LOS ANGELES – Cameron Diaz (search) testified Thursday she was not ashamed of topless pictures taken early in her career by a photographer who threatened to sell them before the release of one of her films.
"I wasn't ashamed to be out there like that," said Diaz, testifying in the criminal trial of the man who took the photos and 11 years later tried to sell them back to her for millions of dollars. Diaz said a signature on a model release form giving ownership of the photos to photographer John Rutter (search) was fake.
"I have never signed my name like that," said Diaz, whose screen credits include 1994's "The Mask," "There's Something About Mary (search)," "Being John Malkovich" and the "Charlie's Angels" films.
Rutter, 42, is charged with attempted grand theft, forgery and perjury. If convicted, he could face up to six years in prison. An extortion charge has been dropped.
Rutter's defense attorney suggested Diaz wanted to suppress photos that could damage her career.
Diaz, wearing a brown top, gray pants and black high heels, was on the stand for more than three hours. She giggled about her early modeling career and describing the May 1992 photo shoot in an abandoned warehouse, in which she wore fishnet stockings and leather boots in hopes of appearing in edgy European magazines.
She said she was worried her boyfriend wouldn't like her posing topless, but "I felt that it was a safe environment. It was a professional shoot. It wasn't like in a back alley, 'take your shirt off.'"
Confronted with the 1992 photos — including one shot in which she's holding a chain attached to a male model's neck — Diaz said she wasn't enthusiastic about releasing the pictures, although she said she believed she looked good topless. "At least I have that going for me," she recalled thinking.
Diaz testified that Rutter approached her in June 2003, just days before the release of "Charlie's Angels: Fully Loaded" and asked for $3.5 million.
The 32-year-old actress said she proposed a partnership with Rutter, but he refused. She then realized he was trying to blackmail her, she said.
Diaz also testified that Rutter told her he planned to sell the photos to "people who were intentionally trying to hurt me" and that the prospective buyers, some of whom were willing to pay up to $5 million, wanted to "portray me as a bad angel."
She proposed a partnership in which about eight to 10 photos would be released to publications she was comfortable with, or have a gallery showing. Part of the proceeds would go to charity and to Rutter, she testified.
One of the photos appeared in a French magazine, but she was wearing a black bra and vest.
Defense attorney Mark Werksman suggested Diaz was trying to unreasonably suppress photos she considered damaging, even though she has often posed provocatively when it benefited her career.
Werksman pinned to a display board four Maxim magazine pictures showing the actress in a bikini with her "Charlie's Angels" co-stars.
"It was a sexy movie, right?" the attorney asked.
"Thank you, I guess," Diaz responded.
A judge has issued a permanent injunction prohibiting Rutter from distributing the photos. Diaz has sued Rutter in civil court. That case is pending.