I guess, in our post-”Harry Potter” world, a lot of people would be really excited when a new movie comes out starring Daniel Radcliffe.
Alas, I am not one of those people.
When I heard about the cast for the new rom-com “What If,” I was more excited about Zoe Kazan. The Yale graduate does things like tweet about Criterion films and how “Boyhood” reminded her of Truffaut’s Doinel stories. She a star of stage and screen, appearing in shows like “The Prime Of Miss Jean Brodie,” and films like “It’s Complicated,” “Revolutionary Road” and ”Ruby Sparks.” In fact, it’s “Ruby Sparks,” which she wrote herself, that made me a Zoe Kazan fan — there’s something very badass about writing yourself a lead role in a movie.
In “What If,” Kazan is a leading lady once again, playing Chantry, a young woman with a boyfriend (Rafe Spall) who befriends her cousin’s aimless pal, Wallace (Radcliffe). As their friendship gets closer and closer, Chantry and Wallace both start to wonder whether it’s possible to remain friends when you’ve got romantic feelings. It’s super emotionally realistic in a way most rom-coms usually aren’t.
Earlier this spring, I met up with a bubbly Kazan to chat about “What If,” rom-coms, feminism, and femininity. Our conversation is after the jump:
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In Ruby Sparks, out today in limited release, two things elude young novelist Calvin (Paul Dano): an idea for his second book and a meaningful relationship. When an enchanting redhead named Ruby Sparks (Zoe Kazan) comes to him in his dreams, she fills both those needs. Calvin starts writing Ruby’s story as fast as he can and even admits to his therapist that he’s falling for this figment of his imagination. His literary muse would be harmless, until Ruby miraculously appears in his apartment as his living and breathing dream girl. Ruby is warm, romantic, and beguiling — everything Calvin made her. Calvin and Ruby go on as an implausible yet happy couple, but when Ruby starts to get restless in the relationship, Calvin is tempted to go back to his typewriter. He created her, and when he continues to write her story, he has the power to change her.
Valerie Faris and Jonathan Dayton, the husband-and-wife team behind Little Miss Sunshine, directed Ruby Sparks. They weren’t the only couple working on the project. Zoe Kazan, who wrote the film and stars as Ruby, acts alongside her real-life boyfriend, Paul Dano. Director Valerie told us, “We thought there was a lot that could be borrowed from who Paul and Zoe are. In rehearsals we took them back to how they met and to their first kiss, and we used a lot of that when we were shooting the film.” But there were also layers of Paul and Zoe to strip away. “Zoe is very flirtatious in real life,” Jonathan told us. “And the script actually had her a little more that way. We asked Zoe to trim that and really change her performance. As soon as she did, it was as if Ruby appeared before all of us, and even Zoe felt like: that’s Ruby.” We had a chance to sit down with Zoe Kazan, who at 28 years old has captured many recognizable realities of relationships in her magical story Ruby Sparks. Read more …