PLAYBOY: You aren’t known for doing action movies. After co-starring in Tron: Legacy, have you discovered a hidden enthusiasm for kicking ass?
*WILDE: *Yes. I love it! The great thing about doing movies with lots of stunts is that it feels as if I’m having the athletic experience I never had in high school. I was a theater nerd, and I always envied my friends on the field hockey and soccer teams. They had a relationship with their coach that was so supportive, with the coach saying, “I believe in you! Go get ‘em, tiger!” Working with these movie stunt teams, I’m finally able to experience that. You can show up weak and scrawny for a movie, with 80 percent body fat, and they’ll say, “You can do these stunts!” For actors who weren’t athletes in high school that’s an amazing feeling.
PLAYBOY: Your costume for Tron is a skintight suit made out of rubber and neon. Is your character a stripper from the future?****
*WILDE: *[Laughs] My costume is actually the toughest, most badass thing I’ve ever seen. And it doesn’t show very much skin. It would be difficult to be a stripper in that suit because it’s almost impossible to get it off. It would be a three-hour striptease and you’d need at least five assistants onstage with you.
PLAYBOY: We’re guessing you didn’t get a lot of pee breaks during filming.****
*WILDE: *Not many, no. I’m sure we were all severely dehydrated, but I try to avoid complaining about these things. Sure, it was uncomfortable to wear a tight rubber costume for four and a half months, but it was also an amazing experience. These suits were created with a new technology. They take a body scan and design it completely on a computer. It was like being inside a work of art.
PLAYBOY: Your Tron co-star Jeff Bridges is best known to many of us as the Dude from The Big Lebowski. Did his inner dude ever make an appearance?****
*WILDE: *The thing about Jeff is, in a lot of ways he really is the Dude. He has an inner peace I tried to learn from and this easygoing, come-what-may, go-with-the-flow attitude that’s such a joy to be around. Nothing really fazes him. With Jeff it’s all going to be okay.
PLAYBOY: Your real surname is Cockburn, and you changed it to Wilde while still in high school. Is that a life decision a teenager is qualified to make?****
*WILDE: *It was meant as an homage to the writers in my family, many of whom created pen names for their careers. I have a grandfather who changed his name to James Helvick to write the novel Beat the Devil, which got turned into a movie with Humphrey Bogart. I always thought having a pen name was so romantic. I honestly didn’t foresee that people would look at it as a sexy name, like “She’s wiiiild!” Anytime a story is written about me, the title is usually some pun on my last nameâ-“Born to Be Wilde” or “Take a Walk on the Wilde Side.” [laughs] I don’t mind it; it’s just not something I ever considered when I picked the name.
PLAYBOY: You were a wild teenager, getting your first tattoo at 13, then getting piercings, shaving your head and hanging out with street musicians. What were you rebelling against?****
*WILDE: *I don’t think I was rebelling against anything. It definitely wasn’t a rebellion against my family. In a way, I was paying tribute to a family that has a very adventurous and independent spirit. We were in New York City, where it’s pretty easy to act crazy. If I had been in Omaha I probably wouldn’t have had so many opportunities.
PLAYBOY: Your parents are both journalists who have traveled to war-torn countries such as Afghanistan and Iraq. Growing up, did you ever join them?****
*WILDE: *Never. They went only to really dangerous places, not kid-friendly places. It’s not as if they could’ve left us with a babyÂsitter in the hotel while they went to interview the Taliban. They still travel to some amazing places. In fact, my mom’s getting ready to go to Yemen for 60 Minutes. It’s actually kind of adorable; they try to pretend my job is more interesting than theirs. We’ll have conversations and they’ll act as though fighting fake aliens in a movie is more exciting than my mom going to Yemen.
PLAYBOY: You played a doctor for more than three years on the Fox TV drama House. At this point do you feel you could make a medical diagnosis?
*WILDE: *Oh yeah, absolutely. Just come to me. I learned a lot about medicine from the show, such as what constitutes a symptom for jaundice. I’m always diagnosing people with jaundice-it’s the yellowing in the eyes. Your eyeballs are connected to your liver, and so is your tongue. I see my friends and say, “Oh no, you have jaundice.” The human body is so complex, and there’s no limit to what can go wrong with it.
PLAYBOY: You’ve kissed a few women on TV, first on the teen drama The O.C. and then on House. What’s the trick to a believable lesbian kiss if you’re not actually gay?****
*WILDE: *It’s the same trick I use when I’m in a movie like *Tron *and pretending to fly a plane. Acting is acting. It’s not as if I play myself most of the time and kissing a woman is one time I depart from that. It’s fun to play things that are different from you.
PLAYBOY: Your husband, Tao Ruspoli, is an Italian prince. Does that technically make you a princess?****
*WILDE: *Technically, yeah, but I never call myself that. I occasionally get mail that says “Principessa.” It’s all part of being this lucky person who has been welcomed into an interesting family with a long history. I’m into European history, so it’s exciting to trace our family back to the 14th century and beyond. How many people get to say “This castle has been in our family since the 1400s”?
PLAYBOY: **Most people can’t even say they have a castle.**
*WILDE: *That’s true. In America we’re still so young. The oldest building in Los Angeles is probably from the 1920s. But this castle is so old, it’s practically from another planet. There are dungeons in the basement where they used to torture people. There’s a table down there that, when they sanded it, still had blood stains from hundreds of years ago. Medieval times weren’t fun times to be alive.
PLAYBOY:You and Ruspoli had your wedding on a school bus. Shouldn’t a princess be able to afford something a little more extravagant?
*WILDE: *We didn’t want that. The bus was the only place we could be completely alone. The wedding was a secret, and we wanted to do it someplace where we could hide with our best friends. It was all about the intimacy of the promise we were making. When I go to weddings it’s usually all about the party and the place settings and the dress and the flower arrangements. Our wedding wasn’t about any of that. I mean, come on, we got engaged at Burning Man. We were hippies. We lived on that bus for months.
*PLAYBOY: *As somebody who has called a school bus home, do you have any helpful tips for bus living?
*WILDE: *Limit your possessions. We tend to cart around a lot of unnecessary junk with us. I used to lug around everything, just in case I needed it, and the truth is, of course you don’t. When I travel I’ve learned to narrow it down to only the things I absolutely need.
PLAYBOY: And what would those things be?****
*WILDE: *A change of clothes is always good. And for meâ-I inherited this from my dadâ-my biggest fear is being stuck somewhere with nothing to read, so I always carry too many books. That’s my one excess. I also have this thing that I’m very sensitive to smell, so I carry around different essential oils. If you’re stuck in an airport in Dallas, you can pull one out and it’ll make you feel as though you’re where you want to be.
PLAYBOY: In the upcoming movie Cowboys and Aliens you’re part of the human uprising against an extraterrestrial invasion. Do you believe aliens exist?****
*WILDE: *Well, as Stephen Hawking says, we have no reason to believe they *don’t *exist. But I don’t know why they’d be interested in us, unless they’re trying to stop us from destroying the universe. There’s a certain amount of arrogance in thinking they’d want to come to this planet at all or that they’d look like us or like versions of us. I love Moby’s video “In This World,” where the aliens are tiny little creatures who wander through New York City, holding little signs that say hello and hola, but nobody can see them. Who’s to say that’s not the form they’re taking?
*PLAYBOY: *You collect classic cars. What’s your dream car?
*WILDE: *I think I own itâ-a 1958 Chevy Biscayne. It’s cool because I grew up wanting the 1954 Bel Air, but that car is almost too perfect. There’s something about the Biscayne that’s a little funkier. My husband has a 1959 Thunderbird convertible, and it’s awesome. It’s cream with a red interior. It’s gorgeous; it looks like a shark. I love our cars, but we don’t drive them as much as we should. They suck up so much gas, and they’re not exactly eco-friendly.
PLAYBOY:Isn’t it a crime to own a car like that and never drive it?
*WILDE: *Probably. The great thing about driving one of these cars is that it makes other drivers happy. People smile at you and let you cut in. It’s as if they’re grateful you’re still driving it. But the cars are not exactly discreet. My life has changed so that I try to blend in more. When I was younger it was always about standing out and being different. Now the last thing I want to do is drive down the street and call attention to myself. That’s what driving my Biscayne does.
PLAYBOY: You once won a pancake-eating contest in Australia, eating 33 pancakes in just 20 minutes. Were you born to be a competitive eater?****
*WILDE: *I entered the contest only because they said a woman could never win, and that’s a surefire way to get me to do something. I’ve always had a huge appetite and don’t get full easily, so I guess I was meant to be a competitive eater, the way some people are born to be long-distance runners. But I’d never do it again.
PLAYBOY: In your movies you’ve played both a brunette in Alpha Dog and a blonde in Turistas. Do blondes have more fun?****
*WILDE: *No, that’s bullshit. It’s not true at all. But I have to give credit to blondes. Having been raised by one and being one, it’s great to surprise people when they have low expectations. Often stupid people expect nothing from a blonde, and then the blonde can shock them by being Hillary Clinton. I’m pretty sure she has fun. I mean, she gets to travel everywhere, eat amazing food in all these different countriesâ-you know she’s having a great time. And she probably enjoys being underestimated just so she can blow people away.
*PLAYBOY: *Megan Fox once declared you so sexy it makes her “want to strangle a mountain ox.” You’re a big PETA supporter; is threatening to strangle animals the best way to win your heart?
*WILDE: *I thought it was a witty, clever choice of words. There are a lot more boring ways to compliment someone, and it’s rare when actors in this business compliment each other. I’m sure she means no harm to the mountain oxen. Shortly after Megan said that, a writer on House who’s also one of my best friends drew a mountain ox on my dressing room mirror and underneath it wrote Save me, Olivia! Please make out with Megan!