After a stint on “True Blood,” an Emmy nomination for “Mildred Pierce” and now a head-turning role in the George Clooney-directed “The Ides of March,” how’s Evan Rachel Wood feeling about her ever-intensifying career?
“I feel like I can relax a little bit,” the 24-year-old actress tells PopcornBiz.
Wood doesn’t mean she’s stepping back a bit from the spotlight that’s been cast on her. It means that after working hard to impress Hollywood since age 7, she’s finally feeling at ease, both with her success and her determination to continue in her craft. “I want to just keep making good decisions,” says Wood. “I feel like I'm really ready to do it and I feel like I'm really ready to embrace it, and for this to be my kind of life choice.”
She says that early on she enjoyed the focus acting prompted that led her to reveal herself as a preternaturally talented young performer in diverse array of projects, TV’s “Once and Again” and the film “Thirteen” among them.
“It was a great outlet because I always had a lot of energy and was really hyper,” she explains. “I was good at it and I had fun, and now that I'm older it's just cool to think that you can work with such amazing and talented people and you get to know artists and you get to tell stories. It gives you a voice and it's kind of amazing, a great opportunity to get out there and go on record and be heard. I really see the art in it now and the fun. It's just a cool thing to be able to do. It's hard. It's work, but it's so worth it.”
She didn’t always feel that way, and she still had reservations about putting a child on the same path. “Sometimes parents come up to me and they go ‘Should I let my daughter be an actress?’ and I’ve had a real dilemma of going ‘Yes! Yeah, do it!’ because there are so many sacrifices,” she says. “You sacrifice your childhood. It’s really a lot, so I don’t know if I would advise it. I don’t regret my life because I’m really happy but that’s not to say that it hasn’t been really difficult. I don’t know if I would advocate it. It’s kind of dangerous.”
Wood reveals that by the time she hit her late teens she made a conscious decision to dive headfirst into whatever life offered her, indulging herself in a bid to find a certain kind of balance. It was during this period that she entered into – and often out of – her highly publicized relationship with shock-rocker Marilyn Manson, which ended in 2010.
“I think the point of having those years was to be as crazy as possible because I didn’t really have a childhood or an adolescence,” she says. “I didn’t have that time, so it was like ‘All right, I’ve got to do this. I’ve got to get to know myself and know what’s out there and have my fun so that I can really focus and commit to this life and this career and get serious.’ But I knew before I was going to do that that I was going to be very unserious.”
Today, she says that particular journey is over – but well worth it. “I think things have definitely calmed down a lot for the better, but I’m really glad I had that time because it just teaches you so much about yourself,” she offers. “I feel like you can’t be an actor without life experience and without things to draw from. It was all an amazing learning experience. I gained many tools.”
Wood says she’s currently enjoying a well-balanced schedule of intense career time and restorative me-time. “I work kind of back-to-back-to-back and then I take a lot of time off – I have to really work hard and play hard,” she explains. “I make sure to stay really grounded as much as I can, because you're just living out of a suitcase most of the time. It's just a crazy blur. It's taken years to really get used to it, but now it's like second nature. It's weird for me to actually put clothes in a closet, like hang them up and put them away, because it's pointless, just pointless, to do that.”
Unlike her “Ides” director Clooney, Wood says she doesn’t have a knack for delving into the kind of hard-knock politics that frame the film. “I try and stay really informed and involved, but I get really emotional,” she admits. “When people are going to have a political debate, I'm the one that has to get up and leave the room because I just can't take it.”
She does, however, see the parallels between the Beltway and Hollywood. “It's all politics – ALL politics,” she affirms. “A lot of politicians can probably relate to actors in a weird way because they have it much worse. They have to charm an entire country and world and they have to play to so many different audiences. So for a lot of it, you can't NOT have to put on a show and entertain. There's a lot of compromises in there and a lot of moral dilemmas, I'm sure.”
But even as she’s been marked as a prime candidate for future success in showbiz, Wood swears she’s not embracing her own hype. “I just want to stay level headed and keep my feet firmly planted on the ground,” she says. “I appreciate it, but other than that I know what a spaz I am.”