Do you ever watch a young actress in a film, and say to yourself, “What a good actress, and at such a young age too”? Do you ever wonder after that what their career will be like? Well, I did, with Evan Rachel Wood, when I first saw Thirteen. Now, this might not be the typical piece where I compliment this week’s woman’s career but merely a disappointment with the road it’s gone in.
Evan Rachel Wood was born in Raleigh, North Carolina on September 7th, 1987 to actor/director parents. She began acting at age 3, at the theater her father owned in Raleigh. At the age of seven, Wood made her way into film. She had a few small roles in various TV movies and landed a 3 episode recurring role on the TV series American Gothic in 1996.
By the time she was eight, she starred on stage as Helen Keller. Her mother costarred in the production and her father directed it. She received outstanding reviews from her local paper for her subtle performance. I guess it’s always good to know somebody when you want to become an actress.
When her parents divorced in 1997, Wood moved to Los Angeles with her mother and began to pursue her career in film. She landed a supporting role in Digging to China (1998) which starred Kevin Bacon. After appearing in the film, she realized how hard the art of acting was, but led her to the decision that acting is something she doesn’t want to ever stop. Through the years she appeared on the television show Once and Again and landed both supporting and starring roles in film, including Practical Magic (1998), Little Secrets (2001) and Simone (2002).
In 2003, audiences saw the type of actress Wood is destined to be. Thirteen was Evan Rachel Wood’s breakout role, playing a thirteen year old girl, who desperately wants to fit in and will go to any lengths to do that. After befriending one of the most popular girls in school, her life begins spiraling out of control when she dabbles in sex, drugs and crime. Audiences saw a star being born the minute Wood’s character transformed from innocent little girl to rebellious teen. Before this movie, Wood had always been good, but she went all out for this film and nailed the role of Tracy, better than I could have even imagined. The performance not only created a good movie but a disturbing slice of life we often like to ignore. When I first saw the movie when I was thirteen years old, I walked away feeling so terrified at what that type of life does to a person and there family. Wood’s performance taught me a huge lesson in life and her portrayal of costar Nikki Reed’s life kept me away from a lot of things teens have trouble saying no to.
Her role as Tracy was so outstanding, emotional, real and moving, so much that it blew me away. Wood captured the dark brooding, mood swings, joy and sadness of being that age, perfectly. She gave an Oscar worthy performance that only got her a Nomination for Lead Actress at the Golden Globes and Screen Actors Guild. She received other critical acclaim but when the Oscars came around, her name was left out. I remember being 14 and mad because she didn’t receive a nomination. Now at 20, I still feel the same exact way but more strongly about her role. After growing up with friends that resembled her character, watching the movie again now, her portrayal was so honest and heartbreaking.
With the attention Wood received from Thirteen, through the years, she had wonderful supporting roles in films; The Missing (2003), The Upside of Anger (2005), Running with Scissors, Across the Universe (2007) and The Wrestler (2008). She also had quite a few movies in between those I just mentioned that she starred in, but weren’t very good, for example Pretty Persuasion (2005), Down in the Valley (2005) and Whatever Works (2009). Through the years, Wood has shown us she can play a very good supporting role, but she seems to lack the ability to carry a film and bring in the money at the box office.
Now, I bet you’re wondering where the disappointment I was talking about earlier comes in. Well, it always upsets me when you find actresses at a young age with such potential and after they make that one great movie, their flame begins to go away. Wood has shown us she can be an incredible dramatic actress and she can even sing, so where are the movies that show this off? Yes, she is a great supporting actress but I want to see more of her. I want to see her carry a film. I want to see her do the emotional independent films. I want her to stop trying to resemble Dita Von Teese and just be herself again. When I watch her act, I picture her career being much like Annette Bening’s, if she chooses to go in the right direction. But she has to find the roles that will make her great. To me, it’s not a good thing to be considered an “It Girl” and only have one or two great performances under your belt. In my opinion, I feel her relationship with Marilyn Manson changed everything. She changed her look and we stopped seeing her in movies.
I have always enjoyed watching Evan Rachel Wood act; I just wish she would take on more dramatic independent movies and show audiences the actress we saw in Thirteen. I want to see that intensity and emotion again. It’s all well and good to play a vampire on True Blood and play Kate Winslet’s spoiled brat of a daughter (who overacted a tad) in the miniseries Mildred Pierce, but I want her to pick a role that proves to audiences that she hasn’t lost her talent. Maybe her supporting role in The Ides of March, set to be released later this year, will be that reminder.
It really does disappoint me when a gifted actress misses the opportunities to show her greatness and loses what made her special. I’ve seen all of her movies because I really do enjoy watching her act, but I’m waiting for her to be great again. Maybe this is all just me and I’m the only person who feels this way, but I’m desperate to see more from her.