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Zoey Deutch really wants to do a Western

"The Dirty Grandpa" actress talks about having a normal childhood with Hollywood parents.

The day the Oscars were announced, actress Zoey Deutch was starting rehearsals for the movie “Why Him?” One of her costars just happened to be Bryan Cranston, who received his first nomination, for his turn in “Trumbo.”

“I went to CVS, trying to find a ‘Congratulations for Your Oscar!’ balloon,” Deutch remembers. Those are, as you can imagine, sort of hard to find. “I got him a ‘Happy Birthday!’ one instead. Maybe his wife and daughter picked up all the ‘Congratulations on Your Oscar!’ balloons.”

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Being around big stars isn’t new for the 21-year-old actress. In addition to films like “Beautiful Creatures,” “Vampire Academy” and the new “Dirty Grandpa,” she’s the daughter of Lea Thompson — she of “Back to the Future,” “All the Right Moves,” “Red Dawn” and more — and director Howard Deutch. Her dad directed two of the seminal ’80s teen movies, “Pretty in Pink” and “Some Kind of Wonderful.”

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Deutch says she didn’t have some extravagant, atypical upbringing. “I had a very normal childhood,” she tells us. “I mean, nobody’s childhood is normal. But normal for me.” She says, when she was growing up, few at school knew she came from such pedigree.

She even expresses surprise when I tell her the popular reading of “Some Kind of Wonderful” as a kind of inverse, or even corrective, of “Pretty in Pink.” Where in the latter Jon Cryer’s “Duckie” didn’t wind up with the hero (Molly Ringwald), “Wonderful” has its unpopular character (played by Mary Stuart Masterson) get with the lead, played by Eric Stoltz. (That also meant, as it were, jilting the character played by her mom.)

Deutch has been lighting out on her own, not explicitly falling back on her parents’ names. In the spring she’ll be seen as part of the young ensemble cast in Richard Linklater’s “Everybody Wants Some,” a spiritual sequel to “Dazed and Confused.” She did, however, recently act in “The Year of Spectacular Men,” directed by her mom, as well as written and co-starring her sister, Madelyn.

“It was an amazing experience to get to collaborate on something so close to our hearts,” she says. “To get to learn a new element of your relationship was fascinating.”

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In the meantime, there’s “Dirty Grandpa,” in which she plays the nice girl who’s able to woo Zac Efron’s uptight 20-something — on a road trip to Daytona Beach with his crazy gramps (Robert De Niro) — away from a life he may not like. She says she largely did it to work with director Dan Mazer, known for his longtime work with Sacha Baron Cohen (and who has many brightly colored sweaters, she likes to point out).

“It’s a hilarious, equal opportunity offensive film,” she explains. “No one is safe.”

When asked what kind of movies she’d most like to do, she instantly stumps for a Western. “I grew up with horses, but I’m a terrible horseback rider,” Deutch says. “Maybe I just want to fulfill my lifelong fantasy of being a good horseback rider, because my sister was and I want to beat her.”

Follow Matt Prigge on Twitter @mattprigge
 
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