Nikki Reed: What Nikki did next

Nikki Reed shot to fame thanks to the teen exposé Thirteen. She tells Geoffrey Macnab about the highs and lows that followed

"I thought the film would solve all her problems," the director Catherine Hardwicke recently remarked of Nikki Reed, the young writer/star of her film,
Thirteen. Hardwicke hoped that making a movie about the demons of adolescence would enable Reed, then 14, to exorcise those demons.
Thirteen, an award winner at Sundance, was a critical and commercial hit, sparking an anguished and heated debate about teen culture. Reed, however, sounds ambivalent when asked about the film's impact on her own life.

"I thought the film would solve all her problems," the director Catherine Hardwicke recently remarked of Nikki Reed, the young writer/star of her film, Thirteen. Hardwicke hoped that making a movie about the demons of adolescence would enable Reed, then 14, to exorcise those demons. Thirteen, an award winner at Sundance, was a critical and commercial hit, sparking an anguished and heated debate about teen culture. Reed, however, sounds ambivalent when asked about the film's impact on her own life.

"None of us expected Thirteen to be what it was," Reed, now 16, reflects on the success. "It was shocking and really difficult in a lot of ways because it was so personal. When I wrote the screenplay with Catherine, it never crossed my mind that people all around the world would be talking about these really intimate things."

When shooting had finished, Reed tried going back to high school. She had hoped that being in the film would make her "a ton of new friends," but she felt as isolated as ever. "It was really horrible writing a film about not being able to fit in and hoping this would help and then going back and having the problem start all over again."

As newspaper articles about her began to appear, she accepted she couldn't simply blend back into the mainstream. Everyone was asking if she was going to appear in more movies or stay in school. She wasn't sure herself. Her uncertainty exacerbated her unhappiness. "You can't do both. I have great respect for actors like Jodie Foster and Natalie Portman who went to school the entire time they were acting. All I did was one small little independent film and I realised I couldn't balance both lives."

Her eventual solution was "home schooling". Six months ago, she graduated from high school and in the autumn, she plans to go to junior college to major in literature. Between times, she will keep on making movies.

The young Californian is a disconcerting interviewee. She will happily answer any question you ask, but will then add that she is startled by media curiosity about her family life and by the suggestion that Thirteen "glamorised teenagers blah, blah, blah... in fact it did quite the opposite."

Given that she is pretty, photogenic, very smart and excelled at playing teen rebel Evie Zamora in the movie, it's hard to accept Reed's characterisation of herself as a high-school outsider. She insists she was one. "It (school) is about cliques; it's about people grouping together depending on their ethnicity or the language they speak. The hispanic people like to hang out together, the black people like to hang out together, the white people...the popular kids like to stay together," she pauses. "If you can't find the perfect spot in a group, it's not about how pretty you are. You can't really fly solo."

At the ripe old age of 16, Reed now feels "so much more content, so much more comfortable with myself". She has had the same boyfriend (from Hawaii) for over a year. "Every time I look in the mirror, I feel as mature as I'm ever going to be," she declares. "I can't say I'm fully grown, but I've made some progress."

Her tastes, one guesses, are little different than those of any other precocious young Californian. Her favourite films are Monster's Ball and Boys Don't Cry. She is reading a book called Conversations With God but doesn't see herself as religious. ("My dad's Jewish and my mum is Christian so I grew up with no religion. Just whatever religion I wanted.") Music-wise, she's still listening to the same rap and hip-hop that featured in Thirteen, and is withering in her assessment of Britney Spears. "Sex sells. She's using that. If that works for her, wonderful...but instead of moving on and becoming a less sexual person and maybe using talents to move your career forward, she's going into the Christina Aguilera phase which is, like, a porn-star image. That's not helping the problem which is that girls are growing up way too fast; they're wearing close to nothing on the streets and it's OK for them to look 25 when they're 13," she says, sounding a little prim and moralistic.

The picture Reed paints of the Californian beauty myth is grim. The 13-year-olds all want to look as if they're 25... and so do the OAPs. "In Hollywood, no one is happy with who they are. When they're young they want to look older. When they're older, they're getting botox shot in their face to look younger."

Reed and Hardwicke clearly had very different agendas when they started out making Thirteen. The director regarded it as a therapeutic exercise to drag her unhappy young friend out of her teenage ennui. "Mmm," Reed murmurs when reminded of this. "I guess Catherine's intentions were a little bit different than mine... I had no idea that was what was going on in her brain. I just sat down with her and thought we were having fun together."

Once the movie was released and she began to talk with other parents and children about its portrayal of adolescence, Reed realised that there was an even split between the moms and dads who welcomed the film and those ("in denial") who detested it and told her her problems were attributable to irresponsible parenting. "But I didn't make this film so I could be anyone's therapist."

Reed had known Hardwicke since she was five years old, when the film-maker began dating her father. The two have remained close friends. Indeed, Hardwicke was the one person Reed never stopped trusting, even when her teen angst was at its worst. "She didn't fall into the whole jealousy/competitive vibe like the girls my age. I always knew I could go to her when I needed someone. I guess I just hit rock bottom and had absolutely nobody. Once again, Catherine was there to help me through it."

Reed and Hardwicke are working together on a new film, Lords Of Dogtown, about Californian skateboarding culture. She has also made another feature, Man Of God, which promises to be even more controversial than Thirteen. Directed by Jeffrey Levy and co-starring Peter Weller (of Robocop fame), this is a low-budget indie drama about a 15-year-old prostitute who falls in love with a rabbi in his early 50s. Making the film convinced Reed that she wanted to be a professional actress after all. But would she take a role in a big-budget Jerry Bruckheimer movie? "It has nothing to do with the budget. It has to do with the director and the script," she says, beginning to sound the typical, jaded film star. Change the subject back to Thirteen and her answers immediately become fresher.

In theory, Reed's story sounds like a teenage wish-fulfilment fantasy: write a movie, star in it, have your name all over the papers. The reality was far more mundane and unsettling. Her private life, and that of her family, was pored over by the media.

"I can't say that if I could take it back, I would do it in a different way, because we're OK now. But there were times when I would say 'Relax! You (the press) don't have to know every single thing about my mother's life, or her boyfriends, or what my brother does in the afternoon...'

Everyone just wanted to know the most personal things we did . I guess that got the film where it was, which was wonderful. But it was unfair along the way."

'Thirteen' is now available on video and DVD

Arts & Entertainment
TV

Arts & Entertainment
Customers browse through Vinyl Junkies record shop in Berwick Street, Soho, London
music

Arts & Entertainment
Who laughs lass: Jenny Collier on stage
ComedyCollier was once told there were "too many women" on bill
Arts & Entertainment
Ian Anderson, the leader of British rock band Jethro Tull, (right) and British guitar player Martin Barre (left) perform on stage
music

VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition iPad app?
Arts & Entertainment
Don (John Hamm) and Megan (Jessica Paré) Draper are going their separate ways in the final series of ‘Mad Men’
tvReview: The suits are still sharp, but Don Draper has lost his edge
Arts & Entertainment
James Franco and Chris O'Dowd in Of Mice and Men on Broadway
theatre

Review: Of Mice and Men

Arts & Entertainment
art

By opportunistic local hoping to exhibit the work

Arts & Entertainment
Leonardo DiCaprio will star in an adaptation of Michael Punke's thriller 'The Revenant'
film

Fans will be hoping the role finally wins him an Oscar

Arts & Entertainment
Cody and Paul Walker pictured in 2003.
film

Arts & Entertainment
Down to earth: Fern Britton presents 'The Big Allotment Challenge'
TV

Arts & Entertainment
The London Mozart Players is the longest-running chamber orchestra in the UK
musicThreatened orchestra plays on, managed by its own members
Arts & Entertainment
Seeing red: James Dean with Sal Mineo in 'Rebel without a Cause'
film

Arts & Entertainment
TV
Arts & Entertainment
Heads up: Andy Scott's The Kelpies in Falkirk
art

What do gigantic horse heads tell us about Falkirk?

Arts & Entertainment
artGraffiti legend posts picture of work – but no one knows where it is
Arts & Entertainment
A close-up of Tom of Finland's new Finnish stamp
art

Finnish Postal Service praises the 'self irony and humour' of the drawings

Arts & Entertainment
Pierce Brosnan as James Bond in 2002's Die Another Day
film

The actor has confessed to his own insecurities

Life & Style
Green fingers: a plot in East London
TV

Allotments are the focus of a new reality show

Arts & Entertainment
Myleene Klass attends the Olivier awards 2014

Oliviers 2014Theatre stars arrive at Britain's most prestigious theatre awards
Arts & Entertainment
Stars of The Book of Mormon by Trey Parker and Matt Stone of South Park

Oliviers 2014Blockbuster picked up Best Musical and Best Actor in a Musical
Arts & Entertainment
Lesley Manville with her Olivier for Best Actress for her role in 'Ghosts'

Oliviers 2014Actress thanked director Richard Eyre for a stunning production
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition iPad app?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    How I brokered a peace deal with Robert Mugabe: Roy Agyemang reveals the delicate diplomacy needed to get Zimbabwe’s President to sit down with the BBC

    How I brokered a peace deal with Robert Mugabe

    Roy Agyemang reveals the delicate diplomacy needed to get Zimbabwe’s President to sit down with the BBC
    Video of British Muslims dancing to Pharrell Williams's hit Happy attacked as 'sinful'

    British Muslims's Happy video attacked as 'sinful'

    The four-minute clip by Honesty Policy has had more than 300,000 hits on YouTube
    Church of England-raised Michael Williams describes the unexpected joys in learning about his family's Jewish faith

    Michael Williams: Do as I do, not as I pray

    Church of England-raised Williams describes the unexpected joys in learning about his family's Jewish faith
    A History of the First World War in 100 moments: A visit to the Front Line by the Prime Minister's wife

    A History of the First World War in 100 moments

    A visit to the Front Line by the Prime Minister's wife
    Comedian Jenny Collier: 'Sexism I experienced on stand-up circuit should be extinct'

    Jenny Collier: 'Sexism on stand-up circuit should be extinct'

    The comedian's appearance at a show on the eve of International Women's Day was cancelled because they had "too many women" on the bill
    Cannes Film Festival: Ken Loach and Mike Leigh to fight it out for the Palme d'Or

    Cannes Film Festival

    Ken Loach and Mike Leigh to fight it out for the Palme d'Or
    The concept album makes surprise top ten return with neolithic opus from Jethro Tull's Ian Anderson

    The concept album makes surprise top ten return

    Neolithic opus from Jethro Tull's Ian Anderson is unexpected success
    Lichen is the surprise new ingredient on fine-dining menus, thanks to our love of Scandinavian and Indian cuisines

    Lichen is surprise new ingredient on fine-dining menus

    Emily Jupp discovers how it can give a unique, smoky flavour to our cooking
    10 best baking books

    10 best baking books

    Planning a spot of baking this bank holiday weekend? From old favourites to new releases, here’s ten cookbooks for you
    Jury still out on Manchester City boss Manuel Pellegrini

    Jury still out on Pellegrini

    Draw with Sunderland raises questions over Manchester City manager's ability to motivate and unify his players
    Ben Stokes: 'Punching lockers isn't way forward'

    Ben Stokes: 'Punching lockers isn't way forward'

    The all-rounder has been hailed as future star after Ashes debut but incident in Caribbean added to doubts about discipline. Jon Culley meets a man looking to control his emotions
    Mark Johnston: First £1 million jackpot spurs him on

    Mark Johnston: First £1 million jackpot spurs him on

    The most prize money ever at an All-Weather race day is up for grabs at Lingfield on Friday, and the record-breaking trainer tells Jon Freeman how times have changed
    Ricky Gervais: 'People are waiting for me to fail. If you think it's awful, then just don't watch it'

    Ricky Gervais: 'People are waiting for me to fail'

    As the second series of his divisive sitcom 'Derek' hits screens, the comedian tells James Rampton why he'll never bow to the critics who habitually circle his work
    Mad Men series 7, TV review: The suits are still sharp, but Don Draper has lost his edge

    Mad Men returns for a final fling

    The suits are still sharp, but Don Draper has lost his edge
    Google finds a lift into space will never get off the ground as there is no material strong enough for a cable from Earth into orbit

    Google finds a lift into space will never get off the ground

    Technology giant’s scientists say there is no material strong enough for a cable from Earth into orbit