Emmy Rossum might be best known for her film and television work—she played Sean Penn’s doomed daughter in Clint Eastwood’s 2003 drama Mystic River, struggles to hold her dysfunctional family together on the Showtime series Shameless and will next be seen as a mystical caster in Beautiful Creatures, out February 14.
It was in the world of music, however, that this 26-year-old Manhattan native got her start. At the age of seven, she joined the Metropolitan Opera Children’s Chorus, a gig that allowed her to work with the likes of Luciano Pavarotti and Franco Zeffirelli. In 2004, Emmy stepped into the legendary role of Christine Daae in the screen adaptation of The Phantom of the Opera, earning a Golden Globe nomination in the process. Her second album Sentimental Journey is out today, so we caught up with the star to talk classic tunes, vintage clothes and how she keeps that amazing curly hair looking so freaking perfect.
Lucky: Sentimental Journey is heavily retro-influenced—the sound is totally different from that of your first album, Inside Out, which was very harmonic and meditative. Why is that?
Emmy Rossum: I made Sentimental Journey by myself, with my own money—and I did that so I could maintain creative control. I was in charge of everything from the artwork and imagery to the song choices. That way I knew it’d be my baby, that it wouldn’t be tinkered with by anyone else.
Every track on the record is a classic cover. How did you go about choosing those specific songs?
It’s all music I grew up listening to. From the beginning, I knew I wanted to work with a calendar theme. So there are 12 songs for 12 months, and they’re meant to sort of take you on the emotional journey you experience throughout a year. So for instance, I knew the second song, since it’s for February, would be a Valentine’s Day song…and that the track for December would be holiday-themed. For that one, I picked a lesser-known Christmas song called "Pretty Paper" that I’ve always loved. And "Apple Blossom Time" was actually a song that my mom used to sing to me as a bedtime lullaby.
Between your opera training and current musical career, I have to ask: are you a karaoke fan?
I don’t like karaoke, actually—although I like watching my friends do it! I think it just makes my perfectionist instinct kicks in, and I’ll want a live band there with me while I’m singing. If I’m gonna do karaoke, I’m gonna sing something by the Spice Girls, though. I mean, "Wannabe?" It’s a classic.
The artwork for Sentimental Journey is beautiful—those costumes! How did you pick them?
I had all these old photographs we used for references—images of old wedding dresses, performance pictures and costume photos, things from Pinterest. Then I worked with my stylist, Heidi Meek, and we went through Style.com to see what looks could work. We used pieces from Johanna Johnson, Katharine Kidd, Ralph Lauren, Anna Sui…Anna Sui’s done some very vintage-inspired collections.
On this album, you cover tracks from the ’20s, ’30s, ’40s and beyond. If you could travel back to any bygone era, which would it be and why?
Well, I love the Art Deco period, definitely—and the Edwardian era. I’m big into jewelry, so I tend to pick my favorite era based on the jewelry from that time! I’d say the Art Deco period, probably—although I wouldn’t really want to live in that time because of the lack of women’s rights. There were definitely some drawbacks to that era. But everything—music, style—was simpler back then. More glamorous and feminine.
Between Phantom of the Opera, Shameless and Beautiful Creatures, you’ve worn some pretty outrageous costumes onscreen. Which project’s wardrobe was your personal favorite?
I love the costumes I wore in Beautiful Creatures—all these long, black dresses that are reminiscent of Rita Hayworth in Gilda. My character Ridley is sort of sinister—there’s a darkness to her. It was so much fun to put on the nail extensions and everything—we spent hours in hair and makeup. But of course, as soon as we were done filming, I was ripping off the long nails and couldn’t wait to get back to spending just 10 minutes in the makeup chair each day for Shameless!
You split your time between New York City and Los Angeles nowadays. How would you compare the two cities’ styles?
L.A. is very bohemian, very trend-centric…whereas New York is old-school, more metropolitan, and that’s definitely what I gravitate towards. I identify with that allure of comfort you find in L.A., but I could never be a boho California girl. It’s just not in my DNA! I grew up on the east coast, so I love jackets, I love layering—and I love New York’s metropolitan style. It’s just too fun to dress up! I’d always rather be overdressed than underdressed.
When you’re not working, what sort of pieces do you like to wear?
You mean, when I’m not having some sort of Top Chef challenge with my friends and wearing an apron over my outfit? If I’m running errands, I’m usually in jeans, ballet flats and simple jewelry. For a lunch meeting or something like that, I love dresses—day dresses, vintage dresses. Also, having come from a theater background, I love playing around with makeup and nail colors. I’m not as much into nail art as nail shapes and nail colors. I love doing a classic almond-shaped nail, or really bright, fun colors when my nails are short.
Where are some of your favorite places to shop?
I’m really into Etsy, to be honest! I get a lot of vintage hair ornaments and brooches on there. In terms of actual stores, I love Dovetail in Chicago—it’s a great vintage store—and Playclothes in L.A. Oh, and Shareen Vintage! I love vintage. I just found the most amazing Chanel Converse from the ’80s at a shop in Palm Springs—I think they’re real? And I got some cool ’80s sunglasses when I was in Russia recently. They’re metal, with these etched flowers on them.
You’re sort of the poster child for beautiful, natural curly hair in Hollywood—something I really respect, as a naturally curly girl myself. How do you keep yours looking so good?
I do a conditioning mask one or two times per week. I’ll either sleep with it in, or leave it on for a few hours while I’m watching Top Chef or something. I like to touch up the natural curl a bit with a curling iron—there’s a really natural-looking one called the Deep Waver that we use a lot on Shameless. I love Moroccanoil products, and Joico’s Smooth Cure line. Most of the time, I like to just let it air-dry after washing, and then use that curling iron. I actually do keratin treatments before shooting Shameless, since my character is supposed to have slightly straighter hair than mine, but I let that grow out in between seasons.
Finally, is there any one item that’s on your wish list for the season ahead?
I love Céline handbags—I’d love one of those. Maybe if I’ve been a really good girl I’ll get one for my birthday…
How long do you have until then?
Oh, it’s not until September. So yeah, I’m golden!
Sentimental Journey is out now.
Photo Credit: Sam Jones
More on Luckymag.com:
- Shop the Show: Shameless
- Hair Straightening Options: Which Is Right for You?
- Emmy Rossum’s Not-So-Shameless Beauty Secrets
- The Etsy-phile: You’ll Need This In 2013
- Which Celebrities Should Be Muses to Which Fashion Houses?
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