EVAN RACHEL WOOD Interview by Michael J. Lee, Executive Editor for Radio Free Entertainment
August 8, 2005
At the young age of 17, actress Evan Rachel Wood has compiled an impressive filmography that includes an acclaimed turn as a manipulative lolita in Pretty Persuasion and a breakthrough performance as a rebellious teen in Thirteen, which earned her a slew of awards and critical praise.
In this exclusive interview, we get to learn a little more about Evan, whose talents also include singing anything from cheesy karaoke songs to cinematic music numbers, and being able to take down journalists and would-be assailants with her skills in the martial arts [cue Kung Fu theme here].
RadioFree.com: So, Evan Rachel Wood...what made you go the three-name route?
EVAN: My mom did it so that people knew that I wasn't a boy. And then it just kind of stuck.
Have you ever considered "Rachel Wood"? (It sounds very "Golden Age of Hollywood.")
Yeah, but I don't really like my middle name. [laughs]
You sang "Christmas Isn't Christmas Without You" and "Silver and Gold" on the School's Out! Christmas compilation. Did you get to pick those two songs?
No, they just gave them to me to sing and gave me a CD and asked me to learn them. That was the first time I ever recorded in a studio.
Wonderful rendition of "Silver and Gold," by the way...
Oh, thanks so much!
You also sang on your television series Once and Again. How did the writers work that into the story?
[My character] was a very shy girl, so it was kind of the one thing that she really liked to do, and it was kind of how she expressed herself. Because she didn't really talk a lot. She sang at her dad's wedding and then she sang at the school play. And her friend is trying to get her out of her shell.
Is there a particular period of music that you enjoy singing?
Anything, really. [laughs] I'll sing anything. I mean, I love singing Billie Holiday and I love singing Janis Joplin.
Are you the type to belt out a tune anywhere and everywhere?
Oh, yeah...big time. Big time singing in the car. I get people giving me looks and the thumbs up all the time because they see me just singing at the top of my lungs in my car. [laughs]
Oh, like you wouldn't believe! [laughs] I get a lot of people to do karaoke.
What are some of your favorite songs to perform in that setting?
"Paradise City." That's a really good one. You have to do "Hotel California." I mean, you have to sing all the really cheesy karaoke songs. [thinks] Oh, "Bohemian Rhapsody"! [laughs]
You'll be singing in an upcoming musical directed by Julie Taymor that is full of songs from the Beatles. How is that experience different from what you've done so far?
This is really the first time that I'm taking hardcore lessons and really trying to train my voice.
Do you have a favorite Beatles song?
Right now, it's "Happiness is a Warm Gun." That's in the movie, and it's the coolest number ever. It gets stuck in my head. I sing it all the time.
In the 2001 movie Little Secrets, you play a violinist. Do you play any musical instruments yourself?
I don't. Singing is as musical as I've ever gotten. [laughs] I've tried to play guitar and just can't do it.
I understand you have a black belt in Tae Kwon Do. How did you get involved in that?
I wasn't any good at dancing. [laughs] I mean, I just used to cry at dance class, so [my mom] pulled me out. And I think my brother was going to do Tae Kwon Do, so she put me in with him. And then my mom ended up getting into it, and then we both got our black belts together.
Why did you want to get involved in a martial art?
It's good to learn self-defense. It was just good discipline, and it was good exercise, and it was just really fun.
So you're physically capable of kicking my ass, right?
[laughs] I might know a few like pressure points or something.
You were on a couple of episodes of Hollywood Squares...
[groans] Oh God! [laughs uneasily] Yeah. It was like four years ago or something. It was the kids' Hollywood Squares.
Ah, yes...the "young stars edition" in which the contestants and celebrities (except for Whoopi Goldberg) were kids and teens...which is a bit odd, since many people associate Hollywood Squares with the end of your career and not the beginning. How did you get onboard that particular train?
I like just turned 14 and I heard they were doing kids' Hollywood Squares, and I thought it'd be fun to sit in one of those little squares. [laughs]
From what I saw, you answered all your questions correctly.
Yeah, I couldn't bluff. I wasn't good at it.
As someone sitting in the square, are you expected to bluff out contestants with incorrect responses and trip them up?
Well, you can choose to, or you can choose not to. You know, I didn't get picked that much. [laughs] I only got to do like a couple questions, so I was like, "I'm just going to give them the right answer."
In another interview, you said that by taking up acting when you moved out to LA following your parents' divorce, you were "making the best out of a bad situation." Could you talk a little about coping with the low points in life?
Whenever something bad happens, I just always have to tell myself that this is happening for a reason, and I have to be learning something from this and taking something away from this. And you just have to think about the big picture, and you have to remember just how small you are in the grand scheme of things, and that in the long run, you're probably going to be okay. So that's all I kept thinking about...just trying to make the best out of it.