The Exploding Girl
American actress and playwright Zoe Kazan, the granddaughter of Oscar-winning director Elia Kazan, won a Tribeca Film Festival Award for her starring role on Bradley Rust Gray's “The Exploding Girl” (2009). She also shared a Palm Springs International Film Festival Award for Sam Mendes' “Revolutionary Road” (2009). Making her big screen debut in “Swordswallowers and Thin Men” (2003), Kazan did not appear in other films until the 2007 Tamara Jenkins comedy/drama “The Savages.” Subsequent film credits include “Fracture” (2007), “In the Valley of Elah” (2007), “Me and Orson Welles” (2008), “The Private Lives of Pippa Lee” (2009) and “I Hate Valentine's Day” (2009). On stage, Kazan, who made her professional debut in an off-Broadway production of “The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie” (2006), moved on to Broadway with William Inge's “Come Back, Little Sheba” (2008). She also acted in “The Seagull” (2008) on Broadway. Kazan wrote the play “Absalom,” which premiered at the Humana Festival of New American Plays in Louisville, KY in 2009.
Currently, Kazan resides in Brooklyn, New York. She dates actor Paul Dano.
Childhood and Family:
Zoe Swicord Kazan was born on September 9, 1983, in Los Angeles, California to showbiz parents, screenwriter/producer Nicholas Kazan (born in 1950) and actress/producer/writer/director Robin Swicord (born in 1952). She is the granddaughter of film and theater director Elia Kazan (born in 1909, died in 2003). Zoe attended the private Windward School in Mar Vista and Yale University, from which she graduated with a BA in Theater in 2005.
Zoe Kazan made her film debut playing Samantha in “Swordswallowers and Thin Men” (2003), directed and written by Max Borenstein and starring Peter Cellini. A student of Yale University, she performed in a number of plays during her tenure in the university, including “Romeo and Juliet” (as Juliet), “Lulu” (as Lulu), “Uncle Vanya” (as Sonya), “Down the Road” (as Iris), “The Cripple of Inishmaan” (as Helen) and “A Bright Room Called Day” (as Agnes).
After graduating, Kazan kicked off her professional stage debut in the off-Broadway revival of Jay Presson Allen's “The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie” (2006), in which she played Sandy. The play starred Cynthia Nixon. It was followed by roles in the Playwrights Horizons production of “100 Saints You Should Know” and Jonathan Marc Sherman's “Things We Want,” helmed by Ethan Hawke.
Kazan returned to the cinematic industry in 2007 when she had a featured role as a student in “The Savages,” a comedy/drama directed and written by Tamara Jenkins and starring Laura Linney and Philip Seymour Hoffman. The film received two Oscar nominations, among other major honors. Later that same year, she had a supporting role on Gregory Hoblit's “Fracture,” opposite Anthony Hopkins, Ryan Gosling, David Strathairn, Rosamund Pike and Embeth Davidtz, and appeared with Tommy Lee Jones, Charlize Theron, Jason Patric, Susan Sarandon and James Franco in Paul Haggis' “In the Valley of Elah.” She also made her television debut in 2007 with a guest spot in “Medium.”
In January 2008, Kazan made her Broadway debut opposite S. Epatha Merkerson in “Come Back, Little Sheba,” a play by William Inge, at NYC's Biltmore Theatre. She played Marie in the play. She returned to films with a featured part as a Gal employee in director Austin Chick's drama, “August,” which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival on January 22, 2008. the film starred Josh Hartnett, Adam Scott and Robin Tunney. She followed it up with a supporting role in “Me and Orson Welles,” an adaptation of Robert Kaplow's novel. Directed by Richard Linklater, scripted by Holly Gent Palmo and Vincent Palmo Jr. and starring Ben Chaplin, Claire Danes and Zac Efron, the film debuted at the Toronto Film Festival on September 5, 2008. In “Revolutionary Road” (2008), Sam Mendes' drama/romance that reunited Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet since the 1997 megahit “Titanic,” she was cast as Maureen Grube, and jointly picked up the Ensemble Cast Award at the 2009 Palm Springs International Film Festival for her work. Kazan returned to Broadway in the fall of the same year on Anton Chekhov 's “The Seagull,” opposite Kristin Scott Thomas and Peter Sarsgaard.
The Los Angeles native was cast Ivy in the drama “The Exploding Girl,” directed and written by Bradley Rust Gray. The film premiered at the Berlin International Film Festival on February 6, 2009 and played at the Tribeca Film Festival in April 2009, where Kazan was honored with the Best Actress Award in the category of Narrative Feature Film. She then supported Robin Wright Penn, Mike Binder, Alan Arkin and Winona Ryder in Rebecca Miller's “The Private Lives of Pippa Lee” (2009) and delivered a memorble supporting portrayal of Tammy Greenwood in actor/writer/director Nia Vardalos' “I Hate Valentine's Day” (2009), opposite John Corbett, Mike Starr, Stephen Guarino and Judah Friedlander.
Also in 2009, Kazan found “Absalom,” a play which she wrote, premiered at the Humana Festival of New American Plays in Louisville, KY. It centered on the high-strung relationship between a father and his children.
The 26-year-old actress will be cast along side Meryl Streep and Steve Martin in the comedy film “It's Complicated,” for director and writer Nancy Meyers. The film is slated to be released on December 25, 2009. Kazan is also set to play Mary Catherine in the new comedy “HappyThankYouMorePlease,” for a 2010 release. Directed and penned by Josh Radnor, the film will also star Kate Mara, Malin Akerman, Josh Radnor, Richard Jenkins and Tony Hale. Besides, she will appear in the documentary film “Showing Up” (2010), along side Sam Rockwell, Janeane Garofalo, Ernie Hudson, and Eli Wallach, to name a few.
Tribeca Film Festival: Best Actress, Narrative Feature Film, “The Exploding Girl,” 2009
Palm Springs International Film Festival: Ensemble Cast Award, “Revolutionary Road,” 2009