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"?