MoXie Girl - Fall 1998

 Julia Stiles

There seems to be little doubt around Hollywood these days that this seventeen-year-old will be one of its biggest star. It is said that it's only a question of "timing", of "how soon". There seems to be no "if" about it. How do someone get themselves into this enviable position? Well, start by being really beautiful, really talented and really really smart. Then you simply make your debut as Harrison Ford's daughter in The devil's own, write a screenplay at age 16, submit it to the writer's lab in Sundance and be the yougest person ever accepted to the program there. While you're at it, star in an independent film (Wicked due out in October) as a devilish young girl trying to seduce her dad (yikes!!) and well, you're on your way. That's right, she's done all that, and as they say, she's just gettin' started.

We met up with Julia in Seattle where she was on location filming her latest movie, Ten things I hate about you (Touchstone).

On our way to Discovery Park (where we did the fashion shoot), we chatted about acting, her current movie, and her screenplay, The anarchists daughter, (she'll star in the film too -- I was so impressed -- this girl is not only so mature for her age, she's ambitious, too.)

Thanx to Julia for taking the time to squeeze in this shoot and interview after a long Saturday of rehearsals.

So, are you excited about 10 things I hate about you?

I love it. It's not only such a great acting experience, but also so much fun. I really, really like the cast and crew, it's almost like we're at camp and staying in a dormitory, or something. You get to know people really well, we're all staying at this big hotel and our rooms are all on the same floor. It's like getting paid to go to camp and act.

How's your costars?

Great Heath Ledger came later than everyone else, because he was doing another movie, so we're just starting to get to know each other, and... there's an interesting dynamic between us.

Is there?


Good vibes?

We get along really well, he's a great actor.

So who else is working on ten?

Andrew Keegan. Joseph Gordon Levitt, Larissa Oleeynik and Alison Janney.

Is it hard being away so much?

I'm having a great time, so that makes it easier. I really miss my brother and sister. My parents are with me on the set sometimes but we're never all together.

So do you have a boyfriend?

No, it's hard cuz I never really have, like, long term relationships with anybody.

So is there anyone on the set?

Umr yeah, but I'm sorta taking... I'm not ready to... well I don't want it to interfere with work... and it seems like I don't have time to think about it. It's so intense working, we shoot all day and rehearse on Saturdays, so I basically spend my day off sleeping.

Do you have a best friend?

Yeah, I have a best friend i've had since kindergarten that I don't see a lot, because I'm away and we don't go to school together.

Ddo you keep in touch?

We do, but it's interesting because I'm now making movies and I'm developing much closer relationships with the cast members than I ever had at school. It makes me really happy actually... Of course, the classic movie set thing is that you develop really great friendships and then you all split and go off on your own separate ways.

So how did you get the idea to write a script?

Well I had written a short story, and the director from the first play I did was interested in working on another script with his friend, so we all got together and started from there.

What's it about?

It's about a 17 year-old girt who lives on the lower east side of Manhattan and plays the parent role in the family. Her grandfather raised her, but he's suffering from Alzheimer's, and she's trying to cope with his illness by doing drugs.

Was the sundance workshop helpful?

It was great... and the opportunity to sit down with writers like Chris McQuarrie [who wrote usual suspects] was amazing. I had no clue really how to write a traditional screen play, and would learn by watching movies and breaking them down.

How'd you get accepted?

I submitted the script, then I had to re-write it and submit it again, then I had to write what I would change and where I needed help, and send that with a bio of myself.

So how did you get started in the business?

When I was like 10 or 11 I went to see a play in New York -- this really weird avant garde on Broadway thing. I really decided I wanted to act, so I wrote a letter to the director with all these pictures of me. He was impressed and started casting me in small parts. I started doing plays with that company and I built up from there.

Are there actresses you admire?

Jessica Lange, Meryl Streep. and Isabella Rosellini.

You did an episode of Chicago Wopewilh Isabella rosellini. How was it working with her?

It was so great to work with her. I kinda did that episode cuz I wanted to work with her. I just think that she is like an amazing woman, she's so beautiful and so...


Yeah, together. She's calm and relaxed and she really likes to rehearse a lot and she's very focused on her work.

Ok, so do you go to a regular high school?

No, it's set up for actors and a lot of ballet dancers.

That must be pretty cool.

The classes are good and the teachers are good... It's a little weird. I started going there a year ago because I was missing school so much before.

So what do you do for fun or just to relax?

I like reading a lot and I like photography. I've been trying to find a place to go and take pictures, and I like to draw and do things like that.

Yep, she's an artist too It is kind of overwhelming in a way to meet someone who's got so much going for them, someone who you just can tell is going to be great at whatever she does. But with Julia, you don't get jealous -- it's more like you're just plain impressed.

We hung out for the rest of the day and chatted while Julia picked out clothes herself and did the shots with the photographe. I'm glad the pictures came out well because it really was a beautiful shoot and she looked great.

Thanx again to one very cool chick. We're glad we got a chance to meet and hang with Julia, and we really wish her good luck with everything, though if her career so far is any indicator, luck will have very little to do with it.

Article by Cynthia McGowen
Originally published in the Fall 1998 issue of MoXie Girl