Alden Ehrenreich

Stars have been discovered in drugstores and on street corners. But by Steven Spielberg at Southern California bat mitzvahs? Not so much. However, that is ­exactly what happened to Los Angeles native Alden Ehrenreich. At age 14, he made a comedy video for a friend in which he filmed himself breaking into her house and “trying on her clothes and just being ridiculous.” It screened at her party. Spielberg was a guest. Impressed, the iconic director set up a meeting for Ehrenreich with DreamWorks. Now 19, the lupine young actor is starring alongside Vincent Gallo and Maribel Verdú in Francis Ford Coppola’s upcoming drama Tetro, a story about a family of artists living in Argentina. “He has been my favorite director for a long time,” Ehrenreich says of Coppola, for whom he read a passage from The Catcher in the Rye for his audition. “Before I met with him, I rented a bunch of documentaries that he’s in so I knew how he spoke. He’s not an intimidating presence, even though he carries a lot of prestige. He makes you feel relaxed and collaborative.” Ehrenreich, whose mother is an interior designer and whose stepfather is an orthodontist, grew up in Pacific Palisades, California—“a small town in the middle of L.A.,” as he describes it. But today the actor, who is already being called the next Leonardo DiCaprio, is thousands of miles away from Hollywood. He’s currently living in New York City’s East Village, making short films, and trying to get through his intense first year of studio acting at NYU. “For me, the drive is storytelling,” Ehrenreich says. “To be a part of an art that tells a story and to be a catalyst, a color in that, is very exciting.”