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Evan Rachel Wood

Evan Rachel Wood
"Sometimes I just stop for a second and go 'Okay, 13 years old, you are in a job that some people would kill for, and you have a lot of stuff going for you and you are really lucky,'" says "Once and Again" star Evan Rachel Wood  

March 8, 2001
Web posted at: 12:39 p.m. EST (1739 GMT)

NEW YORK (CNN) -- On TVs "Once and Again" Jessie Sammler battles an eating disorder, depression and social anxiety. The actress who plays her, Evan Rachel Wood, has a much easier time with real-life adolescence.

Wood, 13, is one of the youngest cast members on an the ABC ensemble show, yet her subtle performance as an angst-ridden teen has made her soft-spoken Jessie a standout character.

Wood will soon be seen in the film "Simone," acting opposite Al Pacino.

CNN met up with her recently to chat about the character of Jessie and the girl behind it.

CNN: Are you able to do typical teen-age things, considering how busy you are with work?


Evan Rachel Wood: Oh yeah, all the time. I have a million friends, I have a great social life. My friends and I have sleepovers, we do our nails, watch movies, go to dance and hip-hop class.

CNN: Do your friends treat you any differently now that you are a star?

Wood: No, not really. I mean, they kind of tease me a little, and say things like, "Evan, our little superstar" and all this stuff. But I am just a normal person like them; I am not any different.

CNN: Your character is fighting a major eating disorder story. What is it like as an actress and 13-year- old to tackle such an emotionally challenging issue?

Wood: When the idea was fist presented to me I kind of freaked out a little bit, because all my life people have made fun of me because I was so skinny. They kind of made me feel bad about it sometimes. I worried that maybe people will think I am really anorexic.

But then I got that all out of my head and I started thinking about it and I thought, "This is going to be a really good storyline."

CNN: Do you feel that this story line could make a difference with other teenagers who are going through this?

Wood: I think so. I think that its nice that there is a storyline like this for many teenagers out there who are going through the same thing. I hope it is making a difference.

"Once and Again"
Wood plays Jessie Sandler, an adolescent struggling with anorexia, on ABC's "Once and Again"  

CNN: Has Jessie become more like Evan during the course of the show?

Wood: No. At the beginning, she was very laid back and outgoing. She was very confident, but recently she has been rolling up into that little ball and trying to be invisible. And she is worrying about how she looks now and about that whole high school social sort of thing.

Me, I am enjoying every step of the way -- the good and the bad. I am trying to be a good person. I am trying to be myself, and if nobody likes me for me, that is their problem.

CNN: Jessie is right now dealing with issues of being from a divorced family, and you also are from a divorced family. Are the storylines ever a little too close to home for you?

Wood: Yeah, sometimes. It is kind of weird. It is very close to my family sometimes. There was one day that was really hard, because when I had to bring up the emotions of the scene, and -- I don't know why -- I couldn't stop crying.

CNN: What is it like to watch finished product?

Wood: Sometimes I forget that I am even watching myself, realizing that's me. It's like you almost become a fan yourself: You are just this normal person watching this show, and then you realize that it's your show. It's weird sometimes.

CNN: What would you like to see happen with Jessie?

Wood: I just hope she gets better, and I hope she just appreciates what she has -- appreciates life and just loves herself and loves the person that she is and what she has to offer. I just want her to be happy.

ABC: 'Once and Again'
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