Evan Rachel Wood © Sony Pictures Classics

Indie favorite, Evan Rachel Wood, stars in Woody Allen’s new comedy Whatever Works, as Melody, a naïve homeless runaway who lands on the doorstep of world-class grouch Boris Yellnikoff (Larry David), who invites her in and eventually marries her.  Wood will be seen on HBO’s  True Blood this season as Queen of the Vampires and will be starring on Broadway next year in the musical version of Spider-Man, which will be directed by Julie Taymor (who helmed The Lion King).

Evan Rachel Wood © Sony Pictures Classics
Evan Rachel Wood © Sony Pictures Classics

You’re a bright woman, how fun or frustrating was it to play someone this clueless?

I don’t want to sound pompous saying it, but it was really hard to play dumb. And I was worried that she was going to be really annoying [instead of] endearing. There’s a fine line there and I didn’t want to cross it. But, I think she’s sweet. I had fun actually. It was kind of nice to not have to come to set and cry every day.

Did you look at any of Woody Allen’s leading ladies and what they might have had in common over the years?

No, I just wanted to make her my own. I’m very honored to be in that group of women now. I never thought I’d be starring in a Woody Allen movie having grown up with actor parents, and my mother going, ‘This is Diane Keaton. Watch, learn, live it, love it!’ Now I’m one of those girls. Pretty cool.

Woody Allen, Evan Rachel Wood, and Larry David © Sony Pictures Classics
Woody Allen, Evan Rachel Wood, and Larry David © Sony Pictures Classics

What was it like working with Woody Allen?

I almost had a panic attack the first day. I was certain I was going to get fired. You ask him, ‘Was that okay?’ and he says, ‘Yeah, that was fine.’ I don’t know what that means, but I guess it’s good. I ended up liking [the way he works], and I kind of get what he was going for after watching the movie. I don’t think he wants to distract you or make you think about it too much, he wants it to be as natural as possible. His favorite takes were when we messed up.

Larry David and Evan Rachel Wood © Sony Pictures Classics
Larry David and Evan Rachel Wood © Sony Pictures Classics

Did he work with you on the characterization?

Luckily I’m from the south, so I kind of based her off my stepmother slightly. Not IQ-wise, but that sweet, southern hospitality and seeing the good in everything. It was hard.  I wanted my accent to be right, and that was the main direction I always got, more southern. So I did the best I could. Once you get that hair going and the nails, it’s hard not to be a different person.

How is Spider-Man going?

It’s going incredibly well. I spoke with Julie [Taymor] today actually. We’re still looking for our Spider-Man. It’s going to be a crazy, rock ‘n’ roll circus show. Julie’s doing what she did for The Lion King for this.

Have you been rehearsing?

No, we haven’t started. I did the workshop and then I worked with U2 and Julie and learned the songs. We don’t start rehearsals until October. And wait until you hear who’s playing the villain. I know and I wish I could tell everybody, but it’s going a be good.

And you’re also doing True Blood?

Yeah, I just got fitted for my fangs [she laughs]. I’m playing the Vampire Queen of Louisiana, 400 years old and gay, to it’s going to be a good one.

Why are vampire so popular right now?

It comes and goes in waves. But there’s always a craze with vampires; I’ve been waiting to play a vampire since I was five. Vampires are sexy and scary at the same time.

Judy Sloane

Judy is Film Review Online's regular Los Angeles based reporter.