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This Valentine’s Day, I received quite a memorable gift… a chance to speak with one of my favorite young actresses, the gorgeous, versatile, and beyond talented Ms. Evan Rachel Wood.

Of course we discussed Barefoot – the charmingly offbeat new romantic comedy in which she stars opposite Scott Speedman – but Wood – a funny, personable, and delightful treat – was also kind enough to open up a bit about her storied career. Admittedly, it was everything that this superfan could have hoped for!

Here are some highlights from that conversation:

In the last three months alone, I’ve seen you play a Romanian cellist (opposite Shia LeBeouf in Charlie Countryman) an online dater (opposite Justin Long in A Case of You) and now this Cinderella-esq sweetheart. What attracts you to a role?

“I think I just like to be a chameleon. I like to change in everything that I do, (so that I) avoid doing the same thing twice. Even though a lot of my roles are kind of troubled women, I believe there’s still some diversity there.”

Is that why you decided to play Daisy in Barefoot?

“I’ve done a lot of really heavy hitting dramas and I really wanted to show a different side of myself and I wanted to do something really accessible and fun and romantic and sweet, but still kind of offbeat, and I thought that this fit the mold.”

Had you seen any of (Barefoot director) Andrew Fleming’s subversive teen films of the 90’s, like The Craft and Dick?

“Oh, I saw Dick in the theater! -Which is a really funny sentence to say, but I did and I thought it was great!”

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Speaking of the 90’s… Were you a Felicity fan? Did you crush on Scott Speedman or Scott Foley?

“I had a crush on Keri Russell! It’s funny, I ended up working with her (on 2005’s The Upside Of Anger) and she’s just lovely, so now I’ve worked with them both. And Scott was great- I loved working with him. He really steals the show in this – he’s hilarious.”

I don’t know… Daisy has quite a few funny moments of her own. How would you describe her?

“She has no filter. She’s so over the top, kinda like a cartoon character – probably because she’s just sat in front of the TV most of her life and that’s where a lot of her personalities come from. And she’s so fragile because she’s lived with this very unstable person most of her life. But she’s also completely honest, and there’s no BS. So when she says she loves you, she really loves you. There’s no bells and whistles or anything. And she’s not jaded. She’s excited by everything… excited by life.”

Is that the part of her that you first fell in love with, or at least what you connected with the most?

“Yeah, I think so. I’m an overly optimistic person sometimes- I will always see the good in any situation no matter how bad things are. I’ll be like (slipping into a Daisyesq voice) Well at least, we had the experience! – I’m that person.

“And again, I loved her honesty from the very start – we don’t have enough of that in the world.”

Do you like road trips as much as she seems to?

“I’m a huge road tripper, that’s probably my favorite thing to do in the whole world – it’s so fun. I wish I had the RV from the movie!”

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Is it harder to play a character, like Daisy – or Melody in Whatever Works – who is so sheltered and naïve, as opposed to say, a person like Veda in Mildred Pierce?

“It’s so much harder to do Melody and Daisy – it really is! Anytime I have to play someone who is not as, oh God, how do I put this… not as worldly I guess – even though I don’t know what I’m saying about myself. But Melody was so simple and Daisy is so sheltered and so innocent, and I’m just not that…”

“I remember on Barefoot, I just hope nobody thought I was a jerk because I wouldn’t really talk to people in between takes because I didn’t want to get out of the mindset that I was in for her.” 

What has been hardest role that you’ve taken on? If you can even answer that…

Truthfully, I think Veda from Mildred Pierce was the most challenging thing I’ve ever done.  I mean that movie was challenging for everyone, but she was just so dark and manipulative and she did obviously have a lot of pain and resentment towards her mother but it just manifested in this horrible way.”

“That was probably the hardest because you can’t help but take your characters home with you sometimes when you’re in that headspace all day, and it was like I had this dark cloud over me for four months. And on top of that having to study the opera and learn all the songs and everything was extremely difficult.”

“Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely adored Todd Haynes, and Kate Winslet and Guy Piece were incredible, so I was bummed (when we wrapped) because it was amazing to work with all of them, but I was definitely ready to leave Vida behind.”

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That cast alone is a Hollywood dream team, but is there someone in particular whom you would kill to work and just haven’t yet?

“I mean there’s so many people, my mind is just going blahhh… I don’t even know where to begin… Jody Foster! Meryl Streep! Susan Sarandon! Robert Downy Jr!”

I’m sure Jodi Foster would be down! She was such a vocal proponent of your brilliant but underrated performance in (Vadim Perelman’s) The Life Before Her Eyes

“Yes she was! She really liked that movie and that performance and that meant so much to me!”

You’ve reunited with your Once and Again dad, Billy Campbell for the upcoming 10 Things I Hate About Life… What has that been like?

“I love him, but unfortunately I haven’t gotten to shoot any scenes with him.”

Alas, Mr. Campbell – like the rest of her devoted fans, including yours truly  – just needs a little more Evan Rachel Wood in his life!