Being Stephanie and Overprotective Dads: A Conversation with Zoey Deutch
A vibrant, diversely talented, and charming actress, Zoey Deutch is steadily building on her body of work with dynamic roles alongside notable actors and filmmakers.
She will next star in BEFORE I FALL, the adaptation of the 2010 YA novel of the same name which was produced by Awesomeness Films and will be released in March 2017 by Open Road Films. The movie centres on “Samantha Kingston” (Deutch), a high school senior who finds that she may be living the last day of her life over and over until she gets it right.
Deutch was last seen in EVERYBODY WANTS SOME!!, the latest film from writer/director Richard Linklater. The film, which premiered to rave reviews at the South by Southwest Film Festival, follows a group of college baseball players navigating their way through the freedoms and responsibilities of unsupervised adulthood.
Deutch recently wrapped production on several films including FLOWER, a coming of age story about the unlikely bond that forms between a sexually adventurous teenage girl and her obese, mentally unstable step-brother. Written and co-produced by YA novelist-turned-screenwriter Alex McAulay, the film also starts Kathryn Hahn, Tim Heidecker, and Adam Scott; REBEL IN THE RYE starring opposite Kevin Spacey and Nicholas Hoult. Based on a true story, the film follows author J.D. Salinger (Hoult) as he prepares to write his classic novel CATCHER IN THE RYE. Deutch will play ‘Oona O’Neill,’ the daughter of legendary playwright Eugene O’Neill, who has an affair with Salinger; and THE YEAR OF SPECTACULAR MEN starring opposite her sister Madelyn Deutch, who also wrote the script, and directed by their mother Lea Thompson, in her feature film debut. The film, which follows a young woman (Madelyn Deutch) fresh out of college as she strikes up and torches relationships with several men, shows Deutch in a contrasting role as the movie star sister with a loving boyfriend (Avan Jogia).
Prior to this, she co-starred in the comedy DIRTY GRANDPA opposite Robert De Niro and Zac Efron. Directed by Dan Mazer, the film centers on a wacky road-trip that unfolds as an uptight man (Efron) is tricked into driving his inappropriate grandfather (De Niro) to Florida for spring break. Deutch also stars in VINCENT N ROXXY opposite Emile Hirsch, Zoe Kravitz and Emory Cohen. The film follows a small-town loner and a rebellious punk rocker as they unexpectedly fall in love and are forced on the run. The film premiered at Tribeca Film Festival in April. This year she also starred in GOOD KIDS opposite Julia Garner, Nicholas Braun, and Dayo Okeniyi about four overachieving high-school students living in Cape Cod who decide to reinvent themselves following graduation. The script, written by Chris McCoy, made the 2011 Black List.
In 2014, Deutch played the female lead role in The Weinstein Company’s VAMPIRE ACADEMY. Starring as ‘Rose Hathaway,’ the actress’ performance as a ‘Dhampir,’ half human-half vampire, garnered her a Teen Choice Award nomination for Choice Movie Actress: Comedy. Additionally, she was featured alongside Alden Ehrenreich and Emma Thompson in the film adaptation of the best-selling novel BEAUTIFUL CREATURES.
Deutch first became known for her role as ‘Maya’ on Disney channel’s THE SUITE LIFE ON DECK, which earned her further roles as a rising star in Hollywood. She also starred as ‘Juliet Martin’, Sarah Michelle Gellar’s troubled stepdaughter, in the CW’s RINGER.
Committed to several charitable causes, Deutch is a strong supporter of the Corazon De Vida Orphanage in Tijuana, and has performed for The Alzheimer’s Association, What A Pair, and Race to Erase MS benefits. She also works with Water.org for their Give.Water.org campaign. The actress currently resides in Los Angeles.
In her latest role, in John Hamburg’s WHY HIM?, Deutch plays Stephanie, the daughter of Bryan Cranston’s character, who is deeply committed to a relationship with James Franco’s Laird Mayhew, a millionaire tech giant whose eccentricities frustrate her overprotective dad. From the film’s set, Deutch discusses her role and her attraction to the project.
Who is Stephanie?
Stephanie is an intelligent, young woman who’s studying global health at Stanford and has fallen in love with a tech billionaire. She invites her family to meet him for the holidays and doesn’t really preface or warn them of any of his… what would you say? Eccentricities? [laughs]
She does seem, at times, frustrated by Laird herself.
I think opposites attract. She’s charmed by his brutal honesty and he has no fear. He’s fully himself and there’s something really great about that.
Stephanie seems like the sanest character in the film. Is it fun to get to watch everyone else be crazy?
Yeah. Definitely, the movie is ordinary people in extraordinary situations. Stephanie is reacting to these characters who are at their most heightened versions. It’s a tug of war. It’s an internal struggle figuring out who she’s siding with on each and every step of the way. Who she agrees with, who she’s supposed to reprimand or ease.
How is it having Bryan Cranston as a dad?
I fear talking about him because I don’t want to sound like a crazy, obsessed fan because I love him so much. [laughs] He’s one of the most wonderful people I’ve ever met. It was not difficult for it to feel like he was my father. I’m in awe of his class. He’s immensely generous. When it’s not his take, of course he’s writing jokes for the other characters and clapping for the stunt guys or saying, “Good job,” to the stand-ins. He remembers all the dolly grips’ names. He’s a classy, generous, warm, and talented man. He is the epitome of what young actors and actresses should learn from. He sets an amazing, amazing tone and he’s made me so much more aware of certain things.
You’ve done a number of comedy projects lately. Is the challenge harder than drama?
I think in some ways, it can be harder to make a great comedy than it is to make high-grade drama, because something is either funny or it’s not. But on set, we’re laughing our asses off all day, and it’s hard not to. So the atmosphere certainly makes you want to rise to the challenge of it. Every movie is extremely different from the last; they all have very different tones and require different approaches.
When you’re embarking on a career, presumably there’s little design to where it takes you. Are you following the river?
It was funny; I remember my first job I did was a movie called BEAUTIFUL CREATURES. I remember I was in Miami and I kept getting asked the same question, which was, “Why did you choose this role?” The way it was phrased, I kept being like, “Wait, do they really think that I sit here and I go, ‘I want to do this one, I want to do that role?’” There are very few people in the world who get to design their careers like that. I think it’s just luck to be able to get a job that you actually love. I know how lucky I am. Truly, I know how lucky I am to be here.
Why Him? is available on Blu-ray and DVD from Monday May 1, courtesy of Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment