Native New Yorker and actress Julia Stiles, known for such films as 10 Things I Hate About You, Save the Last Dance and Mona Lisa Smile, actually began her career performing in New York theater. We sat down with her to talk about her performance and to get her insider tips for travelers visiting the city.
Q: What was it like growing up in New York City?
A: I am so happy that I grew up here, although I don't know anything different. When I was a child I would complain that we didn't have a backyard. But as a teenager, it provided such a culturally rich environment: it was so great to have the independence to just get on the subway and go to museums, shows and so many other things at your fingertips. What is great about the city is that you are surrounded by so many different people; you are just exposed to so much. Different races, different socio-economic groups. I also find it refreshing that in NYC, there are people involved in so many different professions, compared to LA. Here, too, you can walk outside on any given day and something bizarre will happen. The city is entertainment.
Q: What are your favorite places?
A: I am more comfortable on the East Side, but I am finding that exploring Brooklyn has been really fun. The waterfront by Dumbo and Brooklyn Heights is really pretty. I have spent time in Fort Greene. My friend has a restaurant there, Colonia Verde, Latin American food. Another place that never fails me is Cafe Mogador, which is Mediterranean, also in Brooklyn. I am partial to Angelica Kitchen; for something a little fancy, East 12th Osteria. As far as shopping, there are lots of great boutiques in the East Village and on the Lower East Side: There’s a store on Elizabeth Street called Love Adorned, where you can get things for your house. And then there is a fun vintage store that has a “shrine” devoted to a former Playboy bunny whose designs they sold, Dusty Buttons, on E. 9th Street. There are so many things at your fingertips here!
Her Perfect NYC Day
Morning: Jog by the River
"When you live in NYC, there is really no 'typical' day," Stiles admits, "but In the morning, I often go running along the East River: Running down the bike path there is great, with views of the Brooklyn Bridge, jungle gyms, and all kinds of people walking around. "
Afternoon: Books and Bites
"A lot of times in the afternoon I catch up with friends or go for a walk, just wandering all over the city. [I will] explore another neighborhood (other than the Lower East Side) or walk over the Brooklyn Bridge and observe things in Brooklyn. If I am at home, after checking emails and being on the phone, I might read a little bit, if I’m not with friends. There is a cute place for lunch in the East Village, where they don’t rush you, called Ciao for Now."
Evening: Parks and Clubs
"In the evening, I often go out to dinner with friends, or I might see a play," Stiles says. "There are outdoor movies in the summer, one that rotates around Downtown. I really enjoy that. Or, I might go uptown to Central Park and wander around there. Just random adventures. There‘s another great thing here and that is that there is so much public art. The Picasso sculpture ['Sylvette'] between Bleecker and Houston, is pretty remarkable. And there is beautiful sculpture on the top of Central Park, at 110th St. I might go check out Prospect Park, too. And love going to hear live music. I live near Mercury Lounge, and there’s also Baby’s All Right in Brooklyn.