Unless you've recently lauded our current administration to someone who just got laid off, it's unlikely you've encountered the level of vitriol you'll find on the message board of Kate Bosworth's imdb.com page. A typical sampling: "She has the face and the body of a caveman I swear!"; "Let's get together and pray for her death"; "She's a soggy dog."
The subject of this comically overheated chatter is happily oblivious to it, since she doesn't own a computer. "Technology kind of scares the hell out of me," Bosworth says, sounding more like a member of the Typesetters Union than a 20-year-old It Girl. "The one time I did do the Internet it was, like, too much. It's just, like, this huge world and I felt that I would never be able to get a grasp on it."
Throughout her short career—which started in 1998 with a small role in The Horse Whisperer and hit commercial saturation last summer when she was the lead bikini babe in the Title IX surfing flick Blue Crush—Bosworth has spun variations on the role of pure-hearted naïf against a harsh, uncaring world. This month she finally brings a little emotional resonance to the routine with Wonderland, in which she stars as Dawn Schiller, the teenage girlfriend of legendary porn star John Holmes (played by Val Kilmer). The film takes place in 1981, when Holmes' Homeric cock had been rendered all but useless by his epic freebasing. His drug connections entangled him in one of L.A.'s most brutal murders since the days of Charlie Manson, a quadruple bludgeoning on Wonderland Avenue in Laurel Canyon.
"I had been looking for something with a little more depth and darkness, and this just came along," Bosworth says, folded up like an expensive cell phone on a plump hotel couch. Ballistic Berry Bubble Yum has temporarily dyed her tongue the same shade of blue as her right eye (a rare aberration gives her left iris a golden sheen). The gum, apparently, is part of her ongoing project of "making sure I do at least one silly or stupid thing every single day."
"I really responded to the character,"she continues. "Dawn is like this innocent young soul in this fucked-up world beyond her control." Though she prides herself on her research, Bosworth did not prepare for Wonderland by renting a stack of Johnny Wadd videos. "Actually, I've never watched any porn," she says, blushing, which she does often and to great effect. Instead, she became a kind of therapist for the real Dawn Schiller, now Dawn Schiller-Bristol, a mother and legal secretary in Oregon and an associate producer on the film. "I ended up crying a lot, and I really felt comfortable doing that in front of her," Schiller-Bristol says. "On our second meeting she handed me—I'm holding it now—a rose-quartz heart and said, 'I want you to know, I will do everything I can to respect your character.'"