Zoe Kazan opens up about romance and ‘Ruby'

Zoe Kazan (left) stars in her film with her real-life boyfriend Paul Dano (right).
Zoe Kazan (left) stars in her film with her real-life boyfriend Paul Dano (right).
Posted: August 03, 2012

IN YOUR CLASSIC Hollywood romcom, the meant-for-each-other couple meets, fights through a few obstacles and ends up together.

There the movie ends. Tellingly, we never see them actually living together, because nothing intrudes on gossamer fantasies of romantic destiny like the grungy details of real life. And nothing tests real love like the imperfections of your "perfect" mate.

"I think love and disgust are a lot closer than people think," Zoe Kazan, the writer and star of "Ruby Sparks" who makes that idea one of the movie's themes, said with a laugh. "Seriously. People don't talk about this, but to really love someone, you've got to know them really well and see all of that stuff and still love them."

In Kazan's comedy (directed by the husband-and-wife team behind "Little Miss Sunshine"), a blocked writer (Paul Dano, Kazan's real-life boyfriend), starts to write a story about a woman he dreams about, and she magically appears to him in the flesh. He finds he can shape her as he pleases, until it pleases him to write her as a woman in control of her own thoughts and feelings. Then all hell breaks loose.

Kazan said she wanted to riff on the classic Pygmalion story, and it became, in part, a screenplay about the pitfalls of men who idealize women, especially in the early stages of romance.

Only men?

"I think men put women on a pedestal far more often than women — that's been my experience in relationships, for sure," Kazan said. "Although we all have an idea of a person we love before we actually get to know that person."

She never considered doing a gender swap.

"To me, there is a reason why this story is gender-specific. I joke about this, but I mean it truthfully when I say that women can make a person with their bodies. It's not science fiction, it's biology. Men can't. And that's behind the enduring appeal of the myth."

Kazan said she and Dano are past the pedestal stage of their relationship, and that's a good thing.

"Paul and I have been together five years know, and my feeling is that I love him more now than I ever have," she said.

Contact movie critic Gary Thompson at 215-854-5992 or thompsg@phillynews.com. Read his blog, "Keep It Reel," at philly.com/keepitreel.

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