Julia Stiles on Andrew Bird’s ‘Lusitania’

Actress Julia Stiles appeared in the “Bourne” film series. She will star in the off-Broadway play “Phoenix” at New York’s Cherry Lane Theater from Monday through Aug. 23. She spoke with Marc Myers.

I’m always looking for new music by artists who aren’t well known yet. That’s how I discovered guitarist-songwriter Andrew Bird in the early 2000s. When he released his “Break It Yourself” album in 2012, I loaded it onto my iPod, took it on a flight and wound up playing the song “Lusitania” over and over again. I even made “Lusitania” my alarm-clock song.

“Lusitania” is a ballad that opens with Bird whistling and playing guitar backed by this big ’60s Wall-of-Sound drumbeat. Then he sings in a deep, beautiful voice. The song is about the breakup of a supposedly unbreakable relationship, and his line, “But somehow it don’t register as pain at all,” resonated with me. Throughout the song, Bird explores how heartbreak can be murky.

None of the song’s lyrics are obvious and his sentence structures are poetic: “If your loose and libel lips / Keep sinking all my ships / Then you’re the one who sank my Lusitania.” Here, the song’s true feelings are beautifully masked by Bird’s unusual word choices and how they sound together: “You’re laying mines along your shore / Through my hull it ripped and tore / We don’t study this war no more.”

The song’s ocean motif is also appealing. I’m almost never happier than when I’m on a beach. I like the pull of the tide, which you feel in this song’s instrumental arrangement. It’s a primal thing, like a heartbeat. About halfway into the song, singer St. Vincent [ Annie Clark ] takes over, and it’s like hearing the woman’s response to Bird’s feelings. When she sings “Go ahead say something dumb boy / There’s no shame,” it sounds as if she’s trying to coax words out of him. When they sing together in duet, it’s powerful.

I often listen to “Lusitania” whenever I’m in an overwhelming situation. The melody and instrumentation are so soothing. This is particularly true on a movie set, when things get chaotic. Humming the song calms me down.

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Articles  ·  Phoenix  ·  Press

CUE & A with Julia Stiles

Film star Julia Stiles, who returns to the New York stage July 28 in Scott Organ’s Phoenix at the Cherry Lane Theatre, fills out Playbill.com’s questionnaire of random facts, backstage trivia and pop-culture tidbits.

Stiles has appeared onstage in Oleanna (Broadway), Twelfth Night (Shakespeare in the Park) and The Vagina Monologues.

Her extensive screen credits include “Ten Things I Hate About You,” “Mona Lisa Smile,” “Dexter,” “State and Main,” “Save the Last Dance,” “O,” “The Bourne Supremacy,” “The Business of Strangers” and “Silver Linings Playbook.”

The Cherry Lane Theatre is located at 38 Commerce Street. Visit phoenixtheplay.com for more information.

Full given name: Julia O’Hara Stiles
Where you were born/where you were raised: New York
Zodiac Sign: Aries, Cancer rising
What your parents did/do for a living: They own a ceramics business. My mom makes the work, my dad sells it.
Siblings: Two, a younger brother and sister
Do you have any early mentors or people who inspired you to pursue the performing arts? My grandmother
Special skills: I’m pretty good at “name that tune”
Something you’re REALLY bad at: Going to bed early
First Broadway show you ever saw: A Doll’s House with Janet McTeer, woah!
If you could go back in time and catch any show, what would it be? Measure for Measure in the park with Meryl Streep
Current or recent show other than your own you have been recommending to friends: Cavewoman with Michael Cavadias (you have to search it, cuz it’s not on Broadway and it’s always a surprise)
Favorite musicals: All things Fosse, Guys and Dolls, Hair, Cabaret, Threepenny Opera, Rocky Horror
Some favorite modern plays: Laughing Wild (Christopher Durang) and Hysteria (Terry Johnson)
Some favorite modern playwrights: Scott Organ! Christopher Durang, Mamet, LaBute, Tracy Letts
Broadway or screen stars of the past you would have most loved to perform with: Philip Seymour Hoffman. We worked together on a movie, but live performance would have been special.
The one performance – attended – that you will never forget: Fiona Shaw in Medea
Music that makes you cry, any genre: Anything with passion. A strong drum beat makes me ecstatic, a thoughtful singer makes me cry.
Your personal acting idols: Paul Newman, Jack Nicholson, Tim Curry, Natalie Wood (“Splendor in the Grass!”), Catherine O’Hara, Diane Weist, Amy Adams
MAC or PC? PC, What? PC, Who?
Most played song on your iPod: “I Follow Rivers” by Lykki Li
Most-visited websites: Free Will Astrology, NPR music, Literary Jukebox, Chances with Wolves
Last book you read: “All That Is” by James Salter
Must-see TV show(s): “Veep”!
Last good movie you saw: “Obvious Child”
Some films you consider classics: “Cool Hand Luke,” “Clue,” “Desperately Seeking Susan,” “Three Caballeros,” “Vacation,” “Splendor in The Grass”
Performer you would drop everything to go see: Andrew Bird
Pop culture guilty pleasure: “Dancing With The Stars”
Three favorite cities: (aside from New York)- London, Prague, Berlin
First CD/Tape/LP you owned: “She’s So Unusual” by Cyndi Lauper
First stage/screen kiss: “10 Things I Hate About You,” with Heath Ledger
Some favorite or most memorable roles as a child or teen: “Clue,” “Desperately Seeking Susan,” “Adventures in Babysitting”
Moment you knew you wanted to perform for a living: As soon as I was old enough to know I had to earn a living.
Favorite pre-/post- show meal: Two Bridges or Joe Allen’s in London.
Pre-show rituals or warm-ups: Standing in the back row of the house, breathing and stretching on the stage. I like to sing, too, it calms me down.
Worst flubbed line/missed cue/onstage mishap: Only in my nightmares
Worst costume ever: A wool army uniform for Twelfth Night. Only because it was summer in the park and about a thousand degrees.
Worst job you ever had: Babysitting, but because I had some weird allergic reaction to something in the house and when the parents came home my eyes were almost swollen shut.
Craziest audition story: Are they ever not crazy? It’s the most bizarre situation every time!
Some favorite screen or commercial roles: So many! I really marvel at the ability to make a living at playing dress up and perform. So many performers I know do something else to pay the bills. That said, I don’t really take time to look back and pat myself on the back. Should probably work on that. Or not.
What drew you to this project? The idea of two people in their thirties able to connect on deeply intellectual and primal levels, but with some carry-on baggage. The question of whether their Fight-or-Flight instincts will triumph. It’s not cynical, and yet not saccharine either.
What has been the biggest challenge so far? At this stage, just infusing the one-word sentences with meaning. I know it’s there, I know Scott Organ chose each word deliberately, but remembering why my character says “Yeah” versus “Okay” versus “Right” is a welcome challenge.
What has been the most fun or fulfilling aspect of this show/character? Playing!!! Meaning, this is the first time in my career I feel like I am exploring and experimenting without feeling I have to get something right.
Most challenging role you have played onstage: Carol in Oleanna
Any upcoming or side projects you can talk about? Ask my agents.
Leading lady role you’ve been dying to play: Lady M
Leading man role you’ve been dying to play: I’ve joked with Jimmy that we should switch roles in Phoenix each night, but I don’t think the gender-bending works, generally. Men are men, ladies are ladies. That said, there are lots of fun roles for dudes. Most of the Mamet guys. And the Sam Shepard guys too.
Something about you that surprises people: I’m funny. But like funny ha ha, AND funny strange.
Career you would want if not a performer: Do teachers count as performers?
Three things you can’t live without: Music, Exercise, Water
“I’ll never understand why…” … God (or the Universe, evolution, whatever) made child birth painful. Population control?
Words of advice for aspiring performers: Focus on the story you want to tell, not the applause.

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PHOENIX, Starring Julia Stiles and James Wirt, Offers $20 Tickets

Rattlestick Playwrights Theater are proud to announce that a limited number of $20 tickets will be available for Scott Organ’s dark romantic comedy Phoenix at the Cherry Lane Theatre (38 Commerce Street).

“We passionately believe live theater should be accessible to audiences of all ages and incomes,” said producer Rian Patrick Durham, “We are offering these $20 tickets to ensure that Scott Organ’s powerful, romantic and humorous play reach as many people as possible.”

Directed by Jennifer DeLia, Phoenix stars Emmy and Golden Globe Award nominee Julia Stiles and James Wirt. Phoenix begins performances on Monday, July 28 and will play a limited engagement through Saturday, August 23.

Stiles, known for 10 Things I Hate About You, the Bourne series with Matt Damon, and David Mamet’s Oleanna on Broadway, will be joined by James Wirt, who also stars in DeLia’s directorial debut feature film Billy Bates, due out in theaters in November. Stiles and Wirt will co-star with Lily Rabe, Michael Pitt, Billy Magnussen and Louisa Krause in Julie Pacino and Jennifer DeLia’s upcoming film The First. A film adaptation of Phoenix, under the direction of Amy Redford is currently development.

When Bruce (James Wirt) and Sue (Julia Stiles) meet four weeks after an uncharacteristic one-night-stand, Sue has this to say to him: one, I had a great time with you that night and two, let’s never see each other again. Thus begins a 4,000 mile journey well beyond the confines of their carefully structured worlds. Bruce is fueled by an overwhelming but undefined compulsion to join her in Phoenix. Sue is reluctantly charmed by his persistence, but steadfast in her resolve to keep him at bay. Both are forced to consider a whole new world of possibility, though not one free of difficulty and loss. Phoenix is a one-act dark romantic comedy.

PHOENIX premiered at the 34th Humana Festival of New American Plays at Actor’s Theatre of Louisville on March 5, 2010, and received its Off-Broadway premiere produced by The Barrow Group Theatre Company on April 10, 2010.

Buy Tickets

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Julia Stiles Interview 2014

Moving to a new home is said to be one of the most stressful events you can endure — up there with death and divorce — but Julia Stiles has just done it and looks radiant.

The Emmy Award- and Golden Globe-nominee sat down before rehearsals of her new play only hours after moving from her longtime three-bedroom apartment on 15th Street to a new one-bedroom East Village space.

“I feel great about it. Downsizing. Simplifying. I gave away lots of stuff. It feels like shedding your skin,” she says. “It was time for a change.”

Gone were books she’d already read. Gone was most of her furniture she’d accumulated over a decade. She even donated her piano to a music school. A lot of stuff went out on the street. “I had to be brutal,” she says.

Change is not something Stiles is uncomfortable with, having jumped into projects as diverse as William Shakespeare’s “Twelfth Night,” to being a serial killer on “Dexter,” to her own scripted show on YouTube.

“I’m such a child that I just want to show up and play dress up. I’m not very good at the long term plans,” she says. “I’ve kind of embraced that my work is always in flux.”

This summer, the flux has put Stiles at the intimate Cherry Lane Theatre for a production of the one-act dark romantic comedy “Phoenix” by Scott Organ, which the actress calls “really charming and really romantic.”

Stiles and co-star James Wirt play one-time lovers who meet several weeks after a one-night-stand to discuss the consequences. “I thought it was refreshing that it’s not cynical,” she says.

Stiles, 33, had been looking for a play that she and director Jennifer DeLia could work on together. They wanted something small and something downtown — where the actress began her career with the tiny Ridge Theater company.

“For me, it makes sense because it’s getting back to my roots and also why I wanted to be an actress in the first place,” Stiles says. “At its core, it’s very simply what I find delightful.”

Rising star Wirt, who was a fan of Stiles from “Dexter,” soon rented “10 Things I Hate About You” to learn more about his co-star. He says her love of acting is clear in her decision to pick a 180-seat theater to showcase a new playwright.

“You see it just to do this play. This little play, in the summer, in the West Village, for the love of the game,” says Wirt, who also stars in DeLia’s film “Billy Bates.” ”That’s what it is: For the love of the game. Period. That’s a joy to be around.”

Stiles’ credits also include being in the “Bourne” franchise with Matt Damon, David Mamet’s play “Oleanna” in the West End and Broadway and the films “Silver Linings Playbook” and “Mona Lisa Smile.”

More recently, Stiles has been among the first A-list actresses to embrace online storytelling, starring in the hit WIGS web series “Blue” as a mother juggling raising her son with being a high-end escort, and writing and directing “Paloma,” another WIGS series which stars Grace Gummer navigating modern life. Both are available on YouTube and Hulu.

“Years ago, it seemed like the content wouldn’t be as sophisticated as a proper TV show or proper movie, but I could feel that was changing,” said Stiles. “I feel like my decision to do that without being able to predict the future was rewarded because it was for the right reason.”

On the horizon is a movie directed by DeLia about silent film star Mary Pickford in which Wirt will play Charlie Chaplin and Stiles will star as Frances Marion, one of the top screenwriters during the early 20th Century.

“My work is a little bit of a hodgepodge,” says Stiles. “My career has been this conglomerate of all these different mediums. I’m believing more and more in that expression, ‘You don’t pick the part. The part picks you.'”

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Julia Stiles attends the opening night of The Long Shrift

Julia Stiles decided to go elegant and classy for the opening night of The Long Shrift in New York City on Sunday. The 33-year-old actress wore a low cut green dress that she paired with a white blazer and beige heels.

The Save the Last Dance star wore her hair down and kept her makeup light as she stepped out for the evening, posing for the camera alongside actor James Wirt. James and Julia will be appearing together in Scott Organ’s play Phoenix, a quirky comedy about a one-night-stand that has long-term implications.

James will play her love interest and Jennifer DeLia will direct. Phoenix begins performances on July 28 and opens Aug. 7.

Julia will also be in a few projects on the big screen this year including horror film Out Of The Dark. The thriller centres around a couple and their daughter who move to Columbia in order to take over a family manufacturing plant and find out their new home is haunted.

Other stars attending the opening night included The Long Shrift’s director, James Franco, who starred in Oz the Great and Powerful and Ally Sheedy, who stars in the play.

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Phoenix  ·  Press

Julia Stiles Interview for PHOENIX

The new production of Scott Organ’s play PHOENIX, starring Emmy Award and Golden Globe nominee Julia Stiles and James Wirt, begins performances at the Cherry Lane Theatre (38 Commerce Street) Monday, July 28. Presented by Nicholas Jabbour, PHOENIX will play a limited engagement through Saturday, August 23, and is produced by Poverty Row Entertainment, Rian Patrick Durham and Rattlestick Playwrights Theater, by special arrangement with The Cherry Lane Theatre.

The company met the press earlier today and BroadwayWorld was there for the special event. Check out photo coverage below!

When Bruce (James Wirt) and Sue (Julia Stiles) meet four weeks after an uncharacteristic one-night-stand, Sue has this to say to him: one, I had a great time with you that night and two, let’s never see each other again. Thus begins a 4,000 mile journey well beyond the confines of their carefully structured worlds. Bruce is fueled by an overwhelming but undefined compulsion to join her in Phoenix. Sue is reluctantly charmed by his persistence, but steadfast in her resolve to keep him at bay. Both are forced to consider a whole new world of possibility, though not one free of difficulty and loss. PHOENIX is a one-act dark romantic comedy.

PHOENIX premiered at the 34th Humana Festival of New American Plays at Actor’s Theatre of Louisville on March 5, 2010, and received its Off-Broadway premiere produced by The Barrow Group Theatre Company on April 10, 2010.

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Blue  ·  Projects

CTV Extend gets Blue with Julia Stiles

CTV announced on Monday that it has acquired the award-winning web series Blue, starring Julia Stiles, for its recently launched digital platform CTV Extend. The show follows the story of Stiles who plays a single mother trying to protect her son from the consequences of her secret career as an upscale escort.

The first two seasons are available for streaming on the free, ad-supported VOD network at CTV.ca and on the CTV Go app, along with the recently launched season three, which adds Eric Stoltz and Alexz Johnson to the cast.

Blue was created for WIGS, a YouTube network that carries scripted series and documentaries made by high-profile Hollywood stars and filmmakers. It was founded by producer Jon Avnet (Risky Business, Black Swan) and Rodrigo Garcia (In Treatment, Albert Nobbs), the writer/director behind Blue.

Although the first two seasons of Blue were originally seen on WIGS in the US, the per episode running times in season three were extended to about 40 to 60 minutes from under 10 minutes, and they streamed on Hulu, Fox.com and the WIGS website, not YouTube. CTV has exclusive rights to season three in Canada.

In addition to the eight hours of episodes, CTV Extend will also host numerous digital extras for Blue, including behind-the-scenes vignettes with the filmmakers, writers, actors and crew. As it continues to license content for the VOD platform that it launched this past spring, CTV is taking a leadership role in the Canadian market where broadcasters are feeling the pressure from OTT and SVOD providers that encourage cord-cutting.

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