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

The Wharf - - Front Page - GEMMA DUNN

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

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