In her travels as an actress, Oscar-nominated Minnie Driver has found herself in what she describes as “some of the ugliest, most frightening places on earth” — locations where the spiritual-minded Brit has had a hard time finding grace or goodness.
Even her adopted hometown of Los Angeles “has that sin-city reputation,” she sighs. “But I’m really of the belief that you take your warmth and your heart with you. And you should be able to do that anywhere.”
The zenlike attitude accounts for some unusual decisions Driver has made recently. Instead of pursuing film parts — like her 1997 role in “Good Will Hunting” that landed her a Best Supporting Actress nomination at the Academy Awards — she inked a small-screen deal with the FX network to play a traveling con artist alongside Eddie Izzard in “The Riches.”
Her instinct was right — she just earned a Best Supporting Actress Emmy nomination.
And instead of burying her singer-songwriter roots, Driver embraces them on “Seastories,” her sophomore set on Zoë/Rounder, which features folk-pop originals such as “Beloved” and the homesick “London Skies,” plus cameos from Liz Phair and Ryan Adams.
She isn’t relaxing on her “Riches” summer break, either. She’s out hawking “Seastories” on a tour that hits Café Du Nord on Monday.
Yet those choices pale in comparison to Driver’s Spartan existence in a double-wide beachfront trailer, where she practices yoga and surfing. Anyone finding her body-boarding her local waves shouldn’t be surprised, says Driver, 37.
“I’m a person before I’m an actress,” she says. “I’ve always been athletic, and I have a life outside of what I do for a living. And when I started surfing six years ago, I had a really bad back, and somebody said that would strengthen it. I started in Hawaii, and now that I’m in California, I go surfing every single day.”
She has the fractured ribs to prove it. And the double-wide?
“Hey, I didn’t have $25 million to buy a house by where I surf,” she says. “But I could afford a small trailer.”
The singer, dating a mystery man in Mill Valley, has made the most of her surfside surroundings.
“That’s why I called the record ‘Seastories’ — I wrote the whole thing by the ocean,” she explains. She’s even worked her melodic gift into “The Riches,” warbling a graveside dirge in a recent episode — “and believe me, all I ever try to do is get them to write me in for more musical stuff.”
So even though she’d rather be out communing with nature, Driver says she’ll deal with Hollywood because it’s been good to her.
“It’s like I can’t have my spiritual experiences where it’s peaceful,” she says. “I have to find them in places where people are having plastic surgery or are obsessed with being famous and making money …”
Where: Café Du Nord, 2170 Market St., San Francisco
When: 9 p.m. Monday
Tickets: $17 to $20
Contact: (415) 861-5016 or www.cafedunord.com