It wasn't so long ago that Evan Rachel Wood, now 26 years old, was just another teen star gone bad. The former child actress rocketed to fame with the 2003 indie hit Thirteen. She had the world at her feet. Then she decided to date shock rocker Marilyn Manson, who was 38 years old. She was 19. Wood is now married (to actor Jamie Bell) with a 4-month-old baby, but she vividly remembers the hurtful comments she received about her first real relationship. And it makes her feel for young stars like Miley Cyrus and Justin Bieber.
"People were pretty mean," Wood tells the Daily Beast. "At the time I hadn’t yet been exposed to that kind of cruelty from strangers. ... I was never a Bieber or a Cyrus, but I think the judgment was there, sure."
A Belieber herself, Wood says she "can't imagine" the pressure Justin is under right now. "When you’re a teenager in an adult career, people expect you to be perfect and expect you to never make mistakes or to be a reckless teenager. And then when you are, they give you such a really hard time for it," she reflects. "You have to remind them that you’re still a kid."
It's true that Bieber, 19, and Cyrus, 20, are very young. If you believe the adage that celebrities remain emotionally "frozen" at the age they were when they became famous -- well, that makes them younger still. In many ways, Bieber's juvenile pranks (and bad-boy behavior) and Miley's sexual posturing are exactly the same things other young adults are doing, just on a much bigger scale.
We all want our favorite celebrities (and especially our kids' favorite celebrities) to be good people. But even good people make bad decisions, especially when they're young and trying to figure out their identities. That process has got to be extra hard when the press is judging your every move. Growing up in the public eye can be its own kind of torture.
Then again, the problem isn't really that Justin and Miley are making people angry. The problem is that their antics are headline news, which means we overestimate how much they matter. Miley's twerking is not the end of civilization. Bieber is not going to lead an entire generation of fans into the gutter. They're just kids growing up, and that's how we should be seeing them.
"If people were wondering why I was acting so-called crazy or like a teenager, it’s because I was," Wood says now. "People go through phases. People make mistakes. People go through life and don’t get it right every time. ... Like, do people remember when they were that age?"