This Week’s NYC Happenings: THE LCL, Output, Village Pourhouse

Greenmarket Cocktailing at the Just-Opened THE LCL: Bar & Kitchen
The Gerber Group of Stone Rose and Whiskey Blue fame opens its first NYC restaurant: THE LCL: Bar & Kitchen, which holds down the lobby of the Westin Grand Central with a versatile bar, lounge, and dining room space. You will drink well, whether its Stumptown at breakfast, Organic Avenue at lunch, or a biodynamic wine for dinner. Enjoy multiple trends at once with farm-to-bar cocktails, rocking cold-pressed juice, organic booze, and greenmarket add-ons. On the dining side, look for elevated comfort food like Pat LaFrieda burgers and New York cheddar mac ‘n’ cheese.
THE LCL: Bar & Kitchen (212 E. 42nd St., Midtown East) opens today. To learn more about the restaurant, check out the listing at BlackBook Guides.

NOW: Beats For Billyburg
The team behind Cielo deliver the first proper dance club in Brooklyn with the opening of Output. Funktion-One covers a killer sound system, and global DJ talent provides the beats.
Output (74 Wythe Ave., Williamsburg) is open now. To learn more about the club, check out the listing at BlackBook Guides.

WEDNESDAY: Beer & Kisses
All gender clichés aside, a night of beer, cherries, and chocolate makes both halves of a date happy. This Wednesday, Village Pourhouse hosts a beer sommelier for flights and pairings. You’ll also get take-home notes, should you want to put anything to work on Valentine’s Day.
Chocolate and Cherry Beer Tasting at Village Pourhouse (64 Third Ave., East Village) starts Wednesday night at 7pm, repeated the following Wednesday. Tickets are $40. To learn more about the bar, check out the listing at BlackBook Guides.

Find out first about the latest openings and events in NYC by signing up for BlackBook Happenings, the email brought right to your inbox every Monday. And download the BlackBook City Guides app for iPhone and Android.

How To Eat and Drink Your Holiday Hangover Away

I talk a lot of talk about eating right, exercising and not going overboard, but I do not walk the walk. When champagne’s present, I drink it. I always try the festive finger foods being passed at a party. All of them. When there’re a ton of parties to hop, I hop to. But I can’t seem to hop to the gym in the morning. I’ve been looking into doing a post-holiday fast of some sort to clear my system and undo most of what the holidays do to me, but I started to think what it might be like if I didn’t let the holidays get to my waist line in the first place. This way of life is a killer on my health, and isn’t going to be cured by a few fixer-uppers. In need of a new way of thinking, I went to Denise Mari, the founder of Organic Avenue, to pick up some tips on detoxing after the fun and festivities are over. One time. Maybe, eh, five days of my life on a week I’m not planning to do much. But Mari’s personal lifestyle choices, tips and ways of taking care of her body, pre-overeating, happened to be really inspiring. “The holidays aren’t all about the food,” she says, “Turn social situations into what they really are, and take the emphasis off unhealthy eating.” More solid battle of the bulge/hangover advice to follow.

After a major holiday party, the first thing I crave when I wake up (slightly hung over) is something heavy, or greasy. What kind of food should I be reaching for to replenish myself after I’ve over done it with the booze the night before? Hydrate! Then honor your body’s craving for salt. You have most likely become dehydrated and peed away your precious electrolytes. Add a pinch of sea salt to replenish your minerals, and guzzle Alkaline Water to help neutralize all of the acidity created from a night of debauchery.   There are so many different ‘cleanses’ out there. How do I choose one that is right for me and my lifestyle? With this question in mind the LOVEcleanses were born! At Organic Avenue you can choose from four different cleanse programs.

●LOVEeasy: This is the best choice if you are weaning off a standard American diet or just want a 5 day raw organic food and juice experience that will help build confidence for more ‘juicy’ cleanse at a later date. ●LOVEfast: This one is best if you are almost ready for a juice-fast but think you may abort the program if you don’t chew all day. LOVEfast has 1 salad each day! ●LOVEdeep: This cleanse is best if you are committed to juice only. Really it’s a mental thing. Most people can go all juice and realize they are not hungry once they get going. ●LOVEmore: This is a recent addition to our cleanse offering. It focuses on an alkaline green protocol with a combination of juices, soups and salads.

What can a ‘cleanse’ or a ‘fast’ do for me? A cleanse or fast yields differing results depending on the person. A few common outcomes are: weight-loss, increase in energy, clearer skin & eyes, regular bowel movements. But the ones I love the most are when I hear people kick the addictive habits like smoking, or daily coffee drinking. Oftentimes there are unexpected insights and clarity of mind and an increased focus on self-love, which are not bad side-effects at all!   What is the minimum number of days I should do a cleanse to feel results? Can I do one if I can only spare three days? There is no minimum number of days required, and every 24 hours are an incredibly powerful confidence boost! Often people feel they need to set aside time and have to plan the perfect week to take on a cleanse. But there is no need. You will find it is quite enjoyable to have your juice and food all prepared and ready for you. Consider one day to boost confidence and give the body the necessary nourishment it deserves, and go for 5 days to really get through the hump and feel tremendous. Keep it going as long as your budget allows.

My schedule is crazy during the holidays. How can I accept dinner invites and attend parties and still stay on track with my chosen program? Can you recommend a program for the social butterfly? I think of the social butterfly as someone who has a sense of confidence. Turning social situations into what they really are- social situations- and taking the emphasis off eating unhealthy is the best thing one can do. Make “being” social that much more of a learning experience by being genuinely interested in the people you are socializing with. It’s not all about the food, yet that’s how most of us feel! You can curb your cravings and prepare in advance by eating before you go out, bring healthful alternatives to share, and help to choose the restaurant you will be attending. There is some willpower involved when faced with trays of finger food and when all food options scream ‘comfort food’. Yet endeavor into expanding consciousness and self-love as you choose wisely this holiday season. You will feel so good the day after!

What was your motivation for starting Organic Avenue? Organic Avenue was founded in 2002 to truly to help people transition and maintain a healthful vegan lifestyle. I would encounter people regularly, and so often my diet/lifestyle choices became the topic of conversation. I took the opportunity to collect ‘excuses.’ People would say, “I would eat that way if it was available.” Another person might tell me they “would eat that way if they could afford it,” or if it tasted good. I collected the excuses and knew that if I was really going to help the people, our planet and help end animal suffering, I had to create a business that took any sense of deprivation away. I knew I had to create a lifestyle about abundance, beauty, and radiant health. These are the natural by-products of a healthy Live.Organic.Vegan (LOVE) diet and lifestyle. I had to make it easy and attractive to others. I do the best I can to walk the path as a committed vegan that elevates my game by increasing the raw food in my day, and focusing on the offerings of Organic Avenue. I created a membership to lower cost of entry, I focus on recipes that are delicious and irresistible, and further by creating retail shops and an online offering. We do our best to make it easy and accessible! Now try to tell me why you too can’t do it? I will use your excuse wisely.

NYC: Healthy Restaurants to Balance the Holiday Bulge

I just got back from a wedding. In Florida. A normal wedding would not have been as detrimental to my waistline, except this one was a combined vacation, right? It’s a wedding and it’s vacation, and when on a vacation wedding, you’re allowed to eat and drink as much as you want. But it’s okay because I’m going to start a healthy fast this week. Yup. No eating meat or dairy or anything Gwyneth Paltrow deigns to ingest. So basically, I’ll eat nothing solid for the rest of the week, and I’ll be back on track for the holiday season. Oh, I forgot. Thanksgiving is this week. And before that I have drinks with a friend in town for the holidays, and then I am having a pre-Thanksgiving feast with people who will be out of town for the actual feast. Then there’s the actual feast. I’m not the type of girl who skips special occasion eating, and I am not the kind of girl who’ll down pro-biotic liquid chalk while everyone else has stuffing. So balance, I need balance. I need smart restaurant reservations amid all of the customary gorging. Here are some healthy alternatives to even out your This Is Why You’re Fat holiday binge-a-thon.

Organic Avenue (Lower East Side) – Do-gooders open up a health nut’s paradise and we’re all better for it. ● Angelica Kitchen (East Village) – Neighborhood veggie powerhouse is the anti-Mickey D’s. No cell phones, no booze, no credit cards. No coffee either, the stuff they peddle doesn’t even come close to getting those teeth grinding. ● Blossom (Chelsea) – Way more stylish than its culinary kinfolk, the crunchy health nuts here totally shower on the reg. ● Josie’s (Murray Hill) – Lots of glowing girls fresh from NYSC, nibbling on oven-roasted free-range chicken, tofu duck, and Japanese yams. ● Pure Food and Wine (Flatiron) – Say goodbye to a future of pacemakers and a gut the shape of China. Raw food is real food. Surprise your out of town pals with a reservation at this health-hole. Tell them it’s tres New York, so get over the raw part. ● Counter (East Village) – So healthy, it shouldn’t be this close to Blue & Gold. But it is, just in case you’ve indulged at happy hour and need to purge your poor diet sins. Meatless, organic, futuristic Jetsons-chic diner. ● The Pump () – Gay bar? “Energy food” actually, totally baked and never fried.Good for lunch, will give you some room for egg nog every once in awhile.

These Restaurants Will Make You Thin

What are the thin people really eating? The British Journal of Nutrition just published a study this month saying that the trimmest people, those who weighed the lightest, flaunted the slimmest waists, and were proud owners of the smallest hip circumference, had the highest levels of omega 3 fatty acids in their blood. After investigating the commonality, I found that these people were in fact not freebasing flaxseed oil. They were, however, loading up on foods that were rich in omega 3s — grass-fed beef, flaxseed, soy, salmon, etc. No one knows for sure what omega 3s do for the diet exactly … they may stimulate hormones that make you feel full, and they have been shown to improve circulation, which can also aid in weight loss and reducing inflammation. Whatever the case, you can get slim while you dine in New York this weekend; head to a few of these “healthy” joints to load up on the good stuff.

Salmon This cold-water oily fish is optimal for omega 3 intake, and these restaurants are extra careful on choosing their fish. If you’re worried about that whole mercury poisoning thing, take heed: Harvard’s School of Public Health reported in the Journal of the American Medical Association that the benefits of fish intake far outweigh the potential risks. Petrossian (Midtown West) – Perhaps the Carnegie Hall scene is a bit on the hoity-toity side, but the Guatemala shrimp & smoked salmon, salmon roe salad, and premier smoked salmon served with toast points, crème fraiche, and fresh dill are all delish and good for your waist, One If By Land Two If By Sea (West Village) – Feel great on your romantic date by imagining your ass is shrinking with every bite of your smoked salmon. Blue Ribbon Sushi (Soho) – Double your pleasure with a menu that’s heavy in salmon and soy — another omega 3 favorite. Sake tataki, salmon tartare, and that sake shiso salmon with shiso are some to sample. Lure Fishbar (Soho) – A great seafood hot spot, the salmon tartare and grilled salmon with spaetzle, peas, smoked onions, and herb vinaigrette make everything about the resto well-rounded, so your midsection won’t be.

Flaxseed Though is sounds like something health nuts go nutty for, flaxseed is six times richer than most fish oils in omega 3s. The Pump (Flatiron) – Get your flaxseed on with the Pro-Omega shake, a mixed fruit, apple juice, acai, flaxseed oil, and whey protein concoction that is not as scary as it sounds. Actually, I would venture to call it yummy. Organic Avenue (Lower East Side) – Organic health food emporium where you can add flaxseed to just about anything. Try the flax-full fiesta chips.

Grass-Fed Beef Beef fattened on grass is typically waayyyy healthier than all the other crap out there. Now that restaurants know that we now know this, they’ve upped their game. Here are a few restos that get it and get it right. Craftsteak (Chelsea )- Superchef Tom Colicchio’s flesh venture does meat right, and just because the beef is priced by fattiness doesn’t mean it will go straight to your hips. Savoy (Soho) – Their hamburger, made from divine grass fed beef and served with French fries and house ketchup, is pitch perfect. Blue Hill (Greenwich Village) – They have their own farm. You have to guess the Blue Hill Farm veal with broccoli rabe, roasted potatoes, and string beans is true to its name.


Folic Acid & Other Vitamin Benefits

Every so often, government-backed associations get on the horn about some health campaign — which surprisingly turns out to be quite effective. This morning a gaggle of gym locker gossip-mongers were chatting up the benefits of folic acid, which I would ordinarily brush off as another one of their faddish tales, except for the fact that my mother asked me about my folic acid intake just a few days before. I knew somebody had to be lapping up some news report, and indeed they were. Apparently the Scottish Spina Bifida Association reported a rise in the number of infants born with the birth defects; the rate doubled in the last year. They advise “all women of child-bearing age to take extra folic acid.” A similar US campaign was initiated in 1998, after which the number of cases declined 31%. The UK Press maintains that long-term use of folic acid prevents the condition, which often leads to paralysis from the waist down and other damage to the infant’s nervous system. At this point, thinking about children isn’t a huge motivator. Keeping up with vitamins that supposedly, invisibly help my body function can be tough. Luckily, folic acid, as well as a slew of other vitamins, often have a visible effect on what you see in the mirror every day.

Obviously too much of a good thing is often bad; in fact, ODing on super-fortified foods will probably have the opposite of the desired effects. The key is balance, and even after years of yoga, I am the last person to tell you how to achieve that. Speak to your physician before you bolt over to Organic Avenue.

Vitamin: Folic Acid Eat: Spinach, asparagus, lettuces, beans and peas, fortified cereal products, sunflower seeds. Health Benefits: Aids the synthesis, repair, and functioning of DNA, prevents depression and anemia, as well as cancer. Beauty Benefits: Those nagging skin discolorations you’ve collected via sun exposure and hormonal changes could see their final days. And since it aids in cell synthesis, you skin benefits in radiance from consistent replenishment. Product: Nivea DNAge Visage Night Cream.

Vitamin: C Eat: Rose hip, red pepper, parsley, guava, broccoli, strawberries, oranges. Health Benefits: Highly effective antioxidant, aiding in overall tissue repair, and reducing the chance of chronic inflammatory diseases and diabetes. Beauty Benefits: Widely accepted as an anti-aging tool, plumps up skin, and prevents hair loss. Product: MD Skincare Hydra-Pure Vitamin C Serum available at Sephora.

Vitamin: E Eat: Asparagus, avocado, egg, milk, nuts. Health Benefits: Prevents prostate cancer, reduces cholesterol, and aids in weight loss. Careful: too much E is bad for your health. Beauty Benefits: The whole “aids in weight loss” thing sounds pretty good, but it also helps to repair stretch marks and scars. When used topically, it helps blemishes and extremely dry skin. Product: Jo Malone Vitamin E Body Scrub available at Bloomingdale’s

Vitamin: B3 Eat: Meat, mushrooms, milk, peanuts and other high-protein foods. Health Benefits: Migraine miracle worker, and is said to help with arthritis as well. Beauty Benefits: Bye-bye red, peely skin! The windburned, between-the-seasons look is remedied when used- especially when used topically. For lotions and skin treatments, look for B3 in products that contain niacinamide — which is also B3. Product: Olay Complete All Day UV Moisturizer.

Juliette Lewis Is a Natural Born Rebel

There are radicals, and then there is Juliette Lewis, the wildly unpredictable, Oscar-nominated actress-turned-musician, whose rich life story runs the gamut from emancipation and aliens to chemical dependency and Brad Pitt. (See more of Juliette in BlackBook here!) After a three-year absence from the silver screen, the stunning provocateur cracks the whip with four new films and her most assured album yet.

Those wild eyes of hers go all cat’s-tail-in-the-light-socket electric and Juliette Lewis lets out a howling “Whoooaaa!”—to nobody, apparently, but herself. Lewis is what you might call a self-motivator. Whenever the energy begins to dip on set during the daylong shoot for this rebels-inspired story, which sees her step into the many-storied heels and platform boots of such diverse firebrands as Bettie Page, Coco Chanel, Bonnie Parker and Mick Jagger, Lewis flips her inner switch and ramps it up a notch or 10.

That special wildfire in her eyes is a familiar sight for fans of her incendiary on-screen performances—the crazed pupils of, say, Mallory Knox in Oliver Stone’s Natural Born Killers—or her on-stage presence, as the frontwoman for the (now-disbanded) rock group, Juliette and the Licks.

“She summons it,” says actor Mark Ruffalo, who directed her in Sympathy for Delicious, one of the four upcoming fi lms heralding her return to the big screen this year. “She’s like a sorcerer.”

Lewis, 36, first rose to international fame with her Oscar-nominated role as a provocative wild child in Martin Scorsese’s 1991 remake of Cape Fear, her spectacular cornrow-sporting red carpet arrival earning her nearly as much notoriety. Hey, she was 19 at the time and a free spirit living in a galaxy far away from the Rachel Zoe-ification of young Hollywood—not that the contrarian would have ever followed suit, no matter when she came of age.

Lewis is here today to celebrate the act of creative rebellion, a dangling carrot that convinced her to board a plane to New York from Paris days earlier than planned. “You’re talking to the number one renegade here,” she says in her raspy Southern California drawl, when we sit down for a post-shoot talk at Industria Studios in Manhattan’s West Village over a round of Guinness. “I don’t want to blow my own horn, but I am the queen of defiance—stupid, silly shit like having hairy armpits at the age of 16, or rocking cornrows at the Oscars. These things weren’t done out of anger. It was more about, Th is is me; I’m going to own me and be me.”

Th is uncompromising self-expression has been her divining principle as an artist from the start, and it’s only intensified over the years. After 2006’s forgettable romantic comedy Catch and Release, Lewis took a three-year hiatus from Hollywood, heeding the long-simmering call of her inner rocker. Actor-turned-musician rolls of the eyes be damned: Far from some vanity project, her three albums, each a step above the last, have artistic merit of their own accord, regardless of her film career fame (or Brad Pitt-affiliated past). To hear her talk about it, rock was a calling: “This creative desire was brewing inside me and turning into a lion’s roar, and it was not going down as I got older,” she says. “Th e desire grew so strong, stronger than the fear of how to do it… if you love it, need it and have something to say, you can make it happen.”

Lewis’ greatest strength as a musician is “her intuition—and the fact that she listens to it,” says Omar Rodriguez-Lopez, frontman for indie kingpins the Mars Volta, who produced Lewis’ upcoming album Terra Incognita, her first without the Licks. “A lot of people in the arts have been taught not to listen to it. But she fully listens to her intuition.” He was sold on the project before he even signed on, purely on the strength of her raw demos: “It was just Juliette and her melodies, maybe a couple of notes on the piano. I told her as far as I was concerned, it was the best thing she’d ever done.”

The two began recording tracks in New York and then hunkered down at his studio compound in Mexico. Rodriguez-Lopez describes the overall feel of this album as “her version of the blues—I don’t mean blues as a genre. What she’s singing about is really her: her life, all the insecurities, triumphs, strong points, weak points—she puts it all out there. I only want to work with people who are really trying to get to the emotional core of things,” he says. “And that’s how she lives her life.”

It’s a sentiment echoed by her recent film collaborators. “Juliette is not just incredibly talented—she is so remarkably present that I am constantly inspired by her,” says Juno star Ellen Page, who squares off against Lewis’ awesome roller derby baddie “Iron Maven” in the upcoming Drew Barrymore-directed Whip It!, Lewis’ return to the screen this October. “Juliette’s passion, her open heart and her honesty make working with her, and knowing her, a gift .”

Ruffalo was also bowled over by her ability to bring it. In his film, Lewis inhabits the role of a bass player with a drug problem, the reality of which hit close to home for Lewis, a recovered addict. “The character is sort of the anti-chick, the opposite of these lightweight chicklets we’re seeing so much of these days in movies,” Ruffalo says. “Not a lot of young girls could play that part. I just kept coming back to Juliette as we were writing the part. I think Hollywood has this perception of her as having been difficult in the past. But I knew she would give a gutsy, full-on performance in the short amount of time I had her on screen—and that’s exactly what she did.”


What does the idea of rebellion mean to you? Rebellion, to me, is about finding out where you feel safe, and then stepping outside of that space. I never got into acting to be safe. I get the most out of myself right before I start a project, when I’m scared to death. That’s the revolt, that’s the rebellion.

What sort of fears do you face? Starting a rock ’n’ roll band at the age of 30 and pursuing my love of musical expression, not knowing how the fuck I was going to do it, where I would begin, what kind of music I would even do. It’s like renegade filmmakers who never went to art school. It’s really about finding your voice.

Did you have any sort of formal acting training? I took three little classes when I was 11 with this lady in her backyard. The third time I went to her door, a person told me she died. So I never went back to class after that.

From whom did you learn the most? I learned from Oliver Stone that I am my own worst enemy. One time, I was putting myself down on set, saying stuff like, Why should we do the take again? I suck. And then he said, “Juliette, nobody wants to hear that shit.” He basically told me to knock it off, and from that day forth, I’ve never again voiced that kind of negativity.

You started out early as a rebel by emancipating from your parents at the age of 14. Everyone takes that the wrong way. We were co-conspirators, my parents and I, working together to emancipate myself from child labor laws. It seems like some radical thing, but it was done because I was more apt to be hired as an emancipated minor.

How old were you when you stole their car? I was 13. It was actually my stepmom’s car. My girlfriend and I went to Hollywood, and hung out with our boyfriends and friends at a club. And then it broke down in a liquor store parking lot. I hung around with some seedy kids for a while, had criminal boyfriends—tested the boundaries. There are destructive ways to test the boundaries, to rebel, and then there are constructive ways to do so, which to me, at my age, seem more radical. Doing a rock show, for example, in Budapest in front of 20,000 people stone-cold sober is radical.

The transition from actress to rocker must have been daunting. I had been writing for the past 15 years, and it had a lot to do with—I don’t often share this—when I quit drugs. I did hard drugs. I never name them because it gets too sensational, but you can imagine. It was hard. All of my life lessons were very short but very intense. When I was a teenager, I smoked tons of pot. And my relationship to chemicals was very specifically tied to my inability to connect with people. It’s almost as if the drugs—disconnection—helped me connect. It doesn’t make sense. But people thought I was on drugs when I wasn’t on drugs, because I guess I’ve always been a strange bird. I wasn’t fun on drugs, so I quit at 22.

How did you quit? I’m a Scientologist. I did this program called Narconon—it’s secular—that uses technologies to help addicts get off drugs, like this brilliant sauna program that involves sweating out the toxins and vitamins. It’s all about questioning why you took drugs in the first place and rehabilitating your sense of self-worth.

Is that what led you to Scientology, or were you a Scientologist before? I was always aware of it, but I took it for granted. There are all kinds of things in Scientology that are really simple and interesting, and people only talk about the folklore—the aliens.

Do you believe in aliens? I, Juliette, believe in aliens. I don’t know any other Scientologists who do. I also believe in fairies, you know, the real ones that live in the forest. Like most Scientologists, I’m really antidrug, especially in our anaesthetized, consumerist culture. The idea of taking a pill when you’re unhappy or uneven to even out, to consume, to be perfect little robots—it all fucking relates. I think it’s a really radical thing to be present, to own your shit—your lust, your anger, your joy, your fear. That’s hard, but in the long run, it’s the better road to take.


Let’s talk about today’s photo shoot. How did it feel to dress up like Bettie Page in her S&M phase? One of the things that struck me about Bettie Page, like Marilyn Monroe, is that even though there’s an obvious sexuality to her pictures, there’s also joy and insouciance—a lot of life force in her. You could have 10 different girls doing the same bondage shit, but when Bettie does it, it’s got that extra-special viva verve.

Coco Chanel’s verve is of a different breed altogether. She was the first of her kind in a male-dominated scene, and I’m all for that, in the sense of breaking through that kind of wall. Fuck, she must have made a few people mad. But that’s talent, isn’t it?

How would describe your personal fashion aesthetic? When I’m out on a date with a man that I feel very soft around, I like wearing a dress or heels because they change the shape of my legs—but my own fashion? I’m always changing. I describe my look onstage as The Little Prince in a Mad Max world. He wears deep blue. There’s another one, a little pixie who lives in the forest, who befriended all of the animals there and owns a pet bull. It’s a little bit of magic and shimmer and glam, but with earth elements like feathers and things that replicate animals.

Have you been dating? I did date someone recently, but we’re not dating now. It’s really nice when you’re okay alone, but I realize, for me, that it’s all or nothing. I can’t really casually date. When you want to experience anything worth experiencing, the stakes get higher. And to open your heart, even a little bit, well, I don’t want someone stepping in there kicking me around.

You’ve been single for several years now. I was married eight years ago for three-and-a-half years. Me and Steve [Berra, Lewis’ ex-husband, an actor and professional skateboarder] got married when we were both 26. Incidentally, we’re still best friends and that’s real.

Let’s talk for a minute about Mick Jagger, since we had a Mick Jagger moment earlier today. Here’s a profound moment: I went to a Rolling Stones show in ’98 at Dodger Stadium, where there was a lot of energy, which made me a little freaky, scared. I used to get panic attacks, probably from getting famous too young and also doing drugs, which fucks up your nervous system. Then the Rolling Stones started playing. I was completely transformed. I understood in that moment what it meant to be a fan, in the most glorious sense, where you have a release of affection and an affinity for an artist—togetherness.

Was your break from acting intentional? I wanted to get off the hamster wheel. Movies are so omnipresent, so omnipotent. But, at the end of the day, they’re just movies. I had to rediscover my purpose. I was able to realign my priorities—family, friends, life and the trees. But it was also very scary because I was thinking of doing something else, but I wasn’t sure what that would be. I wanted to live a simple life. But that’s an illusion, just like living an artist’s life. I wanted to be married and have a little child—isn’t that funny? I was living in Clearwater, Florida, so I thought I might work at the post office.

What brought you back? It’s what I’m good at.

How was it being back on set for Whip It! after this break? It was my first film in a few years, and it was a really special experience. We would all wake up at 9:00 a.m. and do yoga, strength training for an hour and then six hours of roller derby. We trained extensively for a month. I’d never been so physical for a role. For Natural Born Killers, I did fight training, but here, we all felt like athletes.

What was Ellen Page like to work with? She’s awesome, an uncompromising one-of-a-kind renegade. She’s very young but has somehow managed not to get warped priorities by all that Hollywoodland attention.

Does she remind you at all of yourself at that age? I didn’t want to say that, but yes she does. When I was 19 and I showed up to a photo shoot, I honestly thought that I would take pictures with no makeup on, as myself. I came off as this unpolished, off-kilter girl—for better or for worse. She’s going through the same thing: trying to maintain a sense of self in all the hoopla.

You also had the added pressure, early on, of being with Brad Pitt. I can only imagine the amount of attention you received because of that relationship. I was just thinking about that today, actually. It was such a lovely time in my life—well, in both of our lives—because we were anonymous. We were both struggling actors and Brad blew up after we were together, when Legends of the Fall came out. We both had our turning points—there were six months between the release of Thelma & Louise and Cape Fear—but for half of our relationship, we were just unknown young actors in L.A. I even remember his little bungalow that we lived in off Melrose that we’d smoke lots of pot in. Then we split and he became Brad Pitt, and I became whoever I am now.

Can you image what it would have been like a few years on? I know! I worked with Jennifer Aniston on the last movie I did, The Baster. It’s so hard but she handles it with such grace and humor.

How do you feel about acting now? At 36, I can look back and see the through-line of some of the things I’ve done. Ever since I was very young, I’ve had this relationship of empathy to the disenfranchised, the emotionally sick, the depraved and the impoverished. I don’t know why, but I feel like the strength of my work comes from being the voice of outsiders, of people who don’t fit into that perfect square.

What role is most dear to your heart? The most important thing I’ve ever done was The Other Sister. I had taken a few years o at that point, changed my life and had a rebirth of sorts. This part was the most difficult thing I’d ever done, because she’s mentally handicapped and those roles so easily become clichés, but also because, on a deeper level, I related to her tireless persistence and her gift to constantly find joy in the mundane. I also love Adele from Kalifornia, because that was the first time where I played with my voice—the way she talks in this little baby voice. In her mind, she’s like a nine year old. I used to talk to my love at the time like that.

You spoke to Brad Pitt using the voice of a nine-year-old girl? Oh, come on! [laughs] Oh, this is horrible. Whatever that sentence was, please don’t make it horrible. Anyway, it came from a voice, some little baby voice that people have.

You have four films coming up soon. After having your hiatus, how did you choose these projects? They chose me. I’ve gained a sense of confidence because I’m now making a living through music. I don’t have to make movies to pay rent. I don’t need to make movies for any other reason but the love of the project and the people I’m working with. I also have no interest in the maintenance program: maintaining visibility and currency and all that star stuff, which I’ve never been good at nor have I given a hit about. Whereas other girls are really good at it, my laugh was always too loud, I’m too spastic and if I’m bored you’ll see it. I’m not socially groomed in that way. I wasn’t cut out to be a debutante.

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Photography by Mary Ellen Matthews. Styling by Ting Ting Lin.

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