The Thirteen actress goes toe to toe with Alec Baldwin in her latest film
We first saw Nikki Reed in Thirteen; the teen actress not only starred in the film, but also co-wrote the film. It was one of the first movies I ever saw that made me scared to have children. Nikki has gone on to make quite a name for herself; she's recently been starring in The O.C. on FOX and may or may not be back next season - she wouldn't give up that info.
In her latest film, Mini's First Time, Nikki plays the title character - a teen, whose mom (Carrie-Anne Moss) didn't want her, and whose step-father (Alec Baldwin) isn't her parental figure, he's her lover. She has the idea that she wants to get rid of her mother, by any means necessary; with the help of Alec, she tries to get away with murder.
We had the chance to talk to Nikki about growing up in the business and the life she's had since the fame of Thirteen. We also talked about her perception of Mini as a person. Here's what she had to say:
How did you hear about this film?
Nikki Reed: It's actually really funny because they sent me the script, or they sent my agents the script, and my agents were supposed to send it to me, and I didn't get it. So they waited for like three weeks for an answer from me, and I had no idea, so I get a call on a Friday morning, saying, 'Nikki, you have a meeting in three hours with Kevin Spacey's company for a movie that they're interested in you for.' I'm like, 'Well that's nice guys; make me feel very unprepared why don't you?' Normally I'm over-prepared for anything I do, and I pride myself on that, so they were leaving on a plane that night to go to Russia to speak to the financiers about whatever decision was going to be made. They'd met with a few girls, so the pressure was on; I walked into the room and I'll actually never forget it - I'd slept at a girlfriend's house of mine the night before and I didn't have my contact lenses. I had my glasses and I had my hair in a bun and I had my turtleneck and my sneakers. So I'm reading this script and I'm like, 'Oh boy, there is no way they're going to see me as this character; I hope someone's seen Thirteen in there so at least they know I can be cute.' Once you take my hair down and put makeup on, I can look decent, so I sat down to meet with him and it was the shortest meeting ever. I called my agent and said, 'You know, I don't think that that went very well.' They said, 'Okay, well they're getting on a plane right now to go to Russia to tell the financiers that they're making you an offer.' I'm like, 'Oh, they called you from the time I left the meeting to the time I got in my car?' So I got offered the part and I sat down with Nick (Guthe) on the Monday he got back, and I said, 'How could you possibly see me as this?' He said, 'Because every other girl that came in came in with a low-cut blouse and everything spilling out and five pounds of makeup on, and Mini wouldn't care what she looked like.' I'm like, 'Little did you know that I just had a sleepover.'
Are you worried about typecasting?
Nikki Reed: I was; I'm half-joking. I go into most of my meetings looking like that actually; I go to the opposite end of the spectrum because everywhere I go, people are so quick to judge and think I must be just really pretty and really stupid. So, yeah, it's one of my biggest problems right now is being able to walk into a room - I get told all the time - I tell my agents that I want to be able to read everything, so I get sent 50 scripts a week, and I try to read 25 of them, but it's insane because I also try to read at least a book a week. It's a lot on my plate.
That's pretty interesting, because most of the actresses your age are about going out and being seen.
Nikki Reed: I could care less, it's all about the long run for me; it's not about immediate gratification, it's not about who's at the hottest party because most of what's 'hot' right now is not going to be hot in 10 years. I'd rather be well-respected in all areas than noticed when I walk down the street with a girl who was at the party instead of the girl who wrote this film and is now producing it.
How do you like the steady work on The O.C.?
Nikki Reed: Honestly, I love it; I love it because I can stay at home and I can drive myself to work every day and I can sleep in my bed. I think that's what everyone craves in their life - some form of consistency. You know, I'm always being shipped off here with my two dogs and suitcase, like staying here for three months, going there. I'm trying desperately to have time to travel because I really want to travel. I think it's so important to myself. That's why I like being on The O.C. because I got to live at home and still work.
What's the next project you're trying to get done?
Nikki Reed: You're talking about my script? For some reason - I don't understand this, because legally I've done everything to take care of protecting myself, so why would they tell me I'm not allowed to speak about it?
Is it also autobiographical?
Nikki Reed: No, it has nothing to do with youth culture; it actually takes place in New Zealand in the '60s and the '80s. So that's the other reason why it's been so difficult because after Thirteen, it was very easy to be handed $10 million to make Fourteen or Fifteen, but people aren't so quick to hop on the bandwagon if it's not a done deal, you know? People don't want to take risks and I'm young and I'm a female; that's the bottom line in this business. We also can't pretend that those aren't huge factors because they are, and I'm trying my best to not - at least as a person, as an individual - not use my sexuality as a means to gain power. So I try to go into all these situations being as respectable as possible and be taken seriously, and then I do something like Mini's and I'm sitting in a red bikini on the poster and it's difficult. But Nikki is not Mini, and it's funny how Charlize Theron plays a serial killer, it's very obvious that it's not her, but there's no possible way that I could be anyone except for the girl in that movie, according to people.
Are there any aspects of Mini that you really enjoyed playing?
Nikki Reed: I can't say it wasn't fun to make this movie; I mean, I had a blast, it was fun to - I tried my best to - it was fun to walk around and have like a trucker's mouth and be absolutely crass. I had this discussion with the director when he first handed me that project. I was like, 'You know, she sounds like a man when she speaks; are you aware of that? Are you aware that you wrote this and you sound like this is you speaking through a woman?' He said, 'Yeah, that was the point was that I wrote Mini as asexual in the beginning; I didn't know whether I wanted her to be a guy or a girl. This was going to be her dialogue either way.' It was kind of interesting because I thought about it, and there's nothing feminine in that she says in the movie; there's nothing that she says that's actually - aside from what I'm wearing, what I look like when I'm walking around - if you actually take everything away, there's nothing that I say that separates the two sexes. I thought it was kind of interesting; it was very fun to be able to embody that. And you know, there's always the excuse of like, who says that once the cameras turn off I still can't walk around and act like that for the day? But I was pretty good; my boyfriend was there all day, every day. He wasn't working, so that's the beauty of being an actor.
Do you think Mini is a good person at all?
Nikki Reed: I don't think she's a bad person; I'm there, I'm right behind her especially because I approach with the view of Mini as hurting. I really feel like she's missing that because her mother is paying no attention to her, didn't love her at all and wasn't there. She doesn't understand the weight of consequences; there's no boundaries. Children in general crave boundaries; they want to be told, 'No, you cannot do that.' And because she has that - aside from unlimited access to money and a beautiful car. Honestly, all she wanted was what she got from Martin (Alec Baldwin), was genuine love. He loved her more than she loved him, so that was empowering for her, and that was what she needed. People think that Mini came to the situation with the intention of murdering her mother and framing him, and that wasn't the case. Mini is a survivor, and every obstacle that comes in her way, she's going to find a way to get around it; she was planning on being with Martin and being happy, and something happened that got in the way, so she has to step over it, she has to get to the top.
Is there a way that kids today can hold onto their innocence yet gain maturity without going through extreme experiences?
Nikki Reed: I think I was very fortunate; if it weren't for Thirteen, and the opportunities that it gave me - and actually if it weren't for me actually being thrown out on my butt and having to pick myself up and be responsible - if I hadn't moved out, I don't know where I would be because it forced me to stay at home and figure out what I was doing and learn how to pay bills and learn how to be an adult. That was what I needed, so I think with everyone it's different; I don't think that it's something that can be acquired. I moved out and could figure out - it was a struggle.
You can check out Nikki, along with Alec Baldwin, Carrie-Anne Moss, and Jeff Goldblum in Mini's First Time in limited theaters July 14th; it's rated R. Look for it to go to a wider release in the coming weeks.