Evan Rachel Wood Interview | Under the Radar - Music Magazine
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Evan Rachel Wood in The Wrestler.

Evan Rachel Wood

The Wrestler's Daughter Finds an Emotional Bond

Nov 02, 2008 Year End 2008 - Best of 2008
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"I feel like I've been raised by 50 people," Evan Rachel Wood says.

At just 21 years old, Wood has acted alongside some of the most distinguished actors and actresses in the movie industry. Narrow down the list to Oscar winners who have played parents to Wood on screen and you have Al Pacino, Michael Douglas, Cate Blanchett and Holly Hunter. In February, another name could be added to that list if early buzz is any indication. In Wood's latest film, The Wrestler, she plays Stephanie, the estranged daughter of aging professional wrestler Randy "The Ram" Robinson, a role for which Mickey Rourke is considered a Best Actor frontrunner. But Wood, who earned Golden Globe and Screen Actors Guild nominations for her breakout performance in Thirteen, goes toe-to-toe with Rourke in The Wrestler, notably during a heart-wrenching confrontation between the characters.

"It was pretty tense on set sometimes," Wood says. "All my scenes were with Mickey, but we didn't really talk in between takes, and he wouldn't say anything until we were filming a scene, so I think we, especially Mickey, just stayed completely focused and in character the whole time." Wood confesses to having a crush on Rourke when she was growing up, citing Angel Heart as a favorite of his films, but the Wrestler shoot was businesslike and allowed no time for them to become acquainted. "I didn't get any rehearsal time with him," she says. "Didn't even say hi until we filmed."

Directed by Darren Aronofsky (Requiem for a Dream), The Wrestler portrays Randy as a physically damaged man trying to establish some sort of personal connection as he finds his lifeblood slipping away. After bypass surgery, Randy attempts to make amends with Stephanie, whom he has neglected her whole life.

"It became a really emotional experience," Wood says of her scenes with Rourke. "But I think it kinda bonded Mickey and me in a father-daughter way because we went through all that together, so we're pretty close now."

Wood affirms that she has learned from good teachers by playing daughter roles, but she's excited to see adult parts coming her way now. "I'm so used to being disappointed," she says "because I'd always be too young for something." 

Born in Raleigh, North Carolina, Wood was named Evan because "my mother had a dream that she was gonna have a daughter with blond hair and blues eyes named Evan," she reveals. "I used to be upset when I was little because most of my family and brothers are named after people, and I wasn't." Wood is quick to clarify that her name is "just Evan," not Evan Rachel, because her middle name has caused her some frustration. "Everybody always calls me Rachel, and I don't understand why," she laughs. "If I wanted my first name to be Rachel, I would have put it in different order."

As a child, Wood landed some television credits while living in North Carolina, but after her parents split up, when she was nine years old she moved with her mother to California. She continued to audition for parts and made a stunning feature film debut in Digging to China (1998). In the film, Wood plays an eccentric 10-year-old who befriends a mentally disabled young man (Kevin Bacon).

"It was a big deal for me at the time," Wood says of the lead performance. "That was the first time that I'd really experienced what hard work [acting] was. That's when I decided that I wanted to keep doing it for as long as possible and actually make it my job. I think that's when I really fell in love with it."

Wood, having grown up on a diet of The Beatles, Nirvana, Pink Floyd, Janis Joplin and Jimi Hendrix, also loves music, and more recent infatuations have included Radiohead and Bright Eyes. "'A Perfect Sonnet' is just one of the most amazing love songs I've ever heard in my entire life," she says of the Bright Eyes track. "'A Perfect Sonnet' pretty much sums up exactly how I feel about love and relationships to a T." Rumors of an album from Wood have intensified since she starred as Lucy in Across the Universe (2007), in which she ably sang Beatles songs, memorably a delicate rendition of "If I Fell." Wood confirms that she's working on an album, but a release in 2009 shouldn't be expected. "At this point there's nothing planned," she says. "I've been writing a lot of songs and recording on my own for fun, trying to play around, find a sound. Then I'm gonna see what happens when I feel ready."

Filmgoers next can see Wood in Woody Allen's comedy Whatever Works, in which she plays a teenager who marries a much older man, played by Larry David.

"All my scenes are with Larry David, and he was hysterical," Wood says. "He's kind of like an Ebenezer Scrooge character, and I'm a very bright-eyed, innocent small-town Southern girl that's dumb as a rock but sweet as she could be." Wood recalls how David, who improvises on Curb Your Enthusiasm, felt overwhelmed by all the lines he had to memorize, and that she was nervous about her inexperience in comedy. "I've never played a role like it before," she says. "I just hope I'm funny."

www.foxsearchlight.com/thewrestler

Read the full interview with Evan Rachel Wood here.



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