Ansel Elgort is, you guessed it, an up-and-coming young actor, but his is a name you won’t have heard unless you are a fan of fluffy-winged men in tights spinning on their tootsies to sounds of ethereal beauty. But then again, Elgort is not your typical anything, let alone starry-eyed up-and-coming actor. At the tender age of nine, the New York native embarked upon another kind of career altogether at the School of American Ballet, which witnessed the youngster cutting his teeth in frankly gargantuan shows, such as the The Nutcracker and Swan Lake. Ballet may have been his first love, but his focus was always firmly trained upon the communication of the narrative at the beating heart of the dance. “I consider myself an actor first and foremost,” he says within minutes of our interview, keen to make clear from the outset that this is his destiny calling. “I’ve spent seven years fine-tuning my craft, learning how to lose control while being in control.”
If you want to see how out-of-control the 18-year-old can be, you will have a chance this October, when the dancer-turned-thespian makes his big screen debut in MGM and Screen Gem’s remake of Stephen King’s classic 70s horror flick Carrie, starring Kick Ass star Chloë Grace Moretz (as the cruelly bullied psychic first played by the legendary Sissy Spacek) and Hollywood heavyweight Julianne Moore. He plays the role of the ultimate outsider kid’s prom date, Tommy Ross. But taking on the psyche of a high school asshole didn’t come too easy to Elgort, who tested for the role a whopping seven times. “When I finally found out I got the part, I literally skipped down Madison Avenue full-force while listening to progressive house-music. I tasted euphoria in that moment. Now I know what it feels like to be high.” Well, perhaps Hollywood will still have a thing or two to teach him in that department.
Regards the Hollywood turbine, I press him on those of his peers who inspire him, and without a second’s pause, the answer comes: Tom Hardy. “He lets himself become the character and reveals so much about himself in the process. He is very special.” But Elgort’s admiration of Tom Hardy goes a little further. When asked if he has any celebrity crushes, Elgort smiles and says, “Tom Hardy! I have a girlfriend and I love her BUT I would go gay for Tom!!” Refreshing that the soon-to-be Hollywood chap hasn’t yet closed his mind to progressive house music, as it were. But his proposed tongue-in-cheek transformation aside, when he’s asked where he would like his career to take him, he answers with an earnest seriousness: “To the truth.” Well, Carrie opens nationwide in October. The truth will come a little later.
You’re either one of those cool people who owns a dog and is authentically cool or you’re one of those people who don’t own a dog and definitely isn’t authentically cool but desperately wants to own one and be at least reasonably cool. Because dogs are fucking cool. But in this economy? This dog shit ain’t easy. So you find people in the latter group doing all sorts of weirdness to get a dog—daggering, lobbying, working at Subway. To get to that dog in the sky, Callan McAuliffe started acting. “I wanted to make some money so I could get a dog,” he explains. “I wish there was a poetic reason, but in all honesty, I saw it as something easy to do so that I could make money and get the dog I always wanted.” And it isn’t like some actors haven’t been compared to dogs before. They all sort of go where they’re told and say what they’re supposed to say.
But once he committed to acting, it didn’t take long for McAuliffe to carve out quite a cool career in his homeland of Oz, working consistently in prominent projects in Australia. Living up to his reputation for being less than conventional, it was while on vacation that McAuliffe auditioned for what would become his first American feature film, Flipped directed by Rob Reiner. He quickly followed it up with the blockbuster, I am Number Four produced by Steven Spielberg and Michael Bay. It was clear that Hollywood was soon going to start sniffing around like the overblown handbag pooch that it is. “Suddenly people are calling you the next big thing,” says McAuliffe of his arrival in Tinseltown. “In all honesty, I think actors are given far too much credit. I consider myself just another part of the puzzle that makes up the team. I think the cameramen, the lighting crew, the props and costume guys and girls are just as valuable and important and special.”
McAuliffe will next be seen in the highly anticipated remake of The Great Gatsby directed by Baz Luhrmann, about which this rag has written. McAuliffe is set to play the young Jay Gatsby, which is, in a sense, the young Leonardo DiCaprio (who plays the older more furrowed Gatsby). In typical Lurhmann fashion the film attempts to graft the modern onto the modernist. “This movie is fundamentally unique and different from any other Gatsby that came before,” says McAuliffe. “It’s big, it’s bold, it’s honest and collides modernity with period authenticity. It has to be seen to be believed.“
Every boy has his goals. For McAuliffe, it’s getting deep into the fantasy world. “I would love to do something in Game of Thrones, actually. It wouldn’t have to be a big part, I would be happy just to walk on and walk off.” Maybe those anonymous days will soon be over. But the real question is the one I totally forgot to ask. Did he get the dog that he’s doing all of this for? God I really hope so. He seemed so cool.
The startling thing about Nat Wolff is that he doesn’t like it when I try to scratch behind his ears. Believe me! I tried. Most young pups like Wolff take all the affection they can get—belly-rubs, fawning interviews, portraits, hummers, and what all. But this 18-year-old is well beyond all that fluffy bull poo. Hell, he’s already a seasoned, salty screen vet. Why, my imaginary reader asks? Well, let me tell you! Having started his career 11 years ago, Nat Wolff and his brother Alex found fame very super early, on the Nickelodeon musical comedy series, The Naked Brothers Band, created and produced by the dapper actress Polly Draper, who just so happens to be their mom. So, taking mom’s lead, this little cub has been around the block a couple of times, and doesn’t need all that affection/attention anymore. Leave that to the Republicans.
“I’ve had incredible opportunities in my life. Making music with my brother and doing the show introduced me to acting first-hand,“ he tells me with a modest snarl. “I fell in love with the process of acting and wanted to explore it further.” And explore it further he did! This year Wolff is set to appear in four movies with big names in the industry. He plays alongside the incomparable Tina Fey and Paul Rudd in Admission directed by Paul Weitz.
In Admission, Wolff will play the son that Tina Fey’s character gave up for adoption 18 years earlier. “I think people will be pleasantly surprised by the movie. There is real weight to the story and I saw both Tina and Paul show sides of themselves that I don’t think we have seen on screen before.” Wolff describes the set as being wacky and playful. “I got my SAT results while I was filming. Tina decided to announce my results to everyone on set. She was kind enough not to reveal my math grade!”
Math may not be his strong suit, but tackling complicated teen-angsty roles? As the dearly departed Sarah Palin would say—you betcha! Quick on the heels of Admission, Wolff explores the ins-and-outs of parental divorce in Stuck in Love, playing brother to Lily Collins and son to Jennifer Connelly and Greg Kinnear. “Of all the roles, I found more of myself in this one. I am drawn to characters that are a little left of center. I love the obscure.”
Obscure you say? Like that party you go to where the one requirement is that the lights are off? No? Nothing like that. But Wolff finds Jennifer Lawrence “very sexy” and Amanda Seyfried “beautiful” and who wouldn’t want to spend a little time in the dark with those two?
2013 looks to be the year of Nat Wolff. With a blossoming movie career and so many opportunities to come, it would be easy to assume that Wolff will mark his territory on film solely, but when I ask what he wants to accomplish this year, it takes barely a second for him to answer, “I really want to make a record with my brother. That’s what I really want to do.” And with that, Wolff rolls over, and legs in the air, simpers until I give him a gentle tummy-rubby. Good boy.