TV Guide Online - April 1, 1999

 Chat Transcript 

Chat Emcee: In just 15 minutes we'll be chatting with Julia Stiles of the new film 10 Things I Hate About You. Send in your questions now.

Chat Emcee: In keeping with the Shakespearean vein, Julia will also be starring in a new film version of Hamlet and O, an updated version of Othello. Keep those questions coming.

Chat Emcee: Julia Stiles is joining right now. Thanks for coming to chat.

Hi, how you doing?

What was the best thing about the film?

I don't think there was one best thing. We shot in Tacoma and Seattle. It was like living in a dorm. The cast was great. I loved the character. I wanted to play her so badly. It was really fun and upbeat on the set. I made some really great friends.

How tough was the competition for the role of Kat Stratford?

I have heard different things. I had to audition a lot for it. I met the director in N.Y. and I would not shut up about how much I loved the character. I have heard that there were some other more well-known actresses and I think that he took a risk on me. I think one of the things the director liked about my take, I didn't consider her a bitch or a shrew. I was more into how opinionated and assertive and why she hated high school, as opposed to just being bitchy. I think he saw my enthusiasm for the role.

What are your hobbies?

Don't have that much free time, but I love to read as long as it is something of my choosing. I am also learning to dance. My parents got me tap shoes for my birthday. I have been tapping in a small corner in my hotel room. I like photography as well. I hope to have a darkroom someday; otherwise I would have to rent and that can be expensive. I usually prefer to do black and white. You can take them and add colors to one thing so everything is in black and white and just one color. And of course I like to listen to music and all of that stuff

I am from Denmark. Haven't seen your film yet; can you say a few things about the plot?

Wow, Denmark! The movie has the plot of Taming of the Shrew. I play Kat, who hates high school and who is very bold and in your face. Her sister is very young and the prom queen and popular. The younger sister can't date until Kat dates. They find someone to pay to date her. It is a fun comedy, it is not as overtly sexist as the play. Eventually she figures out that Patrick is paid to date her.

What's ur fave book?

John Kennedy Toole is one of my favorite authors. He wrote Confederacy of Dunces. Toni Morrison. She is an amazing writer. I have read Bluest Eye like three times. I cried all through it. All of her others are amazing as well.

Chat Emcee: We're chatting live with Julia Stiles, who currently is starring in 10 Things I Hate About You. Keep those questions coming.

Was that your real hair in 10 Things, Julia?

Yes YES YES YES!!!!!!! I am so totally offended by that review. It was a pain in the ass to have hair that long, but it was totally real. I had better get credit for it. I have cut it shorter now.

Julia, who inspired you to become an actress and what's your advice to kids that want to become actors?

I think that I watched The Honeymooners a lot when I was a kid. I thought the woman that played Alice, Audrey Meadows, was amazing. I used to have contests with my parents naming the episodes. Madonna in Desperately Seeking Susan was wonderful as well. My biggest advice would be to have a strong sense of self. You really need approval from other people when you first get started. It eats away at your ego and it is really hard to be pushed around by other people. It is bad for your mental health not to remain strong. People will appreciate your individuality more. Think about why, before you go into it. People thinking to go into it because they want to be famous would probably make themselves unhappy. But if you are interested in the process and you like the chance to play other people, I think that you will be happy and more power to you.

If you could make a book into a movie and choose any character what would that be?

There is a book called She's Come Undone. It is a really great book and a compelling story. I like to transform in a weird sort of way. I would have to transform in a physical way. She gains a lot of weight. People have suggested that I play Sylvia Plath in The Bell Jar. I would also like to do a comedy, so I would have to find a really funny book.

Did you find any similarities w/your character in real life?

Absolutely, I think there are a lot of ways that I relate to Kat. I think that is what turns actors on to any role -- unless it is the total opposite of you. I read Taming of the Shrew in ninth grade. I didn't like the way the teacher was teaching it, and I got into an argument with her, which is similar to a scene in the movie. I always found myself expressing my opinion a lot and people always misinterpreted that as being bitchy, and that always really bothered me.

Do you still live in N.Y.C. and do you plan to stay after you graduate?

I do still live in N.Y. I kind of want to travel a lot. If I am in N.Y., that will be my home base. I want to do the after-graduation exploration of the world sort of thing. N.Y. will always be my home base.

Would you play a role in the theater?

Absolutely! That is how I started acting, in really avant-garde, really off-Broadway plays. That was a great experience and I am interested in doing more traditional theater. I am worried that by the end of a three-month run that I may be sick of it, but I like that you don't have to worry about continuity and shooting scenes out of order.

My favorite role of yours was in The Sixties. What research did you do to get into the role of someone from a totally different generation?

Good question. I talked to a lot of people, my parents and their friends. I watched a lot of documentaries on the '50s, because that was when my character would have been raised and that was what would have caused the rebellion. It was much more strict on what you were allowed to do and what you weren't allowed to do. My character bought into that until she went to Haight Ashbury and started coming into her own more then. My father was a great help; he grew up in that generation.

What role will you be playing in Hamlet and Othello?

In Hamlet I play Ophelia. I loved working on that movie so much. In O I play Desdemona -- Dezi. Both parts were written incredibly well. Hamlet uses the language that Shakespeare wrote, and O is updated brilliantly. I think it is such a timeless controversy. Shakespeare wrote great parts.

Julia, I was wondering what young actors you would most like to work with today. I think your talents would coincide extremely well with the likes of Brad Renfro.

Sure, I would like to work with Brad Renfro. There are a lot of young actors that I would really like to work with. Reese Witherspoon is really good. I am impressed by her variety of characters. I would like to work with her. Brad Renfro I think I would like to work with.

What was it like to work with such talent on When Women Had Wings and was it an emotional shoot?

I learned so much from Ellen Barkin. I think that she is an amazing woman. She is always in character and always focused on work. Oprah is like the opposite -- when they are rolling, she is totally in her character, but when they cut she is very mothering and warm. I shot the last scene first. It was very emotional, when I am separated from my mother. Everyone was really dedicated to the story and that scene sort of catapulted us into the shoot. It was refreshing that everyone was so into the shoot.

What is your favorite fairytale, and why?

Eloise is my favorite children's book of all time. I hope to preserve the Eloise in me -- she is spirited and creative and carefree and imaginative. It brings a smile to my face every time I read it. Hansel and Gretel is my favorite fairytale because of the house that was covered in candy.

What music are you into?

I like a little bit of everything, except for heavy metal. I like Tribe Called Quest a lot, I like Aretha Franklin, Bob Dylan, Mozart. It doesn't have to be a certain type; it has to spark my interest. G Love 'n Special Sauce, Violent Femmes, the Roots -- their new album is so great. I have gotten into jazzy hiphop. No commercial hiphop, though.

Julia, how long did it take you to grow your hair that long?

I don't really know. The last time I had cut my hair was when I was 13, so I guess it took four years, except that I recently just cut it by myself with a Swiss Army blade. And then I saw the movie and kind of wish I had kept it that way, but it would get knotted so easily.

What was it like to work with Ford and Pitt in The Devil's Own? Was it a tough shoot?

For me it wasn't. Supposedly there were rumors about fights and stuff, but I didn't see any of that. They wanted to make a really great movie and they didn't fight about it at all. I was awestruck at the time. It was one of my first movies. The director, Alan Pakula, would let me improvise my whole scene. It was great because I got to improvise most of my scenes and that is really challenging.

Who made your prom dress?

The costume designer made it. She designed and showed me some sketches before it was done -- Kim... I am sorry, I totally forgot her name, she is in the credits and she was great.

You were in I love You, I Love You Not, right? Did you like to work with Claire Danes?

Yes and yes. I learned a lot from watching her work. She is a very intense person, very in touch with her emotions. She radiates something wonderful. She is an engaging person. I was in awe of her. She was warm and friendly. I was only on the set for a few days.

How was Rupert Everett to work with?

I am not Gwyneth Paltrow. Please don't send questions for her.

Did the crew pull any pranks? If so, what was the funniest one?

I so remember that we did. In one of the outtakes there is a scene where Larisa and I were walking down the hallway and we see the director with his shirt off, making out with our guidance counselor, and we cracked up laughing when we realized it was a joke.

Hey, luv da new movie! I was just wondering what is your favorite movie or kind of movie?

Yeah -- I don't have a favorite genre. One of my favorite movies is Splendor in the Grass with Warren Beatty. Desperately Seeking Susan -- because I loved Madonna, she inspired so much in me. The Breakfast Club is also great.

How long did it take to make the movie?

Two weeks of rehearsal and then eight weeks to shoot. End of May to the beginning of August.

I absolutely LOVED the dance scene at the party. Did you already know how to dance like that or did they choreograph it?

You can be choreographed to dance but you have to have it in you -- I am not being conceited. They had a choreographer to help with the moves, but it was just the kind of way you would dance when you go out. The choreographer was great -- she showed me some moves, and then let me make it my own style.

Do you enjoy reading Shakespearian plays?

Yes. Every year in school I have had to read at least two. Othello was one of my favorites. I cried at the end. It struck something in me more than other plays. Twelfth Night was very funny. I read the play and then I get the Folger's library notes with the notes and the summaries, but you have to understand them. I wouldn't do three Shakespeare movies if I didn't love his plays.

I saw you on Rosie O'Donnell a week ago and thought you did a tremendous job. Were you nervous doing talk shows like that and would you ever do more now that you have one under your belt?

I was very nervous. I would do more. It was an excited energy. They do a pre-interview so you kind of know what you are going to say beforehand. I was worried about being boring on the show. People tell me I am too serious. Which is totally not true. Rosie is very nice. I would definitely do one again.

Have you ever worked with any of your idols?

All the more famous people I have worked with I have looked up to a lot and idolized in some way. There are very few people that I would go gaga over. Madonna and Ani DiFranco -- if I met her I would totally go arhrhrhah. Even though she is not an actress. Once you meet someone that you are going to work with, you kind of try to not seem starstruck, but when you meet them it changes the illusion and they seem like a regular person.

What was your favorite subject in school?

It has depended on the teacher. I took Constitutional Law last semester. English I have always liked, but I have had bad English teachers who kind of ruin it. Up until last year I took Latin -- the teacher was amazing, he taught me to appreciate knowledge. If you didn't do your homework, he would say it was another gap in your knowledge. I am sure if I took Latin with someone else, it would be boring though.

Julia, what inspiration did you have when you read your poem in front of the class in the movie?

It was a personal inspiration.

What was your favorite scene to make? Perhaps the dance at the party?

I had a great time. I did love smashing Joey's car. I got to do that myself, it was great! After he yelled cut, I was screaming "Yahoo." The dance scene was fun. Reading the poem was kind of cathartic for me. Paintball was fun.

Do you have a place where we can send you fan mail?

United Talent Agency, 9560 Wilshire Blvd., Beverly Hills, CA 90212, care of Clare Ryu.

Julia, do you ever consider going out for a Broadway musical?

Absolutely, except that I don't think I can sing at all. There are some that are great. I would do The Rocky Horror Picture Show or Chicago or Fosse. Jesus Christ Superstar. I haven't trained my voice, but I am a dancer, so I could do that.

Julia, do you feel that there are more girls that will relate to Kat, as opposed to her sister?

I hope so. If anyone sees the movie and is inspired by Kat and is not afraid to be smart and learn to express their opinions more. I think if a girl is in her classroom and wants to get into an argument and won't be afraid to, that would be great.

I appreciate all the great questions. I hope everyone sees 10 Things I Hate About You and enjoys it. It is a fun film.

Chat Emcee: Thanks for chatting with us tonight, Julia. Her movie, 10 Things I Hate About You, is in theaters right now.

I hope when O and Hamlet come out, that you all go see them too.

Originally published at TV Guide Online - Posted on April 1, 1999