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Zoe Kazan

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Zoe Kazan
Kazan in 2014
Zoe Swicord Kazan[1]

(1983-09-09) September 9, 1983 (age 40)
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
Alma materYale University
Occupation(s)Actress, screenwriter, playwright
Years active2003–present
PartnerPaul Dano (2007–present)

Zoe Swicord Kazan (/ˈkəˈzæn/;[2] born September 9, 1983)[3][4] is an American actress and writer. She made her acting debut in the film Swordswallowers and Thin Men (2003) and later acted in films such as The Savages (2007), Revolutionary Road (2008), and It's Complicated (2009). She starred in Happythankyoumoreplease (2010), Meek's Cutoff (2010), Ruby Sparks (2012), What If (2013), The Big Sick (2017), The Ballad of Buster Scruggs (2018), and She Said (2022). She also wrote Ruby Sparks and co-wrote Wildlife (2018) with her partner Paul Dano.

Kazan made her Broadway debut in the revival of the William Inge play Come Back, Little Sheba (2008). She has since acted in the Anton Chekov revival of The Seagull (2008), Martin McDonagh's A Behanding in Spokane (2010), and the revival of John Patrick Shanley's Doubt: A Parable (2024). Also a playwright, she wrote Absalom (2008), We Live Here (2011), Trudy and Max in Love (2014), and After the Blast (2017).

On television, she acted in the HBO miniseries Olive Kitteridge (2014), for which she was nominated for the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Limited Series or Movie. Her other television roles include in the HBO comedy series Bored to Death (2010), the HBO drama series The Deuce (2017–2019), the HBO miniseries The Plot Against America (2020), and the Netflix miniseries Clickbait (2021).

Early life and education[edit]

Kazan was born in Los Angeles, the daughter of screenwriters Nicholas Kazan and Robin Swicord. Her paternal grandparents were film and theatre director Elia Kazan and playwright Molly Kazan (née Thacher).[5] Elia was an Anatolian-Greek emigrant from Istanbul, and Molly was a Mayflower descendant.[6] The family surname was originally Kazantzoglou (Greek: Καζαντζόγλου).

Kazan was educated at the private Wildwood School, Windward School, and at the Marlborough School in Hancock Park, Los Angeles. She attended Yale University, where she was a member of the Manuscript Society, and graduated in 2005 with a Bachelor of Arts in theatre.[7]


2003–2009: Early work and Broadway debut[edit]

Kazan in 2012 at the Deauville American Film Festival

After her film debut in 2003 as Samantha in Swordswallowers and Thin Men, Kazan had her first professional stage role in the 2006 off-Broadway revival of The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, starring Cynthia Nixon. In 2007, she had a small role in The Savages, starring Laura Linney and Philip Seymour Hoffman, and guest-appeared in an episode of Medium. She next appeared in the films Fracture and In the Valley of Elah. That fall, she returned to the stage in a The New Group production of 100 Saints You Should Know for which she received a Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Featured Actress in a Play nomination.[8] That same year she acted in Jonathan Marc Sherman's Things We Want alongside Paul Dano and Peter Dinklage directed by Ethan Hawke.[9]

In January 2008, Kazan made her Broadway debut opposite S. Epatha Merkerson and Kevin Anderson in a revival of William Inge's Come Back, Little Sheba.[10] Ben Brantley of The New York Times called her performance "first-rate", adding, "Ms. Kazan is terrific in conveying the character's self-consciousness."[11] In the fall, she appeared on stage as Masha in a Broadway revival of Anton Chekhov's The Seagull (2008) opposite Kristin Scott Thomas, Carey Mulligan, and Peter Sarsgaard.[12] That year she also had roles as Gal Employee in the drama August with Josh Hartnett, Gretta Adler in the period drama Me and Orson Welles with Zac Efron and Maureen Grube in the romantic drama Revolutionary Road starring Kate Winslet and Leonardo DiCaprio.[13]

Kazan is also a playwright. In 2009, her play Absalom premiered at the Humana Festival of New American Plays in Louisville, Kentucky. The play, about a father's tense relationships with his children, had been extensively read and workshopped since Kazan's junior year at Yale.[14] She ended the year playing Meryl Streep's daughter in the Nancy Meyers romantic comedy It's Complicated also starring Steve Martin and Alec Baldwin. She returned to Broadway acting in a production of Martin McDonagh's play A Behanding in Spokane with Christopher Walken and Sam Rockwell until June 6, 2010. She also had lead roles in the movies I Hate Valentine's Day and The Exploding Girl, both in 2009.[citation needed]

2010–2016: Breakthrough and leading roles[edit]

In 2010, she had a main role in the comedy-drama Happy. Thank You. More. Please. as Mary Catherine, the cousin of Josh Radnor's character. She also starred as Millie Gately in Kelly Reichardt's independent Western drama Meek's Cutoff (2010) acting alongside Michelle Williams and Paul Dano. In the fall, Kazan played Harper Pitt in Signature Theatre Company's 20th-anniversary production of Tony Kushner's Angels in America.[15] On the small screen, she appeared in four episodes of HBO's Bored to Death as Nina, the love interest of a fictionalized Jonathan Ames, played by Jason Schwartzman. Her play We Live Here, about a dysfunctional family, received its world premiere production from October 12 to November 6, 2011, at the off-Broadway Manhattan Theater Club in New York City.[16] Among the ensemble cast was Amy Irving, and the director was 2010 Obie Award winner Sam Gold.[citation needed]

Kazan's starred in the title role of Ruby Sparks (2012), a comedy-romance film directed by Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris, and starring Kazan, Paul Dano, Chris Messina, Antonio Banderas, Annette Bening, Deborah Ann Woll and Steve Coogan. Kazan wrote the film and served as its executive producer.[17][18] Eric Kohn of IndieWire praised the film declaring it a "startlingly insightful and whimsical romance".[19] She received a nomination for the Independent Spirit Award for Best Screenplay.[20] The following year she starred in the romantic comedy What If directed by Michael Dowse starring opposite Daniel Radcliffe. The film premiered at the 2013 Toronto International Film Festival under the title, The F Word. The Hollywood Reporter wrote of their pairing, "Kazan and Radcliffe don’t have physical chemistry so much as an innocent, cheerful alignment of personalities".[21]

In 2014, her third play, Trudy and Max in Love, opened at the South Coast Repertory.[22] Also in 2014, she starred in the HBO miniseries Olive Kitteridge acting alongside Frances McDormand, Richard Jenkins, and Bill Murray. The role earned her a nomination for the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Limited Series. In 2016, she received critical praise for her performance in the A24 horror film The Monster which was directed by Bryan Bertino.[23]

2017–present: Career expansion[edit]

In 2017, Kazan co-starred in independent romance drama film The Big Sick with Kumail Nanjiani, Holly Hunter, and Ray Romano. The film premiered at the Sundance Film Festival to positive reviews.[24] The film went on to receive an Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay nomination.[25] In 2018 she co-wrote the film Wildlife with her partner Paul Dano, who also directed. The film is based on the Richard Ford's 1990 novel of the same name. The film starred Carey Mulligan and Jake Gyllenhaal. That same year Kazan starred in Joel and Ethan Coen's Western anthology film, The Ballad of Buster Scruggs, in the vignette "The Gal Who Got Rattled".[citation needed] Many critics considered her performance one of the film's highlights.[citation needed]

In 2020, Kazan starred in the limited series The Plot Against America as Elizabeth "Bess" Levin, a version of the mother of author Philip Roth, on whose book the show was based. It debuted on HBO, and also featured Winona Ryder, Anthony Boyle, and John Turturro.[6] Kazan starred in Clickbait, a limited series for Netflix.[26] The following year she starred in the drama film She Said portraying journalist Jodi Kantor acting opposite Carey Mulligan as Megan Twohey.[27] In 2024 she returned to Broadway acting in the revival of the John Patrick Shanley drama Doubt: A Parable acting opposite Amy Ryan and Liev Schreiber. In the play Kazan portrays an innocent nun Sister James who suspects a priest of misconduct. Dalton Ross of Entertainment Weekly wrote of her performance, "Kazan deftly manages to convey Sister James' struggle between innocent naivety and the loss of inner light that comes with considering ugly possible truths".[28]

Personal life[edit]

Kazan has been in a relationship with actor Paul Dano since 2007.[29][30] They have two children: a daughter born in August 2018[31] and a son born in October 2022.[32]

Acting credits[edit]


Kazan at the 2011 Tribeca Film Festival
Year Title Role Notes
2003 Swordswallowers and Thin Men Samantha
2007 The Savages Student
Fracture Mona
In the Valley of Elah Angie
2008 August Gal Employee
Me and Orson Welles Gretta Adler
Revolutionary Road Maureen Grube
2009 The Exploding Girl Ivy
The Private Lives of Pippa Lee Grace Lee
I Hate Valentine's Day Tammy Greenwood
It's Complicated Gabby Adler
2010 Happythankyoumoreplease Mary Catherine
Meek's Cutoff Millie Gately
2012 Ruby Sparks Ruby Also writer and executive producer
2013 Some Girl(s) Reggie
The Pretty One Laurel/Audrey
The F Word (a.k.a. What If?) Chantry
2014 In Your Eyes Rebecca Porter
2015 Our Brand Is Crisis LeBlanc
2016 My Blind Brother Francie
The Monster Kathy
2017 The Big Sick Emily Gardner
2018 Wildlife Co-writer and executive producer
The Ballad of Buster Scruggs Alice Longabaugh Segment: "The Gal Who Got Rattled"
2019 The Kindness of Strangers Clara
2021 Cryptozoo Magdalene Voice
2022 She Said Jodi Kantor


Year Title Role Notes
2007 Medium Izzy Episode: "The Boy Next Door"
2008 Speechless Stood Up Girl #2 Documentary
After Iraq Herself Documentary
2010 Bored to Death Nina 4 episodes
2011 Showing Up Herself Documentary
2014 Olive Kitteridge Denise Thibodeau 2 episodes
2015 The Walker Dotty 8 episodes
2017–19 The Deuce Andrea Martino 8 episodes
2020 The Plot Against America Elizabeth Levin 6 episodes
2021 Clickbait Pia Brewer 8 episodes
2022 The Last Movie Stars Jackie Witte (voice) 6 episodes


Year Title Role Playwright Venue Ref.
2006 The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie Sandy Muriel Spark Acorn Theatre, Off-Broadway [33]
2007 100 Saints You Should Know Abby Kate Fodor Playwrights Horizons, Off-Broadway [34]
Things We Want Stella Jonathan Marc Sherman Acorn Theatre, Off-Broadway [35]
2008 Come Back, Little Sheba Marie William Inge Biltmore Theatre, Broadway [11]
The Seagull Masha Anton Chekov Walter Kerr Theatre, Broadway [36]
2009 Absalom Zoe Kazan Actors Theatre of Louisville [37]
2010 A Behanding in Spokane Marilyn Martin McDonagh Gerald Schoenfeld Theatre, Broadway [38]
Angels in America Harper Pitt Tony Kushner Signature Theatre, Off-Broadway [39]
2011 We Live Here Zoe Kazan Manhattan Theater Club [40]
2013 Clive Joanne Jonathan Marc Sherman Acorn Theatre, Off-Broadway [41]
2014 Trudy and Max in Love Zoe Kazan South Coast Repertory [22]
When We Were Young and Unafraid Mary Anne Sarah Treem Manhattan Theater Club, Off-Broadway [42]
2016 Love Love Love Rose Mike Bartlett Roundabout Theatre, Off-Broadway [43]
2017 After the Blast Zoe Kazan Lincoln Center Theatre [44]
2024 Doubt: A Parable Sister James John Patrick Shanley Todd Haimes Theatre, Broadway [45]

Awards and nominations[edit]

Year Association Category Work Result Ref.
2008 Drama Desk Award Outstanding Featured Actress in a Play The Seagull Nominated [46]
2009 100 Saints You Should Know Nominated [47]
National Board of Review Best Cast It's Complicated Won [48]
2012 Detroit Film Critics Society Breakthrough Performance Ruby Sparks Won
Saturn Awards Best Actress Nominated
Independent Spirit Awards Best Screenplay Nominated [49]
2015 Primetime Emmy Awards Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Limited Series or Movie Olive Kitteridge Nominated [50]
Satellite Awards Best Supporting Actress – Series, Miniseries or Television Film Nominated
2017 Critics' Choice Movie Awards Best Actress in a Comedy The Big Sick Nominated [51]
Screen Actors Guild Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture Nominated [52]


  1. ^ Fisher, James (July 15, 2021). Historical Dictionary of Contemporary American Theater. Rowman & Littlefield. ISBN 9781538123027.
  2. ^ Dictionary.com – Kazan
  3. ^ Hernandez, Ernio (March 9, 2010). "CUE & A: Zoe Kazan". Playbill. Retrieved November 3, 2021.
  4. ^ "30 Under 30 – Zoe Kazan". BroadwaySpace.com. 2011. Archived from the original on August 28, 2018. Retrieved September 13, 2011. Age: 47 (09/09/83)
  5. ^ Stromboulopoulos, George (November 16, 2022). "Zoe Kazan on growing up in a family of artists".
  6. ^ a b Gross, Terry (April 20, 2020). "For Zoe Kazan, 'Plot Against America' Is 'Scarily Prescient' And Personal". NPR. Archived from the original on April 20, 2020. Retrieved November 3, 2021.
  7. ^ Cammila Collar (2014). "Zoe Kazan Biography". Movies & TV Dept. The New York Times. Archived from the original on April 13, 2014. Retrieved September 13, 2015.
  8. ^ "Zoe Kazan". Playbill. Retrieved March 9, 2024.
  9. ^ "Things We Want, Directed by Ethan Hawke, Debuts Off-Broadway Oct. 22". Playbill. Retrieved March 9, 2024.
  10. ^ "Come Back, Little Sheba (Broadway, 2008)". Playbill. Retrieved March 9, 2024.
  11. ^ a b Brantley, Ben (January 25, 2008). "Theater Review: 'Come Back, Little Sheba'". The New York Times. Retrieved July 3, 2015.
  12. ^ "The Seagull". Internet Broadway Database. Retrieved September 29, 2008.
  13. ^ "Zoe Kazan". IMDB. Retrieved March 9, 2024.
  14. ^ Jones, Kenneth (November 13, 2008). "Zoe Kazan, Charles L. Mee, Naomi Wallace Are Among 2009 Humana Fest Writers". Playbill. Retrieved July 31, 2009.
  15. ^ "Announcing the Cast of 'Angels in America'". Signature Theatre Company. 2010.
  16. ^ "We Live Here". Manhattan Theatre Club. 2011. Archived from the original on December 17, 2013. Retrieved August 17, 2012.
  17. ^ "Ruby Sparks - Movie Trailers - iTunes". iTunes Store. Retrieved April 21, 2012.
  18. ^ Stephen Holden (July 24, 2012). "She's Everything He Wants, and Therein Lies the Problem 'Ruby Sparks,' Written by and Starring Zoe Kazan". The New York Times.
  19. ^ "REVIEW: Thanks to Zoe Kazan, 'Ruby Sparks' Is Not Your Average Whimsical Romance". IndieWire. July 23, 2012. Retrieved March 9, 2024.
  20. ^ "Film Independent Spirit Awards 2013: Full List of Nominees". ABC News. Retrieved March 9, 2024.
  21. ^ "What If: Toronto Review". The Hollywood Reporter. September 9, 2013. Retrieved March 9, 2024.
  22. ^ a b McNulty, Charles (January 13, 2014). "Review: 'Trudy and Max in Love's' amorous, adulterous journey". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved July 3, 2015.
  23. ^ "Film Review: Monster". Variety. November 11, 2016. Retrieved March 9, 2024.
  24. ^ "The Big Sick". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved March 9, 2024.
  25. ^ "Oscar Nominations 2018: The Complete List". Variety. January 23, 2018. Retrieved March 9, 2024.
  26. ^ Petski, Denise (December 2, 2019). "'Clickbait': Zoe Kazan, Betty Gabriel, Adrian Grenier & Phoenix Raei Join Netflix Thriller Limited Series". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved June 16, 2020.
  27. ^ Kroll, Justin (June 7, 2021). "Carey Mulligan And Zoe Kazan To Portray The Real Life New York Times Reporters Who Broke The Harvey Weinstein Sex Scandal Story In Plan B And Annapurna Drama For Universal". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved November 3, 2021.
  28. ^ "Doubt: A Parable review: Amy Ryan and Liev Schreiber are electric on Broadway". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved March 9, 2024.
  29. ^ Petrusich, Amanda (July 20, 2012). "Actual Couples Explore a Fantasy, the Aesthetic Sort". The New York Times. Retrieved July 3, 2015.
  30. ^ Bunbury, Stephanie (June 4, 2015). "Love and Mercy's Paul Dano relates to Brian Wilson's tortured genius". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved July 3, 2015.
  31. ^ Juneau, Jen (October 25, 2018). "Paul Dano and Zoe Kazan Welcome a Daughter". People. Retrieved November 3, 2021.
  32. ^ Andaloro, Angela (November 14, 2022). "Zoe Kazan Reveals She Quietly Welcomed Her Second Baby Three Weeks Ago". People.
  33. ^ Brantley, Ben (October 10, 2006). "A Teacher Still Warping Young Minds, but Gently". The New York Times. Retrieved July 3, 2015.
  34. ^ Stasio, Marilyn (September 18, 2007). "Review: '100 Saints You Should Know'". Variety. Retrieved July 3, 2015.
  35. ^ Brantley, Ben (November 8, 2007). "A Boys' Guide to Narcotizing the Pain". The New York Times. Retrieved July 3, 2015.
  36. ^ Blank, Matthew (August 18, 2008). "Marquee value: The Seagull at the Walter Kerr Theatre". Playbill. Archived from the original on October 20, 2012. Retrieved July 3, 2015.
  37. ^ "'Absalom' an intriguing, complex debut for Kazan". The Courier-Journal. March 14, 2009. Retrieved July 3, 2015.[dead link]
  38. ^ Als, Hilton (March 15, 2010). "The Theatre: Underhanded". The New Yorker. Retrieved July 3, 2015.
  39. ^ Dziemianowicz, Joe (October 29, 2010). "'Angels in America' review: Zachary Quinto flies high in perfect revival of Tony Kushner play". Daily News. New York. Retrieved July 3, 2015.
  40. ^ Isherwood, Charles (October 12, 2011). "Theatre Review We Live Here". The New York Times. Retrieved July 3, 2015.
  41. ^ "Clive: Theater Review". The Hollywood Reporter. February 2, 2013. Retrieved July 3, 2015.
  42. ^ Dziemianowicz, Joe (June 17, 2014). "'When We Were Young and Unafraid,' theater review". Daily News. New York. Retrieved July 3, 2015.
  43. ^ Vine, Hannah (October 4, 2016). "'Take a Look at Roundabout's Love, Love Love,'". Playbill. Retrieved October 6, 2016.
  44. ^ Clement, Olivia (October 23, 2017). "Zoe Kazan's After the Blast Opens Off-Broadway". Playbill. Retrieved November 16, 2017.
  45. ^ "Highlights from Roundabout Theater Comopanys Broadway Revival of Doubt". Playbill. Retrieved March 9, 2024.
  46. ^ "Billy Elliot Leads Winners of 2009 Drama Desk Awards". TheaterMania. Retrieved March 9, 2024.
  47. ^ "The 55th Annual Drama Desk Awards Winners". New York Theater Guide. October 19, 2017. Retrieved March 9, 2024.
  48. ^ "2009 Award Winners". National Board of Review. Retrieved March 9, 2024.
  49. ^ "Independent Spirit Awards 2013: Winners List". The Hollywood Reporter. February 23, 2013. Retrieved March 14, 2024.
  50. ^ "Nominees / Winners 2015 Primetime Emmy Awards". Emmy Awards. Retrieved March 9, 2024.
  51. ^ "Critics Choice Award Nominations List Full". The Hollywood Reporter. December 6, 2017. Retrieved March 9, 2024.
  52. ^ "The 24th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards". Sagawards.org. Retrieved March 9, 2024.

External links[edit]

Media related to Zoe Kazan at Wikimedia Commons