Kathryn Newton and Paul Rudd on the Joys of Being Extra
Kathryn Newton has called her role as Cassie in Antman and the Wasp: Quantumania, “a dream come true.” For lots of actors, the line might sound canned, like something you have to say when Disney welcomes you into the MCU. But you get the sense that the Newton, the earnest and excited California native who’s been acting since she was four, really really means it. That was the vibe she gave off a couple of weeks ago, when, in the middle of their press junket, she sat down with her co-star Paul Rudd to answer some questions about her fashion sense, Barbie fanaticism, and letting yourself be extra.
PAUL RUDD: We’re being recorded, so do you feel as if you’re getting into an Interview magazine frame of mind?
KATHRYN NEWTON: I feel like I’m on a podcast with you. Like this is your talk show.
RUDD: I feel like Mark Maron.
NEWTON: I don’t know who that is.
RUDD: He’s really good. Do you listen to a lot of podcasts?
NEWTON: I don’t. I just look up interviews of you and watch them for my entertainment.
RUDD: You must be starved for entertainment. Have you done podcasts?
NEWTON: I did do a podcast one time.
RUDD: Which one?
NEWTON: I was on Lisa Vanderpump’s podcast. Do you know who Lisa Vanderpump is?
RUDD: I know there’s a show called Vanderpump Rules. I’ve never seen it. What made you do her podcast?
NEWTON: I’m a big fan. I met her in real life. She told me about the podcast and I followed up.
RUDD: Where did you meet her?
NEWTON: At her house.
RUDD: What is her thing?
NEWTON: She’s fabulous.
RUDD: How so?
NEWTON: She’s like me. No one can see what I’m wearing right now, but I fit in with Lisa Vanderpump.
RUDD: I will say this, you really do have your own thing.
NEWTON: You think so?
RUDD: I do, and it’s really winning. You have your own look and identity. I just don’t know anyone like you, and I noticed this the first time we hung out a little bit in England when we were shooting this thing and you were wearing these crazy shoes that were platforming kind of tennis shoes, and big sweatpants. You looked almost like a cartoon character, and I say that in the best possible way. I thought, “This is a person who knows who they are, does not take themselves super seriously, looks really cool and is fun.” It feels like you know who you are. Has that always been the case? Do you feel different now than you did, say, five years ago?
NEWTON: I feel like I’m still in the eighth grade trying to figure it out. I don’t think I’ve changed much since then, but I’m really glad you thought I was cool, because I definitely wanted to look cool the first time I met all of you guys. I really chose my biggest, most insane sunglasses in particular, because I wanted you to know: Kathryn Newton, she’s extra. And you didn’t let me down. You encouraged me to be extra and to try and let my weirdness come out. So I appreciate that. [Laughs]
RUDD: If people were reading right now, it’ll probably say in quotes, “Laughing.” You are a big laugher. I think that’s the best quality. I wish I had it.
NEWTON: Really? It takes a lot to make you laugh.
RUDD: Because people would be surprised to find out that I’m dying on the inside, and there’s a toxicity that runs through.
NEWTON: [Laughs] I didn’t want to break character on set, but I broke a lot. With you on set, I was thinking, “I better learn how to be a better actor because Paul Rudd is making me break character every single scene.”
RUDD: I loved it! Are you kidding me? It was such an ego boost. [Laughs]
NEWTON: [Laughs] It was fun for you, bad for me.
RUDD: Hardly. You were great, and I knew it when we were filming. I thought, “This is such a perfect marriage of an actor and a role.” I’ve been asked a lot of questions about our relationship in the film and how we went about discussing and breaking down the whole thing of father and daughter. And I say, “We never really did that. We just kind of fell into it”
NEWTON: I think Peyton Reed [the director] set us up to just try stuff, and you were also really welcoming. You didn’t have to be so nice.
RUDD: Boy, I really didn’t have to be, did I? What do you suppose it was about me that made me decide to be?
NEWTON: It was my sneakers and my sunglasses.
RUDD: “I guess I’ll talk to her. I like the outfit.” You’ve done press junkets before. Does this one feel different because it’s Marvel?
NEWTON: It feels different because I’m thinking about the fans a lot. Do you think about the fans?
NEWTON: It’s a bigger fandom than I’ve ever been a part of and I want them to know how much I loved making this movie. It was a huge deal for me. I don’t think any actor would’ve taken full advantage of it the way I did. I had so much fun every day, and I never forgot that. Nothing’s ever going to top it—you’ve ruined every opportunity that’s coming next.
RUDD: I’ve heard “you’ve ruined everything” many times in my life, but not so much in that regard. But it’s true what you’re saying. I did get this sense from you. There was an enthusiasm every day you were on set. You were never a drag or pain, which is sometimes hard to do. There’s a lot of waiting around, these suits are not the most comfortable things, but you had such a positive disposition.
NEWTON: Well, you didn’t complain either, and I knew you wanted to, because that was so hard. The running around and everything was so hard and you never let it slip.
RUDD: You’ve been acting most of your life. How long have you been doing this?
NEWTON: Since I was four years old.
RUDD: How does that happen?
NEWTON: I don’t know, but I think that I got a lot of confidence doing it. It was fun, and the outfits were cute. I don’t really know how to be an actor. Do you know what I mean? I don’t really know how to do what we do—there’s no method. Every project I do is different. Every process of finding a character is different. On this one, I was so nervous because I wanted to do such a great job, but you get on set and just have to be open and go with the flow of whatever’s happening. And you were really open and it just made it easy to find it. And then I just felt like I was supposed to be there.
RUDD: That’s for sure. One of the things I love about you is that you do say these things like, “I still don’t know how to do this.” It’s not false modesty. It is, I think, just a reflection of who you are. And it is incredibly endearing, that’s for sure. But it’s more than that. It’s authentic and it’s that spirit that comes through, because you’re more than capable of being an actor. You are great at it. But I don’t know many other people, regardless of how long they’ve been doing it or how old they are, that are that forthright in their own insecurity about it. And I think that that’s actually the superpower you possess, the thing that you think would hold you back is actually the thing that’s making you excel in these roles and get these jobs.
NEWTON: Yeah, you’re just in the moment. But I’ve been really good at just staying true to my uncool self. So you get jobs and you don’t know why you get them and they end up being exactly right for you.
RUDD: I learned a lot from you and continue to, and I’m being real. You’re so interesting. And I think that some people know about this, you had mentioned it earlier, but I would think most people don’t. You are a phenomenal golfer.
NEWTON: Thank you. Yeah, I used to be really good. Now I’m just good.
RUDD: Did you ever think about being a pro?
NEWTON: Of course. Especially when I was little. My dad taught me how to play, so that’s our thing. Whenever I’m not working, or even on a weekend, it’s always something that we can do together, and it’s given me a lot of confidence, like real confidence. When you win, no one can take that from you, and when you lose, you have to learn how to get back up and get back to it. When I play well, I can say I played well. And when I play bad, you have to own up to it. I try to get more people to go play any sport because it gives you confidence. There’s nothing like it.
RUDD: Has there ever been a round that you shot that was more gratifying than any other?
NEWTON: I played in the AT&T Pebble Beach with Bill Murray, and I thought I had to show everyone what a good golfer I was. It was live on TV and I didn’t want to let anybody down because everyone knows I’m good, so I felt like I had this reputation. I played terribly, they would show my shot and then cut away. And then they had one shot and Bill looked at me like, “Just do it Kathryn” And I hit the best shot ever. I hit it four feet on the 17th hole at Pebble Beach, one of the hardest holes, into the wind, 163 yards, six iron, stuck it. The crowd went wild. It went viral on Twitter. No one cared about any of my bad shots. But I was like, “Yeah, I think I’m going to stick to acting.” Being good at golf is way harder than acting.
RUDD: It’s the hardest thing ever.
RUDD: I think had you chosen golf, you would excel and be a champion.
NEWTON: I will say, I have so many second place trophies. And did you know when I was younger, there was one year at my agency where they said that I was the number one client to get to get down to two people and not book? There’s something about that. You have to learn to win, and I just want everyone else to win. When you’re in a golf tournament, you have to have a killer instinct, and I really don’t have that. I just want everyone to like me.
RUDD: Do you think having a lot of second place trophies in golf has informed how you approach trying to get a role in a movie?
NEWTON: Well, I learned that if you get second place in a golf tournament, that doesn’t mean they’re going to be your friend, so you might as well beat them anyway.
RUDD: I think you’re right. And I understand that feeling of having that competitive thing.
NEWTON: I don’t get that from you.
RUDD: I have it in other areas because I can be a very competitive person.
NEWTON: I can be really competitive, too. You never complained, so I never complained. You know what I mean?
RUDD: It’s funny with acting, I really don’t have that thing.
NEWTON: I think it’s because I treat it like a sport, and in a sport, you can win one day, but then the next day you’re all the same. If you’re working at all, I think you’re winning. I wish more people saw it that way.
RUDD: I can play a board game and be insufferable because I’ll get very competitive.
NEWTON: So you and Monopoly, that’d be a bad day?
RUDD: I try to be better. Let’s see. Do you ever think about writing your own stuff?
NEWTON: I’m working on some stuff.
RUDD: You are? I won’t ask you about it if you don’t want me to.
NEWTON: You can ask me about it, but I don’t really want to talk about it because I don’t want anyone to take my idea. But I have one thing that I’m working on. I got the rights to a book and I showed it to a producer from Film Nation that did the movie The Map of Tiny Perfect Things with me. And I was blown away at how she just said yes. And then we got a writer and we’re trying to make it. Everyone makes it seem like it’s this impossible thing, and it is, but when you have the right thing, it happens pretty quickly.
RUDD: That’s exciting. Was it just a book you read?
NEWTON: Yeah. I started collecting Barbies and I got this book and I called the lady and she’s 90 years old. And she’s like, “Yeah, I’ll do it.” And she just gave me the rights.
RUDD: Oh, okay. So, I remember you said that you loved Barbies.
NEWTON: Yeah. I have a secret Instagram with a bunch of Barbie pictures. I’d be like the best Barbie collector of all time if people knew how many Barbies I had. It’s insane.
RUDD: Are you excited for the Barbie movie?
NEWTON: I’m so excited. I begged to be in that movie. I tried to call Greta Gerwig. I was like, “Any role, please? I will be an extra.” No dice.
RUDD: Did she realize just how big of a Barbie enthusiast you are?
NEWTON: I sent her a picture in all my Barbie gear and all my Barbies.
RUDD: Do you think maybe that freaked her out?
NEWTON: She’s probably like, “Stay away from our movie.”
RUDD: “Something’s wrong here.”
NEWTON: I have a really small role in Lady Bird, but I begged to be in that. That didn’t work the second time. You got to let them want you, I guess.
RUDD: Well, I can imagine you are excited for this movie. Did you read it? Do you know anything about it?
RUDD: That’s the way to go in.
NEWTON: Yeah, just go in blind. Just like our movie. Had no idea what I was about to walk into. Just blown away.
RUDD: Isn’t it crazy?
NEWTON: It’s insane.
Hair: Renato Campora at The Wall Group
Makeup: Rommy Najor using About Face at Forward Artists
Nails: Mamie Onishi using Chanel at See Management
Styling Assistant: Maddi Thompson
Photo Assistant: Julia Tarantino
Production: The Morrison Group
Location: Deer Studios