Since director Terrence Malick is as reclusive as J. D. Salinger and star Colin Farrell is in rehab (painkillers), the responsibility for publicity for The New World has fallen to 15-year-old Q'Orianka Kilcher. Fitting, since Kilcher plays Pocahontas, the symbolic bridge between two worlds in the epic film. Kilcher, who's part Quechua Huachipaeri Indian from Peru and part Swiss, is a screen natural. For much of the film's two-hours-plus running time, the stunning landscape competes with her strong, determined jaw and knowing eyes for the audience's attention. Kilcher usually wins. In person, she's a bit earnest - but no more so than any other 15-year-old home-schooled aspiring musician who had never even heard of Colin Farrell before making the film.
How do you stay grounded? My family. They don't care if I'm successful in show business. They really care if I'm successful as a human being. My agent looks after me, too.
Confession time. Who's hotter - Colin Farrell or Christian Bale? Honestly, I was so immersed in my character, and that determined how I was with both of them. With Colin's character it was more of a fiery, young, immature, selfish love. With Christian it was more of a giving, thoughtful love.
What did you draw on to get those emotions? I really couldn't draw on anything except the script and the history of this amazing woman. Pocahontas was a visionary of peace who was far ahead of her time. I admired her courage and ability to dream big. As the character grew, I felt I grew with her.
You shun the trappings of Hollywood glamour, yet you're wearing a pretty amazing outfit. My mom got this jacket for $2 at a second-hand store. And I made my shirt and pants.
For the film's premiere, you went to Payless for a pair of shoes. Now that you can afford nice clothes, why not buy them? There's nothing bad or wrong about wearing designer clothes. But I could never wear a $10,000 dress on a red carpet. I could do so many other things with that money. For instance, I could start a music school in Peru, which is one of my goals.
You beat out 800 other actors for the role. What do you say to them? Don't get discouraged. Keep on going to acting classes and reaching for your dreams. Don't take it too seriously.
You've had your own setbacks. You had your sound equipment stolen, which led to both an L.A. Times newspaper story and a call from a William Morris agent. Do you believe in fate? Every day I become a stronger believer that things happen for a reason.
What did you think of Disney's Pocahontas? Great for younger kids, but The New World is more complex and realistic. It shows the hard birthing pains of a nation.
Did you try to get one of your songs performed on the soundtrack? That's me playing the flute in some sections.
You're Jewel's third cousin. Take me through the family tree. She's my grandmother's brother's daughter. But I've never met her. She's never been in contact with that part of her family.