ABOVE: TAVI GEVINSON AT THE TORONTO FILM FESTIVAL, SEPTEMBER 2013. IMAGE COURTESY OF LARRY BUSACCA/GETTY IMAGES.
There is nothing unusual about 17-year-old Tavi Gevinson’s high school bucket list. “I think most things have already been crossed off,” she tells us over the phone. “I was in a ‘band’ for two seconds, which means we performed once and then never again. I got to have the experience of seeing your boyfriend in the hall, ditching study hall, going to the alley for lunch… I’ll probably go to prom this year.”
Tavi Gevinson, however, is not your usual teenager. Famous since middle school for her fashion blog, Style Rookie, “precocious” is far too bland an adjective for Gevinson. She’s sat front row at Fashion Week, modeled, given TED talks about “the wisdom of not knowing,” launched an online magazine, and is about to release a book. The high school senior’s latest venture is into the world of acting. Instead of capitalizing on her fame and going straight for the starring role, Gevinson’s feature-length debut is as a supporting character in Nicole Holofcener’s wonderfully sweet adult romance, Enough Said. Gevinson plays Chloe, the best friend of divorced masseuse Eva (Julia Louis-Dreyfus)’s daughter. Also in the film are the late James Gandolfini as Eva’s love interest, and Toni Colette, Catherine Keener, and Eve Hewson.
EMMA BROWN: What made you choose Enough Said as your first feature?
TAVI GEVINSON: Well, I think one of the hardest things to do in film or TV is to make something feel real, which is weird because it’s [about] being a person, and life is something that everyone making films and TV can relate to. This whole film is full of these really special moments, which are so special because they are so honest. I liked my character. I hadn’t had experience on a feature length, [so] I thought it was a good role. I’d heard that Nicole [Holofcener] was also really great to work with and I really liked her when I met her. There were a number of factors, but mostly the script—I read it in one sitting, not necessarily because it’s “edge of your seat,” just because it’s really pleasant.
BROWN: Had you been offered a lot of other roles before this?
GEVINSON: People didn’t know what I was like as an actor, so I auditioned for stuff, [but] I haven’t been offered lots of roles.
BROWN: I know you’ve done shorts before, but did anything surprise you about filming Enough Said?
GEVINSON: I’ve been on sets for photo shoots or an ad and stuff, so I knew there would be a lot of waiting around. But I was surprised at how non-scary it felt. I was pretty scared going in and I think I was mostly surprised to find, “Oh, I just have to be a person and talk to people and be nice.” It was nice to find that it would become a little community, because I was very nervous going in.
BROWN: A lot of the actors I’ve talked to say starting a new film is like the first day at a new school.
GEVINSON: I don’t know, to me it was nicer to starting in a new school, because at a new school there are bullies and people could be scary, but this wasn’t like that.
BROWN: I liked the relationship between your character and Julia Louis-Dreyfus’ character. Is there an adult or friend’s parent that you can talk to in such an honest way?
GEVINSON: Yeah. I have so many, especially working on Rookie. I like also how Eva’s not some brilliant mentor who has it all together—they’re both kind of needy and they both need to confide in one another. But I could definitely relate to that part of it. You always think your friend’s mom is cooler than your mom, so that part of it felt familiar. I love my mom—it’s not about my mom—it’s just about the feeling of being a teenager and not wanting to be at your own house. If my friend is talking about her parents I’ll be like, “But they seem so great!” Granted, in the film, Chloe’s mom actually is pretty terrible and her dad is nowhere to be found, so she has a good reason to seek that out in Eva.
BROWN: Had you ever seen seen Veep or Seinfeld or The Sopranos?
GEVINSON: Oh, yeah. I’m a huge fan of Seinfeld and Veep—Veep is just one of the best shows that’s on right now. I’d seen The Sopranos, but I wasn’t a faithful viewer because I can’t handle it. I just started Breaking Bad—I’m only a few episodes in and I think I have to stop because it makes me too anxious. But it was hard because I have a habit of relating anything anyone is talking about to an episode of Seinfeld, and I had to stop because that would be embarrassing for everyone involved. It was really, really cool to work with them and also Toni [Colette]—she’s been in a lot of my favorite movies. I didn’t have any scenes with Catherine [Keener], but I’m a fan of hers as well.
BROWN: It’s a pretty impressive cast. Have your parents seen the film yet?
GEVINSON: Yeah, they came with me to Toronto. I liked feeling that this was something they would like whether their daughter was in it or not.
BROWN: Was it weird missing Fashion Week for the Toronto Film Festival?
GEVINSON: Not really. The past few times I’ve been at Fashion Week, it’s all been Rookie related, so Fashion Week had already started to feel like it was a bit of a different thing in my life. This time we didn’t have Rookie stuff going on because our book comes out next month. It felt fine. I wanted to be at home for back-to-school because it’s my last year of high school.
BROWN: Are you applying to colleges?
BROWN: Do you have to scale back on your extracurricular activities?
GEVINSON: I probably should, but the book’s coming out and we’re doing a bunch of tour stuff. But writing college essays, that’s the kind of thing I like doing. I might even have stuff I can repurpose and I’m really excited about college, so it doesn’t feel super stressful. I’m very lucky; I have the privilege of getting to go to college solely to get an education, not to get an education so I can get a job.
BROWN: Do you plan to keep acting?
GEVINSON: Yeah, I would like to.
BROWN: Have you been getting more opportunities to act since you were cast in this role?
GEVINSON: Well, I see so few scripts just because, for whatever reason, there just aren’t that many good scripts with a young, teenaged girl. So it’s always been sporadic. People don’t know what to do when writing a story with teens that takes place now—they think you have to make a bunch of references to Facebook.
ENOUGH SAID COMES OUT TODAY, SEPTEMBER 18, IN SELECT THEATERS.