Zoë Kravitz has an electric presence that you can feel before you see her. Her entrance at Black Market in New York City’s East Village on Tuesday evening, clad in a gorgeous black floor-length gown, was electric. I watched her weave her way through the premiere after party for her latest film, Vincent-N-Roxxy, at first stopping to hug Questlove (her self-described elected brother), who both scored the film and DJ’d the set for the party. She took moments to thank the many people in attendance, including the film’s antagonist Scott Mescudi (better known as Kid Cudi) and her co-star Emory Cohen. She hugged each of them, and she’d later hug me too. She’s gracious in a way that seems nearly impossible given her pedigree.
The daughter of Lisa Bonet and Lenny Kravitz, Zoë was perhaps predestined for success. But truthfully, she’s a queen of her own making. She’s been successful in her music career with the electropop outfit Lolawolf, as well as in her film career, which moves easily between the worlds of blockbuster and independent; Mad Max: Fury Road, Dope, and Allegiant are but a few of her most recent roles. In her latest, the indie thriller Vincent-N-Roxxy, directed by Gary Michael Schultz, she plays a wayward punk rocker whose history of violence mirrors that of mysterious stranger Vincent (Cohen). She was quoted recently saying that she’s done with playing the “quirky black girl,” and her emotionally raw performance as Roxxy more than underscores that sentiment. We caught up with Zoë to chat about the film, working with Kid Cudi, and getting behind Bernie Sanders.
In the film, Roxxy is sort of an antiheroine. Is she someone you identify with?
I think the idea of Roxxy is very much about the warrior we all have inside of us. She is an antihero in the way where she ends up going as a character is not necessarily her intentions or her initial path, but I think it’s really interesting to see the warrior that we all have inside of us, the hero that we all have inside, if we’re in the right circumstances we push to a certain limit, you know? Especially women.
You harnessed so much raw emotion for Roxxy—where were you pulling that from?
I mean, think about the way you feel when you sleep with someone and they don’t call you back, or you find out they have a girlfriend, and then times that by a million. Complete betrayal, especially after being so vulnerable—it took Roxxy so long to be open with Vincent. And then when she does, it’s like she finally lets herself go, and she realizes she can’t trust anyone. When I think about it, it does break my heart. And the idea of someone like her, who’s been through so much, who’s finally felt like she was catching a break, and then everything just crumbles down again. I mean, it’s heartbreaking.
How was working with Emory Cohen? He seems like he’d be a real prankster on set.
He is amazing. He was basically in character the entire time. He had that beard, so I didn’t really know what his face looks like. I didn’t know how he really spoke—he spoke [with his character’s accent] the entire time. So when he was done, he started talking like himself, and I was just floored. I was so impressed by his dedication.
You and Kid Cudi have a really intense fight scene toward the end of the movie. What was it like filming that scene with him?
It was great! It was interesting because his stuff is so important. He kind of was in and out. We shot most of the film and then—you know that crazy last scene, the very end scene—I think we were all so curious to see what he was going to do with the character because everything sort of rides on that character. He showed up and he was so dedicated, so into it. It’s not like we had stunt guys. We kind of just figured it out, had one guy working with us, and had to go for it ourselves because he was so gung-ho.
The soundtrack was amazing. I feel like some of Lolawolf’s music could have worked well alongside some of the other tracks from the film. Did your band contribute anything?
No, I think I wanted to kind of step away. I wanted the film just be its own entity. I was involved, though. Our director had a lot of good ideas about the kind of music he wanted to get. I helped him get rights for the music. I called Allison [Mosshart] of The Kills, who gave us an awesome Dead Weather song. I called her and I was like, “Hook us up.” And we had to call in favors to get us Bradley and the XX. And when we were talking about scoring the film, Ahmir, Questlove—he’s like my brother—I felt like he would get it. I sent him the script and he freaked out. He was so enthusiastic about it. And when we first sent Gary his ideas of what he wanted to do, Gary was on the floor. And I had seen a rough cut, without any music, not with a score, and I watched it again after seeing what Ahmir had brought to it and I was just so floored. It means so much, too, to have someone who is one of my dearest friends contribute to this film. He’s very close to my heart.
This week you’re DJing at Berniechella. Why are you supporting Bernie?
The thing I love about what Bernie is drawing up in people is the amount of initiative people are taking to do their own thing and express themselves in their support for him. So a friend called me and said, “We’re doing this. Wanna be there?” And I said, “Yeah!”