The actress, now 42, was reflecting on her work in the criminally underrated "Heartbreakers" with Vulture when the reporter asked how she felt about the "leering in the media" around the time the film was released.
"It's interesting, I just watched the Britney Spears documentary, and there's that whole section in there talking about her breasts. At the time that I was going through it, and interviewers were asking what now would be incredibly inappropriate, gross things, it didn't feel that way," said Hewitt. "I mean, I was in barely any clothing the whole movie. For some reason, in my brain, I was able to just go, 'Okay, well, I guess they wouldn't be asking if it was inappropriate.'"
But those questions aren't okay -- and she can clearly see that now.
"As a 42-year-old woman with a daughter, I definitely look back on it and go, 'Ew,'" she continued. "And it really started with 'I Know What You Did Last Summer,' because that was the first time that I had worn a low top, and on 'Party of Five,' my body was very covered. At a press junket for 'I Know or I Still Know What You Did Last Summer,' I remember purposely wearing a T-shirt that said 'Silicone Free' on it because I was so annoyed, and I knew something about boobs was gonna be the first question out of [reporters’] mouths."
Hewitt had just turned 18 when she started filming the 1997 horror movie, which was one of her biggest roles following "Party of Five."
"I was really tired of that conversation. With 'Heartbreakers,' that was a big part of it. I was disappointed that it was all about body stuff, because I had really worked hard in that movie to do a good job as an actress," she continued. "So I remember one specific moment wishing that the acting had overshadowed all that — that for five minutes, they had said I was really great in the movie versus made a body comment."
"Now that I'm older, I think, 'Gosh, I wish that I had known how inappropriate that was so I could have defended myself somehow or just not answered those questions,'" she added. "I laughed it off a lot of the time, and I wish maybe I hadn't."
It got so bad back in the day, Hewitt said she had to mentally prepare herself for interviews where she knew "at least 20 of the 40 minutes" of it would be "about boobs and body stuff."
"When I watched that Britney Spears documentary, it hurt my heart a little bit, because I remember in hindsight having that feeling," she added. "I'm really grateful that we're in a time where, hopefully, that narrative is going to change for young girls who are coming up now, and they won't have to have those conversations."