After winning the Best Actress Award at the 2009 Tribeca Film Festival for Bradley Rust Gray’s “The Exploding Girl,” Zoe Kazan added a big-budget rom-com (“It’s Complicated”) and more indie dramas (“Meek’s Cutoff”) to her resume, starred on Broadway (“A Behanding in Spokane”) with Christopher Walken, and wrote the charming (and underrated) screenplay for “Ruby Sparks,” in which she starred with her longtime partner Paul Dano.
As if that’s not enough, the 29-year-old is back, this time playing identical twin sisters in “The Pretty One.” First-time writer/director Jenée LaMarque’s quirky film also stars Jake Johnson (“New Girl,” “Safety Not Guaranteed,” “Drinking Buddies”), Ron Livingston (“Office Space,” “Swingers”), and John Carroll Lynch (“Fargo”), but the film centers around Kazan’s layered performance as Laurel and Audrey, sisters whose similarity stops at genetics.
Laurel is an eccentric wallflower who has never blossomed; she lives at home, cares for her father (Lynch), and wears the dresses of her dead mother. Audrey, on the other hand—the titular “pretty one”—lives in the city, owns her own home, and leads what appears to be a successful, glamorous life. During a birthday visit home, Audrey takes Laurel for a much-needed makeover, then is promptly killed in a car accident. After a makeover-caused misunderstanding, Laurel is mistaken for Audrey, and she leaves home for the first time to try her sister’s life on for size. What follows is a sweet and grief-tinged tale of romantic entanglements and self-discovery (read our review here).
Throughout the film, LaMarque explores themes of imitation vs. forgery—Lynch’s character is a painter who copies famous works of art—and Kazan presents three distinctly different women: Laurel, Audrey, and Laurel pretending to be Audrey. What’s remarkable is that each character is recognizably different, even when the latter two look identical on the surface.
Kazan is a talented actress (and writer) with a refreshing sensibility—she’s one to watch. We spoke to her about “The Pretty One,” and how she sees the film’s director as employing a Jane Campion-esque femininity with “backbone and strength.” She also talked about bonding with her co-star Jake Johnson and a few projects she has coming up including “In Your Eyes” with a “Twilight” star and “The F-Word” with Daniel Radcliffe and Adam Driver. Check out the interview below; “The Pretty One” is on VOD and in limited release now.
On playing identical twins: “Jenée had written two very different people.” On how the technical issues of doubling haven’t gotten any
easier over the years: “It was like a lot of math.”