She is beautiful, talented and diverse, to put it mildly. A major force in Hollywood since she was 13, almost a decade later and she remains confidant and a risk taker.
Her latest film, Woody Allen’s “Whatever Works”, casts her as a young woman whose chance meeting with the eccentric Boris [Larry David] results in a strange, but developing relationship.
It is quite the departure for the actress who is about to make her Broadway debut in “Spider-Man”. Paul Fischer caught up with the actress in this exclusive interview.
Question: I take it that in the case of a Woody Allen film, it’s a matter of – he calls, you respond.
Wood: Yeah. I got a letter.
Question: You got a letter?
Question: Now, he’s very secretive. I mean, how much of the script did you know about when you approached it?
Wood: I got a letter and the script, and he only gives the actors the scenes that they’re in. And I got the whole script. And was just delighted when I read it, because I thought it was very classic Woody Allen humor. I think he actually wrote it a long time ago, and it’s just now coming out. But – I was just excited, but nervous. You know, he just flat out asked me if I wanted to do it. And, you know, he said if I don’t like it, ” We’ll find something else.” And – you know, it’s hard not to like a Woody Allen script.
Question: You’ve done comedy, obviously, but the Woody Allen style of humor is definitely very specific. I’m wondering how, as an actor, you were able to delve into his comic sensibility, and how difficult was that?
Wood: It was the hardest thing I’d ever done. I mean, just because I want to do it justice. The writing is so good. You know, luckily, a lot of it is just there. But it’s just knowing it like the back of your hand. He likes to do everything in one take as much as possible. And – you know, most of the scenes are just mainly dialogue. And with Larry and I, it was about ten pages of dialogue. But Larry was great, and we rehearsed together quite a bit. And Patricia Clarkson. And we just had a great time. You know, part of the fun was breaking down the scenes, and figuring it out. And everybody synching up and being on the same page. That was the fun part.
Question: Woody does have this reputation of being very shy, and not as communicative with his actors as some actors would like. How did you find him, as a director?
Wood: It’s definitely a challenge, but I really appreciate the way that he works, because it is scary, at first. You know, he does give you direction. But it’s just very direct, and simple. And I think that’s how he likes it. But he wants you to play with it. And he doesn’t mind if you mess up. I think those are his favorite takes, actually. And – I don’t think he wants you to think about it too much. I think it’s all there, and he goes over the script with you and just says – you know, as long as you stay within these lines, you can say whatever you want.
Question: And how much of an improviser are you?
Wood: Usually I’m pretty good at it. But I was pretty nervous on this set. So, I tried improv’ing. But you know what? Woody Allen was staring at me, and Larry David was staring at me. And I just lost it. I just didn’t know where I was in the scene, and I lost it. But – once I got comfortable, then it was okay, and I would throw things in there every now and then. But – funny enough, not a lot is improv’d. And I think that’s kind of the genius of the way Woody writes, you know? I watched the movie, and it just feels like we’re having a completely normal conversation. It doesn’t feel like we’ve said those lines a million times.
Question: Is Larry what you expect him to be as a co-star? I mean, again, he is somebody who has a particular persona. Did he live up to that persona?
Wood: Oh, absolutely, but in the best possible way. He’s – he’s a good guy. He’s a funny guy. I mean, watching him and Woody Allen together was just unreal. Because I would love to – if I had to pick certain people I would love to pick in a room and just see what happens, they would probably be a part of that. So, I felt privileged to be working with both of them at the same time.
Question: I guess the first time I met you was for Thirteen. Things have changed a lot for you.
Wood: A little bit. Well, thank God.
Question: Right. What have been the challenges for you to break out of adolescence, and then make this segue into young adult roles?
Wood: I didn’t really give people much of a choice. I was breaking out. I – it’s been less of a challenge, I think, because I’ve always done adult – this sounds so wrong. I was about to say, ” I’ve always done adult movies.” But that just doesn’t sound right. Saying that sounds wrong. [LAUGHTER] But, you know, more mature films. So I think it’s a little easier for people to accept me as an adult. But I can’t wait to really – to not actually have parents in a movie. To be an adult, would be incredible. And I can’t wait for a good love story. I’ve been through so much. I really feel like I could bring a lot to that.
Question: Are you looking for something like that?
Wood: I am. I just finished doing Romeo and Juliet on stage. And I just loved it. I loved doing it.
Question: So, for Shakespeare, you’re prepared to go back and be 13.
Wood: For Shakespeare, I’ll do that.
Question: Whereabouts did you do that?
Wood: At Theatre in the Park. In North Carolina. And we made it non-profit, and just made it a fundraiser for the theatre. And we raised over $70,000. So, it was a success.
Question: Now, the last time I spoke to you, you were about to do Spider-Man on Broadway. Is that still happening?
Wood: Yeah, it’s gotten pushed. But rehearsals should be starting in October. So, I think it’ll hopefully hit Broadway by February.
Question: Are you looking forward to that?
Wood: Very much. Especially after – you know, just having a taste of it. Of the theatre. Which I just miss so much. I hadn’t done it since I was nine, maybe.
Question: But Broadway and regional theatre in the park are a little bit –
Wood: It is a little different. You know, that was a warm-up. But it’s been my dream to be on Broadway, so I’m very curious to see what it’s going to be like. I know it’s going to be hard. But, I like that schedule of sleeping all day and working all night.
Question: You also mentioned that you were going to be partly involved in helping the search for a Spidey, in terms of making sure that the chemistry is there. How much involved are you? Have they cast that?
Wood: They haven’t. You know, I’m still trying to drag Jim Sturgess. But – if he doesn’t do it, I’m not sure.
Question: Oh, really? I didn’t know that Jim was even in the running for this.
Wood: Oh, yeah. Yeah. We actually did the workshop together. So, I have sang the Peter Parker-Mary Jane songs with him, and I just can’t imagine anybody else doing it. So, I’ll be sad. But I have a lot of faith in Julie, and I’m sure she’ll find somebody amazing.
Question: Now, in terms of your commitment in the movies you’re supposed to be attached, to American Pastoral.
Wood: Yeah! I auditioned for that so long ago, and it just that was a hard audition. I had to stutter, and – it was crazy.
Question: What about Flora Plum, which has been on and off now for God knows how many years?
Wood: We got so close to making that movie. I hope it happens. I mean, poor Jodie has been trying so long to get that thing going. And I don’t understand why it can’t get made. We missed our cut-off, actually. We were all ready, we had our financing. But where we were filming in Louisiana, there’s only a small window of opportunity before hurricane season. And all the leading men that we wanted were already booked, and she didn’t want to compromise. So we had to hold it, again. I was so sad.
Question: What do you hope to be doing next, professionally? Apart from Spider-Man. Have you booked anything before that, or is Spider-Man going to be the next gig?
Wood: I’m hoping to do something before it. I am doing a little part on True Blood.
Question: Are you a vampire?
Wood: Of course.
Question: How is it like, being a blood-sucker?
Wood: Oh, I have been waiting to play a vampire for so long. And I just got fitted for my fangs, and I was so excited. I have been waiting since I was five years old to get my fangs. But, yeah. I’m playing Sophie Ann. She’s 400 years old, and she’s the Vampire Queen of Louisiana. So, not too bad. Not too shabby.
Question: Not too shabby at all. Do you get to put your fangs into anybody interesting?
Wood: I do. A lovely lady. [LAUGHTER]
Question: Is it a very small arc?
Wood: Yeah. You know, it’s just going to be a character that’s going to pop up every now and then. So, I don’t know. Right now, it’s just two episodes. But you never know.
Question: When I was doing my research on you I found it rather fascinating that your personal life seems to have cropped up a lot. How have you been able to deflect that kind of intrusiveness into your life from certain quarters of the media? And the older you get, are you better at doing that now?
Wood: Yeah. Definitely. I mean, it all came very quickly, and I had some negative stuff aimed towards me. But, you know, everybody gets it. And it hurt at first. But then I look at all these women that I just think are perfect, and even they’re getting it. So, it comes with the territory. And you just learn that it really doesn’t matter, in the grand scheme of things. It seems much bigger to you than it actually is. So, I’m still going to do what I’m going to do, either way. So – you know, if they’re trying to stop me – you know, fail.