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Holland Roden talks ‘No Escape,’ Dave Matthews, and van life essentials

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Holland Roden is surprisingly blasé about drowning. On camera, anyway.

“I think it’s fun jumping into the water with your clothes on, so I was actually quite comfortable,” Roden says of being trapped in a rapidly filling tank of water in her latest movie No Escape, out now on digital platforms and On Demand. She plays Erin, the levelheaded girlfriend of an influencer whose ‘gram-worthy holiday to Moscow goes disastrously wrong.

While No Escape is very much about the sinister side of social media, Roden’s on the sunnier side of the street, with more than 5 million Instagram followers and a newly launched YouTube channel. Holland Roden x Hollandays chronicles her journey to build a tiny house in a converted Sprinter van and embrace life on the open road.

“I’ve always wanted to be a part of something that I put my blood, sweat, and tears into. Building your own home is one of the most rewarding feelings you can ever give yourself,” Roden tells Inverse. “When you’re auditioning, you’re just sort of stuck in Los Angeles. I never want to take a backseat in my own life. If I can travel while being a working actor and auditioning, why not?”

What kind of kid were you?

I was a really active kid. I love dance. I love sports. I used to put on these plays where I was the Queen of England, and aliens had just invaded. You know, you turn off the porch lights and that’s the UFO landing. And you make like your parents, your parents’ friends, watch them in your living room. I was a creative, restless kid.

What was your favorite band when you were 15?

Alanis Morisette was definitely up there, and so were Matchbox 20 and Eagle-Eye Cherry. And I loved Dave Matthews Band. DMB! I was definitely one of those people. Bowling for Soup, Taking Back Sunday, Blink-182 — I loved that whole genre.

What piece of clothing did you wear too often in high school?

I went to an all-girls school from five to 16, so putting on makeup and actually having a versatile wardrobe is still difficult for me to this day. I wear black leggings with different T-shirts every day. I have a uniform as of now, and I usually don’t wear makeup unless it’s something for camera.

I’m not a very big makeup and hair girl, just because I wasn’t raised that way. I still don’t know how to do makeup, which has definitely hindered me a bit for Hollywood purposes. The van will have a kitchen, a toilet, a shower, and a toiletry shelf. So I will have some stuff. The makeup bag is pretty little. Skincare gets a whole shelf.

Holland Roden speaks onstage WE Day UN 2019 at Barclays Center on September 25, 2019 in New York City. Ilya S. Savenok / Getty Images

What’s your first memory of the internet?

I was always technologically illiterate, essentially. I remember thinking I wanted to join all these clubs, but I needed an email and I thought an email cost money and was a really hard thing to get. I used to always try to sign up for things on the internet and then realize I needed one of these emails. I didn’t think it was acceptable for me to get one. I wish I would have pushed myself into the unknown with technology. I was really interested in it, but I didn’t have enough bravery in the technology world.

What’s a truth about love you believed when you were 15?

When I was growing up, my friends and family are probably what I associated most with love. That’s probably the biggest connection I had. I was the kid that left on Friday at 3:45 when I got out of school and did not come back to my house until Sunday at 10 pm. I mean, I was at the all-girls school and didn’t really watch a lot of romantic comedies. I was watching action movies or Home Alone and things like that.

What high-school teacher did you like the most and why?

I loved my AP English teacher. He would come to my plays, even outside of school. One time he showed up with flowers, came to my dressing room and surprised me. I didn’t even know he knew I was in something outside of school. He was on like a theater list or something that showed the local plays and realized, “hey, that’s one of my students!” He was a great teacher, really tough and really caring at the same time, which I think is a great combo.

I’ll never forget, I wasn’t the best vocabulary and I cheated on a test. Mr. Lindsay knew I was the only one to get 100, and he knew I wasn’t very good at vocabulary. So he made me stand up in the class and explain how I got the score. I mean, he knew I was lying. To this day, I’ve thought about writing him a letter to apologize. It was the first and only time I ever cheated on a test. I felt so guilty and horrible that I had betrayed the teacher I loved the most.

Holland Roden attends the premiere of HBO’s ‘Sharp Objects’ at The Cinerama Dome on June 26, 2018 in Los AngelesChristopher Polk / Getty Images

What do you consider your first professional big break and why?

I started professionally acting my sophomore year in college. I got super lucky and landed this HBO show, 12 Miles of Bad Road. It was a dark comedy with Lily Tomlin, Gary Cole, and Leslie Jordan. After only a couple months of acting — I just couldn’t believe it.

We shot in our entire first season, then we got canceled before we aired. Being a series regular, getting that practice, being devastated and feeling the blow of like, what feels like when you make an entire season of something that doesn’t air, getting to work around such incredible comedy legends — it was a really incredible experience.

What was your first professional failure?

I wasn’t very happy with my performance on Lost. I had to learn the hard way, on one of the biggest TV shows. I was really unhappy with my performance, and it was one of my favorite shows. I think I cried for months about it. I was just so depressed.

I just knew I could have done it better. I learned a lot about my acting process and what I should be giving at certain times. I believe in giving a lot when coverage is not on you. I changed my approach a lot after that. Especially with rehearsals, when the camera’s not rolling.

Roden hard at work on the Sprinter van.

What’s your can’t-miss prediction for 2030 and why?

I hope the academic curriculum shifts to emphasize more workshops and useful skills. In some European countries, you choose a particular type of college. I feel like we’re too general. We don’t work enough with our hands. I had to call a handyman for everything, and I hated that. I find in other countries, they’re much more self-reliant. Whether that’s just how they raise their kids or if it’s the education system, I’m not sure, but I feel there’s a huge gap.

What would your 15-year-old self say about your latest project?

My 15-year-old self would be really proud and grateful to work on No Escape, where I enjoyed the people I worked with and the script. And the van build is just an absolute dream of mine. So I would be pretty happy to see I was on the right track.

Awkward Phase is an Inverse series with interesting people talking about the most relatable period in their life. The interview above has been edited for clarity and brevity.

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