We spoke with Variety‘s 10 Actors to Watch Hong Chau and Grace Van Patten for 2017 at the Hamptons International Film Festival on Saturday.
Both actresses participated in a 10 Actors To Watch panel at Rowdy Hall, then they headed to Nick And Toni’s for brunch.
Hong Chau stars in Alexander Payne’s upcoming Downsizing, opposite Matt Damon.
Talk about collaborating with Alexander and what you admire about his filmmaking and writing.
Hong Chau: What I admire most about Alexander is that even though he is a very celebrated director, it doesn’t go to his head. He’s a very grounded man who will take opinions and comments and suggestions from anybody, anybody. He loves hearing what other people think and I feel like that takes a lot of confidence and security for somebody who is supposed to be the director, who is supposed to be calling the shots, who can still make room for other people’s voices and take it into consideration. I don’t take that thing sort of lightly. That takes tremendous security and compassion and also intelligence in order to do that.
Speak about the special effects.
Hong Chau: There’s a lot of special effects because it is a movie about a scientist who shrinks people down to five inches tall … I think you should go in knowing as little about the movie as possible. I know that’s kind of hard in this climate, but I feel like the movie takes you to so many unexpected places and just allow that for yourself.
In terms of you playing activist, can you speak about delving into a character who’s fighting for something?
Hong Chau: Well, that’s the best because right now we’re asking for not only creativity in movies but also movies that speak to the times that we’re in and to help illuminate some of the problems in our culture. I don’t know if the movie necessarily answers those things, but I think that the first step is to acknowledge them and to show them with as much complexity and layers as possible, and that’s what the movie does do very well.
And you also were a part of Big Little Lies, which did phenomenal at the Emmys and it was such a fantastic show. Can you speak about collaborating with Jean-Marc Vallée on that?
Hong Chau: I’m so happy for all, that whole group, all of those women, Reese Witherspoon, who really pushed that project forward. I’m so glad that it got all of the attention and the accolades that it did and rightly so for all of them. I’m just so happy because I know that she will use all of this good will to continue making more good projects with roles for women.
Grace Van Patten stars in Noam Baumbach’s Cannes hit The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected).
Tell me a little bit about collaborating with Noah?
Grace Van Patten: It was so amazing. He has such a clear vision and knows exactly what he wants. So to be a part of that and to just be working for an artist, and with these amazing legendary actors, it was unreal.
How did you prepare when you found out that Ben Stiller, Adam Sandler and Dustin Hoffman were the leads? Did you try to just focus on the work?
Grace Van Patten: Yeah, because in the end, we all want the same thing. We all want this movie to be good, and we’re also passionate about our parts and the story as a whole. So I was just excited to work with them and figure out our relationships on and off screen, because that makes it stronger.
And tell us a little about who your character is and what her journey is?
Grace Van Patten: She’s Adam Sandler’s daughter, and she’s this really sweet family girl. You see her in the beginning and she’s really nurturing to her dad, and kind of takes care of him, in a way. And then she goes off to college and goes through this total transformation, and starts making these student films that are very crazy and slightly pornographic. She finds this creative outlet and is so confident about it, and sends them back to her family, just because she knows that they support her. Which is so beautiful, her relationship with her family.
You attended the prestigious performing arts school LaGuardia. When did you decide you wanted to be an actress?
Grace Van Patten: I’ve always loved it, since as long as I can remember, but LaGuardia was definitely a turning point where I said to myself, “This is what I wanna do.” But even then, I was probably just scared, because it’s such a hard business to do well in and to work in. So I think once I signed with my manager and my agents, and I had that confidence behind me and had people that had faith in me, that’s when I was like, “All right, let’s do this,” and that kind of gave me the power to just go for it.
HIFF 2017 is presented by Audi. A yellow Audi R8 from the Audi Sport collection was on display outside of the brunch and VIP guests were transported to and from events during the festival in Audi cars.