Zoey Deutch on the Positives of Method Acting, Producing Goals and Not Okay

Zoey Deutch has been busy carving her own path in this industry for years now, and it’s something special. Not only has she racked up credits that highlight her greatest strengths while also showing off her range in front of the lens, but she’s also put a considerable about of time into building her behind-the-scenes resume as well. In fact, her third film serving as a producer is now available to stream on Hulu. It’s Not Okay.

Deutch also stars in the film as Danni Sanders. When the movie begins, Danni’s having a rough go of it in a number of respects. She’s an aspiring writer who isn’t really excelling at the craft, she’s got no social life, and she’s struggling to build a social media presence. Desperate to make some improvements online, Danni decides to pretend she’s been sent on a trip to Paris, Photoshopping photos from her Brooklyn apartment to gain Instagram followers. Perhaps it can be considered a somewhat harmless lie until Paris suffers an attack and Danni is labeled a hero when she “returns.” Rather than fess up and admit the truth, Danni gets caught up in finally having an audience, and continues to present herself as an influencer, advocate, and survivor.

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It’s a bold film that demands everyone involved, but especially Deutch, go full force in depicting this despicable spiral of lies. How exactly does one build the skillset, courage, and know-how to jump into such a project as a producer and a headliner? That’s exactly what we covered with Deutch on a brand new episode of Collider Ladies Nightbeginning with some of her earliest memories of dreaming of becoming an actor.

It’s one thing to say you want to become an actor, but it’s another to believe you can do it, and to believe in your own ability for that matter. While it is tough, if not impossible, to operate at peak confidence in this industry, Deutch did confirm how much she deeply loves her craft during her early improv classes. She explained:

“That’s when I was really locked in and I loved it. It felt very therapeutic. I don’t if it was that I felt really good at it. I don’t know about that. But I felt really locked in, for lack of a better way of saying [it]and I felt really challenged by it. “

It’s a good thing Deutch embraced the challenge then because new ones are constantly popping up in film and television. For instance, when it came to the Ryan Murphy, Brad Falchukand Ian Brennan-created series, The Politician, Deutch didn’t become confident in her work until she saw the finished product. Here’s how she put it:

“My character, her storyline with Jessica Lange, is very isolated from the rest of the story. It’s sort of like a B plot, I guess you could say, and so it’s like an isolated world that doesn’t really interact much until it does with the main story. And I just didn’t know if it was gonna work and I was so lost and I didn’t really have a ton of guidance. I just wanted to be a good partner Jessica who was my absolute idol. And I didn’t know if it was gonna work and then when I watched it, I felt pretty proud of it! “

Not only did prioritizing being a good scene partner serve The Politician well, but it’s something Deutch holds tight to no matter the project. “I think being a good scene partner is the job.” She continued, “You shouldn’t be thinking about yourself when you’re acting. You should be reacting to your scene partner. “

Deutch went on to highlight two past scene partners who made an impression on her but in two completely different ways, beginning with her legendary The Outfit co-star, Mark Rylance:

“He is, for the most part in character, or I guess what people would call method. But his way of not letting that affect other people is he’s very quiet and he just sort of keeps it himself. He’s, to be clear, the kindest, most gentle – I think method has a really negative connotation to it. You never hear about method actors who are playing happy, nice. It’s always method because it’s like a dark, serious role and they’re staying in it. But he was just nothing but lovely, and nothing but respectful. But it was a different energy. If I’m doing a serious scene, after I like, ‘Bleh!’ I gotta let it all out! Gotta be kind of crazy to just get all that energy out. He stays very contained and in his space, and I just wanted to respect his space and I ended up sort of mirroring his energy in between scenes because I didn’t want to disrupt him. Not that I could. I mean, he’s the greatest. “

RELATED: Zoey Deutch Is Faking It Till She Makes It in New ‘Not Okay’ Clip

Next up she highlighted her Zombieland: Double Tap co-star, Jesse Eisenbergwho brought an extraordinary amount of generosity to the collaboration process:

“He’s unbelievable. He’s writing for everybody around him. At least my experience with him, he was so gracious. He was writing jokes for us and coming up with ideas and just being so generous about what was going through his mind and what we could do to elevate and have more fun in a scene, and so it made me want to do the same for him . That was a very different experience than I was used to because a lot of the times actors are afraid I think of – if I come up to an actor like, ‘What if you do this?’ You know, it can be misinterpreted. And he never once – he had such great ideas and then you get to take credit for his great ideas, you know? He was so wonderful and I was so not used to that. People are so cautious about it and he was just so wonderful and brilliant, and I loved that. “

Not only does Deutch deeply value what it means to be a team player in front of the lens, but she’s embracing what it means to create an on-set family behind-the-scenes in a big way – as a producer. Deutch scored her first producing credit on The Year of Spectacular Mena film written by her sister, Madelyn Deutchand directed by her mother, Lea Thompson. From there she went on to produce Buffaloed and then serve as an executive producer on Not Okay. On top of that, the project that earned her her fourth producing credit, Something from Tiffany’sis expected to be released later this year.

With Deutch funneling so much time and energy into this aspect of her career, and, given the fact that being a producer on a film can mean a wide variety of things, I opted to ask what producing means to her. Here’s what she said:

“I think I’m very involved in punching up and fine tuning scripts. I’m the shittiest writer, but I love writers and I love working with writers and I hope I can be of service and help in that way. And [I’m] very specific about aesthetic and the world that they live in. I want it to be dynamic and multifaceted and beautiful with the set design and the costumes and the photography and the marketing and the posters and that kind of stuff. All the stuff that people see, I’m very involved in. I really care about the aesthetic and world of this person that I’m playing. And I’ve been so lucky to work with so many amazing people and I just want to continue that and just work with wonderful, talented department heads and be able to be a part of the process of giving jobs to people that are kind and good at their job and a team player. “

If you’d like to see all of these qualities and goals come to life on screen, do check out Not Okay he Hulu. Not only was great care clearly taken when bringing Danni’s world to life, but it’s also abundantly clear that Deutch successfully contributed to building a strong behind-the-scenes team because Not Okay does not work unless everyone involved is on the same page, driven to achieve a very specific shared vision.

Danni makes one awful, selfish decision after the next in Not Okay. It’s often hard to watch, but if done right, an extreme scenario like Danni’s, can highlight real-world, more personal truths just as much, if not more so, than a narrative focusing on a protagonist with a more traditional redemptive arc. When discussing the value of such a story, Deutch noted:


“I never like to tell people what they should take away from the story, but one of the things that I took away that was really important to me was, at the ending, when she realizes that this is not her story. She is not the main character. She should learn how to listen better. It’s time for her to be quiet, and there’s something really valuable in that, for me at least, in learning how to be a better listener in this world and in this life. “

Looking for more from Deutch on Not Okay and her journey in the industry thus far? Be sure to check out her episode of Collider Ladies Night in the video at the top of this article or listen to our conversation uncut in podcast form below:

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