Sometimes my job gets spooky. Minutes after I Q&A'd Tara Lipinski (re: an upcoming Malcolm in the Middle), a TV Guide colleague asks if I want to chat up Amber Heard, an ingénue-on-the-rise who plays a big role on tonight's Criminal Minds (9 pm/ET on CBS) but more interestingly got the edgy film role Lipinski just told me she had to pass on. Alpha Dog (in theaters May 12), though, is but one of the many gigs Heard is about to hit you with. In fact, you may be looking at the fledgling CW network's first breakout star. You be the judge.
TVGuide.com: Get this: I just interviewed Tara Lipinski, who opted to pass on a role in Alpha Dog because of the, um, required nudity. That's the gig you wound up with, right?
Amber Heard: I definitely think it is. That's funny. The more I hear stories like that, the smaller Los Angeles gets. It's such a small town.
TVGuide.com: Before you called, I watched the Alpha Dog trailer online....
Heard: It's going to be a great film. A great film.
TVGuide.com: The snippet I spied you in, you're in a pool befriending the abducted kid, Zack (Anton Yelchin)?
Heard: Yes, yes. I do befriend him, but... my main scene, really, the one I'm most proud of and I'm most prominent in, is where Amanda [Seyfried, Mean Girls] and I are tormenting this already-captured boy. What's interesting is there is a certain amount of careless teen naïveté and boredom going on, but there are also things that make my character, Alma, weird and interesting and kind of mean. I found it a turn-on how she is not only careless in an adolescent sense but also devious in a perverse sense. She's "sweet as sunshine" in the pool scene, but there is a scene where she is drunk and teasing Zack about his sexuality and stuff.... This guy's already in a world of trouble and she only adds to the intensity of it all.
TVGuide.com: Do you have any scenes with Sharon Stone, Bruce Willis or Justin Timberlake?
Heard: All of my scenes were with Justin and Emile Hirsch (The Girl Next Door) and Ben Foster (Six Feet Under), another brilliant actor of that age.
TVGuide.com: Will this film kick Justin's acting career up a notch?
Heard: Yeah. He's a really talented actor and a really nice guy. I don't know if anybody wants to believe that, but he really was nice.
TVGuide.com: The day this Q&A posts, you're on Criminal Minds in what sounds like a juicy role.
Heard: It was a very juicy role. I play a famous TV actress who gets stalked but is generally pretty careless about the whole thing. The whole time, she is followed by Spencer Reid (Matthew Gray Gubler), who is trying to convince her that she's in real danger. So Spencer uptight, careful Spencer learns something about life from her, and she, when she finds out that she really is in danger, learns something from him, and they fall in love.
TVGuide.com: And ride off into sunset.
TVGuide.com: No they don't, because you're just a guest star.
Heard: But they do fall in love.
TVGuide.com: If only for the last 11 minutes of the episode. Now tell me about the CW pilot you're doing with Dawson's Creek creator Kevin Williamson. Give me the bullet.
Heard: I play Greta, who's really eccentric and eclectic. She's vibrant and super-fascinating to watch. She's quite the troublemaker, but in a good way. All she cares about is her rebellion.
TVGuide.com: What is the overall series about?
Heard: It's about Palm Springs and what we, the teenagers, occupy ourselves with, how we do it and the relationships between us. And the whole pilot is buried beneath a secret that you don't figure out in the first episode, but it's prevalent in all of our dialogue and in the emotional connections we share. Greta might quite possibly be the most interesting character on television.
TVGuide.com: "Says the humble actress who plays her."
Heard: [Laughs] Well, if the actress who plays her does her job, she will be the most interesting, fascinating and charismatic character on television.
TVGuide.com: Do you think the Kevin Williamson cred will boost the show's chances of making the CW schedule? Or is that a given?
Heard: It's a given. I mean, the lines are like butter, so intelligent you don't even need an actor to say them. That's all to his credit.
TVGuide.com: Did your North Country turn as a teenage Charlize Theron help you get in the door for this pilot?
Heard: As in any actor's career, what they do in the past affects their status when they first enter an audition room, before they even start saying lines. My scene in North Country was a really intense and dramatic one that got me a lot of credit, so when I walk into a meeting, sometimes, people start off by saying, "I was very impressed with that." And that helps so much.
TVGuide.com: Did you have the chance to bond with Charlize?
Heard: We didn't, of course, have any scenes together, but as an actor the one thing I requested from her was to be able to follow her, to be able to shadow her....
TVGuide.com: I made a similar request once, but the police got involved.
Heard: Oh, you were that guy! No, I got to know her a little bit by following her around, noticing what she did with her hands, her mannerisms, her voice patterns. Playing the same person, that's important. People say I look a lot like her. I get that and Scarlett Johansson all the time.
TVGuide.com: Scarlett and I have a tortured history. Or at least I pretend that we do. Tell me about the other films you have in 2006: Was it imposing playing Mandy Lane in a movie called All the Boys Love Mandy Lane?
Heard: That's what every actress wants, c'mon. That filmed in my hometown of Austin, Texas, which was amazing, and the film itself is going to be brilliant. It's one of those movies where you have no idea what's going to happen, you have no idea how it's going to turn out, and the end of the movie is a complete shocker. A complete shocker.
TVGuide.com: And You Are Here?
Heard: I play myself in that, basically, to an exaggerated extent.
TVGuide.com: Coming off the buzz of North Country and with Alpha Dog and your CW pilot coming up, do you feel like you're an actress on the cusp?
Heard: I do, especially with the pilot. I have had the rare luxury of working with nothing but brilliant people in my short acting career, but in this case I feel like I'm in the presence of genius and I feel like that will inspire nothing but genius in me.
TVGuide.com: It does seem like this is your year. We can call it "The Joy of '06."
Heard: I hope so. I hope so.