Tribeca Interview: Zoe Kazan Talks Joss Whedon’s ‘In Your Eyes’ [Exclusive]

Actress Zoe Kazan is quickly becoming the Tribeca Film Festival’s darling. The granddaughter of the legendary director Elia Kazan, Zoe received rave reviews last year at the festival by pulling double duty (a la The Parent Trap) by playing her twin in the charming and surprisingly moving film The Pretty One. Apart from the festival she made her screenwriting debut with the severely underrated film Ruby Sparks, which she also starred in opposite her boyfriend Paul Dano. Kazan also took on notable roles in indie favorites like Meek’s Cutoff, and Happythankyoumoreplease.

This year Kazan returns with In Your Eyes, opposite Cloverfield’s Michael Stahl-David, which features a clever script by Joss Whedon pulled together by director Brin Hill. Unique in its narrative, the film touches on romantic love built in the structure of supernatural elements. Borrowing heavily from the Whedonspeak most of Joss’ characters speak in, the rhythm of the film invites a whole new story of boy-meets-girl.

In the film Zoe Kazan plays Rebecca, who is suffering through a life she didn’t sign up for as a lonely, sheltered housewife of a successful doctor. Across the country in New Mexico is Dylan (Michael Stahl-David) an ex-con who is struggling to find his place in the world without inviting in trouble from his past. Although they have never met, the two share an unexplainable supernatural connection that allows them to come together in a completely unexpected way.

Up next Kazan stars opposite Daniel Radcliffe in the dramedy What If.

The Inquisitr’s Niki Cruz sat down to speak with Zoe Kazan about her return to Tribeca Film Festival and her new film In Your Eyes.

THE INQUISITR: How are you enjoying Tribeca so far?

ZOE KAZAN: It’s an easy festival to do because I live in New York and it’s easy travel time [Laughs]

I just heard the good news about the film being released on the streaming platform Vimeo on Demand via its own site. How do you feel about similar platforms like VOD? I imagine it’s extremely important for a film like this.

This is my third film at Tribeca, and I’ve been in a lot of films that run in the festivals. Even if they do well at the festivals sometimes those movies disappear or have a hard time finding their audience. I think on these smaller budgeted indies it’s hard to reach out to the right people at the right time. I think it’s a cool way to circumvent that problem and try to reach out to people who want to see movies immediately and directly and I think it’s a real experiment.

It felt like I was watching these two old friends reconnect. Even with all of the supernatural elements it’s extremely relatable.

Yeah you know I think there’s a real feeling of recognition in romantic relationships. It’s not just a feeling of, “Oh we like the same thing but a kind of real feeling of serendipity. It’s a feeling of knowing someone already, and I think that’s what this film is metaphorically saying. I’m glad you felt that watching it.

You’re an extremely talented writer yourself and I was wondering if being a writer changes the way you digest a script?

I think the thing that makes me interested in being a writer is that I’m really interested in text and how to take text a part and why people use certain words and what those certain words mean. Language is a huge interest to me, and as an actor that’s the building blocks to my performance. I look at, how does this person talk? Why do they say that thing? What are they really saying, and what’s underneath it? As a writer working the other way I think very often people don’t say what they really mean, so finding different ways to have people give themselves away — just the way people express themselves is really interesting to me. I think it probably makes me a harsher critic when I read scripts. In Your Eyes is definitely Joss’ tempo and humor, so I had to find a way into that because my natural rhythms are different than Joss’. It’s part of the joy of it.

It has seemed to pan out for you. Your work is fantastic.

Thank you. The truth is is that there’s very little out there. It’s hard to write a good script and it’s really hard to get a movie made right now. When I read something that’s interesting that’s a huge deal. When I read something that’s interesting that I have a chance to go in on and audition for, that’s even rarer. There’s just so little that’s being made. There’s so many actors out there right now that I question, “Why don’t I see them on screen all the time? Why aren’t they in starring roles?” There just isn’t enough work. There’s not enough good writing to go around so when you get an opportunity, you leap on it.

A line that really struck me was “The only thing I like about myself is you.” That’s a really bold and scary concept to realize as a person that half of your identity is within another person. Did this film add to a perception you have on past relationship?

The thing I think about a lot in relationships is the person you choose is the life you choose. There are a lot of different people you can be with and you can feel attracted to, or make a life with, but it’s just going to be a different life. My boyfriend is allergic to milk so my cooking has totally changed. That’s obviously a really superficial example, but it’s just one of the ways we’re changed by someone and not in a romantic way.

Was there anything that surprised you about making the film?

We shot one half of every scene that we had together in New Hampshire and the other half in Los Angeles so there was this real, “How is this going to come together?” quality. Everything was going to be cut back and forth.

Did you have doubles to act with for the scenes that you were alone?

No we were there for each other to speak to. It was that call and response quality that you were talking about.

You mentioned last year while promoting The Pretty One that you were working on a script – is that still a work in progress?

Yeah I’m still working on it and plugging away!

In Your Eyes is currently available on Vimeo to watch.