The story of Julia Stiles (21) is anything but short. She has been around a long time, and no one came blame you if you haven't heard of her yet. For most, it took NBC's ‘The 60's’ to finally get their attention and for others ’Ten Things I Hate About You.’ When she began at 11, she had had no acting classes, no teachers, nothing. She simply wrote a letter to a theater teacher asking to audition, thus landing her a three line part in a play.
It all goes from there. Her first film was the dreadful Harrison Ford/Brad Pitt gig, ’The Devil's Own’ as Ford's daughter who wouldn't get off the phone. Her roles continued, a teen seductress in ’Wicked,’ a supporting role in ’Wide Awake,’ a part alongside Claire Danes in ’I Love You Not’ and just recently the aforementioned NBC miniseries ‘The 60's’ and ’Ten Things I Hate About You.’
More recent movies, such as, 'O' with Josh Hartnett (May 2000) and the surprise box-office hit ’Save The Last Dance’ (January 2001) quickly brought her name to the fore, with the terrific ensemble piece 'State and Main' (Alec Baldwin, Sarah Jessica Parker) and very recently ’The Bourne Identity’ and now (and on DVD this week ’The Business of Strangers’ finally solidifying her role as an actor.
Chatting with Julia recently, I wondered why she had chosen this low-budget indie movie after ’Save the Last Dance’ ? ”I took this movie because I wanted to do something smaller, not just in terms of budget, but in terms of focus. That's much more interesting than some big production. I'm not really interested in maintaining some stratospheric career.”
Did you enjoy playing someone so nasty ? ”Some people think Paula is unlikeable. But I think she is just a really good actress and there's a kernel of truth in everything she says, she's just out there. But I'm not like that in real life.”
Are you worried you're going to have to dance in every movie now ? [laughs] ”Do I dance in this movie ? I think I did a little bit !”
Do you feel like you have a lot of power in Hollywood now, despite being so young ? ”It's very schizophrenic. Sometimes, I feel like I have a lot of power and sometimes I feel like I have no control at all over my life. But I would like to produce and I also write [a script Stiles wrote was workshopped at the Sundance Festival a few years ago]. I don't think I am ready to direct and there's no formula for it, so I just have to navigate as I go.”
Interviewed by Fallon Benjamin for Exclusive Magazine
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