Zoë Kravitz on Her Directorial Debut PUSSY ISLAND for WSJ. Magazine’s Fall Women’s Fashion Issue

Posted on August 18, 2022

Zoë Kravitz is in the panic stage of preparing for travel, running around Manhattan, squeezing in errands. “Packing’s funny,” Kravitz says. “I always talk about packing with friends of mine, about how it brings up all this anxiety—this is a whole concept I have—about who we want to be as people. You start to think, I’m going to this place, and who do I want to be in this place?” Outfits become fantasies; it’s less the mechanics of do I need this T-shirt or that one, and more, what will this new place conjure? But in reality, Kravitz says, “you end up wearing the same four things the whole time, anyway.”

Her destination is the set of Pussy Island, on the grounds of a lush Yucatán hacienda, a land of bacchanalia and vice that Kravitz herself has dreamt up. The movie, which will start shooting a few weeks after her arrival and is expected to be released in 2023, is the 33-year- old actor’s directorial debut. The script, which she co-wrote with E.T. Feigenbaum, “was born out of a lot of anger and frustration around the lack of conversation about the treatment of women, specifically in industries that have a lot of money in them, like Hollywood, the tech world, all of that,” she says. She’d heard stories about powerful men inviting women to remote islands for hazy hedonist free-for-alls.

What’s the version of that reality that I myself would want to see, Kravitz wondered. Then she started writing.

 

Zoë Kravitz on Pussy Island’s title:  The title is intentionally provocative. It was the first thing that came to her when she started writing the script five years ago, before the #MeToo movement shook up Hollywood. “The title came from that world. The title is the seed of the story,” she says. While other projects have had their titles truncated—last spring’s The Lost City losing the of D, or Starz taking away P-Valley’s “ussy”—Kravitz says she won’t budge: “It represents this time where it would be acceptable for a group of men to call a place that, and the illusion that we’re out of that time now.”

Kravitz on casting Naomi Ackie in Pussy Island’s lead role: “I wanted to make space for someone else. This is a role that I would have loved to have played…[but] I genuinely think Naomi is worlds better for this part than I am.”

Kravitz on casting Channing Tatum: “I wanted to find someone who hadn’t played a dark character before, because I think that’s exciting to watch someone who’s mostly played boy next door, good guy, love interest, all of that.”

“I felt, even from afar, before I knew him, that he was a feminist and that he wasn’t afraid of exploring that darkness, because he knows he’s not that. That’s why I was drawn to him and I wanted to meet with him. And I was right.”

Kravitz on directing: “I’m learning a lot about what it takes to make a movie and how many fires are constantly being put out before the actors show up to set,” she says. “I’m just kind of sitting back and learning and trying to not constantly be in a state of panic.”

“If you zoom out too much and think about the whole thing at once, it causes a lot of anxiety,” she says, “but if you focus on the present moment, it’s really fun.”

Kravitz on her insecurities: “I really didn’t feel beautiful growing up,” she says of her upbringing between California, Miami and eventually New York. “A big part of that was where I grew up, who I was around in terms of being the only Black girl,” she says. “I wasn’t exotic and cool- looking. I was the weirdo with the fuzzy hair. Then, you grow up and you look different now. It’s weird because it’s not really how I identify. I think a lot of people probably will hear that and think that’s bullshit, but that’s just how I feel,” she continues. “Even with directing, I think to myself, OK, I’m not going to be in a movie for a year. I hope we make another Batman. It’s just the sickness of the mind where I genuinely can convince myself that I won’t work again, that no one will call me and want me. That never goes away.”

Kravitz on her music – past and future: “I think it feels young and sweet,” she says of Lolawolf’s songs. “I always felt like I wasn’t getting to the place I wanted to with that music, mostly because of who I was [at the time].” She’s since started working on a solo album produced by Jack Antonoff, but it’s on the back burner. “I’m scared to make music, but I love it,” Kravitz says. “Now I’ve already kind of started it.”

Kravitz on being judged artistically: “There’s just a fear of judgment. The truth is, with almost everything I do, if I can get it to the point where I truly think it’s good, then I can kind of let things drop away where I’m not so concerned about what other people think.”

 

 

[Photo Credit: Campbell Addy for WSJ. Magazine]

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