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The Transformation Of Denise Richards From Starship Troopers To Now

"Starship Troopers" was Denise Richards' breakout movie role. In the film, she plays Carmen Ibáñez, the girlfriend of protagonist Johnny Rico. Together with their best friend Carl Jenkins, the couple enlists in the Federal Service to fight the allegedly stupid and imperialistic bugs. The film, a satire of fascistic propaganda and an interrogation of our own culture's lust for combat, didn't connect with audiences upon its initial release. But it has developed a cult following in the years since, joining "Showgirls," "RoboCop," and "Total Recall" among Paul Verhoeven's most famous — or infamous — films.

Richards went on to star in a flurry of films in the late '90s, only for her personal life to take center stage in the 2000s. Her marriage to — and subsequent divorce from — Charlie Sheen drew headlines. Since that tumultuous time in her life, Richards has been making a name for herself in the world of soap operas and reality TV (arguably the soap operas of the 21st century). Here is what Denise Richards has been up to since "Starship Troopers," and how she's transformed since then.

A star-making turn in Wild Things

After "Starship Troopers," Denise Richards would star in another sleazy camp classic, "Wild Things." Her three-way kiss with Neve Campbell and Matt Dillon was a prominent draw for audiences, but the film holds other twists and delights besides all the smooching. Richards plays Kelly Van Ryan, a wealthy and popular girl who — along with Campbell's Suzie Toller — accuses guidance counselor Sam Lombardo (Dillon) of statutory rape. The two girls admit to falsifying their accusations on the stand, which prompts Lombardo to sue Kelly's family for a significant chunk of change. From there, things get twistier and twistier. Everyone is an accomplice on the grift, everyone backstabs everyone else. It's high melodrama.

"Wild Things" came out around the same time as another teen sleaze classic, "Cruel Intentions." Both films played up a fleetingly lesbian angle, were highly stylized, and starred a mix of young starlets and older character actors: "Wild Things" featured Bill Murray as Lombardo's attorney, and "Cruel Intentions" featured Swoosie Kurtz and Christine Baranski.

She had the range in 1999, but did people notice?

In 1999, Richards co-starred opposite Kirsten Dunst and Kirstie Alley in the deadpan mockumentary "Drop Dead Gorgeous." The film was a fake doc about a small-town beauty pageant and the series of horrific murders committed in pursuit of its crown. But by whom? The film is now considered a cult classic (via The Independent) but was criminally underseen upon initial release. Richards plays Becky Leeman, the presumed favorite for the Sarah Rose Cosmetics Mount Rose American Teen Princess crown. Other contestants vying for the honor are played by Dunst, Brittany Murphy, and a pre-fame Amy Adams. A murderers' row of actresses rounded out the "adult" cast — Allison Janney, Ellen Barkin, Nora Dunn, and Mindy Sterling play parents and pageant officials in the town.

Unfortunately for Richards, the movie most people saw her in from 1999 was "The World is Not Enough," the penultimate James Bond film starring Pierce Brosnan. Richards plays nuclear physicist Christmas Jones, seemingly given that name only so Brosnan can make a joke about Christmas coming more than once this year. "Look up any poll or column from recent years on the worst Bond girls ever, and Dr. Christmas Jones comes up every time," wrote Ben Bussey for Yahoo's James Bond blog. Dr. Christmas Jones came to represent all the cheese that made Bond fans sour on the Brosnan films. So, in a way, Denise Richards is partially to thank for the grittier Daniel Craig version of the character.

Ross tried to kiss her on Friends

During the 2000s and early 2010s, Denise Richards' film career kind of puttered out. Her biggest roles post-Bond were mostly cameos in prominent films. People remember her 10 seconds in "Love Actually" better than her starring role in "Deep in the Valley." In the Christmas classic, Richards plays a hot American — who, at the very end of the movie, travels to England to meet sad sack Colin's best friend in the epilogue.

One of her most memorable guest appearances was on television during the seventh season of "Friends." Richards happened to guest star in one of the more controversial episodes. In "The One with Ross and Monica's Cousin," Richards plays Cassie Gellar, the absurdly hot Gellar cousin. This episode crossed a major line for many "Friends" fans when Ross tried to kiss Cassie. Ross' explanation for his actions was "I haven't had sex in a very long time." But while the men from "Friends" were always somewhat caveman-like (forgetting a baby on a bus because they were flirting, giving up the good apartment to watch Monica and Rachel kiss for one minute, etc.), they didn't forget the rules of human society. 

Grantland's Sam Hockley-Smith even cites the episode as the one where the show jumped the shark. Ross kisses one of his friend's family members in Season 1. By Season 7, he's moved on to his own family, which is inarguably out of character behavior.

Her personal life eclipsed her acting

In 2002, Richards married Charlie Sheen. According to The Hollywood Reporter, their courtship started normally enough. But things took a turn shortly after Richards became pregnant with the couple's second daughter, Lola Rose Sheen. In 2006, Richards separated from Sheen, while she was still pregnant with Lola. She later sought a restraining order against him, citing threats he'd allegedly made against her life.

Richards found ways to parlay her fracturing personal life into work, starring in the reality show "Denise Richards: It's Complicated" in 2008 and publishing her memoir in 2011. In the memoir, she talks about Sheen's sudden transformation into someone she did not trust, telling Huffington Post, "The man I fell in love with is very compassionate, humble, has a wonderful heart. And the behavior that a lot of us saw in the last six months is not the person that I met and fell in love with."

On a lighter front, Richards played a dumber version of herself in the "30 Rock" two-parter "Idiots are People Two!" and "Idiots are People Three!" In the episodes, "TGS" is being boycotted by self-proclaimed idiots because Liz Lemon called Tracy an idiot when apologizing on his behalf to the LGBTQIA+ community. Playing herself, however, underscored how much Richards' personal life had overshadowed her acting work.

A new home on TV

Denise Richards continued her streak of making her life into her work by joining the cast of the "Real Housewives of Beverly Hills" in 2018. According to Us Weekly, Richards had expressed interest in joining the show as early as 2011, saying "Heck yeah, I would! It's one of my favorite shows!" Unfortunately for Richards, the show did not turn out how she'd expected. Richards was on all of "RHOBH" Season 9 but left Season 10 prematurely after Brandi Glanville asserted that the two had hooked up.

When Richards refused to return for Season 11, no one was very surprised. Andy Cohen told People the negotiations broke down over pay, but Richards said that she wanted to spend time with people that actually liked her. "[S]he was looking to replace RHOBH with time loving her amazing husband, children and who knows, maybe even friends now," a source told People

Richards married Aaron Phypers in 2018, who had previously been married to "Desperate Housewives" star Nicollette Sheridan (per People). Today, Richards can be seen on one of the last network soaps, "The Bold and the Beautiful," and she certainly has plenty of real-life experience to draw from for her character, Shauna Fulton.