Never heard of this rising star? That’ll soon change
The latest line in Hollywood royalty, Zoe Kazan has almost gone unnoticed despite her acting and writing credits. But with her new film all that is about to change, as discovers
Zoe Kazan hails from a Hollywood royalty – her grandfather was the influential director Elia Kazan (A
Streetcar Named Desire and On The Waterfront) and her parents are successful screenwriters Nicholas Kazan and Robin Swicord.
However, the actress has long been keen to make her own name. Since graduating from Yale University over a decade ago, Kazan has carved a career in showbiz, receiving an Emmy nomination for her appearance in Olive Kitteridge for HBO.
She’s even earned her stripes as a successful writer with stage plays and screen plays, some co-written with boyfriend of 10 years, actor Paul Dano.
But it’s 33-year-old Kazan’s latest outing – a starring role in Sundance Film Festival 2017 favourite, The Big
Sick – that’s about to propel her to new heights.
The charming off-type romcom, produced by Judd Apatow and co-written by Silicon Valley star Kumail Nanjiani and his wife Emily V Gordon, follows the real-life courtship of Pakistan-born aspiring comedian Kumail (played by Nanjiani himself ) and grad student Emily (Kazan).
But drama ensues when their assumed one-night stand blossoms into the real thing and Kumail is not only left to deal with the fallout from the cultural dating divide rejected by his traditional Muslim family, but also a medical crisis when Emily is beset with a mystery illness.
Kazan said: “There’s something in it that seems really original and it saves it from some of the tropes of the genre.
“I think the love part of it has a wide definition; it’s about familiar love and love between friends. It’s not that narrowly defined.
“I was very impressed by the deftness of tone Kumail and Emily achieved – it’s emotional, funny and scary all at the same time.”
Holed up in a London hotel suite, the star – sitting cross legged in a kooky leopard-print dress and metallic gold heels – is bright, warm and engaging, dishing out compliments mid-chat.
But she’s not to be underestimated. Recent admissions regarding on-set sexism should be applauded as should her candid essay for the
New York Times chronicling her teenage battle with anorexia.
Would she be happy, then, to see her life played out on the big screen, much like her
Big Sick co-stars? “No, I would not want to! Would you? Emily and Kumail were very brave in putting themselves on the page. They’re really making art out of their lives.
“In that spirit, I felt that the script was challenging me to bring as much of myself to the table as possible. Unlike some of the other parts I’ve played, this role wasn’t about transformation. It required me to drop into my real self.”
The deep sense of responsibility was eased by her connection with Gordon. E mily is the kind of girl that I would have a crush on in school. She is just so kind and smart and funny, and she put me at ease very quickly,” she said.
“And I also felt like I kind of knew her already. Meeting her, it’s so dumb, but she was wearing a shirt that I already owned and I felt like, ‘Ah this is a good sign, we’re already in the same place’.”
Next on Kazan’s radar is her fourth produced play, After The Blast, an off-Broadway post-apocalyptic show set in the wake of total environmental disaster.
“I wouldn’t say there’s that kind of blanket statement [in my plays]. But in general, being able to go home and take all my hair and make-up and stuff off and go into my imagination... That direct line to my creativity has really saved me.”
Full review at wharf.co.uk