I know you’re going back to Brown this fall, after taking a couple of years off for work. What made you decide on that school?
A few different things. I really like the fact that it has a very open curriculum, that there aren’t any requirements. Really, I’ve kind of been in charge of my own education since I started out on Potter when I was 9 or 10, and I liked that I could design my own major if I wanted to, and I could take independent studies if I wanted to on subjects that weren’t necessarily in the curriculum. I did an independent study on the psychology and philosophy of how and why we fall in love, which was awesome. [Laughs]
Whoa! Do you know why? Can you tell me?
[Laughs] We’d need like six hours! Opportunities like that, and the idea of classes being pass/fail, make it sound as if you don’t have to work as hard, but it actually gives you the freedom to try out things that you wouldn’t be able to do if you had to get a certain GPA on your transcript. It lets you take classes that you wouldn’t otherwise. And it attracts a certain type of student: [someone] very independent who wants to take responsibility and control of what they’re learning. That really appealed to me as well.
What is a dream project for you? Not just film, necessarily.
Well, there’s different things you get out of different types of projects, and you can’t expect to get everything in one bundle. Perks was really special because I made friends that I’ll probably have for life. With Bling Ring, through learning about the character I learned more about myself. On Noah, I ended up doing months’ worth of research on one scene for the movie. And I got to work with Darren [Aronofsky], who really pushed me to be a better actress. In terms of my next project, I really want to do a romantic comedy. I’ve been looking for the perfect script. I’m getting to the point where I’m like, “I just need to write the damn thing myself,” because it’s so hard to find something that’s original and really funny. But I’d love to do something like that, just because the last two or three movies I did were kind of heavy.
I’m a real director chaser. I really want to work with Danny Boyle or Ang Lee, I’d love to work with Lynne Ramsay, I’d love to work with Tom Hooper, David Fincher—I have this endless list. I’ll do whatever as long as I can be part of someone else’s creative vision, someone who isn’t just creating something as a piece of entertainment, but is genuinely creating a piece of art. Though it’s nice if it’s commercially successful at the same time. [Laughs] I’m big on directors, more than I am about working with particular actors.
Do you think that’s something you’d ever do yourself?
Maybe. I would definitely be interested. I’m obsessed with being very thorough and very in control and very researched, and so I would only do it if I felt like I had enough knowledge. I’d like to produce as well, so we’ll see.
I was reading an interview with Lena Dunham by Miranda July, and they were saying that it’s easier now to work in different mediums and have your body of work be more about your point of view than about honing a particular craft. I guess acting requires a kind of permission from others, and just thinking about your journals, I think it’s great that you have a strong point of view and that you can work in various mediums that let you express it in different ways, and I look forward to seeing all that you do. Aaah! I always feel silly complimenting people who are older than me because it feels condescending!
No, I don’t see it that way at all! That’s a really nice thing to hear. For me it’s about knowing that what I have to say, I really believe in. I’m not gonna put anything out there just for the sake of it. I’m trying to find a really confident artistic voice before I put myself out there, because it’s so easy for people to squash you. I want to make sure that what I make is something I really have the goods to back up.
I think that is what is so special about you and about Lena, is that you’re very young people who already have a very established point of view—you have a strong set of values that you can translate into different art forms. I guess my figuring out who I am and what those values are has become quite diluted, because I’ve just been working so much and been so tied up in being so many other identities that it doesn’t feel as concrete or asestablished yet as I would like it to be. I’m still not quite sure what my message is, what I’m trying to communicate [through my work].
Those other identities have taught you things as well.
Yeah, they have. It’s interesting, because people say things to me like, “It’s really cool that you don’t go out and get drunk all the time and go to clubs,” and I’m just like, I mean, I appreciate that, but I’m kind of an introverted kind of person just by nature, it’s not like a conscious choice that I’m making necessarily. It’s genuinely who I am. Have you seen Quiet by Susan Cain?
It discusses how extraverts in our society are bigged up so much, and if you’re anything other than an extravert you’re made to think there’s something wrong with you. That’s like the story of my life. Coming to realize that about myself was very empowering, because I had felt like Oh my god, there must be something wrong with me, because I don’t want to go out and do what all my friends want to do. Anyway, I just went off on a tangent…
I think we were talking about putting out something you really believe in.
I just feel so uncomfortable with being a Google News article, really with being in the media in any way, that if I have to be in the public eye, I want it to be for something that was worth it. I’m just taking my time over it. It’s building, it’s got some layers. It’s getting there. ♦