I was exhausted when I began working on the film. I had just finished working with
Ralph Fiennes on Eugene Onegin in Prague and five days later I flew to Mississippi
for Cookie's Fortune.
It was tough on me physically and psychologically, but I have so much respect for
Robert Altman that I couldn't say no to him. I considered it a privilege just to be
asked... He had no money by Hollywood standards, yet he had the commitment of so
many great people and it's not often an actress my age has the chance to work with
a cast like that. It was a learning experience and maybe a once-in-a-lifetime honor
to work with Altman.
Every day was a joy and we were always having these big dinner parties. I had a house
next to Robert Altman's and I would ride my bike all around town and enjoy being on my
own. Each time a new actor arrived on location to begin shooting his scenes, Robert's
wife Kathryn would cook a great meal and we'd wind up singing with Lyle (Lovett)
playing guitar and leading us. I forget almost immediately about how tired I felt and
I hope one day I'll have the chance to work in a similar kind of atmosphere. I felt like
I was in the presence of a lot of interesting, talented people who were just there to
enjoy the process instead of it being just another movie.
It was so embarrassing. I have the world's most sensitive skin and Chris had a bit of
stubble one afternoon. We did one take, and then Bob called cut and everybody was
freaking out about how red my cheeks had turned. We had to wait three hours before
we could shoot again. Everyone was staring at Chris like he had attacked me! When we
did some more love scenes later, Bob would shoot them in such a way that Chris didn't
actually have to touch my face.......
I'm deliberately choosing parts which don't focus on my appearance and are essentially
character roles. I've even had to argue about nude scenes because I don't want my butt
or my breasts to become some source of fixation. I feel I'm only getting started as an
actress and that I still have to prove myself.
I'm not a trained actress, I rely on instinct and feel. Once you get more comfortable
with the process, with all the crew and the press and everything else, you learn to
relax more on the set and not worry about your work as much.
I hated modelling. I did it for the money and for the adventure of being able to travel
to a lot of exotic locations. But most of the time it was pretty boring and every
afternoon that I would finish school I would have to rush around to some stupid
photo shoot. I don't like having my face being fussed over. I had to wear all these
clothes that made me look goofy and I had to stand in these horrible poses for what
seemed like hours.
But it was also good for me to have some structure to my life outside of school which I
didn't like that much. Modelling made me pay more attention to thinking about what I
wanted to do with myself. The trouble was that I was never comfortable with the whole
scene. Being tall and getting stared at a lot even when you're looking like shit makes
you very self-conscious to the point where you want to find any place that you can hide.
That's not the kind of attitude you need to be a good model, which is like, "Hey, look
at me, look at me, look how bitching sexy I am." I never feel that way.
I'm always very open with people and I would like to think that that part of me would
come across me. I'm not at all interested in using my appearance to advance my career
or advance my life. I look the way I look, but let's get beyong that and talk about
things that matter in life.
I know how much I suffered growing up because of how awkward and ugly I was; I'm still
the same person today, it's only the perception around me that has changed.
I think when you grow up in a family that has been split apart and you get to be with
a lot of rock stars and actors who live a very ungrounded kind of life, you learn to
put your faith in the truth above all else. My father nearly killed himself because of
drugs, and he's learned the value of being straight on many different levels - with
himself, and with others. I take that as a lesson. For me, being honest and open is
the only way I want to live.
Q: Your new boyfriend is musician Royston Langdon. How is that going?
We have a good time together even though sometimes it's been difficult to spend that
much time with each other because of work. But it's cool between us.
I want to be young, vulnerable and carefree, but when it comes to business, people
won't let me. They expect me to be an adult and take everything very seriously.
I'm not like that. A lot of times I walk around with this funny smile on my face
and people ask what I'm smiling about and I can't give them a specific answer.
It's just that I'm happy with my life and that's a great feeling. Now I'm using
my time to enjoy the everyday things I like to do like shopping, like seeing my
friends, like travelling....
It's very rare that someone comes up to me and asks me for an autograph or stares
at me when I'm sitting in a caf. New York is such a melting pot and everyone is too
busy to pay attention to you.
I hate having to be conscious that I'm always potentially on view. It's one reason
I live in New York. I can actually do my own shopping and take the subway without
being followed by fans or paparazzi. I just can't do that in L.A. or even in a lot
of European cities. New York will always be my last refuge.