You’re starring in Big Love, HBO’s new drama about a polygamous family–have you ever been to Utah?
For Sundance. (laughs) So no, I’ve never really been to Utah. But I’d really like to go before the show comes out. Because I’m afraid afterwards they’re going to want to stone me.
How did you prepare for the show?
We were lucky—the scripts were great. But I also read a lot of literature: Under the Banner of Heaven and Growing Up in Polygamy, and a bunch of other books. Mostly positive accounts–I wanted to focus on why people chose to live in this lifestyle. I hope that we don’t condone it too much. That was my only fear going in, not wanting to glorify it. But it is still entertainment. It’s a family drama with three wives.
Was it tough playing the difficult middle wife?
Month five of being a bitch, I was miserable. It’s fun to be the character people love to hate, but can’t I be sympathetic for one scene?
What’s your greatest vice?
I don’t really have that many vices. I smoke and I drink on occasion. I’m trying to eat more chocolate.
I don’t have a sweet tooth. I heard that sugar’s good, especially when you’re away from your boyfriend–apparently if you eat chocolate, it gives you the same endorphin rush, and then you might be less prone to stray. Do you think it’ll work?
I’m a very loyal person, but sometimes you get the itch. So now I have this dark chocolate with cayenne pepper.
Tell me something lowbrow that you love.
Tabloids. “Page Six.” They’re horrible, but they’re really addictive. And I believe that almost all of it is true. Sadly. Everything that I’ve read that has anything to do with anyone I’ve ever known has been pretty spot-on. They always make my stomach turn after I read them, but I can’t help it.
What do people get wrong about you?
People always think I’m a party girl. And I’m actually pretty quiet. I do a lot one night a week: on Sunday I’m out until 4 or 5 AM. It kind of screws up the rest of the week, to be honest, but I have to get my ya-yas out.
What word do you overuse?
Are you ever legitimately shocked?
Pretty often. I’m kind of conservative. People wouldn’t think that, because of the movies that I choose to make.
Then why do you pick those movies?
Because that’s not the way I live my life, so why not explore the extremes through your art? I grew up Catholic, and I never stole, and I was always a strong believer in “do unto others.” Even though I wanted to be a punk rocker, I couldn’t because I was too respectful. Being wild through my work, it’s a way of rebelling a bit.
You’ve done a lot of movies with unusual sexual situations—have there been any that made you uncomfortable?
They all make me uncomfortable. All sex scenes, all kissing, all anything. Being intimate with people that you don’t want to be with is very awkward. But when I watch movies, if I see a girl with the sheet over her breasts, it always takes me out of the film. Some movies that I’ve done, I’ve felt like it was necessary, but I’d rather not do them.
Is Vincent Gallo’s sperm worth a million dollars?
(snorts) No comment.
Interview by Gavin Edwards. Originally published in Rolling Stone 995 (March 9, 2006), in a slightly shorter version.