'Stepmom' star Jena Malone on growing up in Hollywood: 'I never stopped feeling like a child'

If the entertainment industry were a school, Jena Malone would have graduated several times over by now, having racked up more than 80 credits, in movies such as Stepmom, For Love of the Game and Donnie Darko, since the mid-1990s. And yet...
"I never stopped feeling like a child in Hollywood," she tells Yahoo Entertainment. "But there's, like, the moment when you have your first romantic scene or something that's not a teenage experience. I think it's not necessarily about the project; it's about what you're experiencing, when you start coming into your womanhood or masculinity or whatever, just coming into yourself in a deeper way, out of the child's perspective. That starts adding resonance to everything you do."
Malone considers The Messenger, a 2009 drama she did with Woody Harrelson, Ben Foster and Samantha Morton, to have been the moment when that happened. In it she plays the girlfriend of a U.S. Army staff sergeant who's on leave from the Iraq war. The well-reviewed film hit theaters in November 2009, the month Malone turned 25.
She had begun acting at 10 — and knew she wanted to do it as early as 5 —first appearing in Michael Jackson's "You Are Not Alone" video and a 1996 episode of Chicago Hope. That same year, she starred as a young girl who endures physical and sexual abuse in Bastard out of Carolina, for which she was nominated for a SAG Award. And the jobs kept coming, including the part of Susan Sarandon and Ed Harris's daughter, Anna, in 1998's Stepmom. The parents had separated, and Harris's character was seeing Julia Roberts's, whom Anna resented at first. It was a hit.