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

Evan Rachel Wood

The Full Interview From October 2008

Nov 02, 2008 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share


Your scenes with Mickey Rourke in the film are quite intense. What was the mood like on set for that last emotional scene in the film?

We had a really laid back crew and they were all very respectful. It was pretty tense on set sometimes, and 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, everybody just stayed completely focused and in character the whole time. It became a really emotional experience, but I think it kinda bonded Mickey and me in a father-daughter way because of it, 'cause we went through all that together, so we're pretty close now.

 

What about rehearsal time?

No, I didn't get any rehearsal time with him. Didn't even say hi until we filmed. And Darren really likes to keep things fresh. I don't think he really likes too much rehearsal, so I mainly just talked about the scenes and the character with Darren first. And he'd just wait to see what happens.    

I was gonna ask if there things about Aronofsky's style of directing that felt distinctive or new to you.

That was definitely one of them, no real rehearsal or anything. The way that we shot the movie was kinda similar to Thirteen, actually, so I had good training, 'cause it was really low-budget and most of it was handheld, so you just had to come in completely prepared and know your lines back and forth. And luckily, Mickey was right there with me, just ready to go. Everybody was just in synch with each other. I think that's why it all kinda fit together so well. 

We get a good sense of the conflict between Stephanie and her dad without getting too many details. Were you given a backstory that was more extensive than what's revealed in the film? 

I don't know. I don't think you needed- I'd rather not, you know- I think people can take away from it whatever they want.

But there weren't things that Darren told you that you needed to draw upon?

Well, I think originally she was a recovering alcoholic. I think you kind of get the impression that her mother also abandoned her, both her parents. You know, who knows? She probably ran away from home and had a rough time. She's just at the point where she's back in school and getting her life together, and then her dad comes back in and shakes it up again, and she just can't deal with it. She's just gotten back on track.  

When you found out that you'd be working with Mickey Rourke, did you go out and watch some of his previous films?

I had seen them before. I had grown up watching him and used to have the biggest crush on him.

Was there a particular film that triggered the crush?

Probably Angel Heart.

Where was the boardwalk sequence shot?

Oh, you know, I keep getting asked. I need to find out for sure. I'm not entirely sure. I mean, we shot in New Jersey, you know it was just 20 minutes away from there somewhere, a real abandoned boardwalk.  

Was it Asbury Park?

Asbury Park! Thank you. Yes, it was. Uh, God, it's been killing me.

How was it shooting those scenes? Cold?

Oh God, yeah, it was pretty cold when we shot there. But it does have a very kind of weird feeling to it, 'cause all the buildings with shells of everything are still there. It's so beautifully deconstructed, like it's all rundown but it's still just beautiful.

Were you named Evan Rachel after a relative or someone your parents admired?

It's just Evan, actually. Everybody always calls me Rachel, and I don't understand why. [laughs] It's like, if I wanted my first name to be Rachel, I would have put it in different order. It's my first name because it comes first. My mother had a dream that she was gonna have a daughter with blond hair and blues eyes named Evan, so that was just my name. I used to be upset when I was little because most of my family and brothers are named after people, and I wasn't.   

Did you move from North Carolina to Los Angeles for work?

I was 9 when I moved out to California, but it was mainly because my parents split up. I came out to L.A. to live with my mom, and it just kind of worked out that I had done some acting in North Carolina and then just started auditioning out here and just kept at it.

Who were your heroes growing up?

Jodie Foster's always been a big one. I loved Anne Bancroft, I loved Tim Curry [laughs], and my brother, and just lots of- Johnny Depp and stuff like that I guess.

What about outside of movies?

I grew up listening to the Beatles and Nirvana and Pink Floyd and Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix and kind of a weird mix, but yeah, I have a happy family.   

I wanted ask about two of your films, Digging to China and Thirteen. 10 years later, do you still feel connected to Digging to China?

Absolutely. It was a big deal for me at the time. It was the first time I ever got picked out of a bunch of girls and my first starring role and my first feature film, so it was wild working with somebody like Kevin Bacon and Cathy Moriarty, Mary Stuart Masterson. Of course, all I could ask Mary Stuart Masterson was, "What was it like being in Benny & Joon and working with Johnny Depp?" So, it was cool. I had fun. It was hard though. I think that was the first time that I'd really experienced a set and what hard work it 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.    

With Thirteen, did you have a sense at the time that it would push buttons like it did? Some writers even likened it to a horror film.

I definitely wanted it to push buttons. I thought it was an important film to be made. Of course I wanted it to, but it just went beyond any of our expectations, I think. It was made for nothing in 24 days, and I think that's another reason why the performances in it are so personal, because nobody had any ulterior motives or anything. They were just doing it because they loved the script and were so, so passionate about it. Everybody just put their heart and soul into the film, so I think it showed. It was a real once-in-a-lifetime kind of thing.

At the time, could you have imagined Catherine Hardwicke directing something as big as Twilight?

No. [laughs] It's so weird seeing Catherine take off. I'm really proud of her; she changed my life. But yeah, it is funny seeing Catherine direct The Nativity Story or something. Bizarre.

There's quite an esteemed list of actors who have played your parents in films. During the shoots, do the parental instincts in these actors ever extend beyond the scenes?

They do. Absolutely. I've experienced that quite a bit, actually, and especially when I work with adult actors that have never had children, they always tell me, "It's so strange, I've never had kids, and I kinda feel like you're my child, and I've got this weird instinct I didn't know I have." I've found some really wonderful- There have been some good teachers because of it, actually. I feel like I've been raised by 50 people.    

Now that you're 21, has your outlook on your career and your future roles changed? Or is 21 just a number?

Oh no. Yeah, it has changed. I feel kind of old enough and ready now- It's strange reading scripts that are adult parts, and I don't have to worry about being in high school and always having parents. I need to break away from that a little bit. I think that the films just get more interesting and exciting, and there's just a lot more opportunities now. So I'm excited to see what happens.

You say it was strange seeing those scripts?

Yeah, just seeing what's out there now, and thinking, "Oh, I'm too young for this. No, wait a minute." I'm so used to being disappointed because I'd always be too young for something. So now I feel like I can grab the bull by the horns.

What can you tell me about your role in the Woody Allen film?

I've never played a role like it before. She is a teenager but she's not- I didn't want to play a teenager again, but she ends up getting married. She's more of an adult, she's around adults, so I didn't mind it too much. And all my scenes are with Larry David, and he was just hysterical. I've always done drama and worked with dramatic actors, so walking on the set and seeing Ed Begley Jr. and Michael McKeon, I was just like a kid in a candy store. I was five years old again. Like, "Oh! You're Mr. Green from Clue! And Spinal Tap, I love you so much!" So I was just kind of in shock the whole time. It was kind of unreal; now it's nervous 'cause I just hope I'm funny. But I think Larry and I kind of looked out for each other 'cause I'd never done a comedy and he's never starred in a movie. He'd never had to memorize so many lines 'cause they just improv on Curb Your Enthusiasm, so we just looked out for each other.

Who's the actor that you're marrying in the film?

Larry David. That's kind of what it's centered around. 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. So, the pairing of the two is what makes it pretty funny.

How did you become involved in the Bright Eyes video?

I knew Cat [Solen], the director, and I'd been a huge fan of Bright Eyes, so I'd been kind of following them, and I had met Conor briefly, and I was dating Brady Corbet at the time, and we both ended up getting involved with it somehow, just through the band, really, just meeting everybody and overhearing. "You're doing a music video?! You need a couple? You need a girl and- We're here, we're here! Hello!" Jumping up and down, just like, "Please!" And then Terrence Stamp.

Do you remember the Bright Eyes album or song that sparked your interest?

The first album that I got was Fevers and Mirrors, and that's one of their darkest albums, but there's just some beautiful songs on it. Probably "An Attempt to Tip the Scales" and "A Song to Pass the Time" were the two that I heard first and just freaked out and fell in love with, and nobody'd really heard about Bright Eyes before they kind of hit it big. And I love "Falling Out of Love at This Volume." And, oh, the song "A Perfect Sonnet" is just one of the most amazing love songs I've ever heard in my entire life. "A Perfect Sonnet" pretty much sums up exactly how I feel about love and relationships to a T. So that just killed me.

What are some of your favorite albums of the last year?

In Rainbows came out last year, but I just now got really into it. It took me a while to ease into In Rainbows. I'm a huge Radiohead fan. I didn't know what I thought at first, but now I'm hooked on it.

Is it true that you're working on an album?

Kind of own my own, yeah. I've been writing a lot of songs and recording on my own for fun. Trying to play around, find a sound, and then I'm gonna see what happens when I feel ready, I guess.

Have you been in the studio?

I have.

Recording your own material?

Yeah, writing music and the lyrics, and I'm a total control freak. It's really fun. I never thought that I could do it. [I've] composed my first songs now, so it's great.

Do you play all the instruments or do you play with other musicians?

Sometimes I'll need some help with the guitar, but I play piano a lot and a little bit of guitar. I don't really know how to play any instrument, but I know when it sounds good, so I'll just kind of play around with it and find a good melody and just roll with it.

I read that you might have an album out next year.

I don't know. Who knows? [laughs] At this point there's nothing planned, but I don't know.

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