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Zoë Kravitz was first cast in the indie film Yelling to the Sky when she was 19, and completed it when she was 21. Now 24, she’s had to wait three years for the film to be released (it’s in select theaters in New York and on VOD). In those three years, she turned her attention to blockbuster potential: X-Men: First Class (in which she co-starred as Angel Salvadore), After Earth (with Will Smith), and Mad Max: Fury Road (in which she plays one of the “Wives” named Toast). But she says she wouldn’t have been able to handle such large-scale productions if it weren’t for the master class she got on Yelling. Kravitz rang up Vulture to chat about being back in New York, finding apartments on Craigslist, and her dad’s work with best friend Jennifer Lawrence in The Hunger Games.
Are you still in Namibia, or are you back in New York?
No, I’m in New York. I’m done [with Mad Max].
When did you get back? How was the shoot?
I got back three days ago. It was amazing. It was such a long shoot, like five months, but it was really amazing. Still, I’m happy to be at home in my own bed.
What did you miss the most?
The food. I’ve been pigging out since I got back. My first stop was Café Mogador. I really missed things that I couldn’t do in foreign countries the same way, like take a walk whenever I wanted to. I’m walking right now. [A street musician plays a saxophone as she walks by him] Just a second. You know, I missed that too. And all the people-watching. I’m happy to just sit in a café and watch people. It’s my favorite thing to do, for sure. And I missed going to the grocery store! The produce was a bit different there, and the town we were in, [Swakopmund], had a lot of German food. It was on the water, so you could get local fish, and I was cooking a lot for myself there. I kind of don’t want to cook for a while. I just want people to bring me food. [Laughs]
Both Yelling to the Sky and Mad Max must have been exercises in patience for you: One took forever to come out, the other took forever to start.
Patience is a virtue in this industry. You’re told, “Come on board! We’ll shoot tomorrow!” and then you end up sitting tight as it all comes together. Mad Max was a little more complicated, because at one point, we were supposed to shoot in Australia. It was supposed to be for nine months, and this was just after X-Men: First Class was shooting in England, so I planned to let go of my apartment, since I was going to be in England for four months, and then Australia. So I got rid of it. And then I found out it was delayed for a year, and I had no place to live. I remember being in England and frantically searching on Craigslist for a new place.
Is that how you usually find a place to live? I’ve had awful luck trying it that way.
I’ve found all of my apartments on Craigslist. I’ve got good Craigslist luck. I just sit on my couch and really focus on it, and I’ve gotten really lucky that way. Although, you know, I totally get it — sometimes people lie. “It’s a beautiful one-of-a-kind bachelor pad,” and it’s really a box.
Your Yelling co-star Jason Clarke, who plays your abusive father, is also the master of torture in Zero Dark Thirty.
Oh! I heard about that. It’s always funny how the nicest people get cast as these awful people. He is so talented, and he was such a delight to work with. It’s hard when you have to be awful to the other person, so he was always so kind. He made this effort to be really kind to me to make up for what he had to do when the camera was rolling.
You guys had a two-take maximum per scene in Yelling. Was that like a boot camp for you? Did that training affect your work on other films?
You know, it made me really terrified at first. I thought it would be impossible. I thought, I’m going to suck! And then it became this awesome challenge. Usually you get a comfort zone of four takes, five takes, but on this, you had to come to work every day on your shit. It was an acting class for me, because I would study the day before, and I knew the entire script by heart. And then it was crazy going from such a small film to the huge production that was X-Men. Smaller films, though, are more organized than the larger ones, because they don’t have the money to mess around. And for After Earth, I had a smaller part in that film. Well, it’s not small, but I didn’t have to work all the time, maybe a month or something?
The first trailer for that just came out.
I heard! I haven’t seen it yet. I can’t tell you about my character, because my whole storyline is a spoiler alert. But it was amazing working with Will Smith and Jaden Smith. They’re not like, “You’re my son,” “You’re my father” on set. They’re just doing what they love to do.
Would you ever consider doing that? Working with one of your parents?
Um, I would eventually, because that could be fun. Not to separate myself from them, but I’d like to do my own thing for a while, so they don’t have to come up.
It’s probably harder now that your dad is doing more movies — especially The Hunger Games.
Yeah, that messes everything up! [Laughs] But I’m so proud of him. It’s cool. My dad is hanging out with my best friend [Jennifer Lawrence], and I’m not invited. I was so jealous! I went on set to visit them for the first one, but I didn’t get to go for Catching Fire. But Jennifer came out to Africa to visit us — well, to visit her boy [Nicholas Hoult]. She didn’t come out just for me; I was just conveniently there. [Laughs]
Do you have any plans on Monday?
It’s the series finale of Gossip Girl.
That’s so funny! We don’t have any plans. I think we were celebrating when [boyfriend] Penn [Badgley] was done working on the show, but I don’t know about any plans to watch the finale. I’m just really excited for people to see what he can really do [in Greetings From Tim Buckley]. He’s in Detroit right now, and he just told me he’s coming home for the weekend to surprise me, so maybe? Maybe we can have a drink and let it all go?