I went to an all-girls’ school for part of high school, and the idea of boys was amazing to me. like, all I ever wanted to do was kiss boys and be around boys.Alexandra Daddario
At least one of the reasons we binge-watched and obsessed over True Detective early this year was Alexandra Daddario’s performance as the seductive woman scorned. The now rather notorious scene in which she handcuffs Woody Harrelson and then strips down naked set the Internet ablaze with, shall we say, appreciation for her form. Since then, things have continued to shape up nicely for the 28-year-old Daddario, who grew up on Manhattan’s Upper East Side and appeared in both installments of the Percy Jackson franchise, as well as in Texas Chainsaw 3D (2013). Later this year, she’ll star in the zombie comedy Burying the Ex with Anton Yelchin and Ashley Greene, and she’s currently filming the disaster epic San Andreas with Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. Daddario, who now lives in Los Angeles, would neither confirm nor deny my fanciful renderings of a meet-cute in front of the green screen with her rumored boyfriend, Percy Jackson himself, Logan Lerman.
CHRIS WALLACE: In True Detective you play an adolescent male fantasy and some weird fever-dream nightmare—an Amazonian woman turned avenging angel. Did that unnerve you? Did it make you think, “Wow, is that how men see women? Is that how Hollywood portrays women?”
ALEXANDRA DADDARIO: No! It was the first time I was nude for anything, so I was definitely unnerved by that, but I think any implied misogyny is a result of defining the characters. You see Woody Harrelson’s character as a family guy and then, all of a sudden, you see him in this very sexual situation with this naked girl. It just completely changes the way you see him.
WALLACE: And how we see you, as it turns out. How did the response to your nudity scene make you feel?
DADDARIO: It’s very flattering. But it’s not something I try to think about too much.
WALLACE: And now you’re doing the earthquake movie San Andreas with the Rock. Are you running around in a skimpy dress, saving the world?
DADDARIO: I wear normal jeans and T-shirts. But this is another really strong, confident character. I have had the opportunity to do a lot of really tough characters—from Percy Jackson and even Texas Chainsaw, in a way—they’re really tough, good female role models.
WALLACE: Are you tough in real life?
DADDARIO: I’m a combination between extreme insecurity and extreme confidence. [laughs] If there was an earthquake of the same magnitude as in the movie, I would be hiding in a corner somewhere, not sure of what to do.
WALLACE: Growing up with two lawyer parents, were you the black sheep because you wanted to act?
DADDARIO: No. When I was little, I thought about becoming a lawyer like my parents, and my mother would always tell me, “You can do anything you want—except be a lawyer.” Not like I couldn’t. [laughs] But my mom used to model when she was younger, before she went to law school, and I think she thought it was pretty cool. I think my parents saw that acting ultimately made me happy, even though it was a rough ride for a little bit. There wasn’t a ton of pushback about it. Which is interesting, coming from where I came from.
WALLACE: Do you find the process of auditioning difficult—do you have war stories?
DADDARIO: I guess the weirdest was a “Got Milk?” ad for chocolate milk. I must have been 13 or 14 and had only kissed one boy. I went to an all-girls school for part of high school, and the idea of boys was amazing to me, like, all I ever wanted to do was kiss boys and be around boys. The audition was me and one other guy. I would have chocolate syrup in my mouth, and the boy would put milk in his mouth, and we’d make out. And then, we’d come up from the big make-out, and we’d have chocolate milk mustaches, and we had to be like, “Got milk?” or “Got chocolate milk?” or something. [laughs]
DADDARIO: It was so nerve-racking, but also exciting as a 13-year-old kid who got to make out with a boy. And then I got a callback and got to do it again. I’m absolutely positive my parents didn’t know that was what the audition was. It was a little weird. Acting is a really strange thing. You have to know when you’re put in a bad situation, but you also have to be willing to do something very strange.
WALLACE: Have you ever lied on your acting résumé, claiming to speak Russian or knowing how to do kung fu? Or do you really have secret talents?
DADDARIO: When I was first starting out as a kid, I tried to pad my résumé with everything I had ever done-ice-skate, carry a tune. I can’t dance for my life, but I can learn, so I’ll tell people I can dance. I play the piano—I’m a really good pianist, actually.
WALLACE: What’s your go-to song?
DADDARIO: I love the “Moonlight Sonata.” I try to write my own music. It’s a good way of de-stressing.
WALLACE: Is there any actor you’d like to emulate?
DADDARIO: I definitely have role models. But it’s hard to say, “Okay, I want to be Angelina Jolie,” or “I want to be Charlize Theron.” Even though, yes, of course, I would love to. I really love Charlize Theron. I’ve never met her before, but she seems really down-to-earth in interviews, really intelligent and funny and cool—and she’s just this glorious goddess who holds herself with such confidence. I’m a huge fan of Steve Martin. He’s hilarious, but he has this depth to him and this way of dealing with the difficult things in life with a sense of humor that I think has helped me as an actress.
WALLACE: Do you have formal training?
DADDARIO: I took Meisner for a long time. I use a lot of sense memory and, well, I wouldn’t say Method, but I can’t really avoid getting into character. I always use Texas Chainsaw as an example, because it was the most intense level of emotion to get into, being chased by a guy with a chain saw. You get home at the end of the day, and you feel really depressed and strange and anxious, because you’ve tricked your body, essentially, into feeling that way, sobbing hysterically and screaming and thinking about all these horrible things in order to get yourself to that place. There’s also this weird thing about being an actor: There’s joy in even being in the darkest place, knowing that you’ve reached that point where you’re supposed to be.
WALLACE: Are you where you’re supposed to be, as a New Yorker in L.A.?
DADDARIO: I’ve been in L.A. for almost five years, and it’s on-and-off, but in the last year, I’ve really found myself here. I got a dog. I take him on hikes, and I go to yoga all the time and drink green juice—very cliché actress. When I first moved here, I almost felt like I was obligated to hate L.A., as a New Yorker. I moved way too fast for this city. I walked everywhere, and I was lonely, too. It was a really hard time not knowing anybody, and you don’t run into people the way you do in New York. You can go a week without seeing anyone. So I make an effort to see people, and I really like L.A. now.
WALLACE: I’m guessing that Woody Harrelson showing up for bourbon and handcuffs isn’t your dream date. But what would be?
DADDARIO: Well, I’m sure there’s some fun to bourbon and handcuffs, too. I love to travel, and I think being whisked away somewhere for a vacation is a pretty amazing date. But, I’m really into the basic movie and dinner. It’s not where you are, but who you’re with that really matters.
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