“YES! Play the new Drake!” Later that afternoon, we’re in a photo studio in Williamsburg for the cover shoot, and Kravitz’s taken up the role of de facto DJ, shouting out requests from her dressing area. Right now it’s If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late, the mixtape Drake dropped last night (on which he rhymes: “Like Zoë mama, I go hippie”). Before, it was Rae Sremmurd’s SremmLife, which she rapped along to, word for word—as she does this, she occasionally sticks her tongue out to the right side of her mouth, just so that it peeks out a little bit (she does this when she’s being silly). Later, as she tries to position herself on black plastic chairs melted into awkward, obscure shapes, she warbles along with Drake’s “Over My Dead Body,” taking particular care with the chorus: “How I’m feeling it/Doesn’t matter/’Cause you know/I’m okay….”
Kravitz says she and Drake (“Aubrey,” to her) are “very good friends.” When I ask her about rumors that they were a couple, she smiles and laughs, less at the prospect of it and more at what seems to be the regularity with which she’s fielded this particular line of questioning. “I’m very flirtatious,” she pauses. “[But] he’s family to me. He’s a really, really awesome dude.” She says they became “really close” in the last few years and hang out often—with Kravitz’s friends—when he’s in New York. “We inspire each other,” she adds. “We play each other music.” Drake, for what it’s worth, has gone on record as saying, “Zoë Kravitz is like one of my favorite people in the world.”
She isn’t dating anyone right now because “no one ever asks me out.” The explanation sounds both reasonable and totally absurd: “When I tend to meet a guy who’s cool and is into me they’re like, ‘You’re so cool that I can’t handle it.’ ” But she concludes she’d rather be single and too cool to handle than simply “some chick.”
Kravitz says she’s getting recognized more often now, but it’s hard to believe she’s fully accepted her fame quite yet—or even wants it, or can fully digest it. “I know there are people who know who I am, but I don’t know how famous I am.”
“It’s not that I hate fame or don’t appreciate the response, it’s just not the fire,” she adds. “[Fame] for me is a result of famous parents and hopefully doing my own thing.”
Jaden and Willow Smith—two of the “coolest” people she knows—are in the same position, she says. “They’ve been given these opportunities and they do everything and they do everything as well as they can,” she says.
Kravitz and Jaden Smith starred together in the 2013 sci-fi film After Earth, and have become great friends. She talks about him like he’s her little brother. When I ask her what she thinks about his bizarre tweets, she defends him: “He’s 16 years old and is curious and is an artist.” She says it’s “hard for a kid in the spotlight”—something she’s all too familiar with—especially now with social media. While she rarely uses Twitter herself (“I don’t think people genuinely need to know what I’m thinking.”), she’s well aware of how the Internet has changed fame.
She remembers one particular photo on Instagram that caused a shitstorm in her comments a few weeks ago: She posted about the murders that took place in Nigeria and hashtagged “#AllLivesMatter.” While she understands and supports #BlackLivesMatter, she says, she “liked the idea of all lives matter.” It wasn’t long before her notifications were flooded with hate messages. “Who are these people?” she thought.
“It’s so crazy, the things people say on Instagram,” she says. “It’s a dark hole. I try not to look at it anymore.” She pauses between thoughts as though the conversation is making her uncomfortable. “The comments, like: I’m ugly, and I should kill myself.
And then there’s like…people just…there’s nothing you could post.”
To a degree, she claims to understand the reflexive hate: “There’s this like ‘American Dream’—you want this life. It’s dangled in front of you. It’s this thing: You can’t have this, but look how cool it is,” she says. “I totally get it. I’d probably have a certain amount of anger toward that [if I was in that position].”
And her enjoyment of fame hasn’t been without guilt: “Sometimes it’s difficult for me to enjoy the fame. I guess you just have to trust that you did something awesome in a past life, like saved a kid from a burning home.”
Later at the studio, Kravitz sits on a wooden makeup chair, eating a salad and occasionally picking her teeth, while two styling assistants sit under the makeup vanity and try to remove the skintight, thigh-high latex boots that took nearly an hour to put on. She tells me she’s headed to “some Fendi party” tonight, and then Alexander Wang’s New York Fashion Week show tomorrow. When I ask her what her plans are for Valentine’s Day, her answer is forthright: “Dude, I’m gonna stay home, watch Netflix, and masturbate.”
It sounds like a nice—but unlikely—night for her, given Fashion Week, All-Star Weekend, and whatever other doors New York City has open for her that night. Could Kravitz actually leave behind her acting/singing career—and the fame? “Totally,” she says. “I’m so into what I’m doing right now, but I’m not going to do this forever.” She’d like to do photography and set design—things she’s passionate about. Or farm. “[Farmers] are the heroes of America,” she says. She envisions herself moving to the farm in upstate New York she visited on a field trip when she was a kid, or to Mexico, or farming communities around the world. “I’d like to take a year and do that,” she says. “I think it’d be great.”
She pauses, smiles, and laughs.
“Life goes on.”
Buy Complex's April/May 2015 Issue Now!