Julia Stiles may be Hollywood’s hot young star-on-the-rise, but trying to find real-life love and romance is as much of a problem as her latest on-screen character. The always serious 24-year old, starring in the romantic comedy The Prince and Me, happily admits that “getting to sort of play things out on screen helps me exorcise my own issues”, Stiles explains in a Beverly Hills hotel room.
The Prince and Me is fairy tale romance about a pre-med student who falls in love with a Danish Prince who refused to follow the traditions of his parents and has come to the US to quench his thirst for rebellion. Paige (Stiles) who hails from rural Wisconsin and Chris (Luke Mably) the Danish man who would be king, come from two different worlds, but there’s an undeniable attraction between them.
Stiles sees a connection between herself and the fictional Paige. “I think I learned a lot about myself by playing her,” the actress explains. Going into it, like my character, I knew that I’m really focused, driven and career-oriented, and never really fantasized about love and marriage. But as we were rehearsing and I’m playing Paige more and more, I realized that her sarcasm is sort of a defence mechanism, a way of being antisocial and sort protecting herself from the possibility of being rejected by a guy. It occurred to me that I do that too,” Stiles confesses.
Asked if she could ever give up a career for a Prince or the love of her life, Stiles is typically serious. “Maybe this is still me being guarded. I feel as if you can have your cake and eat it too, so whoever would sweep me off my feet would appreciate my ambitions. What I look for in a guy is passion and ambition and there’s nothing sexier than intellect, so hopefully that would be reciprocated.” In a rare display of self-deprecating humour, Stiles laughingly insists that she may be a serious interview, but romantically, she lets herself go. “You’ve never taken me on a date, so you’ve never seen that side of me,” admitting that we WERE to be on a date, “I’d probably be less pragmatic.”
Stiles divides her time between acting and college, which she is finally about to complete. Far removed from that more idealized world of movie stardom, Julia says that she loves to be torn about those two distinct worlds. “It’s actually really great to be a student and an actor, because I get to do this job that I love, then just when I think my head might explode, I get to go to school where they don’t really care about what magazine cover I’m on. They really want to hear what I have to say and what my ideas are.” And no, she says with mild disdain, her lecturers don’t ask her for autographs. “They’re like accomplished doctors with PhD’s, who don’t care that I’m an actress.”
20 films since her debut at age 15, Stiles is able to put adolescent roles behind her, and says that these days, the choices for her have become richer. “I’m really happy, like a dream come true for me. Life’s good, so I can’t complain. I think that obviously actors in general have to be proactive about the kinds of projects that they pursue, because there’s a limited amount of material out there, but right now, I’m pretty happy.”
A week following our interview, Stiles was London-bound, not for a new film or glamorous premiere, but a return to the stage in David Mamet’s London production of Oleana, trying not to concern herself too much about the reaction of British critics to yet another American actress treading their sacred theatrical boards. “I feel like the process for me is going to be so rewarding that I have to kind of focus on that more than how I’m going to be received by critics. Of course that doesn’t mean that a scathing review isn’t going to hurt, but I’m choosing not to think about that.”
And next on the big screen, Stiles will be seen in The Bourne Conspiracy, which she recently wrapped on location in Germany. “I had a lot of really interesting psychologically driven scenes with Joan Allen. The movie starts and I thought that I had kind of gotten away from the world of the CIA and Joan Allen has this operation to find Jason Bourne again. She drags me off the street and against my will I have to go and help them. Meanwhile, Jason Bourne wants to interrogate me because I’m a sort of link to his past, being the last person to see him alive. Therefore I’m stuck in this paranoid world between two groups of people that are dangerous.”
For Stiles, life on stage and screen, not to mention college, is keeping her busy. There doesn’t seem to be any room for a man to try and take her away from all this, but in the final analysis, the actress thinks that it’s not really a myth that women can have it all. “I don’t think it’s easy, but if we keep on demanding that we need to have it all, then we’ll get there, I’m sure.”