Actress Evan Rachel Wood burst onto the scene in 2003's "Thirteen" playing a troubled teen. Her powerhouse portrayal of a young girl on a downward spiral into drugs, sex and crime was critically praised and launched her career. Since then, Wood has continued to take on provocative roles in indies and television, and has also stretched out her vocal chops singing Beatles hits in the Julie Taymor directed "Across the Universe."
In her latest "Charlie Countryman," Wood co-stars alongside Shia LaBeouf's title character as a Romanian cellist whose violent ex-husband might mean trouble for the smitten Charlie.
On the eve of the film's release (it opens in select theaters today and is available to view on VOD), we sat down with Wood to chat about the film, shooting in Romania, karaoke, LSD, her new life as a mom and her musical future.
So tell me about Romania, that's where you shot, right?
Yes we shot in Bucharest in Romania. Romania was really good to us honestly, it's a place that has a really rich history and a not always pleasant one with a lot of violence. That city's been through a lot. It's actually a line in the film, it's made them stronger, it's given them so much character. And our Romanian crew was incredible. Their work ethic there is very impressive. I liked it there.
Eastern Europe has this old world, quirky reputation. Did you encounter anything strange there?
Shia and I would always giggle because they are slightly behind in music and movies. So when we got there "The Thong Song" was playing and we were like, are you serious? Wow! They're just getting this! So that was kind of fun.
What did you guys do on your time off?
We would go to karaoke! They are very serious about their karaoke there. I was really shocked at how good everyone was. We went to this one place and there was this girl, she looked maybe 13 at the most, in this bar in Romania at like two in the morning. She had a little hat on, she was sitting in the corner very shy, and they call her name and she gets up and destroys Alicia Keys' "Fallin." Like she kind of puts Alicia Keys to shame, and I was supposed to go up after her and I was like, "I'm leaving, goodbye. That's it." They're way too good.
So you didn’t sing?
No I did, they made me go up.
What did you sing?
I sang Janis Joplin "Piece of my Heart" and I think Dusty Springfield. So eventually I did get up. But it was intimidating!
Did Shia sing?
No, he didn't. He would never!
On another vocal topic, how did you prepare for the Romanian accent? Did you have a coach?
Yes, I had a dialect coach. She's wonderful. I worked with her for about three months. And before I got cast in the film I had to prepare some kind of Romanian accent to show them and do a chemistry read with Shia so that they knew I could do it. So I had to pass the test first.
Was it difficult?
Yeah. It was hard. It was definitely hard. Especially because I knew I wasn’t going to have the dialect coach when we were filming the movie. Which you usually do but we just didn't have the money, very low budget! [Laughs] So I had to perfect it before I got there and just kind of hoped that I remembered everything. But luckily I had the sound in my ear the whole time since we were actually filming there so it worked out for the best.
Your character also plays the cello in the film. Were you really playing?
No, I was mimicking but it was much harder than I thought it was going to be. I was a little too cocky about it. And I'm one of those people who likes to be immediately good at something otherwise I get really frustrated. And I was definitely frustrated with my first lesson.
So you took actual cello lessons? I know you sing but did you have any other instrumental background?
No! I've had to pretend to be a violin player once before and I thought that was going to help me but no. It was completely different. And oh god, there was one scene, it was the biggest cello piece I had to play for the movie. It's when she's playing with the orchestra and her father's just died and she’s very emotional and every movement of the cello is just painful. And I get there on the day and I'm surrounded by real cello players that I have to be in perfect sync with and the song starts and I’m playing the wrong song! I've completely learned the wrong song. It was the last day of filming we had no time. And the director just told me to look out of the corner of my eye and try to mimic what the person next to me was doing.
Well I thought it was very believable.
Good! When I watch it I'm like I don't know how that worked. How did we pull that off? Really I don't know! Something guided my hand.