Eve Hewson, 23, knows all about the power of a name because her own packs a punch for a host of reasons. First of all it’s remarkable for its very long length -- Memphis Eve Sunny Day Hewson is quite a mouthful.
Second, it’s powerful because of who gave it to her. It’s the kind of whimsical name that only a rock star would give to his kid, which is exactly what her dad – U2’s Bono - did.
It’s also the kind of name that would place a giant bulls-eye on her in the playground.
“My parents knew I'd get bullied, so I just went with Eve,” she said last week on a publicity tour for her new show The Knick, in which she stars opposite Clive Owen.
Bono's real name is Paul Hewson, and it’s no wonder she picked its simplicity over the showy ones favored by her dad’s quite well known band and their rock star friends.
Being the daughter of one of the most famous performers in the world must have its perks, but Hewson has never been content to rest on her laurels. Since graduating from New York University last year her recent film credits have included the movies Enough Said and This Must Be the Place.
Next month she stars in The Knick, an atmospheric new turn of the century drama to air on Cinemax that is sure to raise her profile as she makes the full time move to Los Angeles to pursue her acting dreams.
It’s her biggest role to date, and Hewson acquits herself beautifully as Lucy Elkins, a naïve young nurse from West Virginia who has come to New York for a taste of adventure and gets far more than she ever imagined.
A vision in white in the role, Hewson is instantly believable as the well brought up young girl shocked speechless by the goings on of her superiors. Hewson finds the inner life of her character from her opening scene, suggesting that if she does land the roles she dreams of in the future it will be based on her talent rather than her name.
Understandably Hewson has made some efforts to put some light between her background and her burgeoning career, with mixed results. Her desire to be seen as a regular hard working career girl is complicated by her jet setting, fashion magazine shoots and impressively extensive wardrobe.
She attends Oscar after parties like the one thrown by Graydon Carter of Vanity Fair. Nights out on the town for her don’t look quite like nights out for regular folks. A typical evening will be spent in the company of other rock royalty offspring like Django Stewart (Dave Stewart of the Eurhythmics’ son) Georgia Jagger (Mick's daughter) and her close pal Blue (The Edge’s daughter). Glenroe or Fair City this isn’t.
“I feel like I should be constantly defending me, like I am my own person," she told Rolling Stone in 2012.
“But at the end of the day that is me. I mean I definitely have [Bono’s] genes in the going-out department. It's kind of dangerous.”
Hewson admits she has enjoyed the perks of her father’s fame when it comes to meeting cute rock stars and, in what she calls the greatest event of her life, once meeting Beyonce Knowles.
“I was in the pool with my friend Blue and we just went underwater and screamed, and then we got out of the pool and hid. So that’s when we used Dad. To get cute boys and Beyonce.”
You wouldn’t think that she harbored either ambition based on her performance in The Knick (named after the Knickerbocker Hospital, home of gifted surgeons in New York City in 1900).
Hewson’s nurse must navigate an era before antibiotics, when mortality rates for the simplest ailments were through the roof. Working alongside the talented and troubled Dr. John Thackery (Oscar nominee Clive Owen), Hewson discovers she’s soon nursing not only the patients but many of the senior staff, albeit it in different ways.
Owen is the brilliant head of the surgery staff, but he’s coasting on a cocaine and opium dependency that threatens his health and his professional standing. Like many young women forced to work with such a burn out, Hewson’s character has to hold the fort, keep up appearances, and prevent the mayhem that’s always threatening to break out. It’s a tough gig for a first assignment, which is why she’s so well cast.
What makes The Knick so fascinating is the near insurmountable medical difficulties the staff face that present no trouble at all in our time. But most gripping of all is the experience of the first black doctor to practice on the hospital floor, braving the prejudice and hostility of a blunt racist age.
As the gifted Dr. Algernon Edwards, actor Andre Holland is outstanding as the Harvard trained surgeon determined to be recognized for his abilities rather than the color of his skin.
The tension between Edwards and Thackery is one of the most instructive battles that Hewson witnesses, and in the process she probably saves the blushes of her famous dad because the fact is she consistently holds her own. She’s actually really good.
“I don’t want you to do this!” Bono reportedly told her when she announced her ambition to be an actress. Having spent four decades in the public eye, he knows the way that public scrutiny can change your perception of yourself and others in all sorts of unproductive ways, but his daughter refused to listen to him.
“I was like, what the hell? You of all people can’t tell me that. You didn’t listen to whoever told you that when you were 18. So you’re going to have to deal with it,” Hewson recalled.
Resembling her striking mother Ali Hewson most of all, Eve has a versatile look that will carry her far. Eve’s growing profile stands in sharp contrast to her equally gorgeous sister Jordan, who shuns the spotlight as much as possible (it’s said her family is especially protective of her privacy).
For all her enviable access Eve still insists her parents don’t believe in giving handouts. She has to work for what she gets, she tells the press, and even though she’s grown up in the glare of the spotlight she’s still wide-eyed enough to marvel that she’s been cast in The Knick.
“I walked onto the set and thought, 'Is this actually happening?’” she told the press, amazed to find herself at last where she always dreamed of being. It’ll be the start of her own life, on her own terms at last.
When The Knick debuts on Friday, August 8 she’ll finally have stepped out of a very long shadow.