With his role in Stuck in Love, musician and television star Nat Wolff adds yet another skill to his resume
Author Erin Brady
As any teen can tell you, Hollywood’s depictions of adolescence don’t always mirror the realities. The solution? Take one part 18-year-old Nickelodeon star Nat Wolff and add equal parts naïveté and listlessness. Wolff’s recent turn opposite Greg Kinnear and Jennifer Connelly as budding romantic Rusty Borgens in Stuck in Love rings true, with just the right amount of angst and one-liners. Borgens’ backstory—he’s the son of a novelist trying to find a way out from under his famous father’s shadow—isn’t too far from Wolff’s own. In 2007, the young actor got his start on “The Naked Brothers Band,” a Nickelodeon series that was written by his mother and co-starred his brother and father.
While his family remains close (Nat and his brother still play in a band together), the young actor is quickly making a name for himself. His performance in Stuck in Love has earned him roles in the forthcoming Palo Alto, with James Franco; Behaving Badly, with Selena Gomez; and The Fault in Our Stars, with Laura Dern and Willem Dafoe. Play caught up with Wolff to talk about first loves, making the leap from child star to adult actor and more.
What initially attracted you to Stuck in Love?
I’m friends with Liana Liberato, who was always attached to play Kate. She gave me the script. I read it, and I really loved it. Then, I had a meeting with Josh [Boone, the director,] and we immediately hit it off.
Are you anything like your character, Rusty?
Yeah, I think so. At certain points in my life I’ve been a lot like Rusty. I think that the way he deals with his parents is very similar to the way that I deal with my parents. It’s probably the closest to me of anything I’ve played.
How would you characterize the relationship Rusty has with his parents?
I think he has a combative relationship with his Dad, but it’s because he looks up to him so much. And he feels protective of his Mom.
In the film, Rusty gets a call from his idol, Stephen King, who plays himself. Did you actually get a chance to speak with him?
No, I didn’t. I’ve heard that he loves the movie and loves what we did, but I still haven’t met him or spoken to him. During that scene, we had Greg Kinnear call in and do a Stephen King impersonation and talk to me. I was like, “Greg, can you just do your normal voice?”
Kinnear and Jennifer Connelly play your parents in the film. What was it like working with Oscar-caliber actors?
They’re two of my favorite actors. They’re both so soulful and natural. I was really, really intimidated at first, but they both made me feel so comfortable and made me feel like I had a right to be there, which was awesome.
Stuck in Love is about a family of writers. Did coming from a family full of creative people help you relate to that?
That’s one of the reasons I could really relate to the script. My family is obsessed with music and movies. All four of us work in music and movies and it provides a lot of conversation. We can all talk to each other about what we love and are all passionate about the same things, but it also provides a lot of material for fights.
When did you start acting?
I was always into it. I started out in a band with my brother and did a couple of plays when I was younger. My mom wrote a mock documentary [“The Naked Brothers Band”] about us. Then, Nickelodeon picked it up and did three seasons of it.
Did your parents support your acting as a kid?
No, they actually discouraged me because they wanted me to fight for it. It’s such a rough business with so much rejection that they wanted to make sure that I really wanted it.
You wrote the music for “The Naked Brothers Band,” and you’re still writing and composing songs. Can you tell us about the track, “I Won’t Love You Any Less,” that you contributed to Stuck in Love?
I didn’t write it for the movie, but it was on my last album, Black Sheep. When we were making the film, I said, “Josh, I’ve got this song that I think really works for this movie.” That’s always a little bit of an awkward situation, but he checked it out, and he loved it.
In 2013, you shot four films, three of which center on teenage romance. Why do you think people are so fascinated with first love?
I think because it’s so pure and innocent. Things get so complicated when you grow up. What I like about Stuck in Love is that it shows all three stages. It shows the first love, the first mature relationship and marriage and divorce. I think that’s why this movie is special. It can appeal to all those stages of life.
Speaking of teen romances, you starred opposite Selena Gomez in Behaving Badly. You both started out as child stars, and you both seem to be handling the transition to adult actor admirably—neither of you have been involved in any twerking fiascos, for instance. What’s your secret?
I’m going to find my own twerking fiasco. I’m not sure what it’s going to be yet. I think the secret is just following the projects you love. The problem that I think people face—this is something that Selena and I have talked about—is trying to be a young kid when you’re not anymore or trying to be an adult when you’re still a kid. I’m talking career-wise, but I guess life-wise, too. If you just stay true to yourself, you’ll make the right choices. It’s the same thing with my music. I’m not consciously trying to write songs that are older; I’m just older, and so my songs have matured.
You were in the tabloids for your onscreen kiss with Gomez. Did you have to reckon with Justin Bieber?
No. I’ve never been involved with something like that where the press wanted to make it bigger than what it was.
How did you cope with the tabloid attention?
I just try to stay away from all that stuff. I know that if I go to read about myself, I’m going to see something bad, and that’s going to be the only thing that I take with me.