Juliette Lewis is back – and ready for an encore. She tells Gill Pringle about dating Brad Pitt, ‘divorcing’ her parents and why she’s nothing like ‘that Lady Gaga character’
Fifteen years ago the actress I am meeting for lunch in a low-key Los Angeles café would have arrived followed by a trail of paparazzi.
Back then she ticked all the celebrity boxes: she’d dated Brad Pitt; been nominated for an Oscar when just 17; done time in rehab; become a Scientologist …
But no one spills their latte as Juliette Lewis parks her SUV across the street, scurries across four lanes of highway and then tosses her keys on the table, breathlessly apologising for being late.
In an industry where fame is often the paramount objective it is hard to name another actress who willingly jumped off the A-list bus, exchanging the glamorous red-carpet lifestyle to toil in semi-obscurity in pursuit of a private dream.
‘I’ve never really cared if I was famous for my music. It was just something I had to do,’ explains Lewis, 37.
For the past seven years she has been fronting a punk-rock outfit called Juliette and the Licks, performing angry, energetic songs with names like Junkyard Heart and Suicide Dive Bombers in front of double-figure crowds.
Spending months shuttling between tiny venues on a beaten-up tour bus is quite a contrast to the years of luxury trailers and million-dollar pay cheques.
When we meet, Lewis has just returned home to Los Angeles, not 24 hours after performing at a party in Paris. Far from being jet-lagged, she radiates nervous energy.
She talks so fast that sentences spill over each other, punctuated by throaty laughter so raucous it rattles the cups and plates on our table. Frequently she concludes her excited speeches with an exclamation of ‘that was a long-ass way of saying it!’