Eve Hewson was featured in the Telegraph where she is promoting her new film, Bridge of Spies.
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When Eve Hewson left her native Dublin, aged 18, to study acting at the prestigious Tisch School of the Arts in New York, her parents decided to relocate too. “I didn’t invite them; they just came,” she laughs, rolling her pale blue eyes. “My sister had moved here a year earlier, to study at Columbia, and I don’t think my mum could cope with losing two kids to the US.”
“So they conveniently decided to renovate the house and had to be out of it for a year.” It’s not the sort of transatlantic transplant every family could make. But then, the Hewsons are not every family. Eve’s parents are the activist and fashion-label founder Ali Hewson and her musician and philanthropist husband, Paul – also known as Bono.
In spite of their wealth and status, however, the Hewsons didn’t spoil their second-born daughter when they decamped to NYC alongside her. While her parents and two younger brothers spent that year in the penthouse apartment they bought from Steve Jobs, on the 27th floor of the San Remo building overlooking Central Park, Eve lived like any other student, in a shared dorm room downtown.
“But I did go over after class and eat real food, rather than peanut butter from a jar,” she admits. Didn’t she crave the freedom of finally being cut loose, unmonitored, off the parental leash, though?
“There was one time that I went to a party and my mum was there, and I was like, ‘Urgh, I’m trying to live my life in New York and my mother’s here,’” she mock-laments. “But my mum’s actually pretty cool – I’d prefer to go out with her than almost anybody else.”
Her father, she says, is similarly good company. “My dad said he figured out that in order to have a good relationship with your kids, you have to be more fun than them. And it’s true,” she insists. “My parents are way more fun than me and my siblings. We’re always like, ‘What restaurant are you going to? Whose party is that? Can we hang out with your friends?'”
Now 24, Eve is making her name very much in her own right, with both a Sky Atlantic series, The Knick – directed by Steven Soderbergh and due to start its second season in January – and Bridge of Spies, a Steven Spielberg film arriving in cinemas at the end of the month. The former is set in 1900 at the fictitious Knickerbocker Hospital in New York and stars Clive Owen as a brilliant surgeon, Dr. John Thackery, who is also hopelessly addicted to cocaine and opium.
In what she calls her ‘”first big project”, Eve plays Lucy Elkins, a wide-eyed young nurse from West Virginia. She falls for Thackery, and steals and administers drugs for him – directly into Owen’s penis in one early and memorable scene. “I thought nothing could be scarier than that… then season two came along,” says Eve. And while it may well have made her the envy of women the world over, her first, somewhat sordid, sex scene with Owen was terrifying too.
“I remember thinking, no one is treating this like it’s a big deal. Is no one worried for me?” she admits. “And then we did it, and I realised it’s not a big deal at all. It looks real, but that’s nothing like what is actually going on.” We meet for lunch on a Friday afternoon in Manhattan’s West Village.
Petite and extremely pretty, with dark hair, pale skin and enviable cheekbones, she is unmistakably Irish. Six years in the US may have added a mid-Atlantic twang to her accent, but have not affected her endearing volubility and eagerness to entertain. “There’s something about the Irish – everyone is a storyteller,” she observes.
Her current big-screen role, meanwhile, is in the Cold War drama Bridge of Spies, alongside Tom Hanks as her father. Set in Brooklyn in 1957 and based on real events, the film stars Hanks as James B. Donovan, a lawyer tasked with negotiating the release of a US pilot in exchange for a Russian spy.
His wife and family, including Eve as his teenage daughter, Carol, are caught up in the backlash as Donovan is threatened and intimidated for cooperating with the Communists.
Hewson’s role is a supporting one, but allowed her to work with Spielberg, a childhood dream come true. “It was a total head-spin,” she beams. “E.T. was the film that made me fall in love with movies.”
“When I was a kid, I cut my hair off and made my parents call me Elliott for about two years. It was the ultimate goal in my career in many ways, to work with Steven Spielberg,” she continues. “And then that happened very soon.” Both Hanks and Spielberg are “low-key guys”, she says. “They make you feel comfortable, like you’ve known them for years. But then you’re looking at these two faces that you’ve idolised your whole life, and it’s just a really surreal thing.”
Hewson’s off-duty style has a definite rock-star edge to it: skinny jeans, plaid shirt, leather biker jacket, black nail polish. Did she ever, I wonder, consider following her father into a career in music instead? “I did think maybe I was going to be a musician,” she nods. “But I didn’t have the discipline for it.” She is, however, clearly a natural-born performer, and admits to a weakness for karaoke, even though, “people assume that I’ll be able to sing, and then are wildly disappointed when they hear me,” she says.
Born Memphis Eve Sunny Day Hewson (her parents soon dropped the ‘Memphis’ for fear of bullying), she attributes her youthful obsession with E.T. – and with film in general – to growing up in the stunning but sleepy Killiney Bay, on the coast south of Dublin. “There wasn’t a whole lot of things to do at the weekend.”
“So we would usually just have our friends over and go down to Xtra-vision [the local video shop] and get a movie,” she shrugs. It was a former tutor (and aspiring film-maker), Erica Dunton, who first introduced her to acting. While for most of the year Eve attended the local college, when U2 went on tour, the family would travel with the band for months at a stretch, meaning Eve and her three siblings – sister Jordan, now 26, and brothers Elijah, 16, and John, 14 – were privately tutored on the road.
“On one tour, when I was 15, my sister and I were just obsessed with Kings of Leon, who were the support band, and would skulk around their dressing room, like, ‘Heyyyy,'” she laughs, miming a coy, flirtatious wave. “So Erica would try to distract us with movies.”
“We made a short film [Lost and Found], which we were just supposed to work on with her, but she put us in it.” Two years later, when Dunton was no longer tutoring the sisters but making films full time, she offered Eve another, larger, role, in The 27 Club, a film she wrote and directed.
“When I went away to North Carolina to shoot that, that was when I realised, oh, this is definitely what I want to do,” Eve remembers. Her parents, however, were less than enthusiastic about her career ambitions. “They didn’t try to stop me, but they were vocal about its downsides – the fact that you get judged every day, particularly as a woman, for the way that you look, and that it’s not an easy life,” she says.
“They were trying to prepare me for rejection. A lifetime of it. And even now, when I do get rejected, I call them and I cry on the phone, and they’re like, ‘Well, we told you not to do it,’” she says, merrily. Kings of Leon backstage access aside, hers seems to have been a very solid, down-to-earth upbringing for the offspring of a global superstar.
“We didn’t grow up caring about the flashy things; my parents are not very scene-y,” she says. “They have the same group of friends that they’ve had since secondary school.” Bono and Ali met at 13 years old – at the same school where he met his U2 bandmates – and they began dating at 15.
“So we grew up in this very tight tribe, and then they all had kids, and those kids are my best friends. And lots of us have moved here and live near one another in Brooklyn now.” Eve lives in the hipster hotbed of Williamsburg, around the corner from sister Jordan, who is involved with a tech start-up firm. Tonight, Eve tells me, they and their tribe of Irish expats will be congregating at her apartment to drink red wine and watch this week’s episode of The Knick together.
We segue into a lively discussion of the differences between Irish and American men. “I had to get used to American guys telling me that I was beautiful. Irish guys are, like, ‘You look horrible today; would you want to go out later?’” Eve was previously in a long-term relationship with the American actor James Lafferty, whom she met while filming The 27 Club, but is now happily single.
“I’m 24,” she says. “And I travel so much; I can’t commit to anybody.” But the gypsy, on-the-road aspects of her upbringing must have been good preparation for the itinerant life of an actor, I suggest. “Oh yeah, it feels normal to me,” she nods. “But it can get lonely.”
She found Los Angeles, where she decamped for six months after drama school, particularly lonely. “It was horrible, I hated it,” she says, vehemently. “I just felt really isolated. I wasn’t having enough human interaction, and I felt that my acting got boring, that I got boring. Because I felt so out of place.” Fortunately, while in LA, she auditioned for The Knick, which brought her back to her beloved New York – where, after six years in the city, she’s very settled. “But Dublin is still home,” she says.
She’ll be heading back there for Thanksgiving as well as Christmas. Meanwhile, she’s in a spot of limbo work-wise, waiting to hear if The Knick will be commissioned for a third season, and when her next film, Robin Hood: Origins – in which she will play Maid Marian – will begin filming.
“But I really want to do some comedy after that,” she enthuses. “And an action film. And I want to dance. And I want to do something really dark and psychological.” That’s quite a range of roles, I note. “Yes,” she laughs. “I’d like to shoot guns and dance and make some people laugh. And I want to do some fucked up shit that you won’t be able to forget when you go to sleep at night.”