10 Reasons We Can't Get Enough of Zoe Kazan
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It's just been announced that Zoe Kazan and Carey Mulligan are to star in a new movie as the reporters who helped to bring down Harvey Weinstein. It's another intriguing role for an actress who's built a varied and impressive résumé over the past 15 years, so we're taking the opportunity to round up just 10 of the reasons we can't get enough of her.
1. She starred in one of the best romantic comedy movies of recent years.
In The Big Sick, Kazan plays Emily, a psychology student who is placed in a medically induced coma soon after breaking up with aspiring stand-up comedian Kumail (Kumail Nanjiani). On paper, it doesn't sound like the most promising rom-com premise, but in practice it's fresh, inventive, and filled with tender observations about dating someone from a different ethnic background. Remarkably, the story is based on Nanjiani's real-life romance with Emily V. Gordon, with whom he wrote the Oscar-nominated screenplay.
2. She's no stranger to a Western, either.
Kazan had a supporting role in director Kelly Reichardt's 2010 Western movie Meek's Cutoff, then led one of the self-contained stories in the Coen Brothers' 2018 Western anthology film The Ballad of Buster Scruggs.
3. She's a talented screenwriter.
Kazan wrote the ingenious 2012 indie movie Ruby Sparks, in which she stars opposite husband Paul Dano. Dano plays an anxious novelist whose fictional character Ruby Sparks (Kazan) comes to life and, much to his confusion, becomes increasingly independent. Kazan also co-wrote the screenplay to Dano's wistful directorial debut, 2018's Wildlife, in which Carey Mulligan and Jake Gyllenhaal portray a 1960s couple whose marriage is breaking down. Both films picked up nominations at the Independent Spirit Awards.
4. She comes from a family of writers and filmmakers.
Together, her parents Nicholas Kazan and Robin Swicord wrote the screenplay to the beloved 1996 movie adaptation of Roald Dahl's Matilda. Swicord's other screenwriting credits include 1994's Little Women and 2008's The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, while Nicholas Kazan also wrote 1990's Reversal of Fortune and 1999's Bicentennial Man.
And of course, Kazan's grandfather is Elia Kazan, director of the Hollywood classics A Streetcar Named Desire and On the Waterfront.
5. She makes consistently interesting acting choices.
Kazan's most recent TV role came in HBO's thought-provoking 2020 miniseries The Plot Against America. Based on a novel by Philip Roth, it imagines an alternate version of American history where a xenophobic populist called Charles Lindbergh (Ben Cole) rises through the political system to become President. Kazan plays Bess Levin, a working-class Jewish mother from Newark whose family is grimly impacted by Lindbergh's increasingly fascist policies.
6. She's got lots of Broadway and off-Broadway on her résumé.
As well as appearing in productions of Angels in America, The Seagull, and The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, Kazan has written several plays that have been staged in New York City, including 2017's visionary After the Blast. It imagines the world after an environmental disaster, where nature is now simulated through brain-implanted chips, and fertility is regulated to keep the surviving population in balance.
7. She's been speaking out about sexual harassment for years.
"There's so much sexual harassment on set. And there’s no HR department, right? We don’t have a redress," Kazan told The Guardian in 2017. "We have our union, but no one ever resorts to that, because you don’t want to get a reputation for being difficult. I’ve told Paul about stuff that has happened on set and it’s almost as if he can’t take it in. It’s too upsetting. And he’s never had to deal with that once."
Offering some examples of the subtle ways in which this harassment can play out, Kazan added: "I have a lot of girlfriends who are amazing actors, and many times we’ve talked about having to go into a room and give ‘blowjob eyes’. You know, be flirty with a director or a producer. It’s the sense that your sexuality is somehow baked into this situation. Or there’ll be auditions where they’ll say, ‘Wear something body-conscious’ and then you’re aware that they’re checking out your body. You leave the situation feeling not good about what just happened, but you don’t really have the language for why. You feel like, if you said something, it would reflect badly on you."
8. In 2016, she wrote a powerful op-ed about overcoming her eating disorder for the New York Times.
"In Revolutionary Road, I was still puffy from my eating disorder, because your metabolism slows down a lot," Kazan later told The Guardian. "That was the impetus for me to talk about it publicly – I saw myself being tagged on Instagram as a ‘thinspiration’ and that made me really sad."
9. She doesn't gloss over the challenges of working with her husband.
"We’ve acted together three times," Kazan told London's Evening Standard in 2018. "I don’t think we’ll do that again. It’s very hard because you’re spending all day together on set, and then you’re going home together. There’s no other person in the relationship making sure that there’s food in the fridge and toilet paper."
10. And finally, she tells it like it is.
During this really funny interview on Stephen Colbert's chat show, Kazan gets real about how boring it is to pretend you're in a coma for days on end.
Do you have a favorite Zoe Kazan project?