Kristen Ruhlin - Drama Queen
The first thing you notice about Ohio State alum and star of the upcoming movie She Wants Me, Kristen Ruhlin, is her smile. It's big, warm and instantly welcoming. Then, when you start chatting wit her, you now want to be friends with her. She's funny, intelligent and genuinely just a sweet person. No, we're not going to go all Single White Female here, but it's important to note that in just a few minutes of meeting Kristen, it was obvious that her Midwestern roots have kept her firmly grounded in what matters most - her friends and family. This is confirmed by the fact that two of her closest Ohio friends hung out with her during the entire photo shoot and interview. That alone says a lot. Luckily, we had the time to learn even more about this bright, up-and-coming star.
Q & A » » » » » »
Being from West Virginia, why did you choose to come to Ohio State?
My family grew up in Columbus, in Dublin. We would visit here a lot for summers and Christmas. I went to a small school in West Virginia so I was adamant about going to a big university. My high school didn’t even have a football team so why not go to Ohio State, which has the best football team in the country. Ohio State is always the best in everything. If you are going to do sports, you need to go to Ohio State.
You started out as a drama major but ended up in fashion, right?
Actually, I was an education major, and then a dance major, and then I was drama. I worked for the dean of my college at Campbell Hall and part of my job was to help students get their schedule in order and how they wanted to map their life. I would tell them “I’ve pretty much been every major Ohio State has to offer, so I can cover all the bases for any student who comes in here. I’ve had all the teachers and all the faculty.” I ended up getting a minor in dance and a minor in theatre because I took so many of those classes. My final degree was a BS in Fiber Properties, which is the science of fabric.
So how did you end up in New York acting?
Ohio State requires everyone to do their internship or externship before they graduate. I chose to do mine in New York for Redbook Magazine. I really planned on coming back to Columbus to work for Limited Brands. I wanted the New York experience as opposed to all my classmates who were doing their internships in Columbus. I figured I would come back from New York and they would hire me on the spot. In New York, I was auditioning in the evenings and got a couple of independent films and met a lot of exciting people. The girls who I worked with at Redbook, we’re like, “If you really want to do it, you should give it a 100 percent. You can’t do it 70/30 because something is going to give somewhere. If you are going to do anything, give it a 100 percent.” I took that advice, and when I graduated, I moved back to New York and started auditioning hard-core.
Tell us about your latest movie, She Wants Me, with Charlie Sheen.
I play the girlfriend of a lovable, neurotic writer in Hollywood who decides to help me out and give me a break and offers me the lead in his next feature film. That same day, this huge, mega star played by Hilary Duff tells him she wants the role. He doesn’t have the heart to tell me that this mega star wants it. He keeps the lie up for over a month. I end up getting a role in her new movie, too, and he’s on eggshells thinking we’re going to talk and spill the beans. There are some really great characters. I have an actor best friend and she is the one who is dating Charlie Sheen. She’s the type of girl who maybe doesn’t work very hard and you wouldn’t expect her to do that well, and then all of a sudden, she lands this huge movie and ends up dating Charlie Sheen. It’s a romantic comedy. New York vs. L.A. and the artist’s journey, if you will. It will be out the end of April.
So Charlie plays himself?
Yes, he plays himself and he’s the executive producer of the movie.
Charlie’s been in the news a lot lately. What was it like working with him, especially in his producer role?
I have to say, out of everyone I’ve ever met, on any project I’ve worked on, he’s so disarmingly sweet – just a nice person and so generous. Very professional. He showed up on time every day and didn’t hang out in his trailer. He just hung out with everyone, the entire cast and crew. He’s so nice to everyone, even the best boy grip. I think it says a lot about him as a person. As for his current situation, I don’t know that side of him. From what I’ve heard, it sounds like he’s lonely. Our scenes together were right after the New York incident and we thought we would have to push shooting back. He showed up to work. I don’t think I would show up to work. As for his current decisions, I think everyone has to take care of themselves at some point, though; otherwise you have a breakdown.
Where was your favorite hangout while you were at Ohio State?
Do they still exist anymore? Fabric. Does that still exist? I liked the Arena District, too. We went to the Library before it was the Library. The best was Tuesday-night wing night at BW3’s. Everything has changed now. I got in a taxi and said, “Just take me to Steak and Shake.” And he’s like, “It doesn’t exist anymore.” I argued with him that it was on High Street and then asked him, “Where do people go for 24-hour food?” That’s where we would always go. All of the places I liked are probably gone. Except for in Dublin, those places are probably still there. I love Bravo, too. They have the best chopped salad. And of course, there is Brother’s. I don’t know where I would go now. We went to Barcelona last night and that was fun. I love German Village, too. I loved that book store that was a maze – The Book Loft.
How would you define your career so far as an actress?
I would define it as a roller coaster. The highs are really high and fun. Then you go down to the lows and it’s not so much fun. But, then you know if you keep working, you’re going to go back up. That’s what keeps you trudging along. It’s a fun ride at the end. You get back in line for four hours for a three-minute thrill ride.
What surprised you the least about the industry?
I guess rejection. You know that that’s going to happen. It’s shocking the amount of interviews and auditions you go on. You get so far and then you hear nothing. You develop a thick skin for it. That’s what they tell you. Get used to it. Sometimes, you’re lucky to get feedback from the producers, but once you walk out that door, don’t plan to walk back in it.
When you get feedback, have you ever disagreed and refused to use it?
I never have received feedback that I totally disagreed with. But there are times, of course, when I have done everything I could possibly do and don’t know why they don’t like me. You can’t take it personally. I recently created a web series and I was for the first time part of the casting process. (Editor’s Note: Ruhlin wrote, produced and starred in the web series Life-ers.) Being an actor, my heart goes out to these people because I’ve been part of that same process and it was a great learning experience. I saw, literally, the best actor I had seen all day, but he wasn’t physically right for the role. I needed someone fat. I needed this certain look. If you have someone saying things that are funny who is a beautiful person versus a character actor, it sometimes doesn’t translate. That’s what I learned. You can’t take it personally, but you do because they are judging you. I wish I could have e-mailed a person and sent them a little note, but at the end of the day after you’ve seen 500 people, it just gets lost.
Is Hollywood a matter of chance or design?
It is totally chance. Knowing the right people and being in the right place at the right time. Just like any job, having an inside loop is so key. You like working with people who you know and that’s the name of the game.
What is your favorite movie of all time?
I would have to say I was pretty infatuated with Closer for a long time.
What is your biggest vice?
I do take things too personally. It’s something I’m really trying to overcome. My boyfriend will say something and he can see on my face as soon as the verbal diarrhea comes out of his mouth. It will be just a general statement but always something to do with my work that I take personally. I get really self-conscious about people talking about me. Interviews I’ve done or photos I’ve taken. One time, Demi Lovato and I were photographed wearing the same outfit and people in magazines said really mean things about my outfit. I was like, “I actually majored in a fashion area, calm down!” That’s what I need to let go of.
What’s your biggest virtue?
I do try to help my friends. I will do anything for them. I try to help others as much as possible. There is a weird energy that comes back to you. The older I get and try to figure out my place in life and why we’re all here, I feel we are here to interact with other people – even if it’s someone off the street. I try to talk to random people whenever and wherever I can.
Best and Worst Dressed Man in Hollywood?
Best: I love George Clooney. I think he is always really, well dressed. Worst: I want to say Johnny Depp, but he has such a great hipster vibe to him that I don’t want to say he’s the worst dressed. I’ll say Mickey Rourke, with the leather chaps.
Best and Worst Dressed Woman in Hollywood?
Best: I think Katherine Zeta-Jones just always looks awesome. Kind of like old Hollywood, the way George Clooney does. Worst: I hate to say it, but Helena Bonham Carter.
What is your favorite material to work with?
My job was to identify properties of fabric under a microscope so I would take individual strands. There are different plies of things and you pull out the different strands and put that under a microscope. You would identify how it would burn, the elasticity. In that sense, my favorite thing to identify under a microscope was wool.
Who would you like to:
Sip coffee with?
I would love to sip coffee with Livia Drusilla, who was the wife of the first emperor of Rome. I’ve been obsessed with Roman culture since I was in 9th grade and took Latin. That is the one line of history that I find fascinating. I try to research it more and more. I would like to ask her how she had all the puppet strings going to everyone in Rome.
Dance the Tango with?
I have a mild crush on Chris Kline. He’s just easy on the eyes. He’s with my manager so if they want to hook that up, just for the Tango, that’s all.
Design a ball gown for?
Kate Middleton. That would get a lot of attention, right?
How do you get revved up?
I put on my music and dance around my house until I’m ready to go out.
If you were given an elephant, where would you hide it?
If I was given an elephant, where would I hide it? And, I can go anywhere?
Yes, and you can take that question however you want. There are two different notions, though.
This is like an IQ test. I would get on a plane and hide him in a jungle where he belongs.
So the other notion, is along the lines of “an elephant in a room” or a secret. Where would you hide it?
When we were growing up, my friend and I had this thing we did. I think we must have associated elephants with lying back then. So, when we thought our friends were exaggerating or lying we would make this gesture to each other like an elephant’s trunk and would make a noise. Finally, another girl called us out and was like, “What is this? Why do you do this?” I guess we could have been a little slyer.
Who was the first person you were star-struck by?
I was at my friend’s house in the Hamptons and he is best friends with Matthew Broderick; they grew up together. So, he’s over at their house, a lot. I was in my pajamas and on the computer and he came in and my friend was like, “This is Matty.” He probably thought I was a total freak because I was just like, “Hiiiiii.” Like one of those things where you can’t look directly in the sun. It was just weird, seeing Ferris Bueller standing there. I redeemed myself after that, though.
Do you ever Google yourself?
I hate to say it, but I’m a “Googler.” It’s such a wicked thing. I only do it when I have specific things coming out, though, just because there was some recent press I did this past year and there are various people just talking about me. Then, they start talking in other languages and I don’t know what they are saying!
What is the food you crave from Ohio that you can’t get in California and New York?
You can have it shipped!
I looked online and actually considered having it shipped, but that becomes a very expensive pint of ice cream.
Drew Lachey orders it several times a year. See if you can get on his order.
I should do that. Can I get in on that? I also love Anthony Thomas chocolate and Cheryl’s Cookies, too. Those used to be my go-to gift for people.
What is the best advice you could give to an aspiring actress?
If it is something you really want to do and you can’t imagine doing anything else, then you should give it 100 percent. I know it’s a difficult thing to do, with paying bills and getting out into the real world. That’s why when you are a student you should get involved in community theatre and the indie film community. Not just your theatre at school. Establish the building block. I have met so many people from Ohio State who are in the industry. So, build your network and stay in touch with those people. All of the people who are my best friends, who I met in New York, are from Ohio or went to Ohio State. I never even knew them while I was here. It’s like we gravitate to each other.