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PopEntertainment.com > Feature Interviews - Actresses > Feature Interviews A to E > Rachel Bilson



by Brad Balfour 

Copyright ©2006 PopEntertainment.com.  All rights reserved.  Posted: September 21, 2006.

For Rachel Bilson, landing her part in director/actor Tony Goldwyn's The Last Kiss was a real leap forward, her chance to move into film. As Summer Roberts in Fox Television's The OC, she joined an ensemble that surprised everybody at establishing such a huge fan base so quickly. 

But the 25 year-old Bilson knew that in time she had to grapple with something more. With her part as Kim in The Last Kiss, the sexually precocious co-ed, who is hot for the decade older Michael (Zach Braff), becomes the fulcrum for the core conflict at the center of this film Ė especially in Michael's case. This is a film about four men who are about to enter their 30s and aren't sure they're ready for it.  

Bilson's role in The Last Kiss offered her the challenge of being both hot and vulnerable Ė and for her to do her first sex scene that includes a little nudity as well. That put Bilson into another context and has given her a whole new audience to reach out to. 

Were you anything like your character Kim when you were in college? 

No, no, no, no! I would never be the pursuer. 

Was that one of the attractions Ė to play the bad girl going after the bad boy? 

It was just fun to play a different character and to be in this movie was truly, you know... It was just amazing for me to work with these people, so it was really fun to be able to be someone else for a while. 

How did you schedule this in terms of your TV show, The OC? 

Well, we have a hiatus every year. Itís about two months long and I did it during the first hiatus. 

So you werenít really a bad girl. But, you didnít care whether he was married, in a committed relationship or not. 

Well, itís not that she didnít care. You know, when you talk to a guy you feel him out a little bit. And in their first meeting, she asks him if he has a girlfriend and he says ďyeah,Ē but heís a little unsure of it and I think she picks up on that. And she doesnít know the circumstances or their situation so if heís giving off that signal. I would [never do what she did] in my own life; if someone has a girlfriend they have a girlfriend, but he definitely leads her to believe that maybe thereís uncertainty there. 

So what attracted you to this particular character? 

When I read the script I loved this particular character because itís so nice to have a female role, with the amount of screen time sheís given, [where you are] able to see her go through such a transition, and get to play out different emotions Ė really show a lot of different colors Ė which you donít always get to do. So that was a nice treat. 

And you get to work with a director, Tony Goldwyn, who having been an actor himself, can work closely with you to bring those colors out. 

Well having Tony as the director, he was really amazing and helped me so much and really gave me time with the scenes. I had a hard time with the emotional scene where I go and give Michael (Zach Braff) a present, and Tony and Zach both really helped me. Without the two of them, I donít think I could have done anything close to what I did. 

Of course Zach simulates this reaction. When a friend heard we were doing these interviews she said, ďZach Braff! Can I come along?Ē  

Yeah, girls like the Braff! Heís really talented, and talent is always attractive. Heís hysterical, very charming and heís a very funny guy. I think if you can make a girl laugh, that is the key to their heart Ė laughter. 

Is he as charming as he seems or does he just pick characters that make him look charming? 

No, itís definitely a lot like him. I mean, he plays a lot of himself in his characters. Heís very funny, on screen and off.

Your characters seem very strong. Where do you pull that from? 

I kind of think being a woman, you have to show that. Especially in movies, because there are so many times you see women in movies and they're so weak. You donít get to see that [strength]. So I thought it was important to really be able to give her strength in certain ways and itís nice to see that for a change. 

What would be your ideal character to portray? 

There are so many, itís hard to say. There are so many amazing roles out there and amazing genres to explore. I love musicals, I think it would be fun to do something like that because I love to sing and dance, and it would be fun to play an old jazz singer. I love music so much, so automatically I turn to that, but a period piece, a comedy, anything. 

Have you recorded anything? 

No, no. Iím too embarrassed. I love it, and I can do it on my own, in my own room in front of the mirror, but in a movie I feel like it would a lot easier than on stage. Not easier, I donít mean easier, but you can mess up and you can go again but when youíre up there on stage you just have to go with it. It takes a lot of guts to do that and I really admire people who get up there. 

Do you have other film projects coming up? 

No, though Iím trying to do more. Thatís the goal, and I really hope I get a chance to make another movie because it was really incredible. 

Is the problem in getting the parts or a matter of scheduling or youíre not getting offered things you like?  Doing the teen things until youíre blue in the face doesn't seem fun. 

There are some teen things that are great, but I donít really get that many offers. I have people that maybe want to meet me, which is great. But itís hard you have to work at it because all the roles that I want [tend to go to] Scarlett Johansson, Natalie Portman, and all these amazing actresses who have worked really hard to get where they are. Iím just at the bottom trying to work my way towards anything remotely close to that in that area, so itís a lot of work and thatís what Iím trying to do. Thatís why I waited to get to do a picture like this as opposed to jumping into a teen comedy or horror movie. Itís important to me, and I take it very seriously, to prove myself as an actress and try to work my way up. 

Were there any difficult parts in shooting this character? 

I would have to say the first sex scene would be the most difficult just because itís kind of uncomfortable and awkward. Reading it on the page, I was terrified but Zach really helped me through it, and weíre friends, so that made it very comfortable. Tony made it very comfortable as well, and it was actually a really nice setting. Iím happy I did it because I can say, ďHey I did my first sex scene and I never have to do that again!Ē 

And how did your mom feel about that on the screen? 

Oh my mom was very aware. My mom is very sexually spiritual, so? 

Now that youíve done it, you can do more? 

Yeah, bring it on! No Ė but it is the first time. Itís like the first time you ride a bike. That was a horrible analogy. But, you know, itís kind of like jumping into cold water then you get right out.  

So in making the transition from TV to film, was there any kind of preparation that you went through...or did you find because it was an indie film that it was easier? 

Um, no, I didnít really think about it too much. It was kind of like, like I said, the sex scene, it was kind of like diving in and doing it. The character luckily came natural to me, and Zach made it so easy play off of and play with because heís so natural and so great that I was just playing off him and trying to keep up.  

What was it like working with the rest of the cast? 

I didnít actually have scenes with anyone else other than Zach, but I got to meet mostly everybody, and it was such an amazing group of people. Seeing my name on the poster with Tom Wilkinson and Blythe Danner [Michael's in-laws to be] Ė I have to pinch myself because itís very odd, in the best way, to see that. 

Do you know anyone like the character? 

Um, yeah, there were always those girls. Luckily, not good friends of mine. But I have known them. 

At one point it seems like she is actually stalking him. 

She is a little crazy. People were a little worried about a boiled bunny at the end. But sheís just young and itís her first experience at this level, so, you know, we act a little crazy sometimes. 

And youíve never acted crazy? 

I wouldnít go as far as stalking. Crazy in the sense, you know, Iíve been jealous, thatís a little crazy, but other than that I havenít done anything too extreme. 

In real life, do you like going to weddings? 

Yeah, itís fun. Iím going to my cousinís wedding towards the end of this month, and thatíll be fun. 

I was expecting a fluffy, romantic comedy but itís pretty heavy.  

It is really heavy, and when people are like, ďOh, a romantic comedy?Ē Itís really not. I know people use the term ďdramedyĒ which is more true to that. Itís very realistic, and it hands you a few feelings and emotions where a romantic comedy is more like My Best Friendís Wedding Ė well, actually thatís sad Ė but your typical one like... How to Lose a Guy (in 10 Days), or things like that. This is definitely more of a realistic, true, honest picture about life and relationships. 

So youíre not turning 30 yet, but youíre 25.  Do you think this is a cautionary tale? 

It doesnít matter what age you are, youíre going to run into stuff. No matter how old or whatever relationship youíre in, thereís always going to be certain things going on in your life. Itís different for everybody, so who knows when itíll come. 

You have a few more decades to go. 

Oh, thank you. Good to know. 

When your character is left behind, we see what happens to the rest of them, did you ever envision her future? 

We shot something right after he leaves her and she goes running after him and thereís an emotional scene and he drives away and sheís running after the car and Ė pretty pathetic, right Ė but sheís just a girl whoís really hurt and, you know, young, and that pain and that age. Iíve been there and it hurts more than anything because itís so new and you havenít experienced anything like it. But, yeah that was the last you saw of her. You can imagine her heart got broken and she would toughen up a bit for her next relationship. 

She seemed like she was already accustomed to that. She seemed like sheíd been through that. 

Really? Interesting. I guess so. Whatever the audience interprets from it. 

Did the script change much from when you first received it? 

Not too much. Zach did some dialogue tweaking. Paul Haggis adapted the screenplay, and he did a great job. Itís pretty true to the original version; there are a few differences, like the ending and things like that. 

What changed? 

In the Italian version, you see he doesnít tell her that he had the sexual relationship with Kim, and you see Michael and Jenna (Jacinda Barrett) with their baby a few years later, and Jacindaís character is on a jog, and a guy looks at her and she looks back, and it leads you to think that you donít know whatís going to happen. That was the Italian version. 

Yeah this film is based on the Italian version, L'ultimo bacio.  

The movie was by Gabriel Muccino. I saw the Italian version, he is an amazing filmmaker.  

How was the Italian sex scene different? 

I think there may have been nudity in that one. I saw it a long time ago I saw it, but you know it was very apparent.

Was that one of the first things you did? 

Yeah, even before I got the role I watched it. 

Was Paul Haggis (Crash), who wrote the screenplay, on set at all? 

No. He had a lot going on. 

Zach Braff has been developing a reputation for creating a soundtrack.  

Yeah, he has great taste in music. I made quite a few mixed CDs during the duration of filming, but thereís a song that Josh Schwartz, who created The O.C., he showed me. Itís an Imogen Heap song and Zach fell in love with it and everyone fell in love with it, so itís in the film now. And itís one of the most beautiful songs youíve ever heard so I had to share it even though it was on The O.C. But yeah, I love music so much so it was cool to be able to show Zach so many things and have him respond. 

What do you think is the greatest misperception ordinary people have about people in your position? 

That theyíre anything different than a normal person, you know. People just treat you differently sometimes when youíre a celebrity, when itís just because of the job you do you get looked at a little different.  I donít know, I find it interesting and it comes along with it, the whole celebrity aspect. Itís like youíre lucky and youíre unlucky when youíre in that position. Itís just the nature of the beast.  

What do fans ask you when they meet you?  

Itís usually more personal questions. They always want to know about Adam Brody, and I always say, ďWell Iíve met him a few times.Ē Sometimes they want to know about you and your life because they see you in their living rooms each week and they want to know you, so itís a little odd. I appreciate my privacy but I also appreciate my fans, so you have to find a fine line somewhere.  

Do you consider yourself lucky? 

Iím so fortunate. I have my privacy to a certain degree, which is really nice, and usually they donít usually say anything bad about me, which is nice. 

You've done this independent film which gives you the opportunity to do roles that arenít over-romanticized. 

Sure, well this movie isnít actually an independent film, but it feels like it. It was a lower budget film. Yeah, I think itís more important definitely to choose a role or certain director over a big money check studio film that I didnít believe in, you know. Thatís, I think, the difference. I really care about building that, like I said before, try to work my way up there. 

If after this movie is out and you get a lot of scripts for college or high school girls Ė do you think you are past that? 

I would look at them. Itís nice to have an offer for anything. Itís nice to be wanted. But Iím not opposed to playing anything if itís a really good project that I would love to work with certain people.  

So what do you have coming up Ė doing The O.C. next season? 

Yeah, The O.C. and this, and just reading scripts, and hopefully I get to do another movie when we wrap in February.

TV is a grind. How long do you think youíre going to stick with it?

As long as it goes. You know, Iíve gotten everything because of this show and Iím so grateful for it. Iím just along for the ride.

What is happening to your character in The O.C.?

We just started our fourth season and at the end of the third season Marissa Cooper, Mischa [Barton]ís character, died, and so weíre dealing with that. My character turns to an eco-friendly activist, Greenpeace, and thatís kind of her beard so to speak for right now. But itís also great because, you know, you get to see that, and maybe it will play a nice message to the teens watching.

What was going happening for you before The O.C.?

Not a lot. A lot of auditioning. I did quite a few commercials and then I had two very small guest spots, if you can even call them that, on a couple of TV shows. Then I got the pilot to do The O.C. and it was kind of a whirlwind. Just by chance because a lot of it has to do with luck because you never know whatís going to hit. You can have a horrible audition one day and booked something the next, so it was the luck of the draw really and I just canít believe it. Itís still really surreal for me.

How did you get into acting?

Well my dadís side of the family is in the business, so I grew up around it and on sets and things. And I did plays in high school, and my dad actually said, ďDo you want to do this? It seems like you really love it?Ē And, you know, I was a teenager, so at the time, I said, ďOf course!Ē and it was so much fun doing plays. So he helped me out, you know, getting started, so to speak. He kind of started it all for me, but I really love it and had so much fun with it. I didnít get serious, though, until I was about 19, because I was still young, and you know, goofing around.

Youíre so old now?


Did you take classes?

No, actually. I had a really amazing drama teacher in high school.

Are you based in LA?

Yeah Iím from LA and I live in LA.

Youíve done the TV thing, now film, do you now want to move to NY and do Broadway?

I would love to. Yeah, my dream is to have a place in NY, and a place in LA. I would love to do theater. If I had the guts I would do a musical because I love them so much. I saw Christina Applegate do Sweet Charity and oh my gosh, I get so emotional watching it because I love it so much. I know Ashlee Simpson is going to do Chicago in London, and itís just, the things that you can get into because of your position Ė whatever it is Ė itís really cool, and I think you should take advantage of it.

Are you going to try and see some theater while youíre here?

I wonít have time this time but I would like to.

If you did have time what would you go see?

Oh gosh. Iíd probably see Hairspray. I havenít seen that. And I know Hailey Duff is in it now. It would be fun to see her up there. I hear Usher is doing Chicago. I bet heís really cool at that. Avenue Q I hear is great. I donít know if itís still running. I donít know Ė [Iíd see] anything.

Copyright ©2006 PopEntertainment.com.  All rights reserved.  Posted: September 21, 2006.


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Copyright ©2006 PopEntertainment.com.  All rights reserved.  Posted: September 21, 2006.