ZOE KAZAN ON HER NEW FILM 'THE MONSTER', HER THOUGHTS ON THE ELECTION, & WHERE SHE LIKES TO HANG OUT IN LA
Actress Zoe Kazan talks about her new film The Monster, the election, and where she loves to hangs out in LA.
Zoe Kazan certainly isn't afraid to speak her mind in all matters. The actress—who shot to fame in comedy films like It's Complicated, What If, and Ruby Sparks (which she wrote and acted in)—is now starring in The Monster, a dark horror movie unlike any other role she's done thus far.
Here, we have a candid conversation with Kazan about her new film, the books she recommends right now, and what she really thinks of the election outcome.
Let’s start with the GOP elephant in the room. What are your thoughts on the outcome of this election?
ZOE KAZAN: I’m heartbroken and I’m outraged and I’m frightened. I also understand for the first time how so many people of color in this country must feel. The fear, outrage, and heartbreak that I feel, they have been feeling for so many generations. I will be a broken record for justice from now on. I will raise my voice and I will not stop raising it. I will not stop speaking up and fighting for our rights until this man is no longer in office. I want to remind you that he does not believe in climate change, and that he wants to cancel our participation in the Paris Agreement. Climate change affects everyone. We will not have a planet to live on that is habitable if we keep going in this direction. Think again. Do the readings. If you have any money for the holidays, consider giving to the ACLU and Planned Parenthood instead of giving gifts this year. It will go further and mean more to the people you love.
As a response to this election, you’ve been recommending books on your Twitter, and also retweeting book suggestions, about writers who combat the darkness of their times. What are the top books that you recommend for our readers?
ZK: First of all, if you have children, the Philip Pullman books, His Dark Materials, are incredible books that deal with a totalitarian state and personal choice. I couldn’t recommend them more highly. I think it’s time that we all re-read Art Spiegelman’s Maus and Marjane Satrapi’s Persepolis. I think that this is a wonderful time, if you’ve not read it, to read Max Frisch’s play The Firebugs. He wrote it in response to Nazi Germany. It’s as present now as it was then. I think this is a good time to read Primo Levi’s Holocaust memoirs. He’s an incredible writer and what he has to say about the human soul is worth reading, even if you don’t think you can take the darkness of that material. I think this is a really good time to read black female writers of this country like Zora Neale Hurston and Tony Morrison. Homegoing, which came out this year, is a really good read about the history of black people in this country.
Switching gears a bit, your new movie The Monster, just came out. What drew you to this film and particularly to this character?
ZK: Most scripts that I read are about a woman’s relationship to a man, and I was thrilled to read something that is about a relationship between women—this one is a mother-daughter relationship and I play the mother. I thought that the writing was incredibly good, and I found the character of Kathy to be very interesting and unlike anything I had played before. Ella Ballentine is extraordinarily talented and brave, and I think that she was challenged by this film in a way that she was capable of rising to. I felt her to be a true partner to me in making it.
You’ve penned screenplays and stage scripts. What’s your writing process and how do you get inspired?
ZK: I’ve written my whole life. From the time I was very little, I was really motivated by a desire to tell stories, which I think I do as well as I do being an actor. My friend Vincent D’Onofrio said that we are storytellers first and foremost. Acting and theater and writing all come from the same place. At the very beginning of our language, sitting around a fire and speaking our voices into the darkness to keep each other company and knowing that someone else is there. So for me, every time I sit down to write, I feel like I am speaking into that darkness—even if I’m writing about something that I’ll never share with anyone. I think writing in that way is incredibly important. For me, it always starts with an image. I get an image in my mind and I ruminate on it, and let it grow inside me. Everything I’ve written has sort of spun off from one little seed, and investigating my own imagination is how I make my work.
What are your favorite spots in Los Angeles?
ZK: I grew up in LA and my family is there, so usually when I go back to Los Angeles I’m eating at home because my parents are very good cooks and they love to feed me. There’s a place called La Fiesta Brava. I grew up on the cusp of Venice, and La Fiesta Brava has been there forever. There’s another place called The Talpa, which is another Mexican restaurant, where my parents have been going since before I was born. I know the waitresses there and their families, and they were some of the first people I thought of when Trump was elected because they’ve made their lives here, put their children through college, and have been incredibly brave. A few of them were single mothers. I just hope for their sake that this country remains a place where it is good to be an immigrant and good to be Hispanic, and that we strive to protect each other.
'The Monster' is now in theaters and On Demand