As a young teen, Julia Stiles was cast in a Cyndi Lauper music video, playing the singer’s younger self—a role she still considers a career high. “I was completely in awe of her,” she has said.
Stiles’s work since has been strikingly varied, from the hit comedy 10 Things I Hate About You through Save the Last Dance, the Bourne series and this year’s Oscar-nominated Silver Linings Playbook. She even entered the darkly ironic realm of TV’s Dexter, earning a 2011 Emmy nod for her guest stint. “I guess my career may seem hodgepodge,” she says with a laugh. “I choose things based on my mood.”
Out now is It’s a Disaster, an ensemble piece about a group of friends who meet for a Sunday brunch only to discover they’re stuck in a house together as the world may be coming to an end. The film succeeds in being very funny and very grim at the same time, though Stiles says she would be ill equipped to deal with an actual apocalypse: “I’d probably be hopelessly optimistic, which is another way of saying I’d be in denial.” One draw for Stiles in making the movie was the chance to act with her friend America Ferrera. “We met a while ago,” she says, “but it’s difficult to stay in touch in an industry of nomads. She’s incredibly fun to be around and probably the only person who can get me to do karaoke.”
Now 32, Stiles sees advantages in having moved past her twenties:
“I have more perspective. I’m still driven, but work doesn’t consume me the way it used to. I’m realizing that it’s a big world out there and opportunities will always present themselves.” To that end, she is trying to take more breaks in her historically nonstop schedule. “I feel like I’m at a transitional point in my life,” she says. “I’m trying not to focus so much on achieving goals and just . . . live.”
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