Writer/actress Zoe Kazan has seen plenty of screen romances where the boy meets girl and, well, you know the rest.
What interests Kazan far more is what happens when the honeymoon phase fades to black.
“When people first get together it’s all about biology,” Kazan says. “Then, the real person emerges … then it’s a choice. Do I choose this person? Things start to feel dangerous, when the other person is a real person and not just an ideal.”
In “Ruby Sparks,” out in select cities today, Kazan explores that perspective as both writer and star. The film casts her as Ruby, the idealized woman writer Calvin (Paul Dano) creates as a way of alleviating a nagging case of writer’s block.
When the Ruby on the page becomes a flesh and blood woman before his eyes, Calvin is initially delighted beyond words. But what happens when fantasy and reality combine?
Kazan tells Big Hollywood she kept the fantasy elements grounded while writing her first screenplay.
“The movies I love, that are inspiration to this, have a metaphorical significance, like ‘Groundhog’s Day’ and “Tootsie,'” says Kazan, who is also an accomplished playwright. “There should be emotional resonance and weight.”
“Ruby Sparks” offers plenty of light-hearted chuckles, but there’s a disturbing side lurking beneath the connection between the characters portrayed by Kazan and Dano (an item off-screen as well). Calvin created Ruby, but he can also “tweak” her as needed with a few new sentences from his typewriter.
“It was absolutely essential that the movie go to that dark place. If it didn’t, the movie wouldn’t be truthful about the dangers of that kind of power dynamic,” she says.
Calvin suffers a serious case of writer’s block as the story opens. That wasn’t a concern for Kazan, who busies herself with both writing for the stage and starring in major film projects like “It’s Complicated” and “Meek’s Cutoff.”
“I never really face writer’s block because I never have enough time to,” she says. “I’m only writing because I want to. I make my living doing something else. The fact that I write comes from my desire to do so.”
Her workmanlike approach may have been passed down from her screenwriting parents.
“They taught me how hard you have to work, and should work, if you love what you do,” she says. “They’re not people who take a weekend.”
Kazan admits she’s still learning about the nuances of her own personal life, something affected by co-starring with her current beau.
“The movie will come out and that will have its effect on us.” she says. Making a movie their proud of gave them “a new level of closeness to the relationship,” even though working long hours together took its temporary toll.
“We’d come home from work cranky, hungry and tired, and we could get into the bicker zone,” she says. “That’s pretty normal.”
Follow Christian Toto on Twitter @TotoMovies