Join director and culture writer Isaac Butler and actress Zoe Kazan for a spirited conversation about the history of Method acting and its impact on American culture. Butler is the author of The Method: How the Twentieth Century Learned to Act. Kazan is the granddaughter of Elia Kazan, co-founder of The Actors Studio which introduced Method acting to America. Together they discuss the collision of art, cultural change, and politics, ignited by a revolution in acting theory that traveled from Russia across the Atlantic. It’s an ebullient saga studded with marquee names, classic films, feuds, rivalries, and misunderstandings, unpacked by two people who bring their personal perspectives and professional expertise to the conversation. Butler’s The Method, which is just out in paperback, won the National Book Critics Circle Award, was named one of the best books of 2022 by The New Yorker, Time Magazine and Vanity Fair, and was described by Nathan Lane as “the best and most important book about acting I’ve ever read!”
Isaac Butler is the coauthor (with Dan Kois) of The World Only Spins Forward, which NPR named one of the best books of 2018. Butler’s writing has appeared in New York magazine, Slate, the Guardian, American Theatre, and other publications. His work as a director has been seen on stages throughout the United States. Butler holds an MFA in creative nonfiction from the University of Minnesota and teaches theater history and performance at the New School and elsewhere. He lives in Brooklyn.
Photo by Adalena Kavanagh
Zoe Kazan is an American actress and granddaughter of Elia Kazan who co-founded the Actors Studio which introduced “Method Acting.” She made her acting debut in the film Swordswallowers and Thin Men (2003) and later appeared in films such as The Savages (2007), Revolutionary Road (2008), and It's Complicated (2009). She starred in Happythankyoumoreplease (2010), Meek's Cutoff (2010), Ruby Sparks (2012), and What If (2013). In 2014, she appeared in the HBO miniseries Olive Kitteridge, for which she received an Emmy nomination. She portrayed Emily Gordon in the film The Big Sick (2017), and in 2018 appeared in the Coen Brothers film The Ballad of Buster Scruggs in the episode "The Gal Who Got Rattled". She has appeared in several Broadway productions. She wrote Ruby Sparks and co-wrote Wildlife (2018) with her partner Paul Dano. In 2020, she co-starred in the HBO miniseries The Plot Against America and in 2021, she co-starred as Pia Brewer in the Netflix limited series Clickbait.