By ANGELA DAWSON
Front Row Features
HOLLYWOOD—Zoe Kravitz is Hollywood royalty. Her parents are musician and sometime actor Lenny Kravitz and actress Lisa Bonet. (Her stepdad is action star Jason Momoa.) The 26-year-old Los Angeles native has chosen to follow in her beautiful mom’s footsteps, and in the just a few years has established herself as a capable actress. With roles in the “X-Men” and “Divergent” franchises, she’s also establishing herself as the go-to girl for action films.
The exotic looking Kravitz now stars in the long-awaited sequel “Mad Max: Fury Road.” (The 1979 original starred Mel Gibson, making him an international star.)
She plays Toast, one of five abused wives of a ruthless leader in a post-apocalypse Australia. Audiences are introduced to her character in the middle of road chase across the Outback desert, where rogue tanker driver Imperator Furiosa (Academy Award winner Charlize Theron, in full bad-ass mode) risks her own life to help the women escape the brutal clutches of Immortan Joe (Aussie actor Hugh Keays-Byrne). Doggedly pursued by Immortan Joe and his well-armed men in oddly modified cars, tanks and motorcycles, Furiosa manages to protect them with the help of an escaped prisoner Max (Tom Hardy, “Star Trek: Nemesis,” “The Dark Knight Rises”) and a follower of Immortan called Nux (Nicholas Hoult), who begins to have a change of heart as the pursuit goes on.
In the testosterone-charged actioner (directed and co-written by original “Mad Max” filmmaker George Miller), Kravitz and the other sister wives (played by Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, Riley Keough, Abbey Lee and Courtney Eaton) add some much needed girl-power to the high-octane escape story.
As Toast, she aspires to be a warrior like Furiosa, and could be considered the toughest one of the five gorgeous wives.
“These (wives) have never had to do anything for themselves, and now they’re in this race for their lives,” she explained. “Suddenly they have to protect themselves and load weapons for Furiosa, and Toast is the one who is ready to step up to the plate and fight. There’s no time to think too hard or second-guess anything; there’s always someone coming (after) you.”
Prior to production, she, along with the other actresses who play the wives, traveled to Sydney for three weeks of rehearsals, costume fittings, movement work with Australian choreographer Meryl Tankard, and explored their characters in workshops with co-screenwriter Nico Lathouris.
Donning a nose ring, her long brunette hair braided, and dressed in a long cream-color sheath dress, the currently single beauty spoke recently about her introduction to “Mad Max,” shooting on location in Namibia (subbing for the Australian Outback), doing stunts and working with the legendary filmmaker George Miller and iconic actress Theron.
Q: You’re the veteran of the action-movie genre. You’ve done “Divergent” and “X-Men” and now this. How was this different from those projects and were you able to provide some guidance to your cast mates?
Kravitz: This was unlike anything I’d ever done so I wasn’t like, “Hey guys, check out what I can do.” Those other films were shot on a sound stage, and then we went home (afterwards). This was a completely different experience in that we were living in the wasteland for six months so I didn’t know what was going on either.
Q: How were you introduced to the previous “Mad Max” films?
Kravitz: I hadn’t seen the “Mad Max” films when I first auditioned. I’d heard of them. They were always referenced because they are such a pop culture phenomenon. Until I got a call back and I thought, “Maybe I should check these out.” So I watched them. I was kind of happy that I hadn’t seen them when I first auditioned because I think I would have been incredibly nervous because then I wanted it that much more.
Q: The audience is introduced to your character once she’s on the road but did you have the background story of what her life was like at the Citadel, where the story begins?
Kravitz: It was really important to George and to (the five wives characters) that we were very specific about who these women are and what they’ve been through together. There’s so little dialogue in the film that I think the only way we could have brought these characters to life is to be very specific about who they were. So we wrote down back-stories. We did exercises with each other. We wrote down the first time we were with the Immortan Joe (Hugh Keays-Byrne). We were very very specific about these women, and what they’ve been through together, and they’re relationships to each other.
Q: It sounds like the back-stories of these five women could be their own story.
Kravitz: We actually talked about doing a film about us in the dome. It’s interesting too, because people keep asking us, “What was the physical preparation like?” because it’s such an action film. We didn’t do anything (in preparation) because it was all character-based and story-driven, which is what makes this film different.
Q: What was the most dangerous stunt you performed?
Kravitz: I got to do a stunt with the polecat, which was so much fun. I got picked up from the war rig (tanker truck) and taken over to the gigahorse (a souped up double Cadillac on a monster truck chassis) on those poles that go back and forth. It was like being in the circus. It was like Cirque du Soleil. It was so great. I was like, “Let’s do it again!”
Q: Are there any action heroines that inspired you?
Kravitz: Having Charlize there was great. So having her there, we all really wanted to bring it, just out of respect for what she was doing. It was so magnificent.
Q: Did you get any scratches or bruises?
Kravitz: Fortunately, George (Miller, the director) is a doctor, so we were in good hands.
Q: How was it working with him? Is he a calm or anxious director?
Kravitz: He’s the calm in the middle of this crazy storm.
Q: After shooting this film in a desert for six months in Africa, how was it coming back into your regular every day life?
Kravitz: It was difficult for me. I feel like people tend to associate who they are with what they have and what they do. You associate who you are with the clothes you wear, the coffee shop you go to, the friends you hang out with, and take everything that you associate with you away from you and put yourself in the middle of a desert, and you’re stripped away from everything. That’s when you see who you really are. So (after the shoot) you have to kind of figure that out again. It was really kind of an emotional journey that was really difficult but I had to rebuild what I wanted to be. I’m very thankful for the opportunity to do that because even though it was really hard and there were moments when I wanted to scream and go home, when it was over and I came home, I felt like I had been cleansed; I had been baptized by the Namibian sand.
Q: Did you come away from the movie knowing more about cars?
Kravitz: I know now that cars can look a lot more interesting than what you see on the road today.