Transport yourself, if you will,” Kate Bosworth says in a soothing voice that sounds like she’s rehearsing lines for the role of a yoga instructor or spa attendant. The 33-year-old actress is calmly looking at her view of northwest Montana from her living room couch, trying to describe the family of mountains in front of her. “We’re near Glacier Park,” she says of the remote piece of land on which her property sits (her primary residence is in L.A., where she lives in a mid-century home with her husband, Michael Polish). “We’re surrounded by trees and a lake that has pure glacial water…everything that is L.A. and New York—that busy, chaotic and manic energy—falls away completely when I’m here,” she says. “It’s truly my favourite place on earth.” Minutes before our phone call, Bosworth was enjoying some rare do-nothing time. Her agenda included snacking on cherries and cookies, listening to folk music on her antique jukebox and casually flipping through furniture catalogues.
This slice of serenity is far from her norm. The actress has been longing for some downtime ever since she wrapped Before I Wake (she stars alongside Room’s Jacob Tremblay), a horror movie that’s scheduled to hit theatres Sept. 9. She also finished filming her star spots on two TV shows: a Second World War mystery series called SS-GB and the second season of The Art of More. On the latter show, which was filmed in Montreal, Bosworth plays icy Roxanna Whitman, a highly competitive auction house exec. She describes the fierce-as-Frida-Kahlo character as a “femme fatale” and “manipulative.” Comparing Whitman to Bosworth is like comparing apples to elephants, but she has been able to find some common ground with her caustic character. “When it comes to my career, being vindictive or harsh doesn’t suit me or anyone else that I work with at all,” she explains. “But you can find her resolve and passion in a lot of what I do.”
Bosworth’s onscreen roles — be it Julianne Moore’s or Robert De Niro’s daughters in Still Alice and Heist — are the kind of Type A characters she’s had a lot of experience playing. At the tender age of 15, Bosworth made her debut riding a champion thoroughbred in The Horse Whisperer, in which she acted alongside Kristin Scott Thomas, Scarlett Johansson and Robert Redford (who directed the movie). At 19, she took on the role of rising surf savant Anne Marie in Blue Crush, a.k.a. the movie that had agents begging to represent her. The anti-Baywatch, the film was based on the 1998 article about young women in Maui who ride the waves (written by Susan Orlean) and went on to motivate a new generation of thrill-seeking board babes and even designers, such as Tommy Hilfiger, who were deeply inspired by Bosworth’s neoprene wardrobe.
Off-screen, Bosworth’s influence on fashion is far more potent. Aside from past side hustles as the face of Calvin Klein Jeans and Coach, it is her red carpet and social media moments that have trend followers living for her looks. Her Instagram account, @katebosworth, jumps from being subtle to glamorous with each scroll and is so fastidiously curated that most of the posts look like a series of outtakes from magazine shoots. The feed includes a shot of Bosworth in a freshly fitted Jason Wu dress on the streets of New York, a black and white pic of her new Burberry boots and a slow-motion video of her stunning Met Ball look (which included a Grecian-style Dolce & Gabbana gown replete with bejewelled laurel wreath). In fact, Bosworth’s Insta feed is more fashion-conscious than most models’ accounts. Unlike many actresses who would rather walk on hot coals than endure another red carpet, Bosworth treats clothes as signifiers and symbols.
When it comes to dressing up, I don’t have any anxiety at all—it’s actually something I really enjoy,” Bosworth says. “It’s the quickest way to communicate a feeling — culturally and individually, clothing can represent something about our time or what is going on inside us. Fashion is the most immediate way to see something evolve.” What she pulls out of her closet is influenced by emotion and geography. “In New York and Paris, I can push the envelope in terms of fashion,” she says. “I can be riskier with my choices there. The type of choices you see on the streets there are more bold in terms of expression. L.A. is more casual; I pull back a little bit in terms of what I wear.” She also urges people to get to know their own shape. “I’ll look at someone like Beyoncé and say, ‘That dress is so amazing on her,’ but I know that my body type is completely different. I have more of a boyish figure, so anything that’s too loose or shapeless isn’t the most flattering for me.”
While Bosworth is aware that her outfits create a storm of likes and follows, the actress is on the fence about the popularity contests the online world encourages. “This need for approval is too overwhelming and it’s debilitating on social media—it is so much more accelerated now than when I started out,” she says. “When I was about 21, I remember reading comments about me that were horrifying. I felt like I was standing in a roomful of people that were talking mean-spiritedly about me. It was then that I made a conscious decision to stay away from that negativity.”
Although she’s been in the limelight for nearly 15 years and has starred in blockbusters such as Superman Returns, Bosworth has still managed to keep TMZ-leeching attention away from her. Her time spent in Montana seems like part of her big plan to recalibrate and reassess her goals.
In many ways, Bosworth feels that Hollywood is going through a makeover, spurred by the rise of streaming and the increase of independent projects that are making waves on big and small screens. She and Polish are taking advantage of the sea change, producing an upcoming series about a contract gun for hire slated to be called The Kill (in which she may be starring).
“Part of what I find interesting right now is this world of immediacy and the ease with which we swipe from one topic to another,” she says. “I’m trying to figure out what it means to be a kid or a teen right now—like my 18-year-old stepdaughter—who can read an article on the wildflowers in Montana and then swipe to how many gay men were killed by ISIS. How do we really process that properly when it is paired and presented in this simple platform? I wonder how much it is settling. If it’s not settling, then what does it mean to be an unsettled culture?”
Although many of these questions still need answers, Bosworth is sure that the next generation has the upper hand. A lot of this has to do with the way women are portrayed on film. “In the past, there have definitely been some moments when I’ve had [movie] executives ask, ‘Can the hemline be raised on her skirt?’” she says. “It was frustrating, but things are changing.”
“Nowadays [younger people] are raised on really good TV…and because of good scripts, there’s a positive movement materializing with mature, more complex female characters. Like a lot of people, I think feminism is a call for equality. It will continue to grow only if it is being discussed.”
When it comes to taking stock of her aspirations, Bosworth has identified her personal priorities—many of which eclipse all the hype and adulation that come with premieres, followers, fans or box office sales. “At the end of my life, the thing I’m going to ask myself is, ‘Did I love really well? Was I loved well?’ Those are the things that are most important to me,” she says. “If I feel like I’m successful in those two things, then I think I’ve lived a pretty happy life.”
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