IN THE HOTLIGHT
In the last year, Dweezil Zappa has been gaining
recognition as a sarcastic guest VJ on MTV, an up
and coming young actor and the boyfriend to cel-
ebrated elder women Molly Ringwald and Katie
Wagner. More than anything else, though, Dweezil
wants to be known as a talented guitarist. At the
age of 18, he has already recorded his own album,
played guitar on Don Johnson's album, and made
a video. More musical product will soon be forth-
coming as Dweezil recently signed a multi-record
deal with Chrysalis Records.
DVM: You became interested in playing guitar when
you were 12, and by the time you were 14 you had
decided to drop out of school. Did you already know
then that you wanted to make a career out of this?
DZ: Yeah, I knew at 12 pretty much. I didn't want
to be in school when I was 12. I just kind of geared
everything towards getting out and doing what I
wanted to do. My realization on life became "you
gotta do something that you want to do for the
rest of your life and do it; something that you
enjoy." And I couldn't see myself going anywhere
near college at all, so I put all my energy into
DVM: Your father encouraged your taking the
equivalency exam and dropping out. He must be
really supportive of what you are doing.
DZ: Yeah, he never really said to me like most
fathers would say, "I want you to go to college and
blah, blah, blah." As soon as I took the high school
equivalency test he said, "Welcome to the real
world." It's always been: "Do what you want to do
if you feel right about doing it."
DVM: Your lifestyle has been described as "the
ideal teenage existence;" and in many ways that's
very true. Yet at the same time you stay fairly iso-
lated, especially for an 18-year-old, and your friends
are older and so is everyone you work with. You
are certainly more mature than the average 18-
year-old, but do you ever find it lonely ... this sort
DZ: No, because I do have some close friends and
my family's real close. My guitar is my best friend
when I have nobody else around, so I don't think
I'll ever have a point in my career or in my life
where I'm not happy with the success I have. I
mean, I'm happy every time something else comes
through. I'm like, "Gosh, why is this happening to
me?" I like the work. I like to do it, I'm not just in
it for a specific purpose to feel like I'm better than
somebody else. I just like doing what I'm doing,
writing songs, making music, and if somebody else
likes it, that's all the better for me and for whom-
ever likes it. I find that I have a pretty relaxed,
happy life, so far.
DVM: A lot of hot actors right now are also in the
Faces To Follow
Dini von Mueffling/Vassar College
recording business, like Don Johnson. But the mu-
sicians who are also actors seem to make the tran-
sition into film better, which is what you are doing.
DZ: Well, I did both at the same time so I don't
have a transition to make. I've done some real bits
in movies and I've done some musical projects, so
I won't ever have that crossover: Can the actor
sing or play guitar? Or can the musician act? Or
whatever. I've already tried a little bit of both.
DVM: Do you want to pursue acting?
DZ: Yeah I do, but I want to do it under my own
rules. I mean, I want to be able to do the roles I
want to do.
DVM: What kind of roles do you envision yourself
DZ: I like comedy. I've got to find something right.
I would never do a "Porky's" movie or anything
like that. Slasher movies don't appeal to me. I
won't ever do a role in any kind of movie that
involves drugs. I wouldn't do a character who had
to be on drugs or sell drugs or anything like that.
I don't have that in my personal life and I wouldn't
have that on screen. A lot of people think that's a
little extreme, but even if it were a movie with
Jack Nicholson, I would turn down the role because
it had drugs in it. I'm certain that I've never been
high or had any desire to drink or anything like
DVM: Already you've worked with a lot of talented
and well known figures, both musicians and actors.
People who appear in your video include Jane Fonda,
Robert Wagner, Charlie Sexton and Don Johnson.
Are you at all star struck by all this?
DZ: I'm totally star struck. I still can't believe I
got those people in my video. It really makes me
laugh. The only person, as I've said before, I can't
really talk to when I see her, is Madonna. I can't
even say hello to her. She'll be in the room for like
45 minutes and I would've had a chance to talk to
her at any given time, but I'll wait until she's
leaving before I have to say at least hello, but I
have trouble doing it.
DVM: So it's not that easy to take it all in stride?
DZ: No, I don't. I mean, I'm totally amused by it.
It's all fun to me. The fact that they agreed to be
in my video and I get to work with these people,
constantly amazes me. A lot of people might think
otherwise, that I have a different attitude about
it. No, I just think it's really fun.
Jami Gertz was discovered at an open audition
in Chicago for the television sitcom, "Square Pegs,;
when she was 16. Two days later she was on a
plane to Hollywood, never to look back. Since then,
she has played a bike messenger opposite Kevin
Bacon in last year's "Quicksilver," a runaway op-
posite Ralph Macchio in "Crossroads," and a vam-
pire victim in the recent film "The Lost Boys." This
fall she is starring opposite Andrew McCarthy in
the major motion picture release "Less Than Zero,"
the story of three friends caught in the fast track
life of Los Angeles. Jami plays the role of 18-year-
old Blair, a cocaine addict whom she describes as
on a "very destructive path."
DVM: The novel, "Less Than Zero," raised a few
eyebrows because Brett Easton Ellis was so young
when he wrote it, and also because there are some
fairly graphic sex scenes in it. How is that dealt
with on screen?
JG: The screenplay is very different from the book.
The characters are much more sympathetic and it
isn't nearly as graphic as the book was. It couldn't
be. No one would want to see it. It was a tough
book to read, and in order to make it into a film
we had to make the characters very sympathetic.
DVM: You've played some very diverse roles. Which
has been your favorite role so far?
JG: I had the best time playing Blair. It was a lot
of fun, and it was a lot of hard work. She's a cocaine
addict and it was a tough thing to recreate every
night, but I had the best time with her.
DVM: How did you prepare for the role?
JG: I went to Cocaine Anonymous and I talked to
a lot of people. I usually get a lot from the script.
If it's a good script you can get a lot from the words
and how the character is feeling, but I did some
talking to people.
DVM: What do you think sets you apart from some
of the other young actors and what has enabled
you to get the roles you've gotten so far?
JG: I guess a lot of luck and some talent. Being
in the right place at the right time. I'm from Chi-
cago, and a lot of times people say, "You're not
from New York, you're not from LA, where are
you from?" That may give me a little bit of differ-
ence. The way I look at characters may be different.
I don't know, it's just a lot of luck.
DVM: Living in Hollywood is a big change from
living in Chicago. How have you adjusted to it?
JG: Actually, I'm liking it a lot more than I used
to. The weather is so conducive. I mean, 80 below
wind chill factor seems silly to me now. I think
how could anyone want to live in that kind of
weather. I found my own group of friends here and
it's a lot less lonely than it used to be when I first
moved out. I still miss my family a tremendous
amount, but wherever you go, whether it's going
away to college for your first year, or graduating
and going for a job in some other state, you find
your own group of friends and it starts to feel like
DVM: How did you deal with the loneliness when
you first got out here?
JG: I cried a lot. I still do. I cried a lot and my
phone bill was like unbelievably expensive because
I was calling home a lot or calling my friends back
East all the time. But you have to deal with it.
You have to know that you made a sacrifice for
something that you love.
DVM: Do you have a problem as far as press and
JG: No, not at all. I can go anywhere at any time
and not be noticed, or if people notice me it's like
"Didn't I go to school with you?" I know that some
people reach the point where it's too difficult to go
out. I hope I'll always be able to live my life as
normally as possible. I'm not a big party-goer either.
When you work so much, six days a week, you
don't feel like going to parties and having people
stare at you.
DVM: Well, especially with a film like "Less Than
Zero," which is one big party.
JG: Right. And especially when you're doing a
film or a play, there's so much attention heaped
on you. I don't deal well with a lot of attention;
it's very embarrassing for me. So when it's time
to go home, I like to sort of fade back and hang
DVM: You must be besieged with offers right now
for parts. What is your selection process like?
JG: I'm very selective. At this point, my goal is
to be around for a long time. And I'm not looking
for any specific type. I'm just looking for people to
see my work and just hire me again. And hopefully
that will be for the rest of my life. I think that's
the key in this business, to grow old gracefully
and be around a long time.
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