Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Zoe Kazan Talks Sexual Harassment

Zoe Kazan recently sat down for an interview with The Guardian. Here's what she had to say:

On Los Angeles:
“Reading [Joan Didion] feels closest to my actual experience. Of all the California myths, that’s the one I reach for...My parents are both East Coast transplants to LA, but I grew up feeling I was descended from the pioneers. It wasn’t until I was an adult that I realised that had been an erroneous assumption. But in my subconscious mind, I thought, ‘I’m with those guys, I’m western.’ I think it’s been very good for my sanity not to be based there as an actor, but I miss California all the time. [My boyfriend of 10 years] Paul [Dano] is a native New Yorker and it’s always a discussion.”

On growing up with screenwriter parents:
“I remember being two maybe, and hearing my mum’s typewriter in the other room and sticking my hands under the door and screaming, ‘Mum! Mum!’ I was so angry she wouldn’t come out. I got used to it, quickly...It looked really lonely. Sometimes at the dinner table it was like there was a fog around them, when they were in the real process of being in their draft. They never had to see anyone. I mean, they had friends, but they were never in collaboration, they were in their own world. And I was a very emotional kid, the most extrovert person in my family, and I was like, ‘Oh, I’ve got to do something else.’...They made a great effort to strike a balance between time for us and time for their work, and I really appreciate, now, the example that my mum in particular set.”

On gender differences in the film industry experienced by Zoe and boyfriend Paul Dano:
“We talk a lot right now about ‘toxic masculinity’, but it’s a real thing. Paul is a very emotional person. I mean, he’s also a boy’s boy, really into sports, and people can be surprised by how bro-y he is. But he’s very sensitive and the art he responds to is very emotional. And yet, nine times out of 10 [in a role], I have to cry, and he rarely has to cry. I think once in an audition I had to have a gun and be tough, and his auditions have involved guns or a kind of toughness so many times. I think there’s a difference in the range of roles he is offered, compared with the range I have access to.”

On sexual harassment:
“There’s so much sexual harassment on set. And there’s no HR department, right? We don’t have a redress. We have our union, but no one ever resorts to that, because you don’t want to get a reputation for being difficult. I’ve told Paul about stuff that has happened on set and it’s almost as if he can’t take it in. It’s too upsetting. And he’s never had to deal with that once.

I have a lot of girlfriends who are amazing actors, and many times we’ve talked about having to go into a room and give ‘blowjob eyes’. You know, be flirty with a director or a producer. It’s the sense that your sexuality is somehow baked into this situation. Or there’ll be auditions where they’ll say, ‘Wear something body-conscious’ and then you’re aware that they’re checking out your body. You leave the situation feeling not good about what just happened, but you don’t really have the language for why. You feel like, if you said something, it would reflect badly on you.” (She makes clear that this was not her experience working on The Big Sick): [It] was a very clean job for me. Everyone was super respectful.”

On whether or not she has been directly propositioned on other sets:
“No. I mean. Hmmm. Like, I had a producer ask me on set once if I spat or swallowed. At work. He’d say, ‘Oh, it’s a joke, ha ha.’ But he was also paying my cheque and then watching me from the monitor as I made out with another actor – so when he tells me I look good, it feels different. I was in my mid-20s at the time. I was not powerful, I did not feel I could say anything. That has got better as I’ve got older, partially, I think, because I’m better at knowing how to shut that down. But it makes you feel guilty, and bad, as if it’s somehow your fault – that you’re somehow giving that person the signal that it’s OK to treat you that way. And none of that is stuff that Paul has to deal with.”

Read the full interview at The Guardian.

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