Emily Ratajkowski knows who classic French filmmaker Robert Bresson is. That shouldn’t be shocking. Her mother is an academic and her father is an artist. But we’ve been conditioned to think models aren’t cultured, just as we’ve been conditioned to think models aren’t actors. Ratajkowski is all three. Her big acting break, after her bit in the "Blurred Lines" video, was no less than a David Fincher film, as Andie, the student sleeping with Ben Affleck’s Nick, in “Gone Girl.” She’s since played herself in the “Entourage” movie, and she’s now in “We Are Your Friends,” as the personal assistant/girlfriend of a big time DJ (Wes Bentley) who catches the affections of his young mentee (Zac Efron).
Traditionally there’s a stigma attached to models who transition into acting.
That happens a lot more to young women than it does to young men. There are far more stigmas attached to women who have been thought of as a sex symbol. That’s just silly.
A lot of time women’s sex appeal is usually filtered through the male gaze. You’ve spoken about how you want women to reclaim that sexuality and own it.
Even in “Gone Girl” and “We Are Your Friends,” you watch those characters at moments through the eyes of the male characters. I think there will be parts in the future where it’s just about the women and female journeys. That’s what I’m constantly struggling to find. That’s why I’m taking a slow road to which films I take.
The actor’s dream is to be able to carefully curate their careers, create a body of work they’re proud of.
For me it’s a matter of being happy. It’s not about being career savvy. I had a conversation with David [Fincher] after I did “Gone Girl” where I said, “I don’t think I’m very good if I don’t care about [the material].” He was like, “Well, duh.” I was like, “Well, you’re David Fincher, so that’s easy for you to say.” But it’s something I’d like to keep in mind.
You actually wanted to be an actor since you were a kid. In fact, you became a model so you could become an actor, correct?
Yeah, isn’t that funny? Not many people know that. I was one of those kids who tried everything, and theater was definitely something that stuck. I went to UCLA for visual art and thought about becoming an English professor or a writer. I’ve always been creatively inclined. My first love, though, was theater.
What were some roles you were playing as a kid?
I was the Little Match Girl, which was my first lead in the sixth grade, which was a big deal for me. But I fell in love with acting by watching theater. I lived in London when I was five years old while my mom was teaching literature there. Her teaching was about how literature related to theater, so she got all these free tickets. We would go to London theater shows once a week instead of seeing movies.
Are there any particular dream roles?
I saw “The Glass Menagerie” recently and I thought I would love to play the daughter. And there are so many great Shakespearean female parts.