Courtesy photoZoe Kazan

Courtesy photoZoe Kazan

Talking ‘Pretty’ with Zoe Kazan

Independent-cinema fans know Zoe Kazan from her supporting parts in movies such as “Me and Orson Welles” and “Meek’s Cutoff,” and her lead roles in “The Exploding Girl” and “Ruby Sparks,” the latter of which she also wrote.

Viewers get a double dose of her in “The Pretty One,” in which she plays twins.

The granddaughter of the legendary director Elia Kazan (“A Streetcar Named Desire” and “On the Waterfront”), Kazan graduated from Yale, where she wrote a play. Today, she spends as much time onstage as she does in front of the camera.

Yet she says her role in “The Pretty One” “was a lot closer to what I’ve done in theater than what I’ve done in film.”

Kazan acted as one of the twins opposite a stand-in, and would then turn around and act the other side, much the same way that classic twin movies like “The Parent Trap” and “Dead Ringers” were done.

She says she knew that the stand-in was not going to be doing the same things that she would, so she was constantly searching her emotions during her performance.

“I spent a lot of time imagining things, like an umbilical cord between our bodies,” she says. “And I have a sister that I’m close with, so I was able to use that. You try to let your performance be a surprise.”

Even though the movie is about a pretty girl, Kazan is far less concerned with her looks than with her skills.

“The biggest reason I wanted to be an actor was to get to play different kinds of people,” she says. “Many actors I think are very aware of their looks because it’s part of their performances. I’ve never really felt that way. My favorite actors are character actors who use their faces and bodies in their performances.”

Kazan is constantly struggling not to become a diva, but had a difficult time during a night scene that took place in a chilly swimming pool with her co-star Jake Johnson.

“One of the things about shooting low-budget movies is that you get promised things like a heated pool, that you don’t get,” she says. “My body freezes up. I’m just devastatingly bad at acting in the cold.”

A second pool scene ended up being changed, which embarrassed Kazan.

“It makes you feel like a baby.”


The Pretty One

Starring Zoe Kazan, Jake Johnson, Ron Livingston, John Carroll Lynch

Written and directed by Jenee LaMarque

Rated R

Running time 1 hour, 30 minutesartsMoviesThe Pretty OnetwinsZoe Kazan

If you find our journalism valuable and relevant, please consider joining our Examiner membership program.
Find out more at

Just Posted

From left, California state Sen. Milton Marks, Sen. Nicholas Petris, Assemblyman John Knox and activists Claire Dedrick, Sylvia McLaughlin and Janet Adams watch Gov. Ronald Reagan sign the bill establishing the Bay Conservation and Development Commission as a permanent agency in 1969. (Courtesy Save The Bay)
Sixty years of Saving San Francisco Bay

Pioneering environmental group was started by three ladies on a mission

Temporary high-occupancy vehicle lanes will be added to sections of state Highway 1 and U.S. Highway 101, including Park Presidio Boulevard, to keep traffic flowing as The City reopens. <ins>(Ekevara Kitpowsong/Special to S.F. Examiner)</ins>
Transit and high-occupancy vehicle lanes coming to some of The City’s busiest streets

Changes intended to improve transit reliability as traffic increases with reopening

Tents filled up a safe camping site in a former parking lot at 180 Jones St. in the Tenderloin in June 2020.<ins> (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)</ins>
Proposal for major expansion of safe sleeping sites gets cool reception in committee

Supervisor Mandelman calls for creation of more temporary shelter sites to get homeless off streets

A surplus of	mice on the Farallon Islands have caused banded burrowing owls to stay year round instead of migrating, longtime researchers say. <ins>(Courtesy Point Blue Conservation Science)</ins>
Farallon Islands researchers recommend eradicating mice

The Farallon Islands comprise three groups of small islands located nearly 30… Continue reading

Once we can come and go more freely, will people gather the way they did before COVID? <ins>(Jessica Christian/S.F. Examiner file photo)</ins>
What happens when the pandemic is over?

After experiencing initial excitement, I wonder just how much I’ll go out

Most Read