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Interview with Evan Rachel Wood

Veda Pierce

HBO

This is a bold depiction of an often ugly mother-daughter relationship. Was that appealing or scary to you?

EVAN RACHEL WOOD

Mildred and Veda are extremely complicated; its a very extreme mother-daughter relationship, walking that fine line of when do you love your child too much, and when does it become selfish, when does it start becoming unhealthy? In some ways I looked at Veda as a victim because I felt like she was suffocated and smothered and driven to a point of madness where she would just do anything to get away, to breathe. It was daunting, but playing opposite someone like Kate [Winslet] made it a little easier.

HBO

Did the two of you discuss the psychology of the relationship?

EVAN RACHEL WOOD

I think we both drew from personal experience [laughs]. Everyone has a complicated relationship with their mother, especially daughters. It comes with the territory.

HBO

Was viewing Veda as a victim an approach you discussed with Todd Haynes, or was that your own take?

EVAN RACHEL WOOD

Well, shes a victim to a point. Obviously she crosses the line and is a borderline sociopath by the end. But thats where it starts. We definitely talked about not wanting her to be one dimensional and just the villain and the annoying daughter. We wanted there to be moments where you do actually feel for her and see where shes coming from. So sometimes I think you dont know who to side with. But at the end of the day, I think she takes things way too far and there is no excuse for it. But in the beginning, she's just a very troubled girl.

HBO

What drives her?

EVAN RACHEL WOOD

Getting out. Getting away from Glendale and from her mother and the lower class -- especially during the Depression when there was such an emphasis on class. Shes driven to be a famous pianist and trains her entire life and in an instant, its taken away from her. Its the last straw.

"I think another reason she wants to get away is she does love [Mildred]. Being away from her she doesnt have to worry about hurting her."

HBO

Youre referring to the scene where Treviso savages Vedas playing, was it losing her ticket out that was so devastating?

EVAN RACHEL WOOD

I think she really did have a passion for music. And that it was genuinely heartbreaking for her. I think it was the one thing she loved and was her way to escape. So I think thats where she really turns  its the last time you see her have a heart. Thats where her heart was and it just gets broken. You see her start to self-destruct after that. She gets a little wild, starts partying, being promiscuous. And then all of a sudden she finds this voice, this soprano voice she didnt know she had and thats her new ticket out.

HBO

And yet after Treviso criticizes her playing, she lashes out at her mother, as if its Mildreds fault she doesnt have talent.

EVAN RACHEL WOOD

Mildred does the classic thing which is a trap a lot of mothers fall into: Telling her, You can do whatever you want, youre the greatest most talented person in the world and you can do anything! Thats not what Veda wants to hear because its not the case. She just wants her mother to see her, so she gets frustrated.

HBO

Does Veda love Mildred?

EVAN RACHEL WOOD

I think deep down she does. But she never wants to be like her or end up like her in any way. I actually think another reason she wants to get away is she does love her. Being away from her she doesnt have to worry about hurting her, or loving her, or anything. If she didnt love her, she wouldnt care.

HBO

Does Veda have true feelings for Monty?

EVAN RACHEL WOOD

I think she does. I think it makes it twice as juicy that its her mothers husband. Any time she can get a dig at her mother  shes just angry.

HBO

The scene where Mildred discovers Veda and Monty is so devastating. But perhaps whats most shocking is that your first nude scene was for 'Mildred Pierce'  not 'True Blood.'

EVAN RACHEL WOOD

I was really surprised actually, I would have sworn that Alan Ball would have gotten my clothes off! But my first fully nude scene was in 'Mildred Pierce.' I was a lot more nervous than I thought I was going to be but Kate was a great coach, because shes done it all. So having her on my team was great.

HBO

What was her advice?

EVAN RACHEL WOOD

First of all, just laugh at it because the whole situation is always just ridiculous. And after it was all done we had a cocktail and she said, Cheers to your first full frontal!

Interviews