The Chateau Marmont’s gestalt is serene yacht club meets ostentatious Von Trapp parlor. I recall childhood outings to Fred Segal in Santa Monica, swaths of color wrapped in succulent greenery—a scattering of preened bushes, micro-floral shrubbery, tiered vases all providing intimate nooks. Conversation glimmers in the garden, bits of celebrity murmuring between a gusty sashay of leaves. Four cycads tower up to corners of the clear overhead tarp. It must shield guests from L.A.’s fickle rains.
“This is Zoë’s favorite spot.” There’s black lettering on the hostess’s neck. She walks away before I glean the meaning.
The settee bears color-blind cross-stitching of black-blue-brown threads. Dangling cloth braids form the lower skirt. Yes, Chateau Marmont—with its legacy of toity prestige, upscale pampering and blacklight investigations that could tarnish Hollywood careers—is perfectly meta. I notice a gorgeous brunette who lounges, sips wine with a friend. The duo is listless, the brunette facing me, preoccupied. Within the hour, Zoë will tell me she was Lykke Li.
Zoë arrives. She’s effervescent and startlingly alert. A casual diction, effortlessly beautiful, she’s arrestingly chill in company. She tells me she’s tired, good tired. She orders a freshly steeped chai tea latte. I leave my phone on the table to record the interview. Zoë’s phone-free for the duration of our stay.
“I’m doing shit that I love,” Zoë confesses. “I just wrapped a film mid-January. It went straight to Sundance… Ever since then it’s been nonstop. Press for Insurgent. I have a film called Good Kill coming out with Ethan Hawke. Mad Max press is gearing up. Dope is also at Sundance. That’s coming out in June.”
Shooting sci-fi… no big deal, right?
It’s so much bigger than you… stunts, and building sets, and special effects… There’s so much more than just you. You feel like part of a machine. Like a working part of a machine. I’m [used to] the other side, independent films.
The other side?
I just did a film with Emile Hirsch called, Vincent and Roxy [that] I’m super excited about. It was me, him, and the director—and the [Director of Photography]. [Doing it was like,] “we’re going to figure out how the scene’s going to go; we’re going to figure out how to shoot it; we’re going to figure out how the dialogue is going to change.”
Just do it…
We [were] figuring it all out, and you know every process, or every step of the way of the process of how to get to the end result. And this, and big films like [Mad Max]…you don’t make those choices…
“You’re in the new Mad Max? That’s cool.” The trailer’s high art in and of itself—taut, colorful, lush, suspenseful, visually imagined as Fast and Furious directed by Winding Refn in a death race to Coachella.
“Like, when you think about George Miller,” she says, adding, “When you look at his filmography. It’s the weirdest, coolest filmography ever. It’s all the Mad Max’s, The Witches of Eastwick; all the Babe movies…”
The director of Mad Max directed Babe.
Pig in the City.
Like Babe Babe…
And Happy Feet. His brain is so interesting, because like what the fuck?
You’re like the Internet, Zoë. Thank you.
I am the internet. Nice to meet you.
Nice to meet you, Internet.
I don’t tell her, but when I Google “Zoë Kravitz” half of the search results include candid shots of Zoë. Paparazzi must be annoying. They make her seem like she never works and that she only either swims, or dresses up for film premieres.
A male voice floats in, crooning, “Come on baby light my fire.” It’s the waiter. He sets Zoë’s chai tea latte down—he’s a tall, tour-weathered Sunset Strip-type, gaunt with a plethora of tattoos. Zoë’s tight with him, even though she’s currently based in Williamsburg. She promises to see his 13-year-old son play at the Troubadour, if she’s in town.
Zoë’s tea is served in a steel teapot, which spills when she pours it into her teacup. Rome is burning, and all we have is a posh hotelier’s serving ware to prove it.
Social media is like a huge social experiment… we are still figuring it out. The way it affects our development, our brains, physically, like radiation… our attention spans, our creative ability.
“We’re going to find out, at one point, how it’s affected human beings. We’re part of an experiment.” Zoë confirms.
Completely. I feel like we’re in a time where we’re all—
—Of doing that.
The information is right there.
We put the parts together.
But it’s all about who you are. You can either use the internet and look at gossip blogs and porn all day, which is fine sometimes. Or you can use it to do exactly what what we’re talking about: to connect with people, and find information. It’s all there, so it all comes down to your level of discipline, and interests and wonder.
If you’re not disciplined—
It can be a huge distraction. And that’s fine, sometimes. Totally. I’m not saying that you always be like—
You can relax…sometimes.
Yeah, totally. I’m a big fan of relaxing. Also I beat myself up a lot—if I don’t feel active. I like to push myself.
You seem to be pushing yourself.
I’m glad it seems like I’m pushing myself.
Seems like things just go your way… Oscars, two movies at Sundance, the Divergent series… what about Lolawolf?
I’m getting ready to go on tour with my band. And then we’re playing at SXSW.
I’m still trying to find a house party we can play, too.
I have to pinch myself all of the time.
Do you have time?
It’s a lot of work. But you have to sit down and do it. My best friend Jimmy, who’s in my band [Lolawolf], he’s such a doer. I like to fantasize about doing it all the time, but he’s that guy that’s like, “What time tomorrow? Let’s just do it. Let’s sit down and start writing.” And that’s how I get shit done. And it’s crazy you’re your biggest enemy, your biggest blockade. But whatever, it’s just like sit down and do it. Nike really did have it right. The slogan.
That was shoes…more like life—
I saw this guy that had on a shirt with the Nike sign. And it said, “Nah, I’m good.”
That shirt wouldn’t exist if someone didn’t just do it, though.
I never think I know what I’m doing.
Zoë’s recent credits are exhaustive and here at the Chateau Marmont, the vibe is chill. Maybe that’s the sweet spot. Make enough films to keep us all busy, tour the United States, enjoy the bliss when you can. Seems like a decent prerogative for anyone averse to mundane repetition.
Makes sense then that Zoë’s a natural-born chiller. She’s the daughter of rock and screen royalty. Her father’s achievements include a double platinum record; her mother’s include starring on a sitcom that helped shape African-American culture in the late-20th century.
Is Zoë consciously attempting to outdo her parents? Probably not. Here at the Chateau, in Zoë’s favorite spot, a chill mentality is smart, and at its simplest, it’s really just self-preservation.
Photographer: Zackery Michael at ZackeryMichaelStudio.com.
Stylist: Taylor McNeill at TaylorMcNeill.com.
Hair: Nikki Nelms at NikkiNelms.com.
Makeup: Renee Garnes for Wilhelmina.com, New York.