With big blue eyes, a graceful little smile and the slightest forward hunch of her shoulders, Zoe Kazan doesn’t look as mighty as the sum of her creative forces. The 28 year-old granddaughter of legendary filmmaker Elia Kazan is not only a celebrated actress, she’s also a playwright, screenwriter and executive producer. But on the day that we meet her, she girlishly curls up in a chair at the Crosby Street Hotel, tucking her feet under herself as if readying to read a good book. We discuss the film that she wrote, produced and starred in, “Ruby Sparks.”
“I guess I’m a formalist,” she says. “I like things to take advantage of their medium.” Having written plays in the past, Kazan is describing her choice to make this particular story into a film. And upon learning of the subject matter, one can understand why — an author (played by Paul Dano, Kazan’s real-life partner) plagued by writer’s block finally stumbles upon inspiration when he dreams of his perfect woman. After writing pages and pages about this woman, Ruby Sparks, she suddenly appears in his apartment and he continues to be able to control her with his typewriter.
“When he starts to change Ruby, it’s when he feels that she might leave him,” Kazan says. “It’s out of a feeling of helplessness and a desire to hold onto the loved object. I also think it’s very hard to love the actual person … In previous relationships, I’ve felt like, “Oh you don’t love me; you love this idea of Zoe that’s over here somewhere, and there are bits of me in there. But it’s a whole me – [it’s] as if you chopped off my arm and called that Zoe.”
Having been with her partner Dano for several years, it seems Ms. Kazan must know a thing or two about keeping a relationship going. She certainly displays an insightful perspective on how it gets started.
“We all start with an idea of love; you feel attracted to someone — they smell right to you, they feel right to you and you immediately project a lifetime of romantic ideals and thoughts and every movie you’ve ever seen and every rock star you’ve ever loved,” she muses. “All that sh— comes right at that person, and then I think it takes a long time to pull away those layers and see the actual person. And then once you do, that’s where love really starts.”