EVAN RACHEL WOOD WRESTLING WITH ADULTHOOD
by Paul Fischer
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When we first met seven years ago, Evan Rachel Wood was a mere 13, on the cusp of success. Now at a confident 21, the beautiful young actress has survived adolescence, the prying eyes of the media and early fame, as she continues to take on challenging roles, such as Mickey Rourke’s estranged daughter in The Wrestler. She also completed a starring role in Woody Allen’s latest comedy opposite Larry David and is about to play MJ in Spider-Man – on Broadway. Wodd talked exclusively to PAUL FISCHER.
QUESTION: Evan you only had basically two scenes in The Wrestler, but they’re obviously very, very important, and powerful. Was it the opportunity primarily to work with Darren that drew you to this, or was it the nature of the character?
EVAN RACHEL WOOD: Both, really, but mainly Darren. He was in my top five directors that I really wanted to work with, I met with him, and he said – if Mickey did it, he really wanted me to do it, because he thought our chemistry would be good together. But if Mickey didn’t, he wasn’t sure who would, and if it would work or not, so I wasn’t getting my hopes up. Then I heard Mickey wasn’t doing it, so I was crushed and then all of a sudden out of the blue, it worked out, and we both did it.
QUESTION: What surprised you the most about working with Darren and Mickey?
EVAN RACHEL WOOD: Really, just how spontaneous everything was. There was no rehearsal. I had a really close relationship with Darren, in working on the character’s back story and Darren kind of works by getting to know who you are, and then putting that to the character. So we talked a lot before hand. But I didn’t talk to Mickey before it was shot.
QUESTION: Is that partly because of the nature of your on-screen relationship?
EVAN RACHEL WOOD: Yeah. It was an agreement. We all thought, “Let’s see what happens if we just don’t say anything to each other, unless we’re doing a scene.” So I didn’t really meet Mickey until after the movie was done.
QUESTION: What kind of an actor is he to work with?
EVAN RACHEL WOOD: Very intense and incredibly dedicated. As big of a wild child that he is, when he’s on set, he takes it incredibly serious. I’ve never seen an actor more into a character, or more focused than him.
QUESTION: Your character is obviously justifiably a very angry young woman. What are the difficulties or the challenges for you to play that kind of realistic emotion?
EVAN RACHEL WOOD: Well, I guess just feeling safe enough and that’s why Mickey and Darren were such a blessing, because you have to know that you’re in good hands to go to those places. But I think it was hard, too, because I really did relate to the character a lot. And – had similar – having Daddy issues. So, having to face all these feelings and emotions that I hadn’t been in touch with for a long time was probably the hardest part.
QUESTION: What was the biggest sense of identification you had with your character now?
EVAN RACHEL WOOD: Probably – I had the same suspense as she had. even when her father does try to reconcile. She doesn’t trust him, and doesn’t want to get hurt. But I kind of got the happy ending that she didn’t. You know? After filming the movie is when I hooked back up with my Dad. And we had a scene very similar to the boardwalk.
EVAN RACHEL WOOD: But it didn’t end in tears. It ended well. I think the film is kind of what led me to call him, because after the filming was done, I wanted to share this experience that I just had, this incredible thing I just went through, and nobody really got it. I figured that the only one that would, would be him.
QUESTION: You’ve been at this a long time. What do you think you’ve learned the most during that time? And what has surprised you the most about where you are today as an actress?
EVAN RACHEL WOOD: I feel like I’ve really stayed true to myself and that I didn’t lose myself in the craziness. I stuck to my guns, I did the films that I wanted to do and I’m still here. I don’t feel like I have to do really big-budget films to stay noticed. So, it’s kind of gone how I wanted it to.
QUESTION: Has the transition from various stages of adolescence through to young adulthood been easy for you?
EVAN RACHEL WOOD: Not necessarily, no. And I think because there are so many horror stories about teenagers, and child actors, that people were really protective of me. And they were overly protective. So, I feel like it wasn’t until I turned 18 that I really had the freedom to figure out – who I was, because I’d just been doing what everybody was telling me was the right thing to do. So I feel like I’m much happier.
QUESTION: Do you play on doing anything in terms of your education? I mean, are you interested in doing some further studying?
EVAN RACHEL WOOD: Maybe eventually, yes. But I feel like I’ve gotten a pretty good education. I got to travel around the whole world for about eight months, and I learned so much, just doing what I do, and the people that I meet. But I do love to write.
QUESTION: What kind of writing do you like to do?
EVAN RACHEL WOOD: I write poetry and songs. But I also write short films. I’ve started trying to get some practice in by trying to adapt some short stories, and things like that, into short films.
QUESTION: So, do you think you’re going to become a filmmaker?
EVAN RACHEL WOOD: I’d like to, eventually. more than one person – more than one director has kind of told me that I have to, or they’re going to kill me. I feel like I could do it. I’m starting to really get into photography, and starting to get visual about things. So, we’ll see. I don’t think it’ll be soon.
QUESTION: Now, you recently worked with a somewhat different director to Darren, Woody Allen. He is not known as the most communicative person in the world.
EVAN RACHEL WOOD: But very sweet. It’s not that he’s cold. It’s just that he’s shy.
QUESTION: What kind of lessons do you take away, though, from working with somebody like Woody Allen?
EVAN RACHEL WOOD: I learned a lot. I mean, just about myself, what I could handle and somebody like him putting their trust in me. I didn’t audition. I hadn’t really done a comedy like that before. So, he was – taking a chance. He’s smart enough.
QUESTION: You’re not known as an actress of comedy. I mean, you’ve played a lot of very dark roles. Is this a typical Woody Allen comedy, in terms of the dialogue, and the way he uses dialogue?
EVAN RACHEL WOOD: Definitely, yeah. It’s very old-school Woody Allen. And – he shot back in New York again, which he hasn’t done that in years. So. It was really fun to be in New York with Woody Allen.
QUESTION: Tell me about working with – I mean, I can’t see the combination of Woody Allen and Larry David?
EVAN RACHEL WOOD: Really?
QUESTION: No. Although they’re both New York Jews.
EVAN RACHEL WOOD: Exactly.
QUESTION: How did Woody get along with Larry David?
EVAN RACHEL WOOD: They got along great. I loved watching them talk to each other, because they are similar, but they are very different. And I think that’s why Woody cast him, because – if you read the script, the character seems like it is Woody Allen. You don’t see how anybody else could play it. I think he really brought something different, so that it’s not just the Woody Allen character.
QUESTION: How did you enjoy working with Larry?
EVAN RACHEL WOOD: I loved Larry. Larry’s great. And we kind of looked out for each other, because he had never done a film, or had to memorize lines. And I’d never done comedy. So, you know. We kept each other’s spirits up in that way.
QUESTION: Would you do another comedy, after doing this?
EVAN RACHEL WOOD: Absolutely, yeah. I love comedy. And it was such a great change of scenery for me to go on set and see Larry David, and Michael McKean and Ed Begley Junior. people I grew up watching, but have never seen behind the scenes. So, it was so cool. [LAUGHTER] I was so excited.
QUESTION:. What kind of a girl do you play in that?
EVAN RACHEL WOOD: She’s a very sweet, Southern belle and so naïve that she comes across dumb, because she just wants to see the good in everything. She just loves everything. So she shacks up with Larry David, who’s the complete opposite. He’s like, an Ebenezer Scrooge kind of character. Just, “Bah humbug” to everything. So, it’s just opposites attracting.
QUESTION: What kind of stuff are you looking for now that you’re in your early 20s, that you weren’t looking for when you were in your teens?
EVAN RACHEL WOOD: Just strong women. I’m going to be doing a movie pretty soon I don’t think I can talk too much about yet. But she’s very kind of a Sarah Connor. And those are the women I love. Kind of Ripley.
QUESTION: Is it an action movie?
EVAN RACHEL WOOD: Not really action
QUESTION: Do you want to do an action movie?
EVAN RACHEL WOOD: If it was the right times, yeah, I would.
QUESTION: I mean, you do tend to resist the big Hollywood movies.
EVAN RACHEL WOOD: They just tend to not have as much heart. I’m not saying they’re all like that, but – at least for girls my age, it’s hard to find kind of weird, edgy ones.
QUESTION: And you’re pretty selective in what you do, aren’t you?
EVAN RACHEL WOOD: Yeah. Very, very much. It’s not for the money. [LAUGHTER]
QUESTION: R Are you living on the East Coast or the West Coast?
EVAN RACHEL WOOD: I live on the West Coast.
QUESTION: Somehow you strike me as a New York kind of girl, for some reason. I don’t know why I think that.
EVAN RACHEL WOOD: I love New York. I do kind of fit in with New York a little better. I’m going to be living there this year, all this year and next year. I’m doing Broadway, so I’ll be back over there.
QUESTION: You’re doing Broadway?
EVAN RACHEL WOOD: Spider-Man.
QUESTION: You’re playing MJ?
EVAN RACHEL WOOD: Yep. [LAUGHTER]
QUESTION: Wow. It’s a musical?
EVAN RACHEL WOOD: Yeah. Yeah. Bono and the Edge are doing the music, and Julie Taymor, who did Across the Universe, is going to do it.
EVAN RACHEL WOOD: It’s very cool. [LAUGHTER] It’s very cool.
QUESTION: Who’s Spidey?
EVAN RACHEL WOOD: We don’t know yet.
QUESTION: Do you get to test with any of the young hot stage actors that are around,?
EVAN RACHEL WOOD: I don’t know. I don’t know. [LAUGHTER] I’m waiting to see who I’m going to be kissing upside down.
QUESTION: Well, that’s very exciting. When is it opening?
EVAN RACHEL WOOD: October, I think.
QUESTION: Is it based on the first movie, or is it a completely original story?
EVAN RACHEL WOOD: It kind of takes from all of it, really. There’s old and new things. I think people will be really pleasantly surprised.
QUESTION: So, if it was scary working with Woody Allen, how much more scary is it going to be for you to be on Broadway?
EVAN RACHEL WOOD: I think it’ll be scary the first night, but I’ll probably just want to cry after the first time I sing alone on stage. I haven’t done that since I was – I started off in musical theatre, and I haven’t done that since I was little.
Paul Fischer is originally from Australia. Now he is an interviewer and film critic living in Hollywood.
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