In royal Stiles
Hollywood -- It's a secret no longer.
Julia Stiles admits she is fascinated with British royalty.
"It's not something I'm proud of, but I'm sickly fascinated with the whole royalty thing. I'm curious because I wonder what their lives must be like much in the same way some people wonder what my life is like," says Stiles, 23, who has been an actress since she was 12.
"The big difference between royalty and actors is we chose our profession. They were born into theirs. I think that is a much heavier burden."
It gets a light and airy treatment in her new film The Prince & Me.
She plays Paige Morgan, a student from Wisconsin who discovers Eddie (Luke Mably), the fellow student she has fallen in love with, is actually the Crown Prince of Denmark.
The burning question in The Prince & Me is whether this daughter of a dairy farmer can find true happiness as Queen of Denmark.
"I liked that there are real solutions to their romance as well as real obstacles, and that it is ultimately Paige's decision how she wants to live her life," says Stiles (10 Things I Hate About You, Save the Last Dance and State and Main).
"It's not a fairy tale or an updating of the Cinderella story."
Still, it is a bit of a Cinderella story for Stiles as the film is being sold on her name. The advertising doesn't even mention the names of her co-stars though they include such British acting royalty as James Fox and Miranda Richardson.
"I'm almost like a figure head on the movie. I'm the poster child so I had to watch my back from the moment I agreed to do it."
Stiles had just finished shooting Mona Lisa Smile with Julia Roberts, the reigning box-office queen.
"I watched Julia the whole time we were filming Mona Lisa Smile. I learned from Julia how to be pro-active. As a result, this was the most collaborative effort I've ever had on a film. The movie went though a lot of rewrites before we got to Prague to shoot it and I was consulted on almost all of them.
"I introduced the idea of Doctors Without Borders thinking along the lines of Lady Di and, while we were shooting, I'd suggest different ways of saying lines so they would feel more comfortable in my mouth."
When Stiles worked on The Bourne Identity, she saw that "Matt Damon takes responsibility for the whole movie and not just his own part. He was another excellent role model for me."
Stiles recently completed filming the Bourne sequel, The Bourne Supremacy.
"I have much more of a role in the sequel than I did in the original but very little with Matt. While he's off doing all the action stuff I have most of my scenes with Joan Allen."
Stiles will spend the summer in London starring in a new staging of David Mamet's Oleanna.
"I'm really scared, but in the best way. It's my favourite play and I haven't been on stage for two years. Live theatre exercises all an actor muscles for an intense, extended period of time.
"On movies you might work 15 minutes in an 18-hour day."
She is hoping funding comes through for Mamet's next movie Edmund which would team her with William H. Macy.
In between her films and stage performances, Stiles is determined to complete her degree in English literature.
"I did a semester between Mona Lisa Smile and The Prince & Me so I now have two semesters left to get my degree. I don't know when I can get to them, but I am adamant I will finish."
She insists college is refreshing because she's anonymous.
"In the world of academics, I'm just another face.
"My professors don't read Entertainment Weekly or Teen Vogue. In class I sit next to a world-class cellist and a kid who's a scientist taking English classes. It puts the world in perspective for me."
Article by Louis B. Hobson
Originally published in the April 7, 2004 issue of the Calgary Sun