Faces to Watch 2014: Movies | Ansel Elgort, Gia Coppola and more
The Times asked its reporters and critics to highlight figures in entertainment and the arts who will be making news in 2014. Here’s who they picked:
Ansel Elgort | Actor
Before Ansel Elgort was cast in two of next year’s most highly anticipated movies, he had 900 followers on Instagram. Now — just months after shooting the dystopian action flick “Divergent” and the cancer love story “The Fault in Our Stars” — he’s up to more than 117,000.
Both films are adaptations of bestselling young-adult novels, and if fans of the books turn up at theaters in droves, Elgort is primed to become the next big teen heartthrob. In a way, though, the 19-year-old has been readying himself for the spotlight for years. Growing up in Manhattan, he performed the Nutcracker with the New York City Ballet and attended LaGuardia High School — the performing arts school that 1980’s “Fame” was based on. His parents were also in the arts: His mother is opera director Grethe Holby and his father, Arthur Elgort, shot photographs for Vogue.
Did your parents’ professions influence your decision to be an actor?
It was monumental that they were in the arts. My dad was always taking photos of us at home, and even on set — he’d bring us along and stick us in the photos in the background. It was almost the beginning of acting for me, like, “Hey, you go over there and play basketball in the background, and don’t even think about the camera.”
In “Divergent,” you play the brother of Shailene Woodley’s character. In “The Fault in Our Stars,” you’re her lover. Have you two become really close?
I think she had a lot to do with me getting the part in “Fault.” We were actually in the middle of “Divergent” when I auditioned, and she already had the part. So after our chemistry read, we were back on the “Divergent” set and she actually said, “Ansel, your audition was the best.” And she sort of lobbied for me, I think.
Once you got the part, what kind of research did you do to play a cancer patient?
What I wanted to know is what my character would have heard from the doctors — what it would have been like to lose a leg, or how to make a decision to travel somewhere for treatment. We also had a lot of kids on set who were real cancer survivors, and they were so excited and nice. No one was like, “You don’t really have cancer.” There were no hard feelings.
How do you think you’ll handle the attention that might be coming your way in the next few months?
I live in Brooklyn, and I’m going to do everything in my power to remain normal and keep my life as it is. I like to go to the rock climbing wall. And I do this thing called Warhammer, where I paint miniature [figurines]. They’re like a very small army of soldiers that you use in a game. Kind of like in “The 40-Year-Old Virgin.” I also produce house music and DJ under the name Ansolo.
How do you get into clubs to DJ if you’re underage?
You can DJ at 18 in clubs. I’ve DJed at [the nightclub] Pacha, and they walk me over to the booth, and at the end of the night, they just escort me out.
Natalie Dormer | Actress
Audiences familiar with Natalie Dormer are probably accustomed to seeing her dressed up in royal garb, from the flowing gowns of Anne Boleyn on the Showtime series “The Tudors” to the ornate dresses of would-be queen Margaery Tyrell on HBO’s “Game of Thrones.” Next November, the 31-year-old British actress will show a different side as Cressida, the intrepid documentary filmmaker and revolutionary in “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay — Part 1,” the first installment of the series’ two-part finale.
“It’s such a departure for me,” Dormer said, speaking on the telephone from Britain. “At the moment, people think of me in long skirts, with long brunet hair, so [it’s a change] to be running around in combat trousers and flat army boots.”
A role in the blockbuster series, which Dormer will reprise for “Part 2" in 2015, could spell a new level of fame for the actress, who in addition to “Game of Thrones” this year appeared in the Formula 1 racing drama “Rush” and the Ridley Scott thriller “The Counselor.” She has also completed work on “Posh,” director Lone Scherfig’s adaptation of the Laura Wade play about an elite social club at Oxford University, as well as the indie dramas “Fencewalker” and “A Long Way From Home.”
Diego Boneta | Actor
Born to two engineers in Mexico City, actor and singer Diego Boneta can thank his parents for a slight miscalculation. At age 12, he begged permission to audition for “Codigo Fama,” a singing reality show for children.
“After my mom saying to my dad that she knew her statistics and there was no way I was going to make it, they let me go,” Boneta, 23, said on the phone from Los Angeles, where he now resides. He came in fifth place, which led to stints on three telenovelas and then appearances on the American TV series “Pretty Little Liars” and “90210.”
Boneta made his film debut opposite Tom Cruise and Julianne Hough in “Rock of Ages,” an adaptation of the Broadway musical, and he’s showing no signs of slowing down. He’ll next appear on screen in “Pele,” a biopic in which he plays the childhood rival of the Brazilian soccer star. The film’s release will be timed to this year’s World Cup, which kicks off in Brazil in June.
Boneta has also wrapped the psychological thriller “The Dead Men” and the “Lord of the Flies” remake “Eden,” about a downed U.S. soccer team. He’ll start shooting the horror movie “Summer Camp” in Barcelona in January.
Gia Coppola | Filmmaker
With the release of “Palo Alto” in the spring, first-time writer-director Gia Coppola will officially usher her family’s filmmaking tradition into its third generation. But although she is the granddaughter of Francis Ford Coppola and a niece to Sofia Coppola and Roman Coppola, her mentor and closest collaborator on the film was James Franco, whose short-story collection “Palo Alto Stories” provided the source material.
Franco also has a supporting role in the film, which stars Emma Roberts, Jack Kilmer and Nat Wolff as wayward teens navigating the liminal stage between childhood and adulthood in suburban Palo Alto, Franco’s hometown.
Coppola met Franco through mutual friends after graduating from Bard College, She had also directed a number of music and fashion videos, and after discussing mutual creative pursuits with Franco, he sent her an advance copy of his book.
“I felt like the book really resonated with that emotion of being a young person and trying to find your place — of being too old for kid stuff but also too young for adult stuff,” Coppola said.
Of working with Franco, Coppola said, “He was there to be helpful and supportive as much as possible, but also gave me the free range to have my own interpretation. … And he’s a wonderful actor, so I really learned a lot from that perspective, and he helped me block a scene or two and gave his input because he’s also a director.”
Coppola, who turns 27 on New Year’s Day, added that she’s grateful to have her family’s support, even if she tried not to need it.
“I’m such a fan of what they make and I’m so fortunate I have such talented people that I can turn to for advice,” she said. “But at the same time, I wanted to feel like I could do this on my own and have my own voice in this.”
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