A Conversation with Zoe Kazan: Playwright & Stage and Screen Actor
After all, her parents are the screen writers Nicholas Kazan and Robin Swicord, and her grandfather was the legendary great director Elia Kazan.
It always fascinates me to watch how the artists who have already had the advantage — or maybe, at times, the burden of having to fly from an already high summit to even a higher summit — break the mold that they were born in and have been shaped into and find their own voice to create their own mold. Such is Zoe Kazan, Yale University graduate “drama” playwright and stage and screen actor.
I had the opportunity for a quick Q&A with Zoe Kazan. Here are some highlights.
Q. Is writing a play an emotional process for you and do you try to project your state of mind in the characters of your plays?
A. I think any artistic endeavor is, by its nature, both emotional and analytic. Without emotional connection to the material, why create? And without analytic distance, how can one craft? The challenge is finding the balance, to be able to reach the audience empathically and intellectually.
Q. When you were young, did you dream of being an actress and a playwright?
A. Yes! I feel incredibly lucky to be able to make my living doing the things I love.
Q. Do you enjoy more acting or writing?
A. I consider myself an actor first, writer second, but I enjoy doing both.
Q. What would you be doing if you were not an actress and a playwright?
A. I would probably want to teach young children.
Q. What is your idea of happiness?
A. Being able to do what I love and be with the people I love. To contribute to the world in a way that feels meaningful to me. Knowing that my family and friends are healthy and happy. Solitude with a good book, sharing a good movie or meal.
Zoe Kazan was born and raised in Los Angeles and currently resides in New York. Kazan’s first play, Absalom, was produced in 2009 at the Humana Festival at the Actors Theater of Louisville. Her second play, We Live Here, was commissioned and produced off-Broadway by Manhattan Theatre Club in 2011. Kazan also wrote, executive produced, and starred in the movie Ruby Sparks, for which she was nominated for an Independent Spirit Award for Best Screenplay. In addition, Kazan is an award-winning stage and film actress whose credits include Revolutionary Road, It’s Complicated, The Exploding Girl and the upcoming The Pretty One, In Your Eyes, The F Word and HBO miniseries “Olive Kitteridge.”