Together with Thirteen and The Conspirator—in which Wood plays the daughter of a wrongfully convicted Robin Wright, and Wood gets one great eruption of grief in a courtroom—that makes three major projects in which she has laid bare the close, tight vines of the mother-daughter relationship. Wood’s own mother was an actress who, upon divorcing her husband when Evan was 9, moved to L.A. and quit acting to become a drama coach and concentrate on her daughter’s career. During the filming of Thirteen, Wood had to banish her from the set in order to shoot some of the R-rated scenes, and when she was 18, she moved to New York to put some physical distance between them.
“We had a bad breakup,” she says. “We hadn’t been apart for more than a week my whole life. We shared a room, we shared a bed. She was constantly by my side, all the time, until the minute I turned 18. I hopped on [Marilyn Manson’s] tour bus, and was like, I’m going to have an adolescence.” As mother-estrangement maneuvers go, appearing in a rock video in which you are doused in gore while making out with your goth boyfriend is hard to beat.
“I didn’t really get a normal childhood,” says Wood. “Manson gave me what I felt I’d missed out on, where you get to experiment and cut loose and change and grow. I lived 50 lifetimes in those four years.” All of which now lands Wood in an unusual position: While other actresses attempt to exorcise their time in the Mickey Mouse Club by chasing down their dark sides in gritty indie dramas, Wood, whose outré credentials are unimpeachable—even she admits she’s played one too many teenagers and trash princesses—finds herself tacking toward the light. “I really want to do an adult love story,” she says.
Tomorrow, Wood will travel to Cincinnati, where she is shooting George Clooney’s dirty-politics drama, The Ides of March, playing an intern who seduces Ryan Gosling. After that, she plans to move back to New York. “I’m really enjoying being single and concentrating on work right now. That and watching the Food Network and listening to Justin Bieber,” she says, showing off her purple Bieber hat, as sure a sign as any that her Manson years are over. “People honestly think I’m kidding about Bieber,” she says. “My mom is so confused. She’s like, ‘Evan, really?’ I’m like, ‘Go see Never Say Never. You’ll understand.’ ”