Zoe Kazan chats about playing twins in ‘The Pretty One’

Zoe Kazan comes from a famous family, sure, but she’s adeptly made a name for herself over the course of …

Zoe Kazan comes from a famous family, sure, but she’s adeptly made a name for herself over the course of a still-young career as an actor and a playwright.

“The Pretty One,” a movie opening Friday, presents the 30-year-old granddaughter of iconic filmmaker Elia Kazan with a significant challenge. She stars as twins Laurel and Audrey in a serio-comic fable that explores the happenings when shy, reticent Laurel starts pretending to be the loquacious go-getter Audrey after the latter dies in a car accident.

In other words, Kazan (“Ruby Sparks”) is really playing three parts: twins and a twin embodying her idea of her twin.

amNewYork spoke with the actress about the film.

This is a complicated project from an acting standpoint.

It was definitely a real challenge. And you know it’s the kind of challenge though that I feel like all actors want to have. I felt pretty lucky. It’s definitely interesting to construct someone from the inside-out in a way.

What changes in your approach when you’re playing twins?

Normally, I feel like you have more leeway to discover on the day, on set, but especially when I was playing those two twins together that was so technically complicated that I really had to have a lot worked out ahead of time, so I had to think in a more strategic and pre-thought out way than I’m used to doing on film.

You must have a sixth sense for good scripts, being a screenwriter and a playwright as well as an actor. What drew you to this one?

I was really surprised by the script when I read it. I felt like I hadn’t seen this story 100 times before, which sometimes is not the case when you’re reading a lot of scripts. I feel like you can read a script and know pretty quickly whether or not it’s well-written, but there are some stories I feel like I’ve just seen 100 times and this was not one of them, so I was immediately excited that it felt like something new.

What’d you connect with from an emotional or thematic standpoint?

From a personal standpoint, I was very interested in the way that it speaks to the ideas that we have of ourselves as people and how that starts to define the way the world sees us. Sometimes we choose those roles and sometimes they’re thrust upon us and sometimes it’s a mixture of both, which is I feel the case here.

The movie’s also about the acting process in a way.My favorite part about acting is the thing where you get to step into someone else’s shoes and transform yourself. I don’t get to do as much of that kind of acting as I’d like on film. Often you’re being asked to play a version of yourself. My absolute favorite thing in the world is to look at my work and feel that I’m unrecognizable as myself. It makes me feel like I’ve actually done the thing that I set out to do. I felt like the story of this is sort of about that.

You’ve managed to totally avoid making junk in your career. What’s the secret?

To be totally frank with you there just isn’t enough work for women that I would be able to be that picky. I don’t have a romance about my work. I do in some ways. I’m not a snobby person so I always feel lucky to have a job. So, on some level, it’s probably a miracle that I don’t have a thousand bad movies on my resume.

Robert Levin