At just 25 years of age, Evan Rachel Wood has established herself as a gifted, highly unpredictable actress. After her breakout role as a troubled young girl in Thirteen, she’s gone on to star in a diverse array of films, including Julie Taymor’s musical Across the Universe, Darren Aronofsky’s dark drama The Wrestler, and George Clooney’s political thriller The Ides of March.
A very pregnant Wood is at Tribeca to unveil her latest film, romantic comedy A Case of You. Directed by Kat Coiro from a screenplay by brothers Justin and Christian Long, the film stars Justin Long as Sam, a disillusioned novelist who is infatuated with Byrdie (Wood) the barista at his local Brooklyn coffee shop. He eventually stalks her Facebook profile and seeks to win her over by becoming the man he thinks she wants—that is, conforming to all the things under her “likes” section. The experiment goes swimmingly, until Sam realizes he may be biting off more than he can chew. The film boasts a stellar supporting cast as well, including Vince Vaughn as a snappy agent, Peter Dinklage as a saucy gay barista, and Sam Rockwell as a stoner guitar instructor.
Wood sat down with The Daily Beast at Tribeca to discuss her film, pregnancy (her husband is actor Jamie Bell), her fantastic Twitter account, and her decision to come out as bisexual via social media.
What attracted you to the role of Byrdie?She’s fearless, and the complete opposite of Justin’s character. The whole point is she needed to be everything intimidating to someone who’s insecure, because she’s the most confident, free-spirited girl with a pixie cut that’s an artist. She seems like a fairy, on the surface. What attracted me is it’s different from everything else I’ve played because I usually do more intense roles, so it was nice to smile and have a good time.
Did you feel like you were getting pigeonholed as the “brooding, intense young woman?”No, but I’m sure I wasn’t the first name that came to mind when they’re doing a comedy. People who I’ve worked with are always like, “Why aren’t you doing comedy? You’re funny!” because they’ve only seen the one side. I did do the comedy Whatever Works, with Woody Allen and Larry David.
Can you tell me something funny or strange about Larry? He’s so great.He loves Steppenwolf, which I didn’t know. He loves it! We’d rock out to “Magic Carpet Ride.”
Now I’m picturing Larry blasting Steppenwolf in his Prius. Byrdie is a caricature artist. Do you have any strange hidden talents?Yes. Obviously, I’m pregnant and I looked at my husband one day and I was like, “I’m going to crochet the baby a blanket!” And he was like, “What?” And then I got all the supplies and started crocheting this blanket in front of him, and he was like, “Are there any other hidden talents I should know about? I had no idea you could crochet!”
How far along are you, if you don’t mind me asking?I’m close! I’m in the home stretch.
Do you play it music?I do! My friend Toby got me this belt that you put around the belly so it’s like Surround Sound, and I found all these great lullaby renditions of rock ‘n roll songs, like Nirvana, Led Zeppelin, and Radiohead. It’s awesome.
Back to hidden talents—there is a joke about Judo in the film, and I heard you have a black belt in Taekwondo?[At this point, Justin Long—who apparently had been eavesdropping on the interview—screams “WHAT?” from the hallway and comes into the room]
Long: I did not know that! What don’t you do?!?
Wood: I have a black belt and used to compete when I was a kid! I did the Junior Olympics.
Long: I’ve known you for so long, I can’t believe I didn’t know that! OK, carry on. [Leaves]
Have you ever had to use your Taekwondo skills?I used to get beat up in school around fifth grade, but it’s funny because I refused to use it when I got beat up. I just thought you weren’t supposed to. But I think once I did. I just did a really crazy kick and everyone was like, “OK, I’m gonna go away now.”
Are you active on Facebook?I am on Facebook but it’s mainly for friends and family, so it’s not my real name. But I am on Twitter a lot. I resisted it for so long, but I love it because I get to connect with people I look up to—actors, comedians, and singers. I’ve made new friends and I get tickets to shows and things, like I’ll mention a band and get a tweet back that says, “You’re on the list,” and I’m like, “I love Twitter!” I follow a lot of news sources so I get news really quickly, and I love it because you get to talk about whatever issue you’re passionate about, so I’ve used it to rah-rah for certain things.
Gay marriage is a big issue that I see you talking about a lot on Twitter.I’m out [as a] bisexual, so I get questions and curiosity from people who don’t genuinely know and want to ask questions. People will start out not believing it and by the end of it you find that you’ve reached some kind of understanding with people—some middle ground. And then other people start talking, other people tell their stories. Even people that come out so against it, it’s very interesting for me to hear the other side.
There’s been this big sea change now with Obama endorsing gay marriage and you even have R&B singers like Frank Ocean coming out as bisexual. Back when we were kids, you never would’ve seen any of that.Yeah! And I think part of that is just where we are. It’s become more socially acceptable. With me, the reason why I came out is because I felt like now was the time to no longer be silent about it.
Had you been reluctant to come out for a little while?I wanted to wait for the right time and wait to have enough years under my belt where people knew that it wasn’t a phase or anything and I wasn’t doing it for attention; this is a part of who I am, and I’m old enough to really know who I am by now. And I had to wait until I told my family, too, which I was really nervous about! And I have a really chill, understanding family, too.
The film is really about trying to please your partner so much in the relationship that you lose sight of who you really are. Have you ever been in one of those relationships where you felt like you lost sight of who you are?I think everyone feels a little of that when he or she starts dating—you just like someone so much that you’ll do anything to make them happy. And in the process, you lose yourself and neglect your own feelings, and then one day you ask yourself, “Why am I so unhappy?” I started learning another language. Swedish. That’s probably the craziest thing I’ve ever done. It was a bad idea.
You do a beautiful job singing in Case of You, and of course in Across the Universe. Had you ever thought of releasing an album?I’d like to do it at some point, but I’ve resisted because I act for my job and that’s this creative thing that I do, and it’s a passion but it’s still a job. Artists are sensitive about their stuff. Singing makes me so happy and feeds my soul so much that I almost wouldn’t want it to get tainted and become this work thing. Maybe one of these days I’ll just say screw it. I sing very loudly, so I feel like it would have to be Janis-y.
Was that your real back tattoo in the movie?They let me keep my tattoo, yeah. It’s an Edgar Allen Poe quote from “A Dream Within A Dream.” It says, “All that we see or seem is but a dream within a dream.”
I remember I saw Thirteen with my little sister when she was 13 and I told her, “Don’t you ever do any of that.” Was it strange to be immediately thrust into the spotlight at 14?It was, and I don’t think I realized it until I was older and looked back on it. It was zero-to-a-hundred, and it all happened so fast. It was a blessing and a curse. I’m proud of that film and it’s still moving people, but you’re so young and you’re thrust into the spotlight, and you’re supposed to show the world who you are before you even know who you are. “This is me, but I don’t even know who I am!” Then you have to grow up in front of everybody and go through all your awkward stages. And then you go, “I’m going to go be a goth kid because I’m 19,” and the whole world freaks out and you’re like, “You know I’m still a teenager, right?”
The first time I went to Sundance was in 2005, and you had Pretty Persuasion and The Upside of Anger in it. Your husband, Jamie Bell, also had The Chumscrubber there…Yeah! That’s how we met! We met at that Sundance Film Festival. We fell in love at that festival.
That’s crazy. I was at the after-party for The Chumscrubber there. So it wasn’t the Green Day video for “Wake Me Up When September Ends” that you two met?That’s what everyone always says, but we never said that. We were already dating and very much in love when we did that music video, that’s why it’s so good. [Laughs]
You and Jamie initially split up and then found each other again. That’s tough to do.Yeah, but you know, that’s the real test: If you can go away and come back. It just never went away. Sometimes, you break up with people and it goes away, but this only got worse. It felt like a fate thing—this thing inside both of us that felt like we needed to be together.
Your movie choices have been so diverse, and mostly indie—you’ve really shied away from the two-dimensional female roles in blockbuster films. Has that been a conscious choice for you?Yeah, and sometimes I’ve been too picky. Not that there’s anything wrong with doing big blockbusters, but I wanted to go do movies that I wanted to go see. I’ve managed to work with a lot of my favorite directors and actors. I did like doing roles that were I guess… I don’t want to say extreme but just not the norm, because I’m a little weird.