Evan Rachel Wood talks 'Charlie Countryman,' Shia LaBeouf and TV
"Charlie Countryman" co-star Evan Rachel Wood talks about getting the Romanian accent down and how she loved doing cheesy TV movies as a kid.
Evan Rachel Wood is more than an ingenue. She’s a serious actor, with a list of impressive performances under her belt at only 26: an experimenting teen on “Once and Again,” an estranged daughter in “The Wrestler,” evil Veda in “Mildred Pierce.” In “Charlie Countryman,” she’s Gabi, a young Romanian being fought over by an American (Shia LaBeouf) and a Eurotrash gangster (Mads Mikkelsen). But there’s more to her than looks alone.
“It was important that she was not just a pretty face,” Wood explains. “She’s a very strong, tough, hard girl with many walls. I think the only reason she lets Shia’s character in is because he catches her at a very vulnerable moment. I think when you fall in love with people it’s when you’re at your most vulnerable. All your guards are down.”
The film also gave her the chance to work with LaBeouf, another actor making the transition to more adult roles. Wood, unlike him, has always done adult movies, usually playing a precocious teen. “I think he might have a harder time because started on the Disney Channel," she says. "People want to give him a hard time for that — even though he’s so freaking good.”
Wood has nothing but superlative words for her sometimes controversial co-star. “There’s nothing diva-ish about him,” she charges. “He’s very humble. He demands a lot because he cares so much.”
“Charlie Countryman” was filmed in its setting of Bucharest, Romania, a city that’s attracted plenty of film shoots in part because it’s so cheap. “It’s a place that’s been through a lot. They’ve been through a dictatorship and violence,” she explains. “There’s something amazing about the people. They are strong and [the turmoil] has given them a lot of character.” Her character is a native, so she had to work on her accent. “I really wanted them to talk at me as much as possible. Before the shoot I was working on another project. So I was really doing the Romanian on my lunch break.”
The director, Fredrik Bond, is very image-driven. What is it like being a serious actor working for a very visual filmmaker, as Wood also did with Julie Taymor on “Across the Universe?” “It can be very scary for an actor. They’re telling you to do all these things and you’re not sure what it is because you can’t see the big picture,” she says. “But then you see the finished product and you finally get it. You just have to trust them. You have to be able to let go and be at their mercy completely.”
Like many smaller films these days, “Charlie Countryman” will be available on Video on Demand. Wood is enthusiastic that technology has gone this way. “These little indie movies I’ve been doing my whole life will finally get seen,” she gushes. “They usually come out in limited theaters. So now anyone can have access to it.”
Like many talented actors, Woody has periodically found her way to television. “A lot of people are flocking to TV now because a lot of things are actually getting made. It’s so hard to get a movie made now. And there’s such great things happening on TV because there’s actually money to make them. And they’re ballsy,” she says. “I do miss TV sometimes. I do miss getting to know a character so well that you can just walk on set and immediately just start channeling them. It becomes second nature.”
Wood got her start on television, doing cheesy TV movies as a child. “When I was 12 they were the greatest things in the world. I did one with Meredith Baxter. I got to be kidnapped. I was excited to be doing something where I did my own stunts.”