Zoe Kazan Interview

talking vintage shopping and playing twins with the actress.

by liza darwin

She might be young, but Zoe Kazan's career is expansive--whether she's on TV (Bored to Death), in movies (Ruby Sparks) or writing plays, like Trudy and Max in Love, which she just wrapped in Los Angeles. However, Kazan's latest project The Pretty One involved something that even she has never done before, which is really saying something. 

The actress plays identical twins in the comedy, which follows what happens to the "shy twin" when the outgoing, popular one suddenly dies. Costarring Jake Johnson from New Girl, the movie is a sweet look into identity and finding oneself--except this time, with some seriously cute clothes and an off-kilter indie vibe. 

We phoned Kazan to talk about the movie, the trouble with playing opposite yourself, and what she does about writer's block. 

Hey Zoe. Where are you calling from right now?

I'm in LA right now. I wrote a play that's been happening here, and it just wrapped. I'm staying in my parents' house, which is a little weird sometimes but also really nice. I think it's starting to drive Paul [Dano, Kazan's boyfriend] crazy, because as much as he loves my family, he's still living in someone else's home [laughing].

Totally. How do you feel now that your play has wrapped? Relieved? Sad?

You know, I feel like almost any creative person experiences a mind-blowing depression after you finish something. I think it's hard to work on something so intensely and then let it go...especially because you've become so absorbed by it for so long. 

So let's talk about your new movie, The Pretty One. How was it playing twins? 

It was so fun! I've never played a twin before, obviously, so it was a rare, really cool opportunity. 

How exactly did you film opposite yourself?

That's a really interesting question; it was the most fascinating part of the movie for me. Basically they used a super old technique, like the same one they used in the original Parent Trap! They had me dress as one of the sisters opposite my body double and we'd do a whole scene, and then they would have me on the other frame dressed as the other sister basically doing the whole scene again. Then, they'd take both frames and put them together so it's me in both.

Wow. That's awesome.

Yeah, it was so crazy. It was especially challenging, though, because everything had to be perfectly identical. Even if an extra was in a different position or a piece of clothing was wrinkled, you'd be able to tell. We had to do each scene two full times, so it took much longer than a normal scene. 

You also wore quite the wig in this movie...

[Laughing] Oh yes, the wig! It was beautiful and made of real human hair, but I hated it. My god, it weighs you down so much. Wearing a wig is like having a dead animal on your head....not very pleasant. 

Can we talk about your characters' clothes? 

I loved the clothes! It was great because the costume designer became a friend, and she has the most beautiful taste. It was a lot of vintage stuff mixed with places like ASOS, and I was constantly asking her, "Where'd you get this? Where'd you get this?"

Where do you like to shop in real life?

I love going thrift shopping. I'm such a sucker for a bargain. Anytime I find out I'm not paying full price for something, I feel great. The truth is, I don't spend too much money on clothing because it makes me feel uncomfortable. Like actually, I wait all summer for the Steven Alan sale and then stock up! It's like a weird high. 

As someone who's written both plays and movies, what do you do when you get writer's block?

Hm..I guess I'm in a funny situation where I'm lucky because I don't have to make my living as a writer. It's my second job, so there's less pressure on me. Since I'm acting I have less time to write--so when I do write, it's easier to find what I need to say. Last year I didn't write at all because I was making movies, so when I wrote my play immediately after that, it came naturally. The idea that we can be creative all the time is impossible; you need to have a balance.