While attending a Prince concert in London, actor and superfan Julia Stiles got to live out her rockstar fantasy when he pushed her in front of the microphone and told her to sing. Her first thought was, "I get to sing in front of 50,000 people!" But another thought quickly followed: "Wait, I don't know how to sing and I also don't know the lyrics to this song." When she later asked Prince why he didn't warn her, he simply replied, "Because it's not fun that way."
These days, Stiles masterminds plenty of manipulations of her own, though she tends to be on set and in character. She currently stars in the Sundance Now series Riviera as Georgina Clios, an art dealer whose life takes a turn for the dark side when her billionaire husband dies in a mysterious yachting accident. "It got interesting because I thought, 'Oh, she's gonna rise to the circumstances and become maybe more manipulative or do some questionable things because she has to."
Known for her roles in the Shakespeare adaptations 10 Things I Hate About You and O, and as Nicky Parsons in the Jason Bourne movies, Stiles is no stranger to playing characters who make bad decisions. She talked to host Ophira Eisenberg about the industry's continuing resistance to female antihero characters like Georgina. "We still had discussions on set, you know, about things that she would do and there were concerns. 'Is she gonna be unlikeable? Is she gonna be sympathetic?' And then we didn't care."
While her glory days (one night) on the concert stage are behind her, Stiles remains a huge music fan, especially of English singer-songwriter and The Smiths frontman Morrissey. We challenged her to our most brooding and intense game yet: guessing quotes from brainwashed assassin Jason Bourne and lyrics from animal rights activist Morrissey.
On her character's original ending in the first Bourne movie
I got thrown up against a wall and my neck was snapped. And I'm glad they changed it.
On meeting Prince
"We were at the party after [a Bourne screening] and somebody summoned me into a different room and said, 'Prince wants to meet you.' And I was like, 'the prince of what?'"
On adapting Shakespeare
I feel like I want a do-over on a lot of the Shakespeare that I've already done...I feel like those are the things that you never really get right, you know? That's why we keep remaking them.
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