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THE SUNDAY CONVERSATION

A schooling in film

April 13, 2008|Choire Sicha | Special to The Times

EVAN RACHEL WOOD might be tight-lipped about her work in the movie Woody Allen is shooting in New York -- about which she would reveal absolutely nothing! But the 20-year-old muse to rocker Marilyn Manson had more to say about appearing with Uma Thurman in Vadim Perelman's new film, "The Life Before Her Eyes," which explores the aftereffects of a school shooting and opens in limited release Friday.

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You're such a believable gum-snapping high school girl.

Ha. I really like the film a lot. It was a really strange but cool script. And I was curious to see if they could pull it off going back and forth between me and Uma -- if people would get annoyed by it or get confused. But it flows really well. And it's shot beautifully.

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That can't really have been a treat to film.

Yeah, it was a little rough. Me and Eva [Amurri, who plays her character's best friend] got along great, and we definitely had fun, but some of it was pretty grueling. And the swimming pool scenes were incredibly cold. I've got some great photos of me running into the house with 20 blankets wrapped around me and shivering. That was the hardest thing to shoot.

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You're back to back [on sets, but before that], did you, like, sit around and think about roles and look at scripts?

Yeah, I mean, I've been keeping an eye out for things. I just waited to see what was going to come my way. I was supposed to do a film called "Bronte," but it's hard with those independent films sometimes to get them off the ground, so that got pushed.

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You need to start working on a "Speed Racer" or something.

Why?

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A little job security?

I haven't had a problem.

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But you don't seem to be angling for a big money movie.

No, no. It's not satisfying. It doesn't matter how much I get paid for something. It won't, I dunno, do anything for me if I don't like the movie or am embarrassed by it. . . . Having integrity . . . definitely hurts your buying sprees, but I can sleep at night. I like that I never kind of have to worry or cringe when someone walks up to me and says, 'I love you in . . .' and you're like, was it something I was embarrassed of? I have to connect to something or else it's not going to work.

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And how was the Darren Aronofsky set [for "The Wrestler"]?

It was incredible. He's been a director that was very close to the top of people I wanted to work with. I was just having a ball. It's an amazing script, and I think Mickey Rourke is an incredible actor, and all my scenes are with him. Darren warned me in advance, saying, 'It's going to be really get up and go, you're going to come to the set and start shooting. We might not really rehearse, I don't do that many takes, anything can happen.' He wasn't kidding! The first day he said, 'Go in the house, Mickey's outside, just walk out of the house.' We hadn't blocked it, I hadn't even shaken Mickey's hand or anything, and it was a pretty emotional scene. But I was up for it.

It actually really worked out for all the scenes. There was no stopping. I even sliced my thumb open during one of the takes. I have a scar now. And an ambulance came and he said, 'We can stop shooting or we can use Krazy Glue or run it under hot water and keep going.' And I had to keep going. It was in the middle of a take. I'm looking at Mickey and doing this really intense kind of monologue and I'm like, what, is my hand wet? My whole hand is red. Darren's behind the camera going, 'That's great! Look at your hand! ' And he gets the makeup artist over, saying, 'Take a picture of it! We have to take note of this!' There's a lot of blood in the movie.

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It sounds ... fun?

If I'm going to cut my hand open on anything, I'm glad it was a scene with Mickey Rourke. You see this, Darren? Sweat, blood and tears for you.

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You're the first person about whom a publicist has ever requested that I not ask about her personal life. So I'm not.

Good!

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I was like, her? Of all people?

Don't ask! Do you have to ask? Do you need to ask? . . . You don't really need to know anything.

You're making choices you have to make at your age about how you work and how you present yourself.

I'm having an easier time of it now. I'm more in control of it. Before, it was harder, because I had a lot more cooks in the kitchen, and everybody was telling me what was right and wrong and how I should present myself. The films that I do have never changed, but I think I'm much more honest about me and a lot happier about it.

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If you have people around who are getting paid to give bad advice. . . .

Nobody has bad intentions. It was just not me. Everyone wanted to keep me very safe, and I guess I just don't play it safe.

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Well, as long as you're having fun.

Yeah, I am, and that's what I try to remind people. I have to be having fun, and I am being safe and I'm happy, and that's all I can ask for.

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