A Soho Mule with Zazie Beetz
We sit down with the 'Harder They Fall' actress over a signature House cocktail to talk everything from acting to fame and balancing life between the two
By Landon Peoples Photography by Wulf Bradley Video by Joppe Rog Styling by Ray C'Mone Production by Henry Reed Set and props by Sheyda Mehrara Casting by Tom Macklin
Zazie Beetz, an actress whose star has risen at the speed of light, is as much a student of her craft as she is a natural at it. Before starring opposite Regina King and Jonathan Majors in The Harder They Fall (a Western like no other), and captivating audiences on Atlanta, the German-American New Yorker studied acting in high school and college. In fact, even though her next film, Bullet Train, sees her starring opposite Brad Pitt and Sandra Bullock, she feels more comfortable with acting onstage than onscreen.
Last month, when we sat down with Beetz to discuss her career and the celebrity that comes with it, the actress didn’t mince words when it came to the mind games that fame can play on someone who isn’t used to being recognised (and who prefers to go unnoticed entirely). ‘Just be prepared to protect yourself in whatever format that means for you,’ she replies, when asked what it’s like to have nearly one million followers on Instagram. As someone who isn’t shy to admit to overthinking the mundanities of life, Beetz, who uses the social media platform to talk about climate change, acting, knitting, and more, is incredibly inviting. She’s wont to sing every now and then, too.
Check out some of our chat in the video above, where Beetz wanders through the process of finding the beauty in our flaws. And read more of our interview with the star below.
How do you get into character?
‘I like to do research, but then I journal a lot as my characters. I go through the script multiple times and break down different scenes. I really go beat by beat of, like, what are my wants? What do I want from the person across from me? It really helps me connect to what I’m trying to do and helps me unearth what’s beyond what’s on the page.
‘And then, honestly, I always appreciate rehearsals. But I will say: that’s a big difference, between theatre and film. The lack of rehearsal on film is truly jarring. In theatre, you have weeks, months, to create a community, trust each other, make scenes, and to explore. I really appreciate when a director carves out rehearsal time before we start shooting to get to know your other actors. With James, who directed The Harder They Fall, we had a few weeks beforehand and that was helpful to just map out the foundations of what we were going to do.’
What’s something about fame that you wish somebody had told you before you became famous?
‘Fame has sometimes inhibited me from really being and expressing what I believe is my most truthful self. Obviously, there is a thing of privacy. I've never considered myself to be an incredibly private person; I never assume the worst. But I’ve realised, particularly in this day and age, I have this fear of being recorded in a way that I never had before. I’m like, very paranoid sometimes about public places because it happens a lot. I’m just talking with people candidly about my life, about people around my life, or I’m having an argument with somebody on the train, and then the person sitting next to you is like, ‘Hey, I'm a fan,’ and you're like, ‘Oh, I was just… really?’ I don't know. Like, are they going to tweet about this or are they going to… Suddenly, the idea of being observed always becomes kind of scary. And I sometimes feel like I’ll tamp down who I am to protect myself. And that doesn’t feel great.
‘I feel like I don’t know to use, for example, Instagram. I don’t know; I think I would post rather differently than I do. And this is silly but I have a thing where I don’t really like to share younger photos of myself because I just feel like she’s this little sacred being, and I don’t want her to be. I feel like it’s an essence of mine that I feel she needs to be protected. What I post has repercussions, theoretically, so I have to always think about it. And that’s exhausting.’
'Suddenly, the idea of being observed always becomes kind of scary. And I sometimes feel like I’ll tamp down who I am to protect myself. And that doesn’t feel great'
What keeps you grounded?
‘The idea that done is better than perfect. I could be that way with everything. I want to be able to build and not be afraid to do things, because it’s not going to be 100% right or it’s not going to make me feel 100% good. I’ve been meditating on this a lot. Just like, go get it! Just go do it and the chips will fall where they may. But just go do it.’
When you’re not acting, what are you up to?
‘So, I kind of started knitting. I'm a pretty tactile person, in general, so it satisfies that element of my character – and I just love the challenge. I feel like I’m learning something new. I can always better myself and I feel like I’m learning something that’s useful – like I can make clothes or blankets or other things – while also being creative in colours, patterns, and formats. It can be really complicated and tedious, but I kind of like stuff like that.
‘There’s a beginning and an end, particularly, with the work that I do. I’m sure a lot of people feel this way. There is no beginning or end to anything. Obviously, projects start and finish, but at the end of every day, I could be constantly doing something. I really appreciated, when I used to work in the restaurant industry or something, [that] I would come to work, do the day, and then I would leave – and that was that. And there’s something I really like about that. Sometimes I just have to mentally learn to be okay that not all the emails are checked because I’ll just drive myself crazy. I’m never going to play catch up. It’s like, dishes are never actually done, laundry is never actually done – work is never actually done. But a knitting project is sometimes actually done.’
Lastly, what is it about the Soho Mule that make them a favourite of yours?
‘There’s something [that] I think is really nice about a Moscow Mule. If I’m drinking an alcoholic drink, it’s generally a herbaceous, light, kind-of-citrusy vibe, which is a Moscow Mule. And I just feel like it’s honestly the one cocktail that I can just knock back. It’s just refreshing and light.’
Make the Soho Mule recipe with Zazie
50 ml/1.5 fl oz Grey Goose vodka
20ml/ .75 fl oz home-made ginger syrup (made by boiling and reducing fresh ginger juice and caster sugar in equal measures), juice of half a lime, freshly squeezed
Shake everything together with a single ice cube, and then pour into a Collins glass. Top with ice and soda water and garnish with a chunk of crytallised ginger on a stick.