a gallery, art everywhere, it's eclectic and colourful.

My favourite work of art… I have about three pieces about 10ft tall by my cousin Georgopoulos – he's an amazing artist, he makes the entire pieces. They're beautiful. I also have a piece from Ethiopia that's also all hand-painted and hand-constructed.

My favourite building… I visited the Sagrada Familia, in Barcelona, years ago – it's still under construction, but it was really beautiful.

A book that changed me… Facing the Dawn, by Patricia Brennan. It's very spiritual. I just like the way it's set up around life lessons, working on yourself. What I did with it was just have it open and every day I would turn to the next page. It has the negative on one side and the positive on the other, for comparison – I think everyone should peruse it.

Movie heaven… One of my favourite films is Dreams by Akira Kurosawa – to me it seems like a very spiritual type of film, it's absolutely stunning. It's like eight little movies made up into one.

The last album I bought/downloaded… was by The Doors, An American Prayer.

My greatest regret… One that will never come – I don't regret!

My real-life villains… better watch out.

The last time I cried… I moved on.

My five-year plan… is under construction.

What's the point? Exactly.

My life in six words… Live the life you wish for.

A life in brief

Mena Suvari was born in 1979 in Rhode Island, USA. She began modelling at the age of 12 and her acting career started with a ready-meal TV advert when she was 13. Her breakthrough role came in the Oscar-winning American Beauty (1999), directed by Sam Mendes, for which she received a Bafta nomination. She has since appeared in the American Pie films and the award-winning TV series, Six Feet Under. Her latest film, The Knot, by British director Jesse Lawrence, is out on DVD on 4 February