Styled by Mercy Sang
James J Robinson


Geraldine Viswanathan Would Love To Be A Rising Star Until She Dies

The Drive-Away Dolls actor has been at it for a while, but she likes a slow burn.

On an upper floor of the Crosby Street Hotel, a suite has been converted into the Drive-Away Dolls command center. Various publicists and their underlings clack away on laptops as I watch, on a split TV screen, members of the Australasian press interview Geraldine Viswanathan.

Several of them ask about her status as a “rising star,” a label the Bad Education and Blockers actor has good-naturedly embraced in past interviews — as she does again this February afternoon. But later — after she walks into a smaller hotel room wearing a cat-print T-shirt from Tory Burch’s Melrose shop and eating one of the mini cookies from the command center — she turns contemplative when I ask what has to happen for her to feel like she’s finally transcended that title.

“I wonder what it feels like to be Emma Stone or Jennifer Lawrence or someone who’s just like, ‘Everybody wants to work with me. I can do whatever I want,’” she tells NYLON as we sit opposite each other in tufted armchairs. “And as someone who wants to make my own stuff as well, being synonymous with a taste or sensibility. At the moment, I'm trying to feel settled so I can go and do that. [Being an actor] can be so uncomfortable and there's no job security, so I think it would just feel nice to feel more secure.”

But at the same time, Viswanathan says she’d “love to be ‘rising’ until I die.” “I did hear an older woman in the industry say, ‘Well, you're either rising or you're dead as a woman — so you'd rather be rising, babe.’" And in many ways, she is. She’s starring in the upcoming Marvel film Thunderbolts. She recently bought a place in Sydney with a storefront for her and her sister, who’s a fashion designer. (She’s between Sydney, New York, and LA right now.) And days before, she sat front row at Tory Burch next to Natasha Lyonne, who once said, “This is the future right here” to Viswanathan when she was at an awards show with Molly Gordon, Rachel Sennott, and Patti Harrison.

Not that Viswanathan imagined any of this. “All the best stuff that's happened in my life, I wouldn't have been able to manifest necessarily,” she says. “I know Margaret [Qualley, Viswanathan’s Dolls co-star] kind of manifested this. She was like, ‘I want to do a Coen movie that's like Planes, Trains, and Automobiles.’ I feel like it's the Australian in me where it's always like, ‘You wouldn't dare say you could be in an Ethan Coen movie.’”

I feel like it's the Australian in me where it's always like, ‘You wouldn't dare say you could be in an Ethan Coen movie.’

That self-deprecation comes in again when she calls herself “just a little drama freak” watching her For You page come to life at Fashion Week — and when I ask about the origin of her name, which is the hottest topic of conversation on the uncharacteristically respectful Reddit thread dedicated to her. (Also popular: her “stunning” American accent and how she held her own opposite Daniel Radcliffe in Miracle Workers: End Times.) She says she thinks it’s because her mother’s side of the family loves Charlie Chaplin, who chose Geraldine for one of his own daughters — or because her parents met in Paris. “My mom is Swiss German, and when she says it, it's like Geraldine,” she says. But when she demonstrates how she pronounces her own name having grown up in Australia, she puts on what I can only describe as a bogan voice — the better to prove that “the Parisian flair has sort of left.”

She momentarily switches to another hammy tone to reveal her sun sign (Gemini) to jokingly explain how she navigates living in multiple cities and being on set (next stop: Atlanta). Building “so many different little realities” is a skill she has, Viswanathan says, but she’s ready for some more permanence. That could look like opening a shop with her sister — or maybe moving her stuff out of a storage unit in LA. “I am an achiever and a go-getter,” she says, “but I also want to be cozy and comfy and happy and warm.”

She could also use some sleep after having appeared on The Kelly Clarkson Show and Late Night with Seth Meyers yesterday, with 10 minutes in between. As we wait for the elevator so she can head back to her own hotel, we admire a photo collage of dogs hung by the call buttons. “That one’s you,” her publicist says of a grinning pup, his ears flapping in the wind, happy to be on his way home.