Zoe Kazan

Zoe Kazan

Born in Los Angeles, Kazan was raised the daughter of screenwriter-producer-director Nicholas Kazan of "Reversal of Fortune" (1990) fame, and her mother, Robin Swicord, also a screenwriter and director who wrote the script for "Memoirs of a Geisha" (2005). She was also the granddaughter of the legendary American director-producer-writer Elia Kazan, who famously directed Marlon Brando in "On the Waterfront" (1954). After attending the private Windward School and Marlborough School in Los Angeles, Kazan made her feature debut as an actress in 2003, portraying Samantha in the indie romantic drama "Swordswallowers and Thin Men." She stepped away from acting to study at Yale University, graduating in 2005 with a bachelor's in theater. While attending university, she developed a love for writing and became a member of Yale's Manuscript Society, which featured such prestigious alum as Jodie Foster and Anderson Cooper.In 2006, Kazan took her first professional bow on the stage in the acclaimed revival of Jay Presson Allen's off-Broadway production of "The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie," starring Cynthia Nixon. The actress turned in a commendable performance as the plain yet precocious Sandy who becomes Miss Brodie's nemesis. Continuing to perform on stage, she was cast in the off-Broadway production of "The Things We Want" (2006), which she followed with an appearance in the Playwrights Horizon's staging of "100 Saints You Should Know" (2007). On the big screen, Kazan landed a small part alongside stars Laura Linney and Philip Seymour Hoffman in the comedy-drama "The Savages" (2007), before making her television debut in 2007 in an episode of the hit supernatural procedural "Medium" (NBC/CBS, 2005-2011). From there, her workload featured an impressive mix of film and stage roles, which included supporting parts in features like "Fracture" (2007) and "In the Valley of Elah" (2007), as well as her Broadway debut with a highly-lauded portrayal of Marie in the revival of William Inge's "Come Back, Little Sheba" (2008), starring S. Epatha Merkerson and Kevin Anderson.Kazan found a solid measure of success on Broadway including a lauded performance in Anton Chekhov's "The Seagull" (2007) opposite Kristin Scott Thomas and Peter Sarsgaard. The following year, she had small roles in such movies as "August," and "Me and Orson Welles," and as a naive secretary in "Revolutionary Road," starring Kate Winslet and Leonardo DiCaprio She also appeared in the video "After Iraq" (2008), a documentary about post-traumatic stress disorder suffered by Iraq vets. In 2009, she became a professional playwright when her first play, "Absalom," a biblically inspired drama about a domineering father and his relationships with his writer children. The play premiered at the Humana Festival of New American Plays in Louisville, KY, and was the result of a class writing project at Yale University, which she continued to work on and hone over the years through staged readings and discussion sessions with audiences through the Lincoln Center Theater's Directors Lab.On the acting front, Kazan appeared in numerous films, playing the lead role of Ivy in the drama "The Exploding Girl" (2009), while also landing supporting turns in the romantic drama "The Private Lives of Pippa Lee" (2009) and in the romantic comedy "I Hate Valentine's Day" (2009). She also portrayed Meryl Streep's onscreen daughter Gabby in the comedy "It's Complicated" (2009), the same year it became known she was romantically linked to actor Paul Dano. Meanwhile, she went on to appear in Martin McDonagh's Broadway play "A Behanding in Spokane" (2010), starring Christopher Walken and Sam Rockwell, and joined the cast of "Happythankyoumoreplease" (2010). In this romantic comedy ensemble, she portrayed Mary Catherine, the cousin of writer-director Josh Radnor's character. She also starred as Millie Gately alongside her beau Dano as her husband, Thomas Gately, in director Kelly Reichardt's independent Western "Meek's Cutoff" (2010), and was featured in the documentary "Showing Up" (2011), which explored the grueling audition process that actors often face.After portraying the neurotic Mormon housewife plagued by drug-induced hallucinations, Harper Pitt, in Tony Kushner's "Angels in America," Kazan had a recurring role in several episodes of the dark comedy "Bored to Death" (HBO, 2009-2011) playing Nina, love interest to Jason Schwartzman's bumbling, unlicensed private detective. In 2011, she premiered her play, "We Live Here," at the Manhattan Theater Club, a drama that focused on weddings, sister relationships and dysfunctional family. On screen, Kazan generated some serious buzz for "Ruby Sparks" (2012), a fantasy-romantic comedy she both wrote and starred in alongside Dano, who played a struggling novelist who tries to overcome writer's block by writing to an imaginary woman (Kazan), only to see her magically coming to life. Co-starring Antonio Banderas and Steve Coogan, "Ruby Sparks" was inspired by an early screenplay she wrote that focused on her own relationships with older men who sought to mold her. The film sparked a generous round of positive reviews and calls that a fresh new filmmaking talent had arrived. She went on to receive an Indie Spirit nod for Best Screenplay for "Ruby Sparks."By Ela Lindsay