Carla Gugino is one of those actresses who has appeared everywhere, it seems, across the stage and screen. But, while you can't always peg what you know her from, she wouldn't have it any other way. "I've never really been that interested in branding myself and being known for one thing," the actress tells Yahoo Style. "I love it when someone loves something that I do and recognizes me for that, but I think more than anything, from the very beginning when I started at 13, I've always wanted to be a transformative actor and disappear into my characters to allow those human beings to come to life." Known for roles as diverse as Vince's sexpot of an agent in "Entourage," the espionage-savvy mother in the "Spy Kids" trilogy, and Lucille in "Sin City," Gugino continues to flourish in her ability to hop into a myriad of characters. Her latest undertakings include the role of secret service agent Kate Hewson opposite Matt Dillon on the Fox thriller, "Wayward Pines," and the Rock's wife in the disaster film "San Andreas," which took in an astounding $53 million dollars on its opening weekend.
Here, the multidimensional star tells us about hanging from helicopters, her worst fashion faux pas, and why she feels "sexy" about her decision not to tie the knot.
Yahoo Style: What attracted you to the role in "Wayward Pines" ?
Carla Gugino: In talking with everybody about the project, what I was so intrigued by was there are definitely sci-fi elements and yet, as with any good sci-fi, it should feel very timely with what is going on in the world right now. So I feel like what we uncover in this town of Wayward Pines alludes to many things that could happen in our own lives. What I love also is there's a huge twist and the characters are really juicy and fun to play.
YS: You also have "San Andreas" out now. Was it terrifying to make?
CG: I just saw it, and it's so good and terrifying. I was sitting there watching with my boyfriend and my manager. I think one, if not both of them, cried. And my manager was literally jumping on me physically. I was as terrified as he was, and I was in the movie! You are on the edge of your seat. I did a ton of my own stunts, and that was scary but very exciting. I did more stunts than I've ever done.
YS: What kind of stunts?
CG: There's a point where a bunch of floors drop out underneath me, so I did it all on wires. You have to basically hit the floor but hit the floor not so hard that you break something, obviously. They really work these wires as you're falling, but you really have to trust completely. I did some hanging-from-helicopter stuff. I did some running across buildings, a lot of falls. We did a little bit of tank work, which was really exciting and scary to do.
YS: How do you feel about putting this movie out into this world? Will we all be paranoid about earthquakes after seeing it?
CG: I think the truth of the matter is, as much as we'd like to think we control Mother Nature, she controls us. We have no control over it. I definitely prefer my earthquakes in the safe environment of a movie theater. I think people can go in and have the bejesus scared out of them, but they can walk out and know that everything will still be standing. You don't necessarily expect what you do get with this movie, which are very strong female characters and really moving story lines. Dwayne [Johnson] and my character are married, but we are in the process of separation because we had two daughters and one of them died in a rafting accident, and he wasn't able to save her. In the midst of this earthquake hitting, we start to heal the relationship - and not in a corny or a cliché way; more in a way of if you think you may die tomorrow, there's no room for anything but the truth. I felt very much that way when I was in New York during 9/11. I lived in an apartment where I could see the towers. The thing about that morning, aside from just the horror of everything, is just all the little things. You're like, "Why do we sweat all the little things?" It really is about who we love and how we love and loving what we do. So that gave me, along with many people I know, a great deal of perspective. And in this film, these characters are given a great deal of perspective.
YS: What is it like getting into costume and dressing up to play a character? I'd imagine that you get the script and you read the lines, but it doesn't really come together until you are in their clothes.
CG: That's really true actually. I often will find, if I'm in a fitting, that those are the moments with the costume designer when I start to know who the person is. Sometimes I'll put something on that doesn't work - and it might even be something that I personally really like - but all of a sudden I don't feel like that person. Then you'll put on a pair of shoes or a hat or a belt or a watch – it can be the smallest thing that becomes the key to building your character. It could be something like choosing a necklace, like in the case of "San Andreas." There was a really beautiful necklace that had this tiny rainbow that was in all of these different precious jewels. I loved it so much. The director saw it, and there was a sense that maybe there was this kind of hopefulness that it portrayed that was not quite where my character is at in the beginning of the movie. It's those little tiny things.
YS: Has a character ever influenced your real-life style?
CG: Definitely. Sometimes I'll do a project and three months later will be wearing similar things. Like if a character wore things like pencil jeans, high suede boots, and turtlenecks, I'll find myself for months afterward somehow in that zone. And then I'm like, "Wait a minute. I'm not that character anymore!"
YS: What are some of your best and worst fashion moments?
CG: Dolce & Gabbana has always done really right by me. I think maybe it's my Italian heritage. So I have a couple of favorites over the years of things that I've worn of theirs. But in terms of the bad ones, I would say that there was one time that a makeup artist ended up doing my foundation so pale and my eye makeup was so strong and I had a red lip, and when I looked at the pictures I looked like a Kabuki dancer. I don't know what happened. It didn't look like that when I left the house, but I think I looked about 40 years older than I was. And one time in a terribly embarrassing moment, I was wearing a beautiful Diane von Furstenberg pantsuit, and it was so gorgeous, but it was a very humid night in New York, and when I was looking at the pictures later I literally had rings of sweat under my arms. I learned my lesson: Don't wear things that show sweat if you have a long night.
YS: Do you have any style vices?
CG: I'm not into the crop tops. I never have been at any point. I don't even have to say that it bugs me that much when someone else wears them because some people look good in them, but definitely they are not my thing. Only since I've been living in New York can you get me in a flat. I was always a high-heel girl, but now that I live in New York full time, I gotta walk. So now I feel like I'm discovering an entirely new species of shoes.
YS: What is something we'd be surprised to know about your fashion?
CG: I have a really hard time letting go of my favorite T-shirts. I end up really wearing them to the point of embarrassment. I have one right now that I got from my favorite hotel in Austin, Hotel Saint Cecilia. They make these fantastic T-shirts with this peacock on them and they are just supercool, and I've gone through about three of them. But the one that I have now, pretty much the left sleeve is coming off of it, and my boyfriend looked at me and he's like, "I think you gotta throw it away. I think it's not even you can sleep in it anymore. I think it's gotta go."
YS: You've mentioned in the past that you don't see marriage being in the cards for you. Is that still the case, and do you get a lot of flak about not conforming to the social norms of matrimony?
CG: I love marriage for people that it works for, and I've gone to some exquisite weddings for best friends and family, but I was just never the young girl who really wanted to marry. It wasn't a big dream of mine. And it has nothing to do with commitment. I think there's something sexy about being not married. There is something about the feeling that you're, in my case, boyfriend and girlfriend, and you can kind of come and go as you please. I say that having been in a very long-term relationship where there's a lot of commitment, but I think either one of us - if it really mattered to the other person - I think one of us would [get married]. It's not that I have a huge phobia or anti-marriage thing or anything like that. It just has never seemed necessary to me. I guess the only reason I would do it at this point is because of some kind of societal pressure, and that hasn't been enough. I was asked a lot more at some point in my life, and Sebastian, my boyfriend, was asked, "When are you going to put the ring on her finger?" And I think now people have just given up - "They're not gonna do it!" We joke about maybe if we're still together when we're 60, we're like, "Let's have a great party and no one will know, but we'll just turn it into a wedding. Let's just get married." That's the only way that I feel like I could do it ... to make it like a superfestive reason to get all of our loved ones together.
Photography by We are the Rhoads
Styling by Nicolas Klam
Hair by Mark Townsend
Make-up by Vanessa Scali
Set Design by Owl and the Elephant