Profession: Actress and model
Hometown: Augusta, Maine
- Attended Columbia University and graduated with a double major in mathematics and economics; started modelling while at Columbia
- Appeared in Sex and the City, Dumb and Dumber: When Harry Met Lloyd, The Inside, Alias, The Amityville Horror, The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, Star Trek, G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra, Conan the Barbarian
- Stars in Showcase’s futuristic cop drama, Continuum, Sundays at 9 p.m.
You’ve seen her in Criminal Minds, Sex and the City, Alias, Star Trek, G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra, and Conan the Barbarian as well as in ads for Abercrombie & Fitch, Guess and L’Oreal cosmetics.
But Rachel Nichols isn’t just a pretty face. She’s a Columbia University grad who studied math and economics. And there’s one thing the star of the Canadian drama series, Continuum, loves more than acting and the spotlight – her car. She drives a tricked-out 2005 Range Rover SUV dubbed Darth.
Why did you buy a Range Rover?
It was my dream car ever since I went to L.A.
I had been saving and saving and I finally could afford it. I test drove a whole bunch, did my research, and I fell in love with Darth as soon as I got into him. That was 2006. I’ve had him ever since.
I spend an extraordinary amount of time in my car so I can justify the expense. That’s the only extravagance in my life – it’s my car.
I wanted to buy one from 2005 because it’s the last year they made Range Rovers with a BMW engine. The engine on that thing is fantastic. I think it’s much better than the newer engines. I snapped it up and then slowly but surely have been making tweaks here and there to make it mine.
What tweaks have you made?
I just dropped Darth off at the pimp shop to redo the sound system and the whole front end to update the front end, body and the shape of the headlights. I wanted to go darker in the tint.
I think we’re going to supercharge him as well. It’s going to be a secret supercharge. It’s not even written on him. But it’s going to be really fast.
I was on Criminal Minds the first time I brought him in. My friend, Shemar Moore, who is on Criminal Minds, was taking his car and tricking it out a bit. I said I always wanted to do this, can I go with you? So I went with him and brought Darth.
I wanted to do rims. I put him on 22s instead of 20s and I wanted to sink him down. I took off all the running boards and the mud flaps and I painted him all one colour, gun-metal grey. I put in three-piece five-star HRE rims and I put in 15-inch Brembo brakes. I did tint and dual exhaust.
I think I’m one of the only chicks I know that does anything like this to their cars, but I love it. It’s really fun. I love my car so much! I will have that car forever!
What does a tricked-out Range Rover say about you?
It definitely says I’m into cars.
I love to personalize things. I love to make things my own. I like to name everything – from cars to iPhones to the socks I just lost.
For someone who doesn’t know cars. Darth would look totally normal – it’s not like I have chrome spinners. It’s very understated. He’s very sweet and sexy.
It says I pay attention to details big and small and I like being comfortable and driving fast and aggressively.
Any speeding tickets?
I got pulled over once in my old car and I got a speeding ticket. I got pulled over once in Darth. I was definitely driving fast… He said I was going 53 mph in a 35.
We started having a conversation and he said, ‘You’re in far too good of a mood. It’s a Friday afternoon and I’m going to give you a ticket.’ I said, ‘But its okay. I totally deserve a ticket. I was speeding.’ He said, ‘I’ve pulled over 35 people today and I’ve given each one a ticket.’ I said, ‘I’m going to be 36.’
I don’t know – he liked the fact I was friendly and smiley even though I was pulled over. He said, ‘You’re too happy and I can’t give you a ticket.’
What’s with the name Darth?
Years ago, a friend of mine started calling me Darth and he thought it was really fun. He’d call it Darth Mode when I was going into the super dark, protective mode.
So I thought it was very fitting. Darth is my best non-human friend. He’s my protector. It’s a good, positive name.
What was your first car?
The first car I bought was a Ford Explorer when I moved to L.A. I drove it into the ground.
But the first car I drove that I considered mine, even though it was a family car, was a fire-engine red Jeep Cherokee in high school.
I’ve always driven big SUVs. I’m from Maine and there’s a point to driving a big SUV in Maine. I don’t really need a 4WD in L.A,. but on the 405 people are crazy and you need a tank. I like the visibility factor.
Another car we had growing up in Augusta, Maine, which wasn’t my favourite, was a diesel Volkswagen Golf. It was very loud.
My father used to forget to close the sunroof when it rained. It had a lot of electrical problems because it had been rained on so frequently.
I was learning to drive and my dad was in the front seat. For a new driver driving a stick shift it was challenging and daunting.
And when we were going around Augusta ,the horn on the car just started to go off. Beep. Beep. Beep. Beep. It did not stop until we got home and I turned it off. I was mortified and my dad was laughing the entire time!
What sparked your interest in cars?
When we were growing up, my dad had a 1976 Ford F150 with this green cab. My dad loved that car so much. I think that was when I first recognized the idea of loving a vehicle.
What vehicle would you love to drive?
Oh no – I’d have to cheat on Darth.
There are so many! I’d love to drive a Bugatti – something totally ridiculous but super fast.
This interview has been edited and condensed.