Zoey Deutch: The actor-cum-activist getting educated

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WONDERLAND — “Your name’s Zoe—my name’s Zoey!” Exclaims 22-year-old actor Zoey Deutch as we say our hellos on a Sunday night conference call. While six years on screen and a corresponding relationship with the press have provided Deutch with the sort of media training that means she’ll answer four questions for every one I throw at her—stripping my healthy looking quiz to a handful of one liners—an innate charm has presumably contributed to her sweet delight at our matching monikers. “Crazy,” she concludes.

Despite my dictaphone deciding my own tone is more dull, would-be professional sounding, I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a little tickled by the co-incidence; that she will later offer Rebecca Solnit’s phenomenal essay collection, Men Explain Things To Me as a must read, only further sells the similarities.

Part of young Hollywood’s progressive branch of women using their platform to question the US President’s categorically frightening agenda, the actor is currently supplementing her vocation with studies in political science. “You’re going to be shocked,” she jokes, “that I’m particularly interested in women’s rights. I just feel right now, in order for women to progress, we have to stay educated and be willing to challenge any rules aimed at controlling our sexual behaviour. My way is to study—through literally trying to translate and understand the constitution.”

“I found myself arguing with emotion rather than intellect or fact,” she adds of her choice to learn by the book, “and when you’re arguing with emotion in a time like this in a country, it just falls so quickly and goes flat.”

She delivers with a similar attitude when discussing her role in Ry Russo- Young’s recent adaption of Lauren Oliver’s 2010 novel, Before I Fall, in which her character Samantha Kingston is forced to live the same day on repeat until something gives. “It was such a blessing that it was coming out during this time—to have a movie about a young woman who learns that what she does matters, and that she has a voice and an effect,” asserts the film’s lead. “It made me think about all these things that I hadn’t since high school, about forming my own opinions from my own experiences, trying to be conscious…”

When we talk, she’s gearing up to pack for the 15th Tribeca Film Festival where another project, Flower, is about to make its debut (the film’s preliminary hype is such that a piece on The Hollywood Reporter sees her name nestled between Al Pacino and Ed Helms, which simultaneously offers some indication of the trajectory her career is taking). “It’s this really bold female driven coming-of-age comedy drama with unpredictable narratives and turns,” she summarises. A Netflix cameo, Set It Up, will follow, in which she’ll reunite with her Everybody Wants Some co-star, Glen Powell; a romantic comedy, research has prompted: “The best kind of homework I’ve ever had,” she says, reeling off the genre’s entire back catalogue.

The daughter of Pretty in Pink director Howard Deutch and Back to The Future’s Leah Thompson, Deutch has previously attributed no lightbulb moment in regards to her career choice. “There was no culminating moment at dinner,” she tells me, “it was pretty clear to me and to them. I mean, most of my family are artists; my grandma, she’s a painter and she sleeps during the day and paints all night; she has all these health problems but she’s a devoted and committed artist. I was on the phone with her this morning and she said the best thing which was, ‘I’m in my second childhood, I should enjoy it.’ She’s in her 90s.” With a fierce energy and positive outlook, it’s clearly something in the genes.

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