Time to catch Zoey Deutch
The rising actress stars as a popular high schooler living her last day, again and again
In ‘Before I Fall,’ her high school character isn’t nearly as prepared as the actress herself
In the middle of LOS ANGELES what is predicted to be the biggest storm of the year in L.A., Zoey Deutch does not cancel, as so many Angelenos would do.
Nor does she arrive late — in fact, she’s there first at a local coffee shop.
As it turns out, the 22-year-old star of the film Before I Fall (in theaters Friday) is prepared for just about anything. “I have a fear of being left without snacks,” says Deutch matter-of-factly, sifting through a rather hilarious stash of offerings on her person: a boxed kale salad, green juice, an immune-system boosting shot of turmeric.
“I’m not done!” she protests, unzipping a secret compartment on her quilted jacket, where a chocolate chip Clif energy bar and a lollipop live.
Survival instincts take on new meaning in Before
I Fall, a high school drama based on the 2010 best seller by Lauren Oliver. The actress plays Sam Kingston, a popular senior who, in
Groundhog Day fashion, is forced to repeat the consequence-laden day of her death over and over.
On “Cupid Day,” when roses are passed out to those lucky enough to have secret admirers, Sam and her three beautiful, if occasionally brutal, girlfriends reign over their classmates.
All that changes at 12:39 a.m., when an accident occurs after a boozy party. “The thing that I really appreciate about Sam in this film is she’s neither a hero nor a villain,” says Deutch. “She’s a bully and she’s bullied. She’s not this stereotypical figure … which resonated with me, because in my experience, it wasn’t black or white.” For director Ry Russo-Young, Before I Fall is about depicting the heartbreak of friendship in those years when “your parents are no longer your world and your friends become your new world order,” she says. “It’s a high stakes, exhilarating time. It’s almost like falling in love. And that’s both the good and the bad of that, you can have your heart broken when your friends betray you or do something nasty.” Deutch, the daughter of Lea Thompson and director Howard Deutch, grew up in L.A. “High school was great,” she says, but it wasn’t always that way: The actress was “extremely bullied” in middle school before switching to an arts high school.
Put in Sam’s shoes, “the idea of reliving the same thing over again and trying to change things but the outcome being the same is torturous,” she says.
Before I Fall marks a milestone in Deutch’s career after a 2016 packed with increasingly highprofile roles, including Dirty
Grandpa opposite Zac Efron, Richard Linklater’s cult hit Ev
erybody Wants Some!! and the raucous Why Him? with James Franco and Bryan Cranston.
Next, she stars in the J.D. Salinger biopic Rebel in the Rye, with Kevin Spacey and Nicholas Hoult, and The Year of Spectacu
lar Men, opposite her sister, Madelyn Deutch, and directed by Thompson.
Over lunch, Deutch is inquisitive, though somewhat practiced in answering questions about growing up with famous parents.
“My parents are really cool,” says Deutch, describing her upbringing as “normal.” But she smiles at a mention of how much she resembles Thompson. “I do, it’s really true,” she says.
“The amazing thing about Zoey is that she works her ( butt) off,” says Russo-Young. “She is the farthest thing ever from resting on her laurels or feeling confident things will come to her.”
Deutch offers a friendly shrug about her background. “The perception vs. reality of anything is always so different,” she says.
She laughs. “I don’t have any fun stories about me clubbing at (age) 11 and going crazy. Bummer, right?”