Over the summer, 18-year-old Zoe Levin spent a month filming The Way, Way Back — a “coming of age film” starring Steve Carell — in Marshfield, Mass. In the film, Levin plays Carell’s daughter who she describes as a “bully” to the main character, played by Liam James.
Zoe caught her big break in 2010 after her performances at the Looking Glass Theatre in Chicago helped her land a role in David Schwimmer’s acclaimed film, Trust. Levin, a Glencoe, Ill. native, currently resides in Los Angeles, where she’s simultaneously pursuing her acting career and studying theater at Loyola Marymount University.
The Phoenix: You’re originally from Chicago. What’s it like living in LA?
Zoe Levin: LA is really different from Chicago because it’s all very spread out. I miss the beauty of Chicago. I never realized how special the city was until I left. There’s no place in the world like it.
P: What made you choose Loyola Marymount?
ZL: I loved their school of communication and fine arts, and the curriculum they offered. And it’s also right in LA, so I’ll be able to audition and work while taking classes.
P: How’d you get into acting?
ZL: I have always been into acting. It started getting serious when I tried out for my first professional play when I was 13, and from there on out it just sort of took off.
P: What is your favorite part about being an actress?
ZL: It’s hard to explain why I love acting so much, but it’s very fulfilling to me. It’s very hard work, and it’s not easy being somebody that you’re not, but it’s so much fun trying to figure it out.
P: What’s the most surreal moment you’ve had so far?
ZL: It was all pretty crazy the first day on set for The Way, Way Back because I had grown up watching the majority of the cast on the big screen. It was a surreal experience meeting everyone and working with such a talented cast. I still can’t really believe it.
P: What’s Steve Carell like?
ZL: Steve is a very down-to-earth guy. We bonded over our love for Chicago. He started his career out at Second City, the famous improv theater.
P: What type of preparation did you do to get into character?
ZL: I flew out to set a couple days before we began shooting, and in that time we had a table read where I really got a feel for the relationships that my character had with others in the film. [The film’s directors Nat Faxon and Jim Rash] were also very helpful with character development.
P: What was it like on set?
ZL: A lot of times on movie sets, you wind up sitting around and waiting for the shot to be set up for hours. And then finally, you get to shoot for about 10 minutes at a time depending on the scene. But I was in Massachusetts for about a month filming.
P: Is there anything you’re nervous about in regards to the film’s release?
ZL: I’m not nervous about anything. I’m just excited!
P: Do you have other upcoming roles in any feature films?
ZL: After I shot The Way, Way Back, I went straight to Maine to film Blue Potato. It’s an indie film that is also a coming of age story. It’s very raw and real. I really can’t wait to see it.
P: Who’s your favorite actor? What’s your dream role?
ZL: I love Tom Hanks and Christian Bale. That would be amazing — to be in a movie with them. I would also love to be in a movie directed by Wes Anderson or the Cohen Brothers.
P: I know you’ve also acted in a number of plays. What do you like more, theater or films?
ZL: You cannot compare the two because they’re so different and amazing in their own way. Whenever I complete a play, I find myself wanting to do film work. And whenever I complete a film, I always want to go back to theater. But I will say, if I had not started out doing theatre, I would not be where I am today.
The Way, Way Back with Zoe Levin, Steve Carell, Sam Rockwell and Liam James will be released sometime in 2013. No official date has been announced.
by Elly Geroulis