Having proven her comedic abilities as a supporting player, she was granted leading status in the Farrelly Brothers' uproarious comedy, "There's Something About Mary" (1998). Playing the object of desire for her nerdy high school prom date (Ben Stiller) who hires a private detective (Matt Dillon) to track her down in Miami after 10 years, Diaz exuded eternal optimism and beauty, while playing the perfect foil against two love-struck buffoons willing to do anything to capture her attention. Though several outlandish moments occurred onscreen, nothing compared to the infamous hair gel scene, where an unsuspecting Diaz sees a dollop of sperm hanging from Stiller's earlobe and uses it in her hair. Perhaps the biggest hit of 1998, "There's Something About Mary" propelled Diaz to assured stardom and earned her a surprise New York Film Critics' award for Best Actress. Meanwhile, after being wasted in a cameo as a television reporter in Terry Gilliam's hallucinatory "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas" (1998), Diaz delved into the dark side by downplaying her bubbly onscreen persona in Peter Berg's black comedy "Very Bad Things" (1998), playing a manipulative, almost psychopathic woman hell-bent on marching down the aisle.
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