For over a decade now, we’ve watched Evan Rachel Wood prove herself to be one of the finest actresses in Hollywood. Known for taking on more psychologically penetrating and dark roles, with her early films such as Thirteen and Down in the Valley to more recent forays into drama with Mildred Pierce and The Ides of March, what has always set Wood apart is her fearlessness in taking on a challenge and her desire to never fall into the same role twice.
Earlier this year, we saw her as an emotionally damaged Romanian musician opposite Shia Labeouf in Charlie Countryman, but with an affinity for comedy, Wood has taken on a handful of lighter roles that shed light on her ability to transform with each film. She made us laugh in Woody Allen’sWhatever Works, sang to us in Across the Universe, and now gives us another trip into cinema’s softer fare with Andrew Fleming’s Barefoot.
The film follows Jay (Scott Speedman), an indolent and indulgent black sheep of his family, who meets a young woman in a psychiatric hospital and brings her home for his brother’s wedding. Wood plays the mentally unsound patient, Daisy—a child-like woman who has been kept in isolation by her unstable mother for her entire life. But after the death of her mother, Daisy is committed to the hospital, where Jay works as a janitor. Also starring J.K. Simmons, Treat Williams, and Kate Burton the film takes a playful look at an unlikely romance between two damaged people.
Last week, I spoke with Wood about her desire for comedy in her life, the excitement of becoming another person, and taking something away with each role.
How did you come across this film and decide it was something you wanted to take on?
I’ve done a lot of really heavy dramas, and I think after a while you need a break from that—your psyche needs a break. And also, I wanted to show a different side of me, and I really wanted to do something accessible and sweet and romantic, but still off beat. So I thought this would fit that mold perfectly.
In Andrew Fleming’s Barefoot, Scott Speedman plays Jay Wheeler, the “black sheep” of a wealthy and prominent family led by Treat Williams and Kate Burton. Working at a mental health facility, Jay meets a young woman named Daisy, played by Evan Rachel Wood, who has lived her entire life in isolation. To try to convince his family that he’s finally straightened out his life, Jay takes the sheltered Daisy home for his brother’s wedding. An improbable romance blooms between the two and Daisy impresses everyone in Jay’s high-brow family with her honestly and simplicity. But, of course, the ruse is revealed and both Jay and Daisy find themselves in a lot of trouble.
Evan Rachel Wood has been doing great work since she was a little girl in TV shows such as American Gothic, Once and Again and more recently True Blood, and in movies including Thirteen, Running with Scissors, Across the Universe, The Wrestler and The Ides of March. She was nominated for an Emmy and a Golden Globe for her work on the HBO mini-series Mildred Pierce opposite Kate Winslet. Wood received a lot of attention for her long-term relationship with rocker Marilyn Manson but she is now married to actor Jamie Bell (Billy Elliot, The Fantastic Four) and they have a young child.
I spoke with Evan Rachel Wood by phone.
Danny Miller: I admire your work so much and how you don’t seem to make career decisions based on how “big” a project is or how much money you can make. How do you decide these days what kinds of movies you want to make?
Evan Rachel Wood: When I read a script, I have to get butterflies in my stomach. I have to get excited about it, I have to connect with it in some kind of fundamental way. Otherwise, I know I’ll turn into a moody artist! If I get into a situation where I don’t like what I’m doing, I’ll be miserable! It’s just not worth it to me.
Good for you — even if it sometimes makes your agents wring their hands!
It’s a blessing and a curse! I could definitely make more money. But you have to make those decisions based on what you think is going to fulfill you, especially since it takes you away from your family and your friends, and you’re going to be alone for long stretches of time. I have to really love it.
Evan Rachel Wood’s latest film, Barefoot, opens in theaters today (February 21st). This very charming romantic comedy has an unusual premise: Wood’s character, Daisy, is an escaped mental patient. She stars opposite Scott Speedman, who plays the facility’s janitor, who tries to pass her off as his nurse girlfriend to get back into his wealthy, Southern family’s good graces. For Evan Rachel Wood, who’s known for tackling heavier, dramatic roles in films such as The Wrestler, The Ides of March, or Thirteen, this is a much different character than we’re used to seeing her play, and it’s a delight to watch her having so much fun.
Wood took some time to speak with us about taking on her most broadly comic role yet, her upcoming film Into the Forest with Ellen Page, and which recent Under the Radar cover artists she’s loving right now.
Austin Trunick [Under the Radar]: Just to clarify for readers who haven’t seen Barefoot yet, you play the female lead in this romantic comedy who also happens to be an escaped mental patient…
Evan Rachel Wood: Yes. Does that sound funny? [laughs]
Meanwhile, the male lead, Scott Speedman’s character, is a huge jerk who’s going to be killed by some mobsters if he doesn’t pay back his gambling debts.
ERW: That’s so funny.
Those two are a strange mix, wouldn’t you say?
ERW: Yeah, absolutely!
Even with those dark elements mixed in, the movie’s very funny. What appealed most to you about the film? Was it your character, or maybe the unusual premise?
ERW: I did like the unusual premise, and I liked that it was a dark comedy. But also, I was looking for a really accessible, fun romantic comedy I could do. I’d been doing really heavy-hitting dramas for a while. As an actor, you don’t really want to keep doing the same things, you kind of want to show all your colors. And I think my psyche kind of needed a break from all the dark drama! So I just wanted to do something that was really fun, so that appealed to me about it; and, that it was an unconventional love story. I’m still me, and I still like unconventional things.
From “Thirteen” on, Evan Rachel Wood has been known to take on some seriously dramatic fare. So when “Barefoot” came around, Wood was more than ready to kick her heels off.
"I’ve done a lot of really heavy-hitting dramas, and I really was looking for an accessible, sweet, fun, romantic movie, that was still kind of weird. And I think it fits that mold pretty well," Wood told us recently over the phone.
Wood plays Daisy Kensington, an escaped psychiatric patient who falls for Jay Wheeler (Scott Speedman), the estranged son of a wealthy Southern family. When Daisy accompanies Jay to his brother’s wedding, well, let’s just say there’s a lot of mermaid-out-of-water moments. “Someone who’s seen the movie compared her to Ariel in ‘The Little Mermaid.’ They were kind of waiting for her to brush a fork through her hair,” said Wood.
Wood’s silly side comes out not just in “Barefoot”, which opens in limited release and On Demand this weekend, but also in our POPsessions interview below, where Wood divulged all her secret pop culture obsessions.
1. What was the first movie you saw?
Well, I watched a lot of Disney movies, but my first movie movie was probably “E.T.” It was all from the kids perspective, which I think is why a lot of people kind of connected to it. Even the camera angles are from the child’s perspective, you just the waists of the adults.
2. What movie do you absolutely always stop and watch if you see it on cable?
"Death Becomes Her." I can watch that movie a million times and it never gets old, I don’t know what it is about it… well everyone’s hilarious and brilliant in it, that’s probably why. And it’s always on.
Ahead of the EFM, Celsius Entertainment has boarded sales on writer-director Patricia Rozema’s (Mansfield Park) apocalyptic/eco drama Into The Forest, set to star Ellen Page and Evan Rachel Wood.
Page also produces the Canadian feature, based on Jean Hegland’s novel of the same name, which begins filming this coming April on Vancouver Island.
Into The Forest recounts the story of two sisters, played by Page and Wood, struggling to survive after the collapse of society in the not too distant future.
Page recently wrapped on the seventh installation of the X-Men franchise, X-Men: Days of Future Past, and is attached to Fox’s Queen and Country. Wood recently finished filming Andrew Fleming’s Barefoot.
Actress Evan Rachel Wood burst onto the scene in 2003’s “Thirteen” playing a troubled teen. Her powerhouse portrayal of a young girl on a downward spiral into drugs, sex and crime was critically praised and launched her career. Since then, Wood has continued to take on provocative roles in indies and television, and has also stretched out her vocal chops singing Beatles hits in the Julie Taymor directed “Across the Universe.”
In her latest “Charlie Countryman,” Wood co-stars alongside Shia LaBeouf’s title character as a Romanian cellist whose violent ex-husband might mean trouble for the smitten Charlie.
On the eve of the film’s release (it opens in select theaters today and is available to view on VOD), we sat down with Wood to chat about the film, shooting in Romania, karaoke, LSD, her new life as a mom and her musical future.
So tell me about Romania, that’s where you shot, right?
Yes we shot in Bucharest in Romania. Romania was really good to us honestly, it’s a place that has a really rich history and a not always pleasant one with a lot of violence. That city’s been through a lot. It’s actually a line in the film, it’s made them stronger, it’s given them so much character. And our Romanian crew was incredible. Their work ethic there is very impressive. I liked it there.
Evan Rachel Wood has largely managed to stay out of the public eye except when she has a movie out, she says — something that her most recent costar, Shia LaBeouf, has yet to learn.
The two pair up in the new movie “Charlie Countryman,” in which LaBeouf’s title character goes on a psychedelic voyage to Romania — during which he feels compelled to save, again and again, the alluring and endangered Gabi (played by Wood with a thick local accent). LaBeouf’s been dogged by public interest in what he described as his drug use on the set of “Countryman,” as well as a turbulent period that began when he quit the Broadway show he was working on with Alec Baldwin.
By contrast, Wood, a recent new mother, keeps a low media profile, even in spite of interest in her relationships past (Marilyn Manson) and present (Jamie Bell). The actress, known for turns in “The Wrestler,” “Thirteen” and “The Ides of March,” as well as on “True Blood,” dismissed criticisms of LaBeouf — “He’s insanely focused — kind of a Method actor” — and why she’s tuned out haters online. “It does me more good to lick a toilet seat than to care what people say about me or my personal life on the Internet.”
How do you feel about social media? I see you’re on Twitter with a funny bio link: fuckyeahevanrwood.tumblr.com.
Evan: [Laughs] Yeah, I saw that and thought it was hilarious, so I decided to make that my own page.
Wait, what? lol
She’s the girl you love.
In Charlie Countryman, Evan Rachel Wood is Gabi, the girl you meet for two seconds and instantly fall for. Well, Shia LaBeouf’s Charlie is the one who falls for her, but you do, too. She’s the hardened Romanian cellist with the short hair red hair, and brittle gaze betraying a lost soul. She’s the girl you love.
Charlie just lost his mother, and escapes the pain with a trip to Bucharest. Gabi just lost her father, and escapes the pain with a trip to Charlie’s heart. Wood, 26, has been acting on screen since she was 9—transfixing as an adolescent addict in Thirteen, hypnotizing as a young lover in Across the Universe, and heartbreaking as a neglected daughter in The Wrestler. In Charlie Countryman, she’s the girl so interesting, so spellbinding, that a perfect stranger is ready to risk his life to reach her heart, even if he has travel through her violent past and face-off against her criminal ex to get to it.
After getting to know straight-shooting, ever beguiling, always unpredictable Evan Rachel Wood over nearly two decades in the business, the same thing could be said about the actress as her Charlie Countryman character.
Evan Rachel Wood, 26, and her husband, actor Jamie Bell, 27, had their first child, a son, on July 29, 2013. She chose a natural home birth, for which she credits Ricki Lake’s inspirational documentary, “The Business of Being Born.” Wood still rocks the baby glow on her face and her body looks amazing.
TheBlot caught up with her Wednesday in SoHo. Wood wore stylish black pants, a black vest, and colorful sleeves that set off her cropped haircut and hypnotizing green eyes.
Dorri Olds: Congratulations on being a mom. What do you like most about motherhood?
Evan Rachel Wood: Everything. It was my dream to be a mom, so I’m loving it.
Is it hard getting back into the swing of work after having the baby?
Yeah, these last couple of days I’ve been having separation anxiety. I’m so used to having the baby right here [motions to her chest]. It’s strange. They become a part of you.
Was it difficult juggling baby time in between your hectic movie schedule?
I was lucky because I’d just done three films and then I got pregnant. I was like, “I’ve got things in the can and I’m taking a break!”
It just felt like the right time?
Yeah, it worked out perfectly.