“I believe in education more than anything else.”
Alice Eve fires off a declarative sentence that makes a statement about her upbringing, her aspirations, and her perspective. Boasting an Oxford degree in English and a bi-continental upbringing, it’s clear that this spring’s breakout star is about more than just smiling on the silver screen.
“I express myself in conversation, and I thought English is less about facts and dates than history. As my English teacher put it: you say you’ll read the classics your whole life. You may as well put three years aside to actually do it.” A remarkable combination of brains and beauty, Alice Eve has indeed read all the classics, all the way back to The Wanderer and The Seafarer. “I was crap at learning Anglo-Saxon, so I didn’t like them at all, then. But of course, I love them now.”
The Oxford-Grad-cum-actor recalls matriculating at the prestigious University. “I didn’t have any interest in going, and my father told me, ‘You can’t get in and not go.’ And I thought, ‘Really? This sucks.’” But that encouragement from her parents – encouragement she still receives today – is a something she cherishes. “It became cool for a bit in the 60’s to hate your parents. It was a bit harder to love the strict, rigid war children. But now our parents are from a different era… marijuana-smoking hippies… They’re easy to love!”
Both her parents are actors – they even played her parents in She’s Out of My League – so it may not be such a surprise that Alice ended up in front of the camera. And she’ll tell you nothing else was ever an option. “Everybody starts kind of deciding what they want to do around 16 or 17. Everybody was talking about wanting to be a doctor or a lawyer, curating, or run a gallery. I thought, ‘That sounds like horse shit. I want to be an actress.’” And so, by process of elimination, she found her course in life. “Sometimes knowing what you don’t like helps you know yourself more than knowing what you like.”
But even actresses can benefit from old-fashioned schoolwork. Alice’s days at University were pivotal to her life, in that they taught her an important lesson: how to be dedicated to something. “I’ve forgotten half of what I learned. But [higher education] is a good thing to do, especially at one of the more rigorous Universities. They never let you take your foot off the gas.”
Now, with She’s Out of My League, Sex and the City 2 (in which she played the buxom Irish nanny), and a few episodes of wooing Vincent Chase in Entourage, Alice is shifting into high gear. Her fans have a variety of movies to look forward to this year. She’s excited to be starring opposite John Cusack in The Raven this April. “It’s a cool script that I read, about Edgar Allen Poe. He was a poet, so of course that appeals to me, but also that it was being presented in a format that was entertaining. I love to be entertained and also I love some kind of highbrow baseline to work from.” She’ll also be appearing as a young Agent Oh in Men in Black III; in the thriller ATM; and in Decoding Annie Parker. Not to mention, she’s currently shooting the Star Trek sequel, due out in 2013.
Though she once chose acting because of its involved and social nature, Alice has found that while navigating an impressive film schedule, she values alone time, too. “I prioritize being alone, as much as I can be. I’m not a reclusive crazy psychopath, but I need a few hours alone in the day or I’ll wake them up at night and get them then and that’s not productive.”
And yet she still finds time to promote education, taking the encouragement her parents gave her and paying it forward. What moves her? “Children who don’t have the opportunity to be educated or whose education has been compromised for one reason or another. The plight of the helpless child is a universally inexcusable concept. What are we here for if not to leave it to them, you know?” Putting her passion into action, Alice tutors at a learning center in downtown LA. “Any kid I can get my hands on I try to teach how to read. That moves me. Kids that, for whatever reason – whether it’s poverty or even just not being encouraged in the home – [don’t learn]. I feel that’s problematic. And really, [learning] is the only thing that liberates you from your parents.”
Having spent her youth skipping between LA and England, Alice had quite a unique upbringing. As a result, she still holds both cities dear. “It’s still weird to me. Two affiliations, two homes, two cultures that I believe and support and love both of them. My friend calls it living between ancient Greece and ancient Rome – obviously England being Greece. Whenever you land in one city, you have winsome longings for the traits and idiosyncrasies of the other.”
Except for when it comes to politics and dating. These are two areas in which Alice’s opinions are categorically British. “American politics is a popularized, hyperbolized, sensationalized forum. It should be about finding the best way to run a country. I don’t care if he has extra-marital affairs, or if she’s straight or gay. I just care that they will do the best job they can.” The tendency of American political pundits to pry into personal lives is a phenomenon she’d rather do without. “In England, it’s different. In England you say, “I have a wife. Don’t ask any more questions.”
As for dating, having just turned 30, Alice is confidently single. “I don’t know if I’m fabulous, but I like being single. I have a lot of girlfriends, guy friends, gay friends… I like feeling completely autonomous and self-sufficient.” Don’t get her wrong though – “I love men. I don’t plan on never dating again, but I like taking some time away from that. There’s this thing in America where you can date more than one person.” You can’t do that in London? “No, of course not! It’s so weird that you’d shop around for your heart. It’s the one area that isn’t commercial.”
And what does Ms. Eve have to say about New York City? “I did a play on Broadway, Tom Stoppard’s Rock ‘n’ Roll. It was fantastic. It’s a great place to live, in so many ways. It’s alive, it’s positive, it’s got a forward thrust, it’s cool-looking… that epicness… You never get the epic scope of London in the same way. It’s because you’re going up in tall buildings all the time in New York, seeing everything from way up high.”
In fact, one of her favorite New York parks is elevated. “I love High Line Park. It’s a nice little walk, and Stella McCartney is down there, too. It’s nice to see they took someplace old and recreated it to make it young and cool again. That’s why we love history, I guess? They say the first time history repeats itself, it’s a tragedy, and the second time it’s a comedy. But the High Line. It’s wonderful.”