Saturday, June 25, 2005

Elle February 04 - Kate Bosworth

Twenty-one-year-old Kate Bosworth's star is rising so fast that if you blink you may miss her ascent from It Girl to A-lister. But the young woman who showed up for the ELLE cover shoot in Paris with Mom in tow showed no signs of celebrity vertigo. Dressed way down in jeans and a sweater, her most flamboyant accessory—incredible dual-colored eyes—came courtesy of Mother Nature, not the fashion industry. That said, there ARE signs that Hollywood is creeping up on this blue-blooded, born and bred New Englander (and possibly the most envied girlfriend in the world, thanks to her liaison with Legolas, a.k.a. Orlando Bloom). You can't get more red carpet than the Louis Vuitton gold lamé ostrich coat Bosworth models on our cover, and the actress, a quick study, knows the value of a great entrance: She already has her eye on it and other Vuitton pieces for future premieres.

Kate Bosworth, here in clothes from Louis Vuitton, which is celebrating its 150th anniversary this year, stands accused of being beautiful, talented, and maybe a little bit pampered. Okay—guilty as charged! But as Andrew Goldman learns, there's a lot going on under that wholesome exterior.

By all appearances, Kate Bosworth is an East Coast princess if ever such a thing existed. She is, after all, an only child reared first in Darien, Connecticut, and then in Cohasset, Massachusetts, two of New England's leafiest, most lockjawed suburbs, where generations of wealthy men have tucked away their families for safekeeping. She's a flaxen-haired 21-year-old with impossibly straight white teeth, a chin dimple, and that unmistakable pert Marcia Brady nose. If 17-year-old boys could send away for prom dates from a catalog, the Bosworth model would be back ordered for decades. And as if her beauty wasn't enough, there's apparently a sterling background to support it: As she once told an interviewer, “I hate to say it, but I'm a blue blood.” If fate—or Robert Redford—hadn't penetrated her golden cocoon five years ago, Bosworth might right now be chomping a pen cap in an auditorium at Princeton. Maybe she'd have gone on to marry one of those thoroughbred Princetonians and live a beautiful J.Crew catalog life.

Princeton—and Trip Whatshisname—could wait. Bosworth has deferred from the university twice and instead is here sitting with a cappuccino in a SoHo café, with her mom, Patti, down from Massachusetts for an increasingly rare glimpse of her daughter. The actress is being dive-bombed by a hearty platoon of flies landing on her Prada coat, her mother, and in the froth of her coffee. “I kind of like it, actually,” she says of the fly attack, her pouty lips turning up into a guileless smile. Bosworth evinces none of the world-weariness we've come to expect from the overly blessed: no coke spoon hanging from her necklace, no homemade porn floating around the Internet. In person, she seems to have been teleported from an earlier Hollywood era, when actresses—Sandra Dee, for one, whom she will soon portray on-screen—maintained a patina of virginal beatitude, or at least made a good show of it around the press. Her admitted vices: chewing too much gum and adopting stray animals.

So maybe the only spills in her short life left grass stains on her riding breeches at Darien's verdant Ox Ridge Hunt Club, where, as a young teen, Bosworth was a champion jumper (and where she learned that Robert Redford was looking for a girl who could ride and was willing to die in the first five minutes of his film The Horse Whisperer, which became her first role). “It's almost like I'm the rarity to be really happy and love my parents,” Bosworth says, absently tugging her ear, a nervous habit she's had since infancy. “All of a sudden, people are weirded out by that. I'm kind of like, why is that weird?” She is also regularly name-checked in the gossips for dating The Lord of the Rings star Orlando Bloom. But consigning Kate Bosworth to the role of the world's luckiest princess is, in the mangled parlance of our national leader, to misunderestimate her. She happens to be building an increasingly potent film career in a decidedly unprincessy way.

Bosworth now stars as a lovesick fan in Win a Date With Tad Hamilton!, a romantic comedy. In Remember the Titans, Blue Crush, The Rules of Attraction, and Wonderland, she demonstrated real acting chops, but she has never been funny. Not even a little bit. But Bosworth floored director Robert Luketic with her audition for the role of Rosalee Futch, a West Virginian Piggly Wiggly bagger who wins the heart of dissipated but lovable Hollywood lothario Tad Hamilton (Josh Duhamel). “That was the big surprise for me,” says Luketic, who, rumor has it, considered casting seasoned comic actresses such as Drew Barrymore and Alicia Silverstone. Luketic, whose last movie, Legally Blonde, launched Reese Witherspoon into the stratosphere of high-earning cinematic sweethearts, predicts a similar breakout for Bosworth. “I see her making ridiculous amounts of money and being an incredibly respected young actor,” he says.

Likewise, when director John Stockwell met Bosworth in the midst of casting Blue Crush, he doubted she had the stuff to play Anne Marie Chadwick, a hardened working-class surfer in Hawaii who, abandoned by her mom, must clean hotel rooms to support her little sister. “She seemed too rarefied, maybe too flawless,” he says. “I wrote her off as a girl who had grown up blessed by incredible looks, a fine mind, who went to only the best schools.” Before Bosworth was even called back for the role, she drove to Malibu, took surfing lessons, and, through grueling workouts, began sprouting the lats and biceps common to the few women brave—or nuts—enough to surf 10-foot swells. Six weeks later she returned, broad-shouldered, looking like she hadn't washed her hair in days. “I know how to surf now,” she informed the director, and landed her first starring role. “I tried to put her in that box, and she fought her way out of it,” says Stockwell. “I didn't realize how ambitious and driven she was.”

Blue Crush was a moderate box office success, but Bosworth didn't want to be squeezing into tiny bikinis for the rest of her life. “It sounds ridiculously clichéd,” she says, “but I was looking for something darker, edgier, more risqué—something that may shock the audience that saw me in Blue Crush.” That something came in the form of last fall's Wonderland, in which she played Dawn Schiller, the jailbait girlfriend of equinely endowed porn star John Holmes (Val Kilmer). Bosworth's dad, Hal, a Talbots executive, learned the meaning of edge when he sat next to her at the Toronto film festival and watched his little girl get energetically ravished by Kilmer on a bathroom sink. At the end of the scene, Bosworth leaned over and asked if he was all right. “Yup,” was all he said. “Good,” she told him. “That's as bad as it's going to get.”

“Kate? Kate Bosworth?” Bosworth had wanted to walk, so we'd left her mom and descended deeper into SoHo. A willowy young woman trots across the street, and the two throw their arms around each other. Bosworth introduces Michelle Monaghan, with whom she acted in the WB's short-lived Young Americans nearly four years ago. The girliness commences. “You're doing so well!” Bosworth says in full high trill to Monaghan, who has appeared on Boston Public. “You're doing so well,” counters Monaghan, her eyes widening, voice reaching dog frequencies. Bosworth gives her a once-over and hops up and down. “Look at you. You look great!” she squeals. “You do too!” says Monaghan. A little farther down the street, Bosworth stops in front of a sushi restaurant that has taped in its window a paparazzi photo of Britney Spears talking on a cell phone and chewing her nails in front of that very joint. “Oh, how scary,” she says. “Poor girl, she's just hanging out on the phone, biting her cuticles.” Bosworth holds out her own little paw, nails bitten down to Chiclet size, the middle finger red and raw. Restaurateurs aren't tacking up photos of her biting her nails just yet. Apart from Monaghan, she strolls the streets unnoticed.

All that changes when she's accompanied by Bloom, of whom the very mention causes her to blanch. Both have apparently made a pact to guard the details of their romance as if news of their smooching would cause mud slides in California. “It's weird,” she musters, screwing up her face. “The only thing I can sort of gain control over is…I mean, there's a reason I'm not gushing about my…my…love life. I kind of zip it up. I kind of try to keep that separate, you know?” She takes a deep breath and starts again. “All I know is that I'm young,” she says finally, the daylight illuminating those striking eyes—one a crystalline blue, the other an earthy hazel. I posit a theory: that those minding the career of Bloom don't want their golden boy perceived as anything less than available to the pubescent girls who haunt his fan sites, and who have, by the way, turned Bosworth into the bête noire of Bloomville. She points to my mouth and giggles. “You've got a little….” It's a hot chocolate mustache. Bosworth, who hit the books enough to make the National Honor Society, has apparently excelled in her Hollywood course work. First lesson in Ingénue 101: sweetly change the subject.

The next morning, Bosworth shuffles into the lobby of the Mercer Hotel, where she's been staying while promoting Tad Hamilton, her eyes narrowed to unhappy slits, looking like she's been either on a crying jag or out all night on a Tara Reid-scale bender. “I can't start my day without caffeine,” she says, looking for a waiter. “I'm literally retarded, so excuse me.” The explanation is less exciting: too much red wine at dinner with her parents at Da Silvano, a celebrity-overrun restaurant in Greenwich Village. See anyone famous? “Unh-uh,” she says, shaking her head and tugging her ear. The tabloids would later report that paparazzi had mobbed the place to shoot Bosworth and Bloom, who was apparently also there. Today Bosworth leaves for London, where she will be fitted for the 51 costume changes for her next role, as Sandra Dee in Beyond the Sea, directed by and starring Kevin Spacey as Bobby Darin. Her first meeting with Spacey at a Los Angeles restaurant was an exercise in restraint. “The Usual Suspects is my favorite movie,” Bosworth says. “So the whole time I was like, holy shit, this is Keyser Soze, you know! He'd be talking about my life, and I'd want to go, 'So, you know, like, Keyser.…'”

Spacey apparently had his own “holy shit” moment when he set eyes on Bosworth. “I saw her across the room, and I actually thought I heard the theme from A Summer Place playing in my head,” he says. “Aside from her remarkably beautiful face, she had in her own personality so many qualities that were dead-on for Sandra Dee.” Spacey was speaking of the fresh innocence of Dee, cinema's paragon of looky-but-no-touchy '50s purity, not the boozing and anorexia that made her real life reminiscent of an E! True Hollywood Story episode. “She'd been sexually abused by her stepfather,” says Bosworth. “Everybody has this idea of Sandra Dee as the golden virgin pure girl. She really had so many struggles and so much baggage.” In Hollywood, as Bosworth well knows, it's never a good idea to mistake appearances for reality.