Compiled by: Jack Foley
Q. You couldn't have have had two more different roles to
play, with Win A Date With Tad Hamilton and Wonderland, so how
did that come to pass?
A. I was on my way back from Hawaii, after doing Blue
Crush, and these two scripts happened to have been sent together,
so I read them back to back and told my agent, 'gosh, I could
do both of these'.
Q. There was no shuffling or juggling to get both projects?
A. No. I did Wonderland first, and then Tad after that.
Q. Both films demonstrate the corrosive nature of celebrity.
Is that something you've had to deal with since your debut in
Robert Redford's movie, The Horse Whisperer?
A. That's interesting. When I was 18, I graduated from High
School and moved out to LA, on my own, and I was really lucky,
because I had a lot of family out there - my grandparents, and
aunts and uncles, and godparents.
So, for me, it was moving out to LA and seeing that lifestyle,
and being fascinated by it, and then being able to come home and
have a normal life.
Q. Have you had to overcome being star-struck at all?
A. I don't know if I'd ever want to overcome star-struckedness.
I hope I'm always star-struck by people.
Q. Can you give us an example of where you have been star-struck?
A. Oh gosh, umm. Kevin Spacey, who I just worked with on a
film called Beyond The Sea. The
Usual Suspects is one of my favourite movies, and he's one
of my favourite actors, and it was sort of funny to be in a situation
where, all of a sudden, your idol wants to meet with you for a
part. You're kind of like, 'what, me?'.
I remember sitting there, waiting at this restaurant for him to
show up, and I was kind of nervous. Then he walked up, and it
was sort of [pulls a look of awe], but he was really wonderful
and it was great.
Q. There's a scene in Tad Hamilton where you go out on your
first date and are hit by a blizzard of flashing cameras. Can
you recall the first time that happened to you?
A. It's always so strange, that whole blizzard of flash bulbs.
You never get used to it, I don't think. The first time I had
to walk the red carpet, which was the first time I had to deal
with it, was for the premiere of Remember The Titans, which Jerry
Bruckheimer produced. So, of course, he did the premiere big.
He held it at The Rosebowl and bussed 15,000 people from all over
California, so there was no pressure.
It was starting up here [points up] and it was wild, and weird.
Q. So was that a defining moment?
A. I was kind of in shock, I think, I mean they make the red
carpet out to be so glamorous and fun, people are waving, etc,
but it's sort of ridiculous because the whole time you're just
trying to figure out what you're doing and where you are going.
Q. Is it difficult to decide what to wear? Or do people offer
you lots of outfits and jewellery to wear for them?
A. Yeah [looks amazed]. That's the really, really fun part!
It's a lot of fun dressing up for things, but there is a bit of
pressure that goes along with it as well. All gossip magazines
have a list of do's and don'ts, and you always hope, 'god, don't
let me be a don't'! But it's fun, you know?
Q. Are you a lot more comfortable now with the pressure and
responsibility of headlining a film, in the light of projects
such as Blue Crush?
A. I don't ever really think of myself as headlining a film,
I never really put that pressure on me. It's more like there's
so many people involved in a project that, at this point, I don't
really think my name will draw people. It's more about how the
film is put together, by the director, the producers and all the
actors involved... everyone.
Q. But it's you who they put in front of us...
A. Yeah, absolutely, but it's still weird seeing my face go
by on the side of a bus!
Q. Do you now understand better how people feel about perceptions
of fame, having been in that sort of frame of mind for Tad Hamilton?
A. It's really sweet when people come up to you.... it's an
amazing thing, I think, to be able to shake someone's hand and
know that you've given them joy from something like that. It's
inspiring and really neat. But I feel very normal, so it sort
of baffles me a bit, the whole celebrity thing.
Q. But do you get people coming up to you and not knowing
what to do, so you have to lead them through it?
A. Yeah, it's very funny actually, because they come up and
just kind of stand there sometimes. Usually they become more and
more at ease, if you start asking questions about them. Then they
begin to have more of a conversation with you, once they realise
you're just a person.
Q. It says in the publicity that you'll be going to Princeton
University this year. Has that been something of a dilemma, the
combination of your education and acting?
A. Oh yeah, constantly. Throughout High School, I did a few
small parts here and there, but it was mainly my focus to do well
But, then again, I'd go away for two months and have to correspond
with my teachers, and work all day on-set and then work six hours
on school stuff, so it was a constant struggle.
So when I graduated High School, I thought I'd defer from college
and focus on work, which I've been doing for the past couple of
But now I have a place at Princeton and now I feel ready to devote
myself to that.
Q. What will you be studying?
A. Psychology, I think.
A. Well, I took a course in High School, just as an elective,
and really, really enjoyed it. I think it definitely ties in with
acting. I think it's trying to figure out what makes people do
what they do, or trying to figure out and understand how a person
Q. You do realise that once you do this course, and come back
here to promote your next big movie, you'll be psycho-analysing
A. How do you know I'm not doing that right now [laughs].
Q. Are you actually taking three years out of acting?
A. No, I probably do either semesters. I wouldn't do three
years straight, I'd rather focus a year on one, and then a year
on the other. I'll do it based on instinct, I think.
Q. And how easy will it be to include your voluntary work
A. Oh God, this is the first time that I haven't had a project
set up, or coming up next, so it's been really great because I've
been able to think about what I'm going to do with my voluntary
Q. Did you find it very daunting taking on the Sandra Dee
role [Beyond The Sea], who was someone very famous?
A. It was incredibly daunting, but not so much because it
was someone who was famous, but more because of the complexity
of her character. I play Sandra when she's 16 to 27, so it was
incredibly large range for me. I'm 21, so I had to recall being
16 and imagine being 27 in one day.
She's an interesting woman, because she has sort of been the golden
girl, she was the biggest box office draw for six years in the
1960s. She's that, and then behind that is a lot of darkness,
so it was interesting to go deeper into what she was all about.
Q. Returning to Wonderland, how much did you know about John
Holmes before you did this?
A. I didn't know anything, actually. I read the script and
that was my introduction to John Holmes. I was born in 1983 and
the murders happened in '81, so I hadn't heard of him really.
So just reading the script was my first understanding of it, and
I just thought it was a really fascinating, tragic story.
Q. One of the pitfalls of fame is that you can become too
closely associated with one type of role. Have you felt those
pressures, that people are trying to push you into a particular
box, or are you happy being able to find your 'inner dork', as
you have been quoted as saying?
A. [Laughs] That was for Tad Hamilton, which was such a blast
to play, this girl who was so unaware of what people thought about
her, and just sort of did what she felt like.
I hate the idea of anybody being categorized or being put into
a box. Everyone has layers, everyone has complexities, so to put
people somebody into a box is ridiculous to me. So I think I try
and play different parts just to not be pigeonholed.
Q. Will that mean maybe generating your own projects?
A. Yeah, I'd love to, that would be great. That's a goal,
Q. How hard are you going to have to work at Princeton, so
that you don't carry this image in with you of someone who is
an actress, who might be playing at being a student? Does that
A. I don't think so because in my experience of Princeton,
it's a lot of people that have different unique aspects to their
life, where they will go off and do certain things, such as working
with particular sciences, for example, and then coming back and
studying. And Princeton is really amazing in how it allows you
to do that, because it's kind of the only way you're going to
figure out what you want to do, isn't it?
Q. Who would you ideally like to win a date with?
A. I'd have to say, if I could win a date with any person,
it would probably be James Dean.
Q. Now you have to follow up with an explanation?
A. James Dean requires no explanation, he's just cool!
Q. Coming back to the university issue, are you worried that
you might lose your place in the Hollywood pecking order, by taking
A. No, not really. Just because I wouldn't choose to live
my life in that way. It's not something I'm focused on. To be
honest, the more people I talk to in the business, and well-respected
people, say 'go'. So it's interesting to hear what people have
And I also think it's good to have experiences outside of Hollywood
to be honest with you. You know what I mean? To have your own
deal, rather than to be shackled to that.
Q. But you have already done that, when you pulled back, earlier
in your career, just to be a student...
A. Yeah, absolutely. I just try to stay happy, and if I feel
like all of a sudden that's becoming too much, like the whole
business is becoming too much pressure, I think it's nice to have
other things in your life you can focus on.
Q. What's it like having a boyfriend in the acting business?
Are there pros and cons?
A. Yeah, pros and cons, like anything.
Q. Is the idea of dating an actor like Tad Hamilton?
A. Well yeah, it's interesting to play it in the movie, and
have it relate to your own life. It's very weird when you open
up a magazine and see a picture that you have no idea was taken
when you were there. That's very bizarre. I have to keep the paranoia
in check, sometimes.
Q. Which actresses do you draw inspiration from?
A. I love Cate Blanchett; obviously, she's incredibly brilliant,
but the way she balances her life is really admirable. And Meryl
Q. Do blondes have more fun?
A. It's funny, I just bought a shirt saying 'brunettes have
Q. Val Kilmer carries a certain stigma that he's difficult
to work with, and that he hits on all his leading ladies. Did
you experience any of those?
A. [Laughs] Umm, honestly, no. He does seem to have that reputation,
but I think he was really in love with the project and was really
committed. He knew exactly what he was doing, which I think shows
in his performance.
Q. What do you think about the intrusion into your private
life? Do you get a lot of it?
A. I guess it comes with the territory, doesn't it. So I think
it's something everyone has to come to terms with, and you have
to just deal with it at some point. For me, it comes along with
the job that I like to do. It inevitably adds pressure to your
life and it's not fun to deal with, but I try not to let it.
Q. You've also done another movie, can you tell us a bit about
A. It's The Bee Season, which I do a cameo in, starring Richard
Gere and Juliette Binoche. I was really lucky to do that.
Q. Have you had any awful first dates?
A. Oh man. I don't even try to be cool and sophisticated any
more. I remember the first time that I decided I was going to
cook dinner for a guy, and it was my High School sweetheart, and
I was 16, so I decided to cook his favourite dish, which was chicken
cacciatore. I have no idea to cook anything out of the box, so
I decided to take this on.
But I thought I did really well, and then he came over and started
picking out all these things in the dinner that he didn't like.
So I was devastated that all these ingredients got pushed to the
side and I got quite upset, cos I'd worked so hard. It was so