For me, going anywhere in L.A. is often about food. I grew up near Angeli Caffe, and my brother and I remember eating there a lot when we were kids. When I heard it was closing, I thought, “Oh, we better go and have dinner.” I grew up mostly in Los Angeles until I was 17 and moved to New York City to go to Columbia University. At first we lived in Silver Lake, and then we moved to Hancock Park. Because I grew up on the Eastside, it was kind of a special occasion to go to the beach and ride our bikes. So now if I’m in Los Angeles for work and they put me up in a hotel, I like to stay by the beach.
I love Giorgio Baldi in Santa Monica. When I was nominated for an Academy Award for Crazy Heart a few years ago, I ate really carefully to fit into my dress. The night after the Oscars I went and had a double order of my favorite langoustine pasta at Giorgio’s. Actually I think I went two nights in a row.
Another time, when I had to do a week of press for Nanny McPhee, I took [costar] Emma Thompson there, and this group of gorgeous Italian men recognized Emma and had crushes on her. They must have been heirs to billion-dollar fortunes. They kept opening $500 bottles of wine and sending glasses to our table. One of them finally came over with his shirt open down to his belly button and sat with us, flirting with Emma.
My dad still lives in L.A., and my mom and brother are more bicoastal these days, with places here, too. Something I love to do with my family is go to the Hollywood Farmers’ Market. You can spend the whole day there. My mom loves to go, and I’ll bring my daughter. The farmers’ markets in Los Angeles are so different from the ones in New York. There are 15 kinds of oranges, for instance, and the avocados are like no avocado you’ve ever had before. Sometimes in New York I’ll eat a piece of fruit and think, “This is not the way a tangerine is supposed to taste. This is not what an artichoke tastes like.”