DESPITE her FAMOUS (and ACHINGLY COOL) PARENTAGE ZOË .. KRAVITZ has ALWAYS , BEEN DETERMINED to DO HOLLYWOOD HER WAY NOW SHE’S on the . CUSP of HER BIGGEST YEAR YET From MEATIER ROLES . to HIGHER LEVELS of SELF-FULFILMENT it’s ALL TO PLAY FOR , DISCOVERS
NOTHING PLEASES a NEW YORKER MORE than BEING TREATED like a REGULAR at a BAR or COFFEE SHOP THEY FREQUENT …
...and it’s fair to say that Zoë Kravitz – the massive Hollywood star who is somehow simultaneously the indie cool kid – is a real local at Five Leaves, a restaurant in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. A recent number of wildly successful acting roles have supersized her celebrity status, but here, on a damp, hot Friday in July, there are no paparazzi or lingering stares, just happy hellos from passing waiters and, when it’s time to leave, an iced coffee on the house. ‘It’s chill, which is one of the reasons I stay,’ she says of the neighbourhood. Zoë looks the Brooklyn part, wearing a white T-shirt that slouches in all the right places, black and white checked trousers, neon green patent peep-toe shoes from Maryam Nassir Zadeh, her hair in braids at the crown, then cascading into healthy waves around her tattooed arms. She lives nearby with her boyfriend of two years, actor Karl Glusman, and says life here provides a respite from fame’s glare: ‘I’m struggling with how to handle things with grace and not feel like an animal in a cage.’
In truth, the 29-year-old has always been surrounded by intense celebrity: her parents are The Cosby Show actress Lisa Bonet and rock star Lenny Kravitz. But now, she’s achieved it all on her own, thanks to a role in the 2O15 blockbuster Mad Max: Fury Road and as pivotal character Bonnie in HBO’s Big Little Lies alongside Nicole Kidman and Reese Witherspoon. Next, there’s Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald, a CGI fantasy from the world of JK Rowling and Harry Potter opening in November, plus a hotly anticipated sequel to Big Little Lies, slated for March 2O19. She has been a presence for years, her inimitable bohemian style making her an insider’s It-girl, but now Zoë Kravitz is having a moment, and it’s not based on how she dresses or who her parents are but on her talent, hard work and taste for excellent scripts.
Yet none of this has made her feel like a sure thing. ‘If I don’t have [the next] job lined up, I get nervous,’ she says. ‘It’s irrational, maybe. But also good. When I was in high school, if a girl didn’t like me, the first thing she’d say was, “You think you’re so cool because of your parents.” That carries into later life, like, “Oh, you just got this part because your parents are this and that,”’ she says. ‘It’s important to acknowledge that I got in the door easier because of them. Some kids work their whole lives and they can’t even get an agent to call them back. That part was handed to me. People are always going to think that maybe you are who you are because of your family. So it’s my responsibility to work harder.’
Kravitz has always had a creative drive. She remembers being a toddler and putting on shows based on the movie Grease for her parents: both half-black, half-Jewish, gorgeous superstars who dressed like it was 1968 (in the early Nineties). They split when Zoë was two, and Lenny wrote arguably his best song, It Ain’t Over Till It’s Over, about the end of the relationship. Zoë and her mother continued living in the wealthy hippie paradise of Topanga Canyon in the Santa Monica Mountains. ‘My mum did a really good job of keeping me sheltered. I didn’t have television growing up, and I didn’t have internet at the house. I was allowed to watch one movie a weekend that we had on VHS that she would choose,’ she says.
That said, Zoë’s childhood also included a salon of A-listers. She remembers going tubing with Mick Jagger, and it didn’t take her long to realise she wasn’t like every other kid. ‘My dad would come to pick me up and the whole school would swarm the parking lot,’ she says.
Her dad moved to Miami, and eventually she joined him aged 11, but it didn’t gel. ‘It was a rough time for someone trying to discover who they are,’ she says. ‘I went to a private school in Miami, surrounded by wealthy kids, mostly white. I felt like a freak because my hair was different, and little kids would come up and say, “Can I feel your hair?” The things that made me different were the things I didn’t like about myself; I wanted to straighten my hair, remind people I was half white.’
Insecurities led to bouts with eating disorders (Zoë says she’s now in a place where she doesn’t obsess about food, and does her best to listen to what her body wants and needs). ‘I went through a really awkward phase. I was short and brown, surrounded by tall girls with boobs and blonde hair. And my dad was dating supermodels, so I was waking up to Adriana Lima,’ she says. ‘I didn’t have beauty as a crutch, and I’m thankful for that because I had to develop my personality.’
Zoë moved to New York at 15, initially living with family. ‘It helped me become the person I am,’ she says. She finished high school, went into a drama programme at SUNY Purchase College, then dropped out after a year to invest fully in her career and spend time wilding it in the city. ‘I didn’t have to go to rehab or anything. I was just being a girl living in New York with enough money to drink.’
She landed small parts, her first one as a ‘goth nanny in No Reservations with Catherine Zeta-Jones, and started an electro-R&B band, Lolawolf, in 2O13 with her friend Jimmy Giannopoulos (they still make music, but because of her acting, she hasn’t been able to focus on it), putting out a few under-the-radar albums and opening for Miley Cyrus and Lily Allen. She started showing up in the red carpet round-ups and the tabloids, becoming the target of relationship rumours with people such as Drake. ‘We kind of dated for a second,’ she says. ‘Was it weird [to be talked about in the tabloids]? I guess so. I also wasn’t paying attention to what the internet was saying.’
Things didn’t truly catch fire for her until Mad Max: Fury Road, which grossed hundreds of millions of dollars in 2O15. Zoë had an important, if understated, role in the dystopian film as Toast the Knowing, the wife of a villainous despot, who escapes to find her freedom. ‘My agent would have to force me to go to these big auditions, because I really planned on doing theatre and indie films. I truly believed I didn’t fit into that world.’ But it was her role as Bonnie in Big Little Lies that made Zoë more than just a recognisable face and an actress with a voice of her own.