She made headlines at 13 when she became the youngest model ever to appear on the cover of Interview Magazine and Italian Vogue. By 14 shed dropped out of school and emancipated herself from her parents - Mamas and Papas singer John Philips and model mum Genevieve Waite. Over the next few years she modelled, released an album (Id Rather Eat Glass), and became the darling of the New York tabloid press with her drug taking, wild child antics. She admits her life was out of control. Her wake up call came when she lost a couple of friends to drug overdoses. Her father checked her into rehab, and she began to turn her life around.
By 19 shed discovered acting. Early roles included James Tobiaks Black and White and Tart. She showed enormous promise. Today shes an accomplished actress with 17 films under her belt. In her latest one, Hostel 2, she gets to play one of three American girls studying art in Rome. Everything is fine and dandy until the girls accept a weekend invitation from one of the class models. Will they find the R&R theyre looking for? Or are they about to become pawns in a sick plot for the privileged weirdos of the world?
Bijou Philips spoke to Gaynor Flynn via phone about the role and why acting is her number one passionthese days.
Gaynor Flynn: I understand youre in Pittsburgh. What are you doing there?
Bijou Phillips: Im filming a movie. Bridge to Nowhere by BlairUnderwood hes an actor and this is his first movie.
Gaynor Flynn: Well were supposed to be chatting about your otherfilm Hostel 2. What made you say yes to that one?
Bijou Phillips: Well Id seen the first one and I loved it. It wasreally gory. I actually couldnt make it through itand this one was good because it was a lot morepsychological. And its three girls and everybody sortof knows about what happens in the first one and yousort of know where theyre headed so the surprise isgone in that sense but whats great about it is youwatch these girls and the entire time you know theyreheaded for this dark place. So the happier thesegirls are and the nicer they are like the more you arefreaked out and scared for them.
Gaynor Flynn: Is horror more challenging to make than other films?
Bijou Phillips: Yeah because it was three weeks of like torturestuff when all three girls get down to the dungeonthing. You really have to get yourself there mentallyand that was intense. And the kind of internalthoughts you have while youre going through somethinglike that can sometimes be surprising. Like I use tohave problems with my mother when I was a teenager andnow were super close and during the whole torturestuff I just wanted my mom. But its beautiful too.Like those child like needs just pop into your mindand theyre just so simple and its sort of like anawakening. And the other hard thing was sometimes youget home and Id spent a long day shooting and youllalmost fall asleep and youll picture yourself backthere and relive some of that torture stuff and youjump out of bed really quickly and that freaks you outand flips your stomach up and youre out of breath andyou kind of get freaked out by that.
Gaynor Flynn: How does it work on set? Do you joke around inbetween takes? Or do you find it more difficult toslip in and out of character when its horror?
Bijou Phillips: It depends on the subject matter. Usually whenyoure shooting youre having a good time and hangingout. I cant really go out the night before shootingbecause Im so tired. I need like 12 hours of sleepwhich is all they really give, 12 hours off so Iusually just have to go home and go to bed and try andget myself to sleep right away but you know on daysoff you usually hang out and have a good time, but itsfunny. If you have to play best friends with someoneyou find yourself hanging out with that person most ofthe time and if youre not supposed to like someone inthe movie you find yourself not really hanging outwith them that much.
Gaynor Flynn: Is acting your main passion nowadays?
Bijou Phillips: Actings pretty much my main passion right now. Imthinking about making another record, I just have toget into that place. But its hard cause for the lastfew years Ive literally just been going from movie,to movie to movie so I havent had like any time offto think about that. And acting you just go for itwhen you can, and when I was trying to do music andacting I found that I wasnt really doing either aswell as I could have been, so I had to make a choiceand right now I write music and its nice I have mylittle studio and record songs. I do it for myself soI get what I need to get out of the music aspect of itlike the artistic expression and making music that Ilove that I can give to my friends or put on myMyspace page but thats about it I dont have thishuge need to put it out.
Gaynor Flynn: Would you like to make another record at some stage?
Bijou Phillips: Yeah. I think at some point Ill probably make alittle jazz record and maybe go on tour for a minutewhen Im older in my 30s or something, but right nowwhile Im young and have the energy which I barely doI wanna just keep plugging away at the acting.
Gaynor Flynn: Did you study acting or did you just fall into it.
Bijou Phillips: Yeah I studied for years and years. I have anacting coach in Los Angles named Leslie Kahn hesamazing and I went to this performing arts camp calledStage Door Manner and Natalie Portman went there andMandy Moore went there and a bunch of people wentthere.
Gaynor Flynn: You must appreciate people like Justin Timberland andBeyonce then, who juggle two careers?
Bijou Phllips: Yeah, but I feel theyre definitely more musiciansthan actors. I think Justin Timberlake has done liketwo movies, and Beyonce has only done like two orthree movies.
Gaynor Flynn: Do you have a plan for your acting career?
Bijou Phillips: I dont know. I mean Im just having fun doingsome horror movies and just kind of exploring all thatkind of stuff. I really like comedy and at the sametime I really like doing horror films so I dont know. I get the scripts as they come and I really like themand I just figure out what I went to do, and just dothem.
Gaynor Flynn: Almost Famous, is one of the biggest studio filmsyouve done so far. Would you like to do more ofthose?
Bijou Phillips: Actually I think Id be into doing more studiofilms more but its hard with the studio film you haveto really work a lot. They take a really long time toshoot and so Id like to do some films like that butyou cant really do as many in a year. The indie filmsare like in and you have more control and you havemore say and you have more ability to make itsomething you want it to be. With studio films itcan be a little bit difficult theres a lot of peopleand they all have an opinion and your opinion is atthe bottom of the bucket. As an actor you want to beable to believe in what youre doing and things haveto make sense to you and things have to be honest toyou. If the scene youre doing doesnt make sense andif the scene isnt honest to you then you tend to bedifficult and I find that even on indies. So I dontknow. Ive auditioned for some studio stuff but notreally that much. Like right now Im doing thisreally small indie film a $1 million and Im playing acrack whore who turns good and its kind of like adark, crazy role and Im having so much fun doing it.
Gaynor Flynn: Is this the one in Pittsburgh?
Bijou Phillips: Yeah so I like doing stuff like that its just alittle bit darker, a little bit edgier we can reallyplay and really do what we want and you know Imreally get paid peanuts but Im having fun doing stufflike that. So Id like to do more mainstream moviesand I think it could work out if youre both shootingfor the same goal, and sometimes I feel like a lot ofthe studio movies I read I dont know if Imnecessarily shooting for the same goal. Which is finelike Im really happy doing the movies that Im doingI really love them. I play Lorna Doom in The Germsmovie which is about the punk band The Germs and itwas just a real labour of love but I had so much fundoing it. Then I wrote a bunch of jazz music for thisfilm called Dark Streets which is Gabriel Mann, andIsabelle Miko and myself and its about this jazz clubin the 1930s and kind of everything goes wrong andits this dark city and that was really great to doand I got to write a bunch of music for that so Iloved making that movie.
Gaynor Flynn: Would you like to write music for films?
Bijou Phillips: Yeah it is something Id probably like to do moreof well see how this jazz movie goes if it goes goodand its successful then probably Ill be able to domore stuff like that. But you just have to fight forthe little gems and the little jewels that you get tomake that youre really excited about.
Gaynor Flynn: Did you have to fight for a role in Hostel 2?
Bijou Phillips: Oh yeah it was like hundreds of people turned up. (laughs) I had to work really hard to get it but itwas good cause Lauren German and I are really closefriends and I was really excited because my characteris kind of kooky and crazy and I get to do a lot ofslapstick comedy which I dont get cast in very muchso that was fun for me to do. At the same timeprobably the main reason they hired me is for thehorror stuff and the screaming and being able to beafraid and scared and play that. Im a screamer sopeople know that I can play that well.
Gaynor Flynn: Given you started out as a model, then musician, doyou feel you have to prove yourself as an actress?
Bijou Phillips: I dont really think of myself as an actress Ithink of myself as an entertainer and I think mostactors do. I mean most actors I know have bands orside projects and even directors I know have bands orpaint or write poetry so I think Im an artist. So itsjust being creative and finding different outlets thatmake you feel like that. And I get a lot out ofacting. I love thinking about other people andfiguring them out and what makes them tick and howtheyd do this and what would be funny and whatwouldnt be funny or going to places that most peoplecant go to and getting myself to emotional statesthat most people couldnt do in front of a 100 people. Its a challenge and youre constantly expressingyourself and youre constantly thinking and allartists are sort of making a statement on society anda statement on humanity whether its in theirpaintings or their films or their songs.
Gaynor Flynn: Do you have any regrets about starting modelling soyoung.
Bijou Phillips: No.
Gaynor Flynn: Did you always dream of being a model, like your mum?
Bijou Phillips: No, not at all, it just happened you know I wasat a horse show and someone took a picture of me andasked me if I wanted to do a Calvin Klein ad. So I dida Calvin Klein ad and I got a contract and then I dida bunch of them then I quit modelling. Do you miss it at all?
Bijou Phillips: No because I wasnt really a model I just sort ofstarted doing it. Like literally I didnt evenaudition, they saw me at a horse show, hired me I shotthe ad, and I did that for like a year or two yearsand thats all I ever did in modelling.
Gaynor Flynn: Do people approach you now to model?
Bijou Phillips: Not really. The Calvin Klein ads in those dayswere sort of like weird sort of funky people at work.They werent really models and Im not a model Imlike a weird little girl so I dont really look like amodel.
Gaynor Flynn: In 2002 Hollywood Reporter named you one of theshooting stars of tomorrow, did that put pressure onyou at all?
Bijou Phillips: No, I dont think about all that. I dont reallytake any of that stuff seriously. I just sort of tryto have fun.