This story first appeared in the March 21 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.
Before he landed the male lead in October’s Carrie, Ansel Elgort was just another theater rat hoping for a break. Now the son of fashion photographer Arthur Elgort has leading roles in two major YA films. He plays Shailene Woodley‘s brother in Divergent, out March 28, and her love interest in June’s much-hyped adaptation, The Fault in Our Stars. Raised in New York as a ballet dancer and theater performer, the part-time music producer will round out his year with Jason Reitman‘s Men, Women & Children.
When did you know you wanted to be an actor?
It was more that I wanted to be a performer. I was at the School of American Ballet, and they put me in the Nutcracker at Lincoln Center. That was my first time performing, and it was in front of 3,000 people. I loved it.
How did you go about getting your first film role?
With Carrie, I did like seven auditions. I’d never done a movie, so they wanted to make sure I wasn’t going to ruin it. I don’t blame them.
How do you explain getting such major roles so early on in your career?
Even my agents and everyone are sort of saying that you’re not supposed to get them. They’ve never really had anyone who’s done this really quickly. I guess it would have to be that I did a lot of stage first. I’ve been performing and working for a while. I put a lot of work into it. It was really nonstop for years. Even after signing with my manager at 16, I said I wanted to finish up high school and finish my training.
What makes you nervous about your success?
Not having time to chill in my apartment and play Call of Duty. I just moved to Brooklyn, and I’m paying rent, but I’m always on the road. I hope it slows down for a second — I’m freaking 19 years old.
What kind of career would you like?
I would like to do more independent films. In the meantime, I spend a lot of time on Ansolo, my music alter ego.
What’s your best Hollywood moment so far?
I went to a Golden Globes party, this CAA party. All of sudden, I go to a party where there are more A-listers than normal people. It was a pretty ridiculous experience. It didn’t make sense to me that I would go to the party and the entire dance floor would be Jennifer Lopez, Sandra Bullock, P. Diddy and Michael Fassbender.
You’ve got two big movies this year. Are you ready for that sort of fame?
Not really, no. I’m just going to try to keep my life as normal as I can. I’m sure it’ll change, but hopefully I don’t become a dick, you know? Hopefully people will respect my privacy a little bit. With passionate fans, it just means as an artist, you have people who care about the art you make, forever. That’s really special.
Born New York
Big break Carrie
Reps Joe Machota, Tracy Brennan, Franklin Latt (CAA), Emily Gerson Saines (Brookside)