Cal­i­for­nia dream­ing

ELLE (Canada) - - Celebrity - By Kathryn Hud­son Pho­tographs by Max Aba­dian

She was born into the spot­light, but the un­tame­able Emma Roberts is earn­ing her own place in Hol­ly­wood.

Emma Rober ts is hunched over her coral

iPhone, which looks like it has been run over by a mon­ster truck and is be­ing held to­gether with tape. She’s tweet­ing with fans. Ques­tions from around the world are shoot­ing over like flares. “Do you like pick­les?” asks a fol­lower, which makes the 23-year-old ac­tress laugh be­fore she scrolls past. (She later pulls out her dog-eared copy of Ask the Dust to check the ti­tle be­fore an­swer­ing a very ex­cited Bri­tish girl’s query of what she’s read­ing.)

We are in Los An­ge­les and have spent the day shoot­ing ELLE Canada’s first live cover. The ex­cite­ment that comes with do­ing some­thing ex­per­i­men­tal is still crack­ling in the air. It’s fit­ting that we’re forg­ing into the dig­i­tal fu­ture with Roberts—niece of Ju­lia—be­cause she might just be the ul­ti­mate em­bod­i­ment of mod­ern Hol­ly­wood: She’s out­spo­ken, fiercely stylish, glued to her so­cial me­dia, friends with fel­low for­mer child star Mi­ley Cyrus and, above all, sur­pris­ingly tal­ented.

Born in New York to no­to­ri­ously stormy ac­tor Eric Roberts and his then girl­friend Kelly Cun­ning­ham, Roberts cut her act­ing teeth on projects like Nick­elodeon’s Un­fab­u­lous in 2004 and Nancy Drew be­fore branch­ing out to flicks like We’re the Millers and Amer­i­can Hor­ror Story ( AHS). In fact, she has done a lot of grow­ing up over the past few years. She fell for AHS co-star Evan Peters and then, last year in Mon­treal, had a fight with him that led to the ac­tress be­ing ar­rested on sus­pi­cion of as­sault. (She was re­leased with­out charge the next day.) When asked about the in­ci­dent, she merely shakes her head, un­will­ing, or un­able, to talk about it.

Roberts’ rocky en­try into adult­hood makes her per­form­ance in Palo Alto es­pe­cially mov­ing. In the film, based on James Franco’s book of the same ti­tle, the ac­tress plays a teen who is con­fused about what she wants and what it means to grow up. Her char­ac­ter, April, is caught up in an af­fair with her much older soc­cer coach, played by Franco. “You’re young,” he says to her in the film. “You don’t know why you do things.”

It was a role Roberts had to have. “I read James Franco’s book the day it came out. I fell in love with it,” she says with a smile. “It cap­tures youth in a very hon­est and strange way that a lot of books seem scared to do.” But first-time di­rec­tor Gia Cop­pola had al­ready cast the part. Roberts was crushed, un­til her phone rang one morn­ing. “I’d gone out on Hal­loween and stayed out re­ally late,” she ex­plains with a laugh. “I got wo­ken up by my house phone. My man­ager said, ‘Some­one fell through on Palo Alto. Can you go and meet Gia right now?’ I was still half in my cat cos­tume from the night be­fore and jumped out of bed into the shower. I was like, ‘I’m go­ing, I’m go­ing!’ A week or so later, we were on set!” She laughs in a way that im­plies she’s happy but not sur­prised by the out­come. She tucks away her iPhone as we sit down to talk about her com­pelling life.

What were your teenage years like? “It’s funny...I turned 23 this year and I don’t think I re­al­ized I wasn’t a teenager un­til then. It feels like a week ago. My teenage years were fun and in­ter­est­ing be­cause I had such a dif­fer­ent life from most peo­ple. I was work­ing, and I spent so much time in New York. The city was amaz­ing, and it was the be­gin­ning of my adult life. I’m feel­ing nos­tal­gic now! But my lit­tle sis­ter just turned 13—she has be­come this angsty teenager who has such at­ti­tude to­ward me and my mom. I feel so bad. Now I know what my mom went through with me! My lit­tle sis­ter will be like, h

‘With my friends—bye.’ I’m like, ‘Wait, I’m cool! Talk to me on the phone!’” [Laughs] Do you have ad­vice for her? “Now I’m telling my mom not to let her go to par­ties! [Laughs] My only ad­vice is ‘Don’t let other kids tell you who you are be­cause that car­ries over into your adult life. Some peo­ple just aren’t good peo­ple to be around.’” It can take a long time to learn that les­son. “I think I’m still learn­ing it. I had friends for 10 years that I had a fall­ing out with and now don’t speak to. It’s hard in your early 20s be­cause ev­ery­one’s go­ing on their own path and friend­ships just fall apart. I’ve known one of my best girl­friends since I was 11 and we still talk ev­ery day, but oth­ers just don’t last. I used to make fun of my par­ents for not hav­ing friends. Now I see why! It’s hard to find au­then­tic peo­ple to keep in your life.”

Is it true that your mom didn’t want you to go into show busi­ness?

“She just didn’t want me to go into it young. When you come from a fam­ily that’s in the in­dus­try, they’re al­ways like, ‘Be a doc­tor! Be a lawyer!’ But we

Some­times I fan­ta­size about delet­ing my Twit­ter.

end up want­ing to be ac­tors. Gia and I were talk­ing about that—we love sto­ry­telling and movies. I re­mem­ber feel­ing that magic when I was, like, seven, vis­it­ing my aunt Ju­lia on set. I would go into the wardrobe room and try ev­ery­thing on. It felt spe­cial.” What movie sets did you visit when you were a kid? “There’s a Po­laroid of me wear­ing one of my aunt’s out­fits from Erin Brock­ovich and it looked like I had huge boobs. [Laughs] Then I was on Amer­ica’s Sweet­hearts, which they were shoot­ing at a ho­tel that had a wa­ter­slide. It’s funny the things you re­mem­ber. I was in the back­ground of one scene wear­ing a pur­ple shirt, and I thought I was so cool.” Did Ju­lia give you ad­vice when you were start­ing out? “No. No one said any­thing to me about act­ing be­cause they hoped it would just be a phase. But I kept do­ing it!” It seems like you have a very clear sense of self. “I’ve al­ways been very opin­ion­ated. That’s what comes from be­ing raised by a sin­gle mother. My mom al­ways in­stilled con­fi­dence and told me to have an opin­ion and to ed­u­cate my­self. But I def­i­nitely have my days. I was cry­ing yes­ter­day be­cause I jumped on the tram­po­line and sprained my foot and was feel­ing ner­vous about the shoot to­day and got some bad news. I was sit­ting with my foot up, ic­ing it, and be­ing so up­set. Then I woke up to­day and was like, ‘Let’s do it dif­fer­ently.’ There are days when your hair is look­ing great and you feel de­ter­mined—then the next day you’re like, ‘My horo­scope’s bad, my hair’s bad, I don’t want to get out of bed.’” [Laughs]

Speak­ing of ed­u­ca­tion, you started at Sarah Lawrence Col­lege in New York and then left. Do you in­tend to go

back? “I thought I would for a while. It’s never too late, but I love trav­el­ling and read­ing. That’s kind of the school that I want to be in: the school of life. Be­sides, I’m so bad with dead­lines—I’m the worst.” You’re a pro­cras­ti­na­tor? “I’m such a pro­cras­ti­na­tor. I put off clean­ing. I’m not re­ally messy, but it’s or­ga­nized chaos. I’ll have a pair of shorts un­der a huge pile of clothes, and if my mom folds them, I’ll be like, ‘Mom, where are the shorts un­der the pile of clothes?’” Do you live on your own? “No, I live with my fi­ancé!” How did the pro­posal hap­pen? “That’s some­thing I want to keep more pri­vate, be­cause there’s noth­ing worse than when you talk about a re­la­tion­ship and then ev­ery­body feels en­ti­tled to ask about it. It’s the only thing I can kind of keep pri­vate, and it’s nice to have that.” Do you have much pri­vacy, re­ally? “Amer­i­can Hor­ror Story was so fun be­cause we shot in New Or­leans. We worked our butts off, but af­ter­wards we’d go party or on a swamp tour. In New Or­leans, you can be more anonym­ous. We were just gal­li­vant­ing through the streets and danc­ing. It was nice not to worry about pa­parazzi.”

How do you deal with the pres­sure that can come with so­cial me­dia?

“My New Year’s res­o­lu­tion was to live more in the mo­ment in­stead of In­sta­gram­ming it. I love so­cial me­dia as much as the next per­son, but it’s im­por­tant to know when to put your phone down. I went to Santa Ynez [Cal­i­for­nia] and it was nice to ac­tu­ally get in the pool—not just take a pic­ture of get­ting in the pool, you know?” It’s ad­dic­tive. “When­ever I’m away from my phone, I get anx­i­ety. But it’s just a habit; it’s not real. Some­times I fan­ta­size about delet­ing my Twit­ter.” So many peo­ple would be up­set. “One day I re­ally just want to throw my iPhone in the ocean. But maybe just for a week.” [Laughs]

I know you’re re­ally so­cia­ble, but it sounds like you crave alone time.

“When I first got to New Or­leans, I was there by my­self and I was so scared that my place was haunted. This woman in town told me to leave out an of­fer­ing of salt, so I put some down­stairs and was like, ‘If any­one’s here, please, I’m such a scaredy-cat, leave me alone!’” What are you look­ing for­ward to? “I don’t want to jinx it, but this has been one of those weirdly amaz­ing years so far. I don’t know what the en­ergy is with 2014, but there’s just some­thing in the air. Things have worked out in a way that feels be­yond my con­trol. There’s some­thing re­ally cool about that!” n

Rub­ber neck­laces (BCBGen­er­a­tion)

Top and skirt (Jeremy Scott), sheer skirt (Osklen), neck­lace (Lan­vin) and bracelet (BCBGen­er­a­tion)

Swim­suit, cardi­gan and back­pack (Chanel), neck­lace (Lan­vin), socks (Falke) and san­dals (Giuseppe Zan­otti)

Blazer, top, skirt, belt, socks and shoes (Saint Lau­rent) and ring (El­iz­a­beth and James). For de­tails, see Shop­ping Guide. Stylist, Is­abel Dupré (LaLaLand Artists); hair, Mark Townsend (Star­works Artists); makeup, Brigitte Reiss-An­der­sen (The Wall Group/N

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