Have you seen Evan Rachel Wood on the red carpet lately? While other starlets have been competing in the Next Julia Roberts pageant, Wood, 23, has chopped off her hair and developed a penchant for form-fitting tuxes. Her project choices are as savvy and unpredictable as her style: In the past year, she’s played the capricious vampire queen Sophie-Annd Leclerq on True Blood, the girl who upends Kate Winslet’s life in Mildred Pierce, the daughter of an accused Lincoln assassination conspirator in Robert Redford’s The Conspirator (now on DVD), and herself, the Justin Bieber fan, in this karaoke video. In October, she’ll star opposite Ryan Gosling in George Clooney’s hotly anticipated political thriller The Ides of March. Vulture dished with Wood about being a Belieber, working with Gosling and Clooney, and the very real possibility that she might ditch all this to become a rock star.
The Conspirator was a change of pace for you; you haven’t done a lot of buttoned-up period pieces. Why did you pick this one?
I’ve always wanted to do a period piece. Also, my father was really big into conspiracy theories, so I knew about the Lincoln assassination. My father had a replica of John Wilkes Booth’s gun in my house.
Were you 5 years old and yelling “Death to tyrants!”?
Exactly. No joke!
That’s awesome. So I’m happy to talk to you just so I can tell you how great you look lately, this female David Bowie thing you’re doing.
Thanks, dude! I’m having fun.
And I just watched this video of you singing Justin Bieber karaoke.
Ahh. Have you seen the Janis Joplin one?
No! Please tell me how these videos came about.
I was in China randomly — I know, it’s already weird [laughs] — and I’m a big karaoke fan and I also love Justin Bieber unashamedly. This is a fact; everyone knows it. So the whole catalogue was basically in the karaoke machine, so I started singing “U Smile” and my friend started filming it. We didn’t really have a plan to put it online; it just kind of happened. And then once that was up, it was like, Well, screw it, let’s put the Janis one up, too. I never do stuff like that, so it’s kind of fun to once in a while just be like, Look, you don’t have to take yourself so seriously ALL the time. Here’s me singing Justin Bieber! Lighten up, everyone!
But you’re not just singing Justin Bieber.
Oh, no, no, no. I committed! [Laughs.] Oh dear.
Do you have any plans to go into music? Is that something that’s been rattling around at all?
It has, yeah. I’ve sung my whole life. But it’s been the main thing that I did just for me, that I didn’t share with anybody. But more and more, I think I’m just open to it now. I’ve made my own music, and the way I’ve always described it is Peggy Lee with an electric guitar, or Billie Holiday with some PJ Harvey in there.
When you did Mildred Pierce, there was a lot of press about how it was your first “grown-up role.” Was there a moment that you personally felt like you grew up on film?
I don’t know. I feel like The Ides of March, this last thing I did, is the first time people are going to be seeing the kind of grown-up me. I’ve gone through so many changes in my life and it’s been a crazy few years. I think that was the moment I stopped being as much of a brat and started to feel like a grown-up.
Do you have any good George Clooney stories from the set? Did he give you a nickname?
Schnoz. I don’t know why, but he called me Schnoz. And speaking of Justin Bieber: [Clooney] was around for when I first saw Never Say Never and I got super into it. I was a changed person. And I was dancing and singing, and then I noticed that the set was really quiet, and then I looked, and the camera was rolling and George is standing there. And he just said, “Enjoy the DVD!” and he walked away. So that was terrifying.
What was it like working with Clooney in that dual capacity of actor and director?
It was awesome in every capacity, because he’s not just about making a great film; he’s about the experience of making it, and he doesn’t think it’s worth doing if you’re not going to have fun doing it. He just has a great energy, and you move very quickly but you still get great work done. It also makes it so much easier when you have somebody like Ryan as your scene partner. You know that you’re gonna be okay.
He’s certainly having a moment right now.
Yeah, I don’t think that’s gonna stop.
If you had to describe Ryan Gosling in one sentence …
Honestly — and he should really thank me for saying this — I get the feeling [when he walks into a room] that that must have been how people felt when James Dean walked into a room. Just like, Whoa, what just walked in? There’s something really special here. It’s that striking. I think he’s the James Dean of now. And he’d better kiss my ass for saying that.
Your character is involved in a political sex scandal. Did that make you follow any of the recent sex scandals with increased interest?
Not really. I don’t really follow it because it happens all the time and it’s all the same freakin’ story. Yeah, politicians are also kinky and some of them cheat on their wives and some of them are gay. Like normal people. It’s not really shocking to me.