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.
The film, which was released Friday, is the actress’s 42nd screen credit—not shabby for a 26 year old. It would’ve been her 43rd, had she not lost out on Kirsten Dunst’s Interview With the Vampire role at age 5. It follows her recent string of confident, adult performances: Mildred Pierce, True Blood, The Ides of March. It’s a romantic thriller, in the vein of True Romance or Bonnie Clyde, but beneath the violence of the caper plot, it’s, at its heart, a classic love story. There’s a lost boy, Charlie, and there’s a girl who didn’t know she was the rescuing type until she meets him.
“They’re both in the right place at the right time,” Wood says, “so you have to think if it’s fate or not.” Could an instant spark burn into such an intense romance as quickly as it happens in the movies, as it does in Charlie Countryman in real life? “Absolutely,” Wood says. “I fell in love with my husband that way.”
Wood married Billy Elliot star Jamie Bell last October. (If all you can imagine is a lithe 13-year-old lad pirouetting through northeastern England, then cast those memories away. Bell is now 27-years-old and about to star in Lars Von Trier barenaked sex drama Nymphomaniac. Preview his “O face” here.) Wood gave birth to the couple’s first son at the end of July, and has been cheerfully chatting about her new family on the press circuit for Charlie Countryman.
Having been in the business for more of her life than she’s not been in it, Wood is used to the fascination with her personal life. Having been notoriously candid about her personal life throughout her career, however, she’s having to get used to being more measured in what she reveals about her family.
“People obviously know I was pregnant—can’t hide that—so I have no problem talking about the baby and that we’re doing really well,” she says. “But I haven’t released his name. I’ve done my best to keep his picture from being taken, just because kids don’t really have a choice in the matter. It’s such a shame when kids get harassed just because of who their parents are before they’re old enough to decide who they are or who they want to be.”
If Wood’s opinion on child-stalking paparazzi sounds a bit more reasoned than the histrionic diatribes celebrities usually fire off against the shutter-mongers, it’s because Wood’s never been one to conceal aspects of her life from the press. On the spectrum of flawlessly rehearsed PR speak to refusing to talk to the press at all—the range that we’ve come to expect from celebrities—she’s spoke with a frankness that’s so atypical that it would seem concerning if it wasn’t so refreshing.
There was that time she came out, without prompting, as bisexual…and then confirmed on Twitter that she was still into women just one day after marrying Bell. There’s the unabashed way she talks about on-screen nudity, toasting a vodka tonic with Kate Winslet to her first full-frontal.
There’s also the frequency with which she speaks unfiltered, to the point where almost nothing surprises anymore. In one interview, she talks about said bisexuality, said full-frontal, and also a shameless love for Justin Bieber’s music, and it’s hard to decide which confession is most shocking.
“Oh, we know which one is the most shocking,” she laughs.
Mr. Bieber can also rest assured. The bipedal PR night terror hasn’t lost any of Wood’s affection with his recent bad-boy antics. If anything, it’s only made her feel for him more. “I can’t imagine what it’s like to be him,” she says. “When you’re a teenager in an adult career, people expect you to be perfect and expect you to never make mistakes or to be a reckless teenager. And then when you are, they give you such a really hard time for it. You have to remind them that you’re still a kid.”
Wood may seem like one of the world’s lone remaining Bieber apologists—seriously, that guy—but, an actress from age 9, she is speaking from experience, even if she demures a bit: “I was never a Bieber or a Cyrus, but I think the judgment was there, sure.”
And it was.
With the marriage and the baby, there’s certainly a refocused fascination on Wood’s family life, and it could very well likely be due to the sheer normality of its appearance. That nuclear normality may even be one of the most unexpected turns in Wood’s never-predictable life. This is the actress, after all, who at age 19 began dating shock rocker Marilyn Manson. He was 36.
“People were pretty mean,” she says. “At the time I hadn’t yet been exposed to that kind of cruelty from strangers.” Barely an adult, Wood saw herself plastered on the covers of tabloids with kneejerk, standard fare cover lines splashed across her image: What Is She Thinking?
“If people were wondering why I was acting so-called crazy or like a teenager, it’s because I was,” she says. “People go through phases. People make mistakes. People go through life and don’t get it right every time.”
It’s why when Justin Bieber gets caught at a brothel or Miley Cyrus obstinately smokes a joint on stage, she can’t help, while maybe judging their choices ever-so-slightly, roll her eyes at the culture-at-large’s instinct to diagnose the behavior as part of some terrifying, life-ruining meltdown.
“Like, do people remember when they were that age?” she says. “On this global level, people freak out. They like to be high and mighty and say, ‘Oh, look at that person. I’ve never done anything like that.’ But yes you have. Everyone’s been a crazy kid.”
And those crazy kids grow up. They choose the dancing actor over goth’s reigning dark lord. They choose to devote themselves to their careers more than before, producing some of their best work, racking up award nominations (Wood was up for an Emmy for her role in Mildred Pierce), and shocking the perennial pearl-clutchers with the most shocking development of all: maturity.
But never, ever should they lose that candor.
“Honestly, I think the real story is far more interesting to tell than the fabricated one.”