Mirror.co.uk - July 15, 2004

 Fairytale princess 

Julia Stiles on her new role, pulling a ha,dsome prince

Cracking a smile, Julie Stiles shakes her head and admits, "I am not refined enough to be a princess. Not at all." She may not have any blue blood, but New Yorker Julia has intelligence, eloquence and poise in spades. And, despite her time as a Hollywood Teen Queen in films such as Save The Last Dance, she hasn't developed an inflated view of herself.

Her latest film The Prince And Me is out today. It's a contemporary fairytale in which Julia, 23, plays a college student who falls in love with her classmate Eddy, unaware that he is actually a Danish royal.

Like her Mona Lisa Smile co-stars Kirsten Dunst and Maggie Gyllenhaal, Stiles is one a new breed of Hollywood starlets resistant to studio stereotyping. Studying for her English and Anthropology degree at Columbia University, she recently had her script, The Anarchist's Daughter, accepted by the prestigious Sundance Institute Writer's Lab.

If that wasn't enough, she has just made her West End debut, in the controversial David Mamet play Oleanna, in which she is playing a student who accuses her tutor of sexual harassment.

She is bright-eyed and dressed neatly in low-slung heels, a black vest-top and patterned trousers. She's also self-effacing and polite, if a little wary of intrusions into her personal life.

Stiles, who dated her 10 Things I Hate About You co-star Joseph Gordon-Levitt, is currently romantically entwined with an unnamed fellow student.

"I don't want to talk about that, only because it's not fair to him," she says, coyly. "If he reads about himself in a magazine, it's very awkward. Technically I'm single. We're still only friends.

"I have a tendency to put guys off because I act more like a guy-friend than a flirtatious girl, but I'm learning. I've been watching Sex And The City and taking notes!"

While filming The Prince And Me -- which co-stars a host of British actors including Ben Miller, James Fox, Miranda Richardson and newcomer Luke Mably who plays her prince -- Stiles admits she experienced a similar journey to her character, Paige Morgan.

"She learns over the course of the movie to open up to being more spontaneous," Julia says, "and to let other people in her life. I think I learned that while we were making the movie too."

Rather than fantasise about handsome princes, Stiles spent her youth fixated on old movie stars such as Rudolph Valentino, Cary Grant and Gregory Peck. She believes "intellect is really sexy" but "a good, childish sense of humour" doesn't go amiss. She also admits she's a romantic, although her time in Europe has left her bereft of male attention.

"I get so jealous seeing couples kissing on a sunny Sunday afternoon while I've been here," she admits, laughing. "I want to punch them."

This frustration is understandable, given that she has spent time in Prague filming The Prince And Me before hot-footing it to Berlin to make The Bourne Supremacy with Matt Damon. Stiles plays the secretary who can lead the CIA to the missing Jason Bourne (Damon), and has an integral role in this sequel to hit thriller The Bourne Identity.

Born and raised in New York's bohemian SoHo area, Stiles' mother was a potter while her father, a former radical from the '60s, looked after their ceramics business until he recently began teaching at a state school. Julia admits her liberal upbringing has provided her with a mature outlook.

At just six, she was caught leafing through the phone book looking for an agent. Two years later she was composing short routines for modern dance classes, and by the time she was nine, she had been to see an avant-garde play and written to the director for a role -- which she got.

By 15, Julia had held her own opposite Brad Pitt and Harrison Ford in The Devil's Own. Now well into her twenties, The Prince And Me, which took a reasonable £15m in the US, may be Julia's last crack at the teen market, although she can't quite bring herself to say "never again".

"Films such as The Prince And Me are for enjoyment," she says. "Like everyone else, I love paying my $10 to be entertained for two hours. I'm glad to be a part of a film that will make people happy for a while."

Stiles plans to go back to the US to finish her degree once her West End run comes to an end. It's refreshing to go back to school after a while," she says. "It's taken me a long time to graduate."

She may be behind on her class-work but "could do better" is not a phrase you'd associate with Julia Stiles.

Article by James Mottram
Originally published at Mirror.co.uk - Posted on July 15, 2004