Jena Malone was homeless as a child, calls the experience ‘glorious’

Jena Malone

Jena Malone has a new interview with the Daily Beast to discuss her role in Paul Thomas Anderson’s Inherent Vice.” She plays a reformed heroin addict (with a set of false teeth) who’s trying to blend in with society. Jena told the Beast about how she met PTA when she was a teenager and didn’t know who he was. She must have made an impression, for he personally called her up to offer this role.

A lot of people don’t like Jena because she hustles so much. She’s really good at putting herself out there, and she’s often rewarded for her gusto. She’s probably playing a female Robin in Batman vs. Superman. As much of a mess as DC/Warner Bros. are with their superhero movies right now, this is still a good career move for Jena. Her first words to this journo appear to be “I’m a total weirdo,” which is a little too quirky for my tastes. But hearing about Jena’s childhood makes me understand her drive a bit more:

She met Paul Thomas Anderson when she was 17: “To be honest, I didn’t even recognize him. He was bearded, and I was so young. We talked about movies and had this great conversation, and at the end he was like, ‘It was nice to meet you … I’m Paul.’ And I thought, ‘Wait … is that Paul Thomas Anderson?’ I had a big fangirl moment, and thought I’d never see him again.” Then, last year, she received a call from Anderson: “Hey, do you remember when we met over ten years ago?”

Her Vice character: “It’s like the death of this dream of free love.”

Her view on drugs: “If you’re using them responsibly, drug experiences can be very eye-opening. It’s really just about the intentions that you put into it.”

She was raised by two women: “They were lovers. I had two moms, and it was awesome. Double the pleasure! The more love you have as a child, the better.”

Her homeless days of youth: “We were just so poor. We’d hop out of apartments, lose jobs, find a cheaper place, get kicked out, live in cars, and live in hotels. It was glorious. I don’t think it was a tough childhood. I actually found it quite pleasurable, and it prepared me for this strange, gypsy lifestyle of an actor. It’s a beautiful thing to give children diversity of where to live and how to live; it makes you believe that security is built within instead of four concrete walls that you call a home. It was a unique way to grow up, and to see life in a different way.”

She emancipated herself at 15: “I wanted to be an adult, and I felt I’d already been an adult for a very long time.”

Her athletic, tough-girl roles: “It’s not a place that I naturally live in. I’m much more klutzy, soft-spoken, and responsible.”

Her current streak of success: “It’s a really inspiring time, so it always makes me thankful to think of how I was raised, the things I was given, and the lessons I was taught, because it all becomes who you are. It’s been an incredible journey, and I feel very blessed.”

[From Daily Beast]

Jena sounds like a tough chick in the truest sense. I can’t fathom how she doesn’t consider her childhood to be difficult and rough. Homelessness sounds like the scariest thing in the entire world to me. Jena also talks about how she got her first job at age 10 because she wanted to help pay the bills. After all that she went through, it makes sense that she’d consider herself an adult at age 15.

Jena Malone

Jena Malone

Photos courtesy of WENN

You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.

39 Responses to “Jena Malone was homeless as a child, calls the experience ‘glorious’”

Comments are Closed

We close comments on older posts to fight comment spam.

  1. Mmhmm says:

    I like her. She seems like she’d be fun to hang around and isn’t self obsessed.

  2. bettyrose says:

    Wait, how did she land a starring film role at the age of 10 if they were homeless? Doesn’t that require agents, head shots, hyper-focused momagers? Anyway, I really loved the book Bastard out of Carolina before the movie came out, and I thought she was a good pic for the role, I guess because of her crazy childhood.

    • Felice says:

      Seann William Scott was homeless (or close to homeless) during American Pie.

    • mkyarwood says:

      I think it’s totally possible to be homeless in LA while paying for that to happen.

    • beep says:

      It jhust said she got A job at 10. Not starred in a movie.

      • bettyrose says:

        She’s the title character in Bastard out of Carolina, which is what I assumed they were referring to, but she was actually 12 when she starred in that. Even so. . .

      • Lex says:

        May have filmed it at 10 and it wasnt released till she was 12?

    • Tiffany :) says:

      1. You don’t pay agents up front, they take commission when you get paid from a role they get you.
      2. For kids, head shots are very different. Because kid’s faces change (and their teeth) so frequently, all they really need a good photo that shows what they look like. School photos or a picture taken on your camera will work fine for agents.
      3. Hyper-focused momagers really need time and availability. Sounds like they had that.

      • bettyrose says:

        All good points, and I like her philosophy about security coming from within, but if their lifestyle was deliberately transient to prioritize her acting career, that’s not quite the same as the inescapable poverty many homeless children face.

    • Norman Bates' Mother says:

      I’ve read about multiple actors who got recruited by people from the industry without trying to get the roles, without agents, headshots, momagers and auditions. E.g., Rosario Dawson was offered her first role when she was sitting in front of an apartment she was living in illegally (it was abandoned and her mother broke into it). She was a teenager and famous perv Harmony Korine thought she was perfect to star in his movie about teenagers doing drugs and having sex. Norman Reedus became an actor after he got drunk and yelled at some guy at the party. Someone from Hollywood attended the same party and they loved it so much they offered him a role in a play and then in a movie. He worked in a motorcycle workshop at the time and didn’t think about acting.

  3. Felice says:

    I really like her in the Hunger Games series and I didn’t realize she was the girl in Saved! until I saw Catching Fire.

  4. bns says:

    She’s annoying.

  5. Hawkeye says:

    I really like what she said about security being found in family rather than a building, very true.

    • Esmom says:

      It is true but I can’t imagine her childhood was as “glorious” as she’s making it out to be. She does seem amazingly tough but it also sounds like she’s romanticizing what had to be a really rough road.

      • JenniferJustice says:

        I agree. Romantacizing, and protecting her parents.

      • Sophie says:

        When I was in my early 20s, my mom and I were at lunch and she made a comment about “back when we were poor”. That was on my mind for a week and I finally asked her if we were really poor when I was a kid. She looked at me like I was crazy. I was aware that we were not rich, but I never realized that we were actually very poor. By the time I was old enough to understand finances, my parents were already back in a very good place financially. It’s a credit to my parents that I only have memories of an incredibly happy childhood. I do probably romanticize my childhood, but I don’t think it is anything more that children are not fully aware of everything around them. They are perceptive, but they are also oblivious to whether a family is in debt or can’t pay their bills. I love my childhood and wouldn’t change it.

      • Sos101 says:

        @Sophie I completely agree. It wasn’t until my late teens when I realized my family wasn’t middle class but broke ass.

    • Asha says:

      Yeah, say that to children who are prostituting themselves to pay for food. My grandfather had to steal to be able to eat at all. And in a situation where you could be living in the street tomorrow and have your kids taken away from you, the family suffers terribly.

  6. Alexis says:

    You’re supposed to be positive in interviews or else it’s awkward. Good for her for talking about how she grew up. You never know how hard it was coming up for people. We tend to assume that everyone who is successful grew up at least middle class. There is pressure for people who grew up poor to be silent about it. But that’s self reinforcing, because it can give the impression to poor youngsters that they shouldn’t dream, shouldn’t try.

    • Anna says:

      Yeah, I kind of wonder if she just doesn’t feel like she can talk honestly about her experience. It’s not like talking to a journalist is the same as talking to a friend or even a therapist. No matter how loving Jenna’s family was, I find it hard to imagine that being homeless could be “glorious”.

    • Nym says:

      Love your comment.

  7. Hautie says:

    It has been too long ago… but it seems like there was trouble at home when she was 15. And Jena had to emancipate her self, for her own good.

    I will mention this… Jena did a movie early on, that was just devastating to watch. Which required going to a really dark place for a young teen age girl. The movie was “Bastard Out of Carolina”. I only watched it the one time. It is a hard movie to watch, more than once.

  8. Lucy says:

    Say what you will about her, but I think she’s a fantastic actress.

  9. murphy says:

    I can’t put my finger on why but I like her. I seek out her movies. Can’t wait to see more of her in Mockingjay Part 2. At the end of Part 1 I was so impatient for them to get to Peeta…because I wanted to see Joanna.

  10. The Swedish Isabelle says:

    I’m surprised that no one has called her out for using the word “gypsy”. 1) it’s considered an offensive slur by many Romani people and other travellers. 2) Her experience can’t be compared to the lives of the Romani or travellers. She wasn’t forced to move because of her race.

    • Tiffany :) says:

      I think that is a reference that, unfortunately, not a lot of Americans are familiar with. A lot of people take “gypsy” to mean a bohemian wanderer. Same with the word “gypped” (as in “they gypped me out of my money!”). It is also a reference to “gypsy”, implying they are thieves.

    • ichsi says:

      I saw it but blamed it on American ignorance. What I think is strange is that no one is reacting to her comments on drugs. Uhm… no, love. That’s not how those substances, or addiction for that matter, work.

    • Asha says:

      THIS is a case of cultural appropiation, but hey, she’s super cool and who cares about those dirty gypsys anyway!
      Gypsys are an ethnic group, with their own culture (which is also different depending on the country they live in) and even their own language. You wouldn’t say you’re Japanese because you like fish or that you’re Bahamian because you like the sun and the beach. Well’, you’re not living a “gypsy life”.
      And btw, precisely because the gypsy people are so different because of the places where they live, their perception of the word (or its translation to the local language) is also different. In my country, they call themselves gypsys. They’ve been living here for hundreds of years, we all speak the same language, etc. There are some differences, mostly about values and traditions, but it’s probably not like the idealized vision some people have.

  11. serena says:

    I like her since her early movies, I think she’s awesome, so please cover her more frequently.

  12. Meg says:

    I really think she belittles homeless youth here. Trying to turn it into an artistic experience she’s so pretentious. and she looks ridicules with her hair colors.

  13. Adia says:

    Her childhood was so great she emancipated herself at 15. Makes sense

  14. Georgia says:

    Why are so many people who didn’t share her life experience questioning her evaluation of hers? I’d say she knows better than any of you.

    • Asha says:

      How are you able to know about all of our lives without us even mentioning it? What magical power is that? I want it! Iiwant it! I want it!

  15. Cookie says:

    I think being homeless is probably anything but glorious but that’s just my opinion

  16. senaber says:

    I had a root canal once that was transcendent.

  17. korra says:

    I like her. I’m sorry to hear how she grew up. She seems to want to turn it into a positive though so kudos to her. I will side eye the fact that her mother took her 9 year old daughter to LA to help her get into acting and that while in LA they struggled. That speaks more to the idea that it wasn’t just her daughters idea but her mother’s desire as well. I get helping your kids along to their dreams, but come on.

    I think she has a bit more growing up to do. She’s 30 and I keep thinking she’s 22. I admire her hustle though. Get it girl. She’s at least honest/transparent about how hard she has to work to get her name out there.

    Also her hair in the first photo. LOVE IT!

  18. DesertReal says:

    I dig her. Always have. She blew me away as a child actress and I look forward to seeing her more in upcoming years. I appreciate that she’s no cookie-cutter chick and I don’t judge her views on the life she’s led up until this point. Because that’s effing crazy.

  19. Veruca Salt says:

    Love her. <3

  20. MrsNix says:

    Homelessness is scary for adults who understand their situation and the dangers and precarious nature of it. For little kids, if the adults in charge of them are upbeat and keep them fed and warm and clothed, they don’t ever know that it’s dangerous or precarious. It’s just their normal. Unless there is abuse or physical want in the situation, little kids wouldn’t know the difference. I can totally see how kids might find it novel or fun…if the adults around them are taking care of their basic needs and not constantly depressed, angry, or using.