FutureMovies.co.uk - July 2004

 Julia Stiles Q&A from The Prince and Me 

Julia Stiles chats about her career and sophisticated character (Paige Morgan) from her latest role in the British film The Prince and Me.

Do American girls dream of being swept off their feet by a dashing prince?

I don't know if every girl dreams that. I kind of liked it that it wasn't Paige's dream. But I also like that in the movie you get to see how the fantasy might play out and whether it would work in reality.

So do you think girls might be envious of Paige?

If she ends up being able to be a queen and a doctor... sure why not. Or at least to aspire to that.

Was dressing up in the ballgowns fun and which side of the character did you most relate to?

I felt more comfortable in the college student scenes. But it was certainly fun to wear the ballgown and the dance in the ballroom was so romantic. We shot in a beautiful palace and I felt like I was playing dress-up I didn't necessarily feel at home there. But it was still thrilling.

For the farm sequences did you really milk cows?

Yeah, it makes you look at milk differently. I'm a city girl so I had no idea about a farm. But I got to learn how to ride horses and steer cattle and we saw a cow give birth to a calf, which was pretty amazing. It was an interesting experience to milk a cow. They don't really do it by hand any more. It was tedious. My God, I don't know how milkmaids used to do it. So I did it by hand just to get the full experience and you have to be careful. They are huge animals and they shift their weight so much that you have to be careful that they don't step on you. It was quite an awkward situation. I think the farmers had a good laugh watching the city girl.

Do you agree that love stops you from thinking reasonably?

Yes, that is what is so thrilling about romance.

What's the craziest thing that you have ever done for love?

I'm only 23, I haven't really done many crazy things for love. I would like to do something really crazy.

Are you still studying?

Yeah, I took a semester off to do Oleanna and I have a year left. I'm majoring in English. The way it works is that I take a semester off if I'm going to make a movie and if I have time between movies then I go and I try and do a semester at school. I'm lucky because at the school that I go to you can defer as long as you want. There are other students who have jobs to pay the rent. I get a little bit frustrated sometimes that I can't get a credit for a performance of a Shakespearean play. They have strict rules at Columbia about what you can get credit for.

What do you want to do with your degree?

I might be 30 by the time I get it! What am I going to do with my degree? I'll retire because I'm going to be 50 (joking). It's not vocational so it doesn't really apply to anything that I would do. But I'm curious about a lot of different subjects and enjoy reading novels. So if I can get a degree for reading novels, there's nothing wrong with that.

In the movie you are torn between love and your career. In real life what would you choose?

Oh I think that I and a lot of modern girls are in similar situations where you have to balance your career and life goals and personal life. What I like is that Paige can have both. I like that she picks a guy who wants to compromise with her and really likes her ambition and passion and drive. Hopefully I'll be able to do that. What would I choose? I don't know. I love acting. If I could give it up I wouldn't want the guy to want me to give it up.

Is it important to choose a role that is a strong inspirational person?

I think that is the way a lot of characters are written. But my character in Oleanna is not like that at all. By the end a lot of the audience is cheering for her to get beaten up. I think it is interesting to watch despicable characters in movies or at least characters with flaws. I'm interested in roles like that. Its apples and oranges

What are the similarities between you and your screen character?

I can be stubbornly independent. Playing Paige I realised that being cynical and sarcastic and focused is a way of being guarded and I feel I do that a lot. I'm only focused on my work because it's easier to do that than risk falling in love with somebody.

Did learning how to be regal for the film teach you anything about yourself?

I had to do a lot of deportment school for Mona Lisa Smile. And taking dance classes as a kid taught me how to hold myself. I like using that in acting.

So now do you think it's hard work being royal?

Absolutely, I'm not refined enough in myself to know the first thing. It goes way beyond what fork to use. It's about knowing when to smile and not to smile, how to make conversation, how to be graceful. I'm amazed. Where do they learn all that? Do they actually go to deportment school.

Could you relate to the prince's problems in trying to have a private life?

I think it is more exaggerated for the prince in the movie. I don't get chased by the paparazzi. The way I am in my career I can control that a little bit more. I would hate to get to a place where I couldn't control that. The difference between me being a public figure as opposed to someone who is royalty is that I chose my profession. So any negative aspects of being a public figure is really my own doing. But a prince is born into it and can't have it any other way.

Do you have to think carefully about where you might go out with a boyfriend?

Sort of. I'm just not interesting enough for the paparazzi. (laughs) So I don't really have a problem. If I come out of the theatre after giving a performance then there will be people waiting for autographs and wanting pictures. But that is entirely different. But in terms of people trying to get a picture of me in a bikini -- that doesn't happen. Thank God!

Why did you decide to stop being a vegan?

I stopped being a vegan and then became a vegetarian. But the first meat I ate was not a hamburger -- that was just a joke I made on a TV chat show. I changed diet because it really wasn't healthy. Being vegan is a hard thing to do and I became really badly anaemic. When you are travelling there is no way you can get proper nutrition. So now I do eat some red meat but not all the time.

How are you enjoying living in London?

I love London so much. I'm enchanted by it. The novelty has not worn. There is so much great art and culture. When we were rehearsing Oleanna I worked all day long and would come home and go to sleep. But now I'm trying to see things. I have definitely been trying to soak it all up. A treat for me in London is having a fancy high tea with cucumber sandwiches and scones. My mom came over and I took her to tea. It was lovely.

What must you have with you from home when you are in London?

I get the New York Post sent over. Even though you have great papers here I still miss my New York Post. I still sleep with a security blanket. I travel with it. It's old. I have had it since I was a baby and it has holds in it. When I was small I could wrap myself in it. I used to talk to it when I was a kid. That's probably why I became an actress -- I don't talk to it any more.

It's said you have a bigger role in The Bourne Supremacy?

What I like about it is that it plays on the idea that you didn't really know what my character was doing in the first film. She was kind of a glorified secretary in the first one. She was in over her head. Now since she was the last person to see Jason Bourne she is the missing link. So against her will she has to help track him down.

Article by John Millar
Originally published at FutureMovies.co.uk - Posted on July 2004