Interview: Zoe Kazan On Writing And Starring In ‘Ruby Sparks’

If you’ve watched the trailer for “Ruby Sparks,” you may have recognized Zoe Kazan from “Revolutionary Road,” where she plays the girl from the secretary pool who beds Leonardo DiCaprio. You may have also noticed her name in the credits for “Ruby Sparks” as the film’s writer.

It just so happens that Kazan is a bit of a legacy. Her parents, Nicholas Kazan and Robin Swicord, are accomplished screenwriters, and her grandfather, Elia Kazan, is Elia Kazan.

We briefly spoke with Kazan about her passion for writing and how she and real life boyfriend Paul Dano ended up in the screenplay.

When did writing begin for you?
Ever since I could hold a crayon basically. My parents are writers, and I think I had that example. I always loved books. That was a huge part of my internal life, whatever I was reading. It was always something that I did. It was not something that I thought I was going to do professionally. I wanted to be an actress since I was a pretty little kid. I couldn’t stop. It was my favorite other thing to do.

How did you start writing professionally?
When I got out of school and got an agent and started working, at the beginning of your career, there’s a whole lot of down time and a whole lot of time where you’re just doing your day job and auditioning, and there isn’t a lot of creative outlets. I was in that period of my life, and I was really bored and feeling very unsatisfied with auditioning being my only creative outlet, so I started writing again and I’ve done it ever since.

What was the origin of your idea for “Ruby Sparks”?
I’ve always loved the Pygmalion myth about the sculptor whose statue comes to life. I always found it to be really emotional and evocative and interesting. I think out of that curiosity came a creative spark. I woke up one more and the speeds of the story were in my head. That’s how it started. At a certain point I realized that I’m sort of just writing about relationships and what my experiences have been. I’m just writing about it in a kind of metaphorical kind of way.

Did you always imagine yourself in the title role?
When the idea and the characters first came to me, I wasn’t really thinking about that at all. They just seemed like people, and I had to get them down on paper as fast as I could. I was about ten pages in, and I showed it to Paul, and he said, “You’re writing this for us, right?” Then I looked at what I had written, and it became totally clear that’s what I was doing, but it hadn’t occurred to me until he said it. After that, I had a really nice time getting to imagine Paul in the part. It made it easier to write and more fun to write, getting to know that he was going to be the person doing all of these things.