Zoey Deutch wanted to be honest. “Rarely am I drawn to super joyful material,” she said. “I have, at least in the last couple of years, been interested in darker, tonally strange pieces.”
An influencer who fakes surviving a terrorist attack in “Not Okay.” An F.B.I. informant in “The Outfit.”
But four years ago, she recalled, Reese Witherspoon tweeted that she’d seen and loved Deutch in “Set It Up,” about a couple of overworked assistants who try to create some breathing room by getting their bosses together.
The two women started talking, which resulted in Melissa Hill’s novel “Something From Tiffany’s” being sent to Deutch. That led to their collaboration on the Amazon Prime Video adaptation (Witherspoon as a producer, Deutch as the star and an executive producer) about mixed-up Tiffany’s bags, a zingy New York baker (Deutch) stunned by an engagement ring from the boyfriend she’s not sure about, and a captivating widower (Kendrick Sampson) whose proposal is sabotaged when his girlfriend opens her own blue box — and the ring isn’t there.
Rarely has so much bread been consumed onscreen in pursuit of diamonds and love.
“So now we get to share our great, feel-good romantic movie,” Deutch said, not sounding remotely dark on a video call from her home in Los Angeles, before elaborating on the deliciousness of her dog’s paws, the significance of her grandmother’s paintings and the lessons to be found in Thornton Wilder’s “Our Town.” These are edited excerpts from the conversation.
The Projectionist Chronicles a New Awards Season
The Oscars aren’t until March, but the campaigns have begun. Kyle Buchanan is covering the films, personalities and events along the way.
- Best-Actress Battle Royal: A banner crop of leading ladies, including Michelle Yeoh and Cate Blanchett, rule the Oscars’ deepest and most dynamic race.
- Golden Globe Nominations: Here are some of the most eyebrow-raising snubs and surprises from this year’s list of nominees.
- Gotham Awards: At the first official show of the season, “Everything Everywhere All at Once” won big.
- Governors Awards: Stars like Jamie Lee Curtis and Brendan Fraser worked a room full of academy voters at the event, which is considered a barometer of film industry enthusiasm.
1. “The Book of Symbols” It was brought into my life by my Alexander technique teacher many years ago when I was preparing for a movie. One of the reasons he gave it to me is because when we’re working on a new character or a new project, we like to pick animals and colors and symbols and create a visual board for the character. This became sort of a guiding light. I have a million copies downstairs because I always give them to people.
2. Farmers’ Markets I went to an acupuncturist once who said something that stuck with me: that it’s so important, especially in this day and age when we get our groceries sent to our house, to go to the grocery store or to the farmers’ market and look at the food, because we are going further and further and further away from our instincts. And we have great instincts about what our bodies need if we listen to them. The more I started to grow and pick out my own food, the more I realized that things looked good to me not just because they were necessarily pretty, but because my body was craving them and needed those specific nutrients.
3. My Dog’s Paws You know that specific smell of dogs’ paws when they’re asleep? They smell like corn chips, like Fritos. It’s actually a thing. They have some sort of bacteria in their paws and the odor smells similar to corn chips and it’s released when they’re asleep.
4. “The Joy of Cooking” The basics in there are really fantastic. I put my own spin on things, but I always go back to that roast chicken recipe with just butter and salt.
5. Grandma’s Paintings My grandma was an amazing, prolific artist and a spiritual, eccentric woman. She has inspired me in every way, and I carry her with me always. Specifically, I carry with me a painting I have above my fireplace that I designed my whole house around. She painted a lot of abstract stuff, but oddly this one is a naked woman on a red background. It feels right to be able to see her work every day.
6. “Our Town” I prefer reading plays to books or scripts. It’s very soothing for me. I read “Our Town” for the first time when I was 14 or 15, and I’ve read it every two years since. It’s just a heartbreaking, beautiful story that gets me every time. It’s about how little we appreciate the simple joys of life and don’t understand the value of life while we’re living it.
7. Ceramics My love of ceramics began with my great-grandmother, who had a small box of Atomic Starburst, a dinnerware that’s kind of famous. I saw that in my mom’s garage and I loved them. Then I started collecting them and now I have a whole set. I think the hunt is very fun, with that one specifically, because I know exactly what I’m looking for. And I have started collecting ceramics in Ischia, in Ravello, in Oaxaca.
8. “Sapiens” by Yuval Noah Harari The way he explains things works for my brain. It’s like the intersection between natural sciences and social sciences. It’s very stimulating. It’s also very fun to discuss — dinner-table conversations that are very, like, “Whoa, I never thought about it that way.”
9. Matching Tracksuits As a little girl I had aspirations of both being an actress and a fashion designer. So it sounds a little counterintuitive to say I love matching tracksuits, which are essentially just pajamas that you wear out. But after spending half of my life in fittings for jobs or events or whatever, the last thing I want to do is try on clothes. I just want to be comfortable.
10. Adventure My parents worked so hard when we were growing up and didn’t really take a lot of time for themselves. And what happened as a result is I became obsessed with traveling and planning and doing things and enjoying the fruits of my labor and experiencing the world and having a really full life. It’s hard not to feel guilty because I have the part of my brain that’s like, “Work all the time.” And then I have to go to the other part of my brain, which is, “Enjoy your life.” I’m trying to reframe my American mind-set of live to work, not work to live. In the spirit of “Our Town,” you never know how good it is until it’s gone.