Actress Zoe Kazan is your adorably attired, self-deprecatingly hilarious, down-to-earth best friend, who is entirely engaged in what is being said and matching anecdotes with wit and charm. And then, when you see her on screen, you realize liking Kazan is literally impossible not to do. Firstly, this is because Kazan is a diminutive powerhouse, bubbly and intense but also slightly heartbreaking and vulnerable, with her bright eyes always brimming with emotion. (This quality of universal adoration is one her real-life boyfriend Paul Dano channels with his manic pixie dream girl-turned-real film, Ruby Sparks). Also, Zoe Kazan absolutely steals any scene she is in, and especially in first-time director Jenée LaMarque's newest film. Everyone just wants to see more Zoe.
So LaMarque gives us exactly that by having Zoe Kazan star opposite, well, Zoe Kazan in The Pretty One, a sweet but sad story of a girl who realizes that she isn't as beloved as her prettier twin sister (obviously both played by the actress). The film plays with mistaken identities and the notion of twins switching places, but also has an underlying melancholy because Kazan's character, Laurel, is so envious of Audrey, the "prettier" sister. Kazan swoops between a myriad of different roles: Audrey, Laurel, and then Laurel "acting" like Audrey — and each one is perfectly nuanced and different from the other two. (Her skill at balancing all parts echoes Kazan's real life choice to consistently switch between screen and stage.) Deciding which version of Kazan to root for is nearly impossible, because in her capable hands, we love all three. But, hey, that's Zoe Kazan for you.
Can you give us a few Zoe-approved brunch spots? We've got to know.
"I don't really go to brunch."
Oh goodness! Why not?
"Because. Well, I'll just tell you. I'm allergic to eggs. And that eliminates a lot of brunch foods. But when we do go to eat, we often go to Char No. 4, which has, like, the most amazing potatoes you've ever eaten in your life...You know what I really love for brunch? Just sort of a diner waffle. That is the ultimate brunch food. I actually really like the Theater Row Diner on 9th Avenue on 42nd. It's between Dyer and 9th on 42nd. They will make you a turkey bacon B.L.T. there that is amazing. Wait, do you go to brunch?"
Photo: Carolyn Contino/BEImages
In a major way.
"Well, where do you go, then?"
Rye in Williamsburg is great.
"Oh, you are right! My sister lives right near there, and it is really good. I love that place."
So, which was harder for you to tap in to? Popular Audrey or shy Laurel?
"It was hardest when I had to do them both. It was hardest when I was doing Audrey because the only times you see Audrey is when she is with Laurel. Not at a performance level, but on a technical level. For instance, remembering what I had done on the other side of things, and how to match that acting-wise, and technically, you have to match eye lines. The math of it...I'm not that great at, but I got better.
On a personal level, there are two sides of one coin. There are two sides of myself. There's a part of me who really gets Audrey. She is probably a little closer to who I am. She's moved out into the world by herself, she is making a lot of mistakes, she is dating the wrong men...and I get that. I've been there. She's definitely leading with her sexuality. And a part of me is like, 'That's me at 23.' But Laurel is more sort of the secret part of myself, the part of myself who is the awkward 13-year-old whose feet grew too fast and had braces. That girl, that girl never goes away. And most of the time, I feel like I am conning people into thinking I'm an adult woman. I definitely liked bringing that part of myself into the light and letting it shine.
Oh man. The Adult Woman Con. Is that a new female archetype?
"Yeah. Fake it 'til you make it. A part of me has always felt like I was going to have to move home. But it's been 10, or 11 years."
Photo: Courtesy of RCR Pictures
Okay, we've always loved your red carpet looks. Can you talk to us about any designers you are loving these days?
"Well, you know, I've been on a shoe thing recently. But more of, like, coveting shoes instead of buying shoes. I, like, haunt sample sales. I feel really unethical spending a lot of money on an item of clothing. And that seems to not change as I get older and have more means. I don't think that's ever going to change. I still look at a price tag and I'm like, 'There's no way I'm ever going to pay that much for a pair of shoes.' But, these are Rachel Comey boots, I bought them at a Rachel Comey sample sale. You know, I really love her shoes. And like many girls in New York, I drool over Isabel Marant online, over rag & bone, but I feel uncomfortable spending that much money on clothes. Of course, they are totally justified in charging that much money, their clothes are beautiful and amazing...but I have a really hard time personally."
Well, we live in New York. We buy shoes and put them on the ground and...
"Just destroy them. I'm so hard on my feet, it's terrible."
Photo: Courtesy of RCR Pictures