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INTERVIEW: Nat Wolff talks ‘Ashby’ and how he picks a project

la et mn nat wolff fault in our stars 20140810

la et mn nat wolff fault in our stars 20140810One of the young actors in the business who I think is really going places is Nat Wolff. He’s one of those up and comers who just seems to be everywhere. Last year he was in The Fault in Our Stars and Palo Alto, while the year before he really broke through for me with Stuck in Love. This year has been his biggest yet, as he’s got Ashby, Grandma, The Intern, and Paper Towns, with bigger things still to come. Earlier this week, I sat down in the city with him for a brief interview that covered Ashby, working with co-star Mickey Rourke, and more (honestly, it was a really fun time and we went way off topic a lot, so I’ve had to edit here and there to not just have a bunch of personal stories on both of our parts). You can find the highlights of that chat below, and be sure to check out the film (my review is here), which is in theaters this weekend.

Discussing his taste in projects and how he chooses what to be in

Nat Wolff – I mean, in the beginning of my career I really just got lucky. You’re just auditioning for stuff and hoping to be put in movies, since you just love acting, you know what I mean? That’s how every actor feels. Then, you know, slowly, I’m creeping along and getting more control over my career. Only now can I really focus on engaging in things that I’m really passionate about and that my heart is in. That’s when I tend to be the best, when I’m super fucking passionate! Like with Josh (Boone, who directed him in Stuck in Love as well as The Fault in Our Stars), I was 16 when I met him, we had a meeting and we both were just talking shit about classic movies that everyone loves but we don’t like. You know, we just immediately got along, and we disagreed about a couple of things too. He had never done anything at that point and I just knew that he was a talented guy. Sometimes you just know and get a feeling. He’s hugely responsible for everything in my career. Like Gia Coppola, she was mostly a photographer and she had done a couple of videos and stuff, but there was something just so magical about her. I mean, I’ve worked with a couple of more well known directors too, but it’s not really, like a lot of actors talk about how they go off of the director and it’s a sure bet, but great directors make bad movies and a lot of first timers are putting their whole heart into it. I love working with first timers.

Also, you know, you have to find the right mix of things. I’ve told my brother, you know, I’ve done a couple of coming of age movies…pretty soon I just need to be of age! I mean, luckily I snuck into this business in a way where I did, I’ve done these characters who are all over the place. I’ve been really lucky, and now is the time where people are trying to nail me down into one thing and this is the time where it’s really exciting because I have a little more control over my career and I can try to do things that are a bit more challenging, because I think if I’m bored in doing a role, I’m not going to serve the story well. I’m going to come off boring, you know what I mean? I feel like I want to do things that I haven’t done.

On getting to show his range already

NW – That really is luck! I mean, it’s not luck that I have range as an actor, but it’s luck to get to show it. A lot of actors have range and they somehow get pigeonholed into just doing one thing. The great ones get to break out eventually. I love Jake Gyllenhaal and in the last couple of years to just fucking explode in these amazing roles. How good was he in Nightcrawler? He killed it.

Working with Mickey Rourke on Ashby

NW – He was telling me, he really, I learned a lot from him about career stuff, and obviously in interviews he has a lot to say about that, you can learn that through youtube, but through just watching him act, I learned a lot about acting. He’s so focused and he brings so much of himself to everything, which is great to watch. You can see that he’s dealing with some shit and it’s on camera, and that’s great.

What he’d like to do next

NW – I don’t think there’s like a particular genre or character that I want to do. I want to be part of good projects with good people who are passionate and do things that are different. Going down a road that I haven’t gone down is what gets me kind of nervous. I want to be a nervous wreck before I start! If I feel like I can do it too easily, it’s going to show.

On superhero opportunities and big movies in general

NW – It depends on what it is. I don’t like to be snooty about big movies, since there are a lot of independent movies that are horrible, but it does tend to be that there is a lot at stake with a big movie…and a lot of times they’re not good. With a smaller movie, sometimes you can take more chances. Something like Guardians of the Galaxy was awesome though, and Robert Downey Jr. in Iron Man was good too.

His response when I told him we could wrap up and get him out of there with a final question on what’s next for him

NW – No, this is a good interview, I’m liking this. Let’s go for six more hours! (Laughs) I mean, you’ll miss your screenings. [I mention we could make it like a sequel to The End of the Tour] Yes! Exactly. I love that movie. What’s next? I want to keep doing music with my brother and keep working on things that I’m passionate about. I have something that I’m doing in November but I…I thought I could start saying what it is, but it turns out that I can’t.

There you have the very best of my talk with Wolff. Again, Ashby is in theaters on Friday and is well worth seeing. Give it a look…

Thoughts? Discuss in the comments!

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Written by Joey Magidson

When he’s not obsessing over new Oscar predictions on a weekly basis, Joey is seeing between 300 and 350 movies a year. He views the best in order to properly analyze the awards race/season each year, but he also watches the worst for reasons he mostly sums up as "so you all don't have to". In his spare time, you can usually find him complaining about the Jets or the Mets. Still, he lives and dies by film. Joey's a voting member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association.

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