Kathryn Newton has just landed back in Los Angeles from Paris Fashion Week, where she attended the Givenchy Autumn/Winter 2023 show at the École Militaire. “It’s so beautiful. It’s so inspiring. The people are just cool,” she says of the French capital. Newton has just wrapped up the press tour for Marvel’s Ant-Man and the Wasp Quantumania, which involved a whirlwind tour of New York/LA/New York/LA/Toronto/London/New York —then 20-odd hours in Milan for the Tod’s show, home for the SAG Awards, and back across the pond for a quick jaunt in Paris.
Newton’s no stranger to the mayhem—nor to the fashion—having been on the job (the acting job, that is) since she was four.It was on set that she found her love of fashion. As we chat, she pulls up a photo of herself as a child, on the set of All My Children, clad in a corset, hair curled, covered in bows—not entirely out of the realm of possibility for Newton’s current-day outfit choices.
Aside from roaming around costume departments (almost)since she could walk, Newton also credits her style to her roots in Coral Gables, Miami. “Growing up, I was always in a swimsuit. Always looking really extra. Colorful. I was influenced by what was around me. There’s nothing I love more than getting dressed up. I love how I can transform.”
Newton credits acting with providing her a rigorous education in sartorial shapes. She loves trousers. Fit and flare dresses. She’s never been one for skinny jeans and a tank. When on set, Newton leans towards shapes that feel more cinematic. Likening costume design departments to the ateliers in Paris, when on set, she says, you’re working with people making clothes for you. She recalls Pokémon Detective Pikachu. “My sweatpants were made for me. The jackets were made from scratch.” Though one of them was a Gucci blazer, she adds with a laugh—for fashion and film intertwine.
Red carpets are, in essence, another part to play. “They’re an opportunity to play the role of an actress at a Hollywood event,” Newton gushes, as if the very part isn’t inherently herself. “How fun!” But there is an element of performance—one Newton is acutely aware of. All the carpet’s a stage. And it’s a stage Newton considers to have shaped her career. “They make people see you in a certain way,” she says. It’s a means of crafting an image that’s malleable; that actors (and their stylists) can play with and alter with each premiere, awards show and gala.
“Right now, I’m viewed like this poodle-loving Barbie girl,” Newton adds with a smile, and not a hint of frustration. It’s the image she’s cultivated, after all. (Never too far from the action are Newton’s three poodles: Jack King Ruler of all Floof, Dan-four Ladybird Keep the Madness Rolling, and Starlight RosebudHella Good Boy Gonna need a big Bank—“so Jack, Ladybird and Buddy."
“That might be who I am right now. But I don’t know who I’m going to be on Sunday at the Vanity Fair Oscar Party,” she says with a wink. “You can [choose] who you want people to think you are.” Newton likes to paint images of outfits she’s worn to fashion shows and red carpets, as a thank you to the brands and designers. “They help me to move my storyline forward,” she attests.
It was with this ethos that Newton went into her first meet-ing with Ant-Man co-start Paul Rudd (who plays her father in the film). Decked out in giant Chanel sunglasses and Valentino tennis shoes, Newton wanted everyone to know: “this girl’s kind of extra.”
That confidence doesn’t mean set wasn’t daunting. She re-calls shooting the M.O.D.O.K. scenes before the rest of the film.“I was inspired by Paul to try things,” she says simply. The two were on a break, chatting about how intimidating a project like a Marvel movie is. He said, “If I can say anything, it’s that I think that you’re funny, and you should not hold back. Try the joke. At the end of the day, it’s just a movie.” She credits Rudd with a new found ethos of never holding back. “I gave it everything I had on this movie. I took risks. I didn’t hold back. And it’s because Paul believed in me.”
Newton’s Marvel debut has been a long time in the making.The actress remembers seeing Iron Man with her dad. She’s told the story ad nauseam, she says, but that’s because it was the moment it clicked. She was already an actor. Her professional take?“ This is the greatest movie of all time. (I was eight.)”
She was already an actor, but sitting in the cinema, she thought, if I can be in a Marvel movie, I’ve made it. That’s when I’m a real actress. The goal was Marvel by 25—“or you’re not gonna make it,” she said to herself. She’s 26 now. Filming began at 24. Presto.
Eight year old’s opinions are nothing to scoff at; Newton’s best feedback comes from this very demographic. For some of them, it’s their first Marvel movie. “I get to be part of their human experience,” she says pridefully. “And I think that’s what I’ve always strived for—to be part of that human experience.”
This translates on-screen. She’s reprising the role of Cassie Lang—who has historically shared space with Avengers as well as the Marvel lot—but with her own spin. “We wanted to portray a young girl, with a good heart, who cares about people—but has no idea what she’s doing, is super impatient, and wants to belike her dad.” It’s about honoring the Cassie Lang that fans fell in love with, while introducing them to a new, young superhero.
There’s something about Marvel movies, Newton says.“They’re unattainable, because it’s about superheroes. And yet, they’re the most relatable,” she considers. “I’m attracted to movies that take you elsewhere.”
Marvel was, to eight-year-old Newton, the most glaring form of escapism. But she’s also learned to love films that take the viewer elsewhere in other ways. She mentions recently watchingOscar-nominated Aftersun and Triangle of Sadness. “I don’t thinkI would’ve understood them when I was eight,” she says with a smile. “But they tap into the same part of my heart and my head that the Marvel movies do.”
Newton likes to say that Cassie isn’t really a superhero yet. “She wants to be. She’s got the gear. But she hasn’t really earned her spot yet.” Here’s hoping for more movies, for Cassie to better understand what winning and losing really means—that good things take time, and that you can only help others if you help yourself. “She’s a good reflection of young people these days,” she considers. “Who want to do the right thing, right now, and they want it to be done right away.” Newton relates to this impatience. “Which gets me in a lot of trouble,” she laughs.
Amidst this need for speed, we’re all in a rush to grow up. But in Hollywood, actors tend to age down. Newton, still young herself, is used to playing the teen—which isn’t such a hard transition. “I feel exactly the same as I did in high school,” she says.She finds herself in the characters she plays; it’s easy to tap into them. “Maybe that’s a bad thing,” she jokes. “That I still feel like an eighth grader.”
Stepping back into this age, she see them—them being teens—through a different lens. “Teenagers are the most complex, misunderstood, open, strong and broken and small people,” she says. “They’re the best roles. And they’re not always given the opportunity to be the lead of a movie.” Like Cassie Lang gets to be. Like Julie in Blockers, which is one of Newton’s favorites because it starred three young women.
Looking back, she’s been building up to leading lady status for almost her whole life. It was at fourteen on dark fantasy series Supernatural that Newton really learned how to act. “I think because I was so young I was really fearless, so I didn’t care if I was bad. And they would encourage me.” Not unlike Rudd and director Peyton Reed on the set of Ant-Man.
HBO hit Big Little Lies was another masterclass. “Working with Reese Witherspoon and Jean Marc Vallée—that’s when I decided: I can really do this.” Vallée changed her perspective on what it meant to be an actor; it was on this set that she realized how much she could do with a part, even in a smaller role. Vallée shot 360, no lights, “You go into the scene and you just play.” Newton had the agency to decide what to do with the character; she was given more freedom than ever before.
Pokémon Detective Pikachu was a fight—Newton beat out some of the best actors she knew. It was the largest-scale production she’d done to date, from the CGI work to press appearances in Japan. And it was fun. “They called me a baby Tom Cruise because I wanted to do all my stunts,” she remembers. “They were like, you should be a superhero.” A splash of water for the already-planted Marvel seed.
It was a push and pull between being happy with this mile-stone, versus yearning for more, another step up. Ultimately, New-ton’s realized, you’ve gotta keep dreaming. “I’m always amazed by how every project I do seems better than the last,” she says with a hint of wonder. “It blows my mind. I don’t understand how life does this. Every single one gets better.”
Before Marvel came one-season Netflix hit The Society. It was a cast of her own age—and they’ve all skyrocketed since. “I get chills thinking about it,” she smiles. “To have been young all together, and none of our lives were the same after—it opened so many doors.” Newton speaks about her time on set with a sort of high school-nostalgia—the fun, the hard work, and the people mesh together with a fondness in her voice. She rattles off her costar’s names, from Toby Wallace “one of the best actor’s I’ve ever worked with,” she gushes to Olivia Dejonge, praising the recent work, each peer’s recent projects committed to memory.“They haven’t stopped,” she says with obvious pride.
The Society was discontinued on a Monday. And on Friday she got the call from Marvel for Ant-Man. “Weird, right?” And it goes to show. Newton’s career progression is at once serendipitous and the result of hard work and perseverance. She’s built up her resume, job by job, cultivating a sense of happenstance; one door closes, another opens. But these doors are there waiting in the first place because of the people Newton has met—and the impressions she’s made—over the course of her more-than-a-decade-long career. The person on the other end of the Marvel telephone call? Casting director Sarah Finn—the same Sarah Finn that cast Newton in Academy Award-winning small town grief drama, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri and in Detective Pikachu.
“The only thing that rings true is to dream big,” Newton says.“Because your dreams come true.” She’d have called herself crazy for dreaming of being in Marvel. But it was her “why not?” attitude that got her there. And it’s still propelling her upwards. She’s got more films in the works, including Zelda Williams’s Lisa Frankenstein and Susanna Fogel’s Winner. Newton also has some projects of her own in the pipeline. One is a book she’s getting made, and the other is an original idea. One’s a golf project, the other is Barbie-related. Both have some big names involved, she says, with a slight sense of incredulity. “Even today I’m read-ing my pitch pages and I’m like, there’s no way.” She knows what she wants to do next. And she’s doing it. But there’s still a level of disbelief Newton is open to what’s to come. “The one that’s right, it just falls out of the sky sometimes.” And that’s not to say that she’s getting offers willy-nilly. “But when you get the opportunity to audition for something, the ones that you book, they always feel so easy.”
Newton likens her trajectory, from aged four until now, to her parallel life as a golfer. “My whole life, I’ve been playing. Practicing my short game, getting 100 putts until they go in. I won’t leave until I’ve made 100 in a row. Then I get out on the course, and it’s very easy for me to perform.” She shows up. Puts the work in. Devotes the time. So at showtime, it looks easy. And it’ll feel like it too.
The morning after she got back from Paris, Newton went and hit golf balls. “I thought, back to reality, let’s see where you’re at.Let’s test my game.”
And how was it? “It was great.”
Photographed by Dennis Leupold
Styled by Christopher Campbell
Written by Madeleine Schulz
Hair by Renato Campora
Makeup by Gina Brooke
Flaunt Film by Tyler-Marie Evans
Photography Assistants: Anatalia Zavaleta and Tait Keller
Stylist Assistant: Rossely Tapia
Location Hotel Per LA