Zoey Deutch is one of the few young Hollywood stars to keep herself to herself. A world away from the glitzy Hollywood situation you might naturally picture her in, the 21-year-old, is far removed from second-generation Hollywood It Girl boilerplate. She is quiet but animated and a self-proclaimed “strange 21-year-old.” She’s been in a committed relationship with her boyfriend [actor Avan Jogia] since she was sixteen, she rarely goes out, preferring to hang with her pitbull Maybelle, rather than other young starlets, and her prolific work ethic and focused dedication to her craft rivals that of artists twice her age. “Maybe it’s growing up in Los Angeles and getting my crazy years out of the way at a very young age”, she says about her current routine. “I made a choice not to go to college, a sacrifice really, and I wasn’t sure if it was the right decision, but I’m happy to be where I am. Everyone’s got their own path, truly. I’m taking it one day at a time.”
According to IMDb, Deutch has nine different projects on the go just in 2016 alone. Though many of these projects were obviously staggered when they were shot, they are all culminating this year. The list includes her recent roles in the dark comedy Dirty Grandpa, alongside Zac Efron & Deniro and the only female lead in Linklater’s Everybody Wants Some. Then there’s her upcoming starring roles in the films Vincent N Roxxy, with another Zoe [Kravitz], Chris McCoy’s Good Kids, Before I Fall, as well as The Masterpiece and Why Him (both co-starring Bryan Cranston and James Franco) along with the family-spun movie The Year of Spectacular Men, which was written by her sister, directed by her mother and produced by her father. Moving into grittier roles, she’s also currently filming the J.D. Salinger biopic Rebel in the Rye with Kevin Spacey and Nicholas Hoult, playing the real-life Oona O’Neill, daughter of Eugene O’Neill who had an affair with Salinger and later married Charlie Chaplin, all by the age of eighteen.
“She's incredibly complex and fascinating to me,” Deutch says of Oona. “She's a child of an alcoholic and a genius. She had money, and was raised around affluent families, went to great private schools, but damn, did she have it rough as a child. She is a very different person than I am, but I feel I have a good grasp of her childhood and life, and I am excited to put it on its feet.”
In preparation for the storied role she underwent some heavy reading, accent work and etiquette training. “I feel like Oona had a very strong physical presence, so I've been working with dance, movement and etiquette teachers, as well as a dialect coach, trying to get that mid Atlantic accent down. Let me tell you,” she says tongue-in-cheek, “in all my research I've found in order to accurately portray someone in the early 40's, all you do is walk around elegantly with a long cigarette holder in hand smoking while yelling different versions of ‘Dahling! Daaaahling! Dahling!’ That's all it takes really!!”
Just because her Hollywood lineage is strong--mother is famous actress Lea Thompson (widely known for her role in the Back to the Future franchise) and her father is successful producer Howard Deutch (Pretty in Pink), her upbringing was far removed from the normal Hollywood glamour and the type of childhood/teenagehood Oona endured. Deutch was raised on a “Mini ranch/farm with five horses, forty chickens, eight ducks, one parrot, seven dogs and one delinquent cat.”
Zoey Deutch is grounded. Seriously. Major props to her parents for raising her right and instilling virtues like, “...To be kind to everybody.” When asked what advantages and disadvantages she experienced growing up among famous folks, she explains, “I think people assuming things. I try my best not to defend myself for being in a family that works in the same business that I do. If people want to bring up nepotism, that's fine. Other people's opinion of me is none of my business. Anyone in this industry knows, you don’t get far with favors, it’s just not how it works.”
Being raised outside of the industry, on a ranch versus a mansion in the hills, mostly shielded Deutch from the whole life-in-a-fishbowl aspect of her Hollywood pedigree. But now that she’s become a successful actress herself, we wonder what she feels about the lack of privacy that’s part and parcel with fame.
“Depends on the person and the situation, but for the most part, I think there is a fair amount of that you can avoid... and some stuff, you can't of course,” Deutch says. “I just mean, if you want to experience and live rather than watch people experience and live, go to a low key place or restaurant or location for a vacation. There are choices you can consciously make that can ease that struggle people have with fame, I think.”
Surely, though, there are significant hints of glittering Hollywood lifestyle in her world--the All-American beauty was just followed by Teen Vogue for a day, documenting her preparations for the Met Gala and she showcased that on her Instagram. She is doing this fame business strictly on her own terms and has hereto managed to remain undissected by the tabloids. Social media gives an artist some ability to control the output of personal imagery released into the world, so what are her thoughts on using social media platforms in regards to her image and career?
“I go back and forth with social media. Personally, I hate knowing too much about an actor. And I hate the idea that people have seen what my dog looks like when she's eating a carrot and have followed my life and things that I've been posting since I was fifteen,” Deutch exclaims. “I worry that they can't separate Zoey who owns a carrot eating dog, from a character I'm playing. But on the other side of the spectrum, I love being able to connect with my fans and see what their doing and how they react to my work. They really are so passionate and cool and artistic--I've seen some really beautiful edits and art. It's become much more common and acceptable for actors to engage in social media, and in some instances, almost mandatory for press. I try to find a balance. I try to do mostly work related stuff, and once in awhile, I'll post something personal.”
With so many roles under her young belt, does she feel each of the roles have shaped in her some way? “Yes, and I actually feel that way about some auditions as well. There are parts and people I’ve played, even just for a few hours or minutes, that have stayed with me in a profound way, that have taught me about myself and my relationships in ways I could have never imagined.”
She explains that roles do make her feel like a different person, and her approach to tackling each role is ever-changing. “I definitely steer more towards a lot of preparation prior to shooting than just letting it evolve as filming progresses. I mean the latter inevitably happens. But I do spend a lot of time, comedy or drama, on the character, beforehand. I love homework. I really do. I loved school and projects and diving into a research paper, so getting to do that with a person is actually quite similar. It's so much fun.”
What is her criteria for role section? “I'm just starting the phase of my career where I have to be pickier, or my agents do. I'm bad at picky. I love to work so much, being on set is so comfortable for me, and I get extremely antsy when I'm not working. But role diversity and switching it up is most the important and inspiring element to me. As a young woman, damn, is it easy to get pigeonholed, or looked at as an ‘It Girl’ (which by the way, is so offensive to me. The ultimate insult shrouded in a what appears like a compliment. To blatantly say a young actress is hot shit now but that it's temporary... I hate it.”
In The Year of Spectacular Men, the criteria was clear-- to collaborate with her family. “The whole process was about as grassroots and personal as you can get,” Deutch says. “The gag reel is pretty damn funny -- me and my sister just yelling at our mom and/or our mom yelling us. Truthfully, it's a miracle when a good movie gets written, even bigger miracle when the film gets made, and a massive beyond miracle when people see it. It's such a challenge and I am truly proud of my family for pulling out all the stops and making something special that will be around. Forever. And ever. Ever ever. And ever. My mom and sister kicked ass.”
The movie also marks the first time working with her boyfriend. “It definitely took some practice,” she admits. “It's hard to work alongside people you are very close with. I have a newfound respect for couples that have a business together, or people who work with their family all the time. But in the end, it was very rewarding. And deepened the relationships I think.”
Working with Linklater was also a very formative experience for her: “He is a true collaborator in every sense of the word. He is interested in your ideas and opinions and thoughts. I was in awe of his ability to simplify things that seemed so complicated to me,” she says. “He imparted a lot of wisdom on to the cast. One thing that will stick with me forever is his approach on releasing a film. That after making something so personal, the inevitable transition where the essentially private venture goes public. And that it's important to understand where your heart is with the film before people see it and it goes out into the world. Because otherwise, it's so easy to get lost in the sea of many many varying opinions. To stay true to your art, your heart and not go crazy, lock in the experience and what it meant to you and don't let anyone take that away from you. That at a certain point, it's not just ours anymore -- and it's mostly out of our hands, but the goal has to be to still carry that other mentality forward despite what crap might await us. His philosophy on putting out art is really an idea I'll cherish forever. All of us know how special the experience was. I think we'll always see this as a unique place and time, with the best people imaginable.”
In addition to working with Linklater, Deutch has shared the screen with a lion’s share of iconic actors, does it ever get intimidating? “Yeah definitely. But it's a funny thing, context, how and where you meet a person,” she describes. “Two years ago I walked by Bryan [Cranston] on the street, I almost freaked out, I was super star struck and too intimidated to say hello. But when I met him for our first rehearsal of Why Him, we were in a work environment, and you naturally just adapt I guess. Our relationship in the film is a very close father daughter bond, so that inevitably I think seeped into our off camera friendship as well. Plus, the man is a comedic genius. I would creep around and just watch him from afar when I wasn't in the scene. He's fascinating to watch work. He is so quick and witty and truly laugh out loud funny. People are going to love him in this film.”
Even though she’s seasoned in performing comedy, she confesses in real life, “I'm the joke killer. If anyone tells a joke in my family I have to know specifics and I always ruin the punch line from asking too many questions. Same with stories. If anyone is telling a story and misses out a minor detail I make them back up and re explain. Yeah. I'm hyper curious. Embarrassingly curious. And a joke/story killer.”
It’s been well documented that she is Hillary Clinton supporter, which comes with its own grip of Clinton bashers weighing in on Deutch’s political allegiances.“I believe Hillary is the best candidate for the job. I support her because I believe she has the experience it takes to lead the country and she has had senior roles in administrations,” she tells me. “She’s aligned with a lot of issues and causes that I am. I’d be lying if I didn’t say that I think it’s time to have a woman president. It's funny though because my mom and I are pro Hillary and my dad and sister are feeling the Bern [Bernie Sanders], so there's a lil' rivalry happening at the Deutch fam right now.”
MET Gala appearances, red carpet premieres, screen-sharing with legends, a handsome actor boyfriend, a loyal fanbase, all by by twenty-one...by all appearances, Deutch lives the charmed life; but appearances are just that. She is about curating normalcy, earning your keep and admits when she's not filming, the low-key homebody is simply hanging with her dog. “My pitbull Maybelle is so therapeutic, it's stupid. She brings me so much joy. I mean it's all relaxing and fun and joyous until she eats a grape or some shit. By the way, did you know that grapes are toxic to dogs?! I didn't,” she laughs. “They tell you about chocolate but not grapes. Thousands of dollars later, that was an extremely expensive snack.”
With a grounded foundation and a star that never stops rising, it seems her success has been charted and set. She is the new youth: well-informed, educated in politics and equality, aware of the dual-edges of social media, and enthusiastic about hanging with her family and pets. She doesn't get caught up in trying to be cool and she is cool for exactly that reason.
For more photos of Deutch, check out her full spread in Rogue's Issue #3!
Story by Heather Seidler
Photography by Andrew Kuykendall
Styled by Dalit Gwenna
Makeup by Mariah Buian
Hair by Matilde Campos
Shot at Petit Ermitage