Coco König is one tenacious young lady. In addition to running off to auditions and honoring her latest acting engagements, the budding talent is busy studying history and political science at NYU. “I’m doing a play in Austria and Germany at the moment and I’m flying back every week to perform,” she tells Just Jared, during her October Spotlight shoot. “It’s a bit tough with the jet lag and the flights are quite long but it’s okay. It keeps things exciting!” she cheerfully exclaims.
Growing up in her hometown of Vienna, König knew that she wanted to pursue a theatrical career from a very young age. There was something magical to her about watching an everyday person transform into a character on stage for several hours and then transition back into their normal life.
At the age of six, she began hosting living room performances for her family and friends. And when she turned 13, the aspiring star began appearing in a variety of theater productions. Several years later, she landed the opportunity to audition for her debut film and captivated audiences with her portrayal of Dorottya in The Carer. From there, König landed a role in Justin Kurzel’s Assassin’s Creed, where she appeared alongside Michael Fassbender and Marion Cotillard.
It’s been a busy 2016 for the young actress, and she assures us that this is just the beginning. “As much as I can work, the better,” she enthusiastically declares, before pausing to express her extreme gratitude for her recent career surge. “Things have been going in the perfect way for me. And if they could go on this way, I would be really happy.”
In addition to her thespian abilities, König has begun to come into her own as a modern day trendsetter. The current New York City resident was recently seen hobnobbing around the city’s esteemed Fashion Week and was even featured in a behind-the-scenes spread of W Magazine where she discussed her affinity for style. “I was always interested in fashion. It’s a wonderful way to express yourself and to show who you are as a person,” she reveals. To say that she is thriving in The Big Apple would be an understatement. “Moving to New York was wonderful!” König explains. “I now have the chance to dress up in a more fancy and crazy way than I did in Austria. The fact that fashion is very much appreciated here is something that I really love.”
During our Spotlight photo shoot, König discusses the secret to balancing student life with Hollywood, how she finally came to appreciate her fabulous curls, and why faking her own death night after night on stage is more taxing than one might imagine.Just Jared: What was it like growing up in Vienna?
Coco Konig: My mom is Hungarian and my father is Austrian. I lived there for the first 16 years of my life. I went to boarding school in Switzerland for three years and then after that, I moved to New York. Vienna was probably one of the best places to grow up in because you have wonderful schools, great theater, museums, and culture. That is where my whole passion for theater started because we used to see shows four or five times a week when I was young.JJ: Do you remember the moment that you decided that you wanted to be an actress?
CK: My relationship with theater started at a young age. I would go often and seeing these classical plays from age five on, made me realize that I love to act. I wanted to be a part of this world where you can change your character for a couple of hours and then go back to who you are. When I was six, I would do shows at home and invite every single family member to watch it.JJ: You’re in New York these days. Are you enjoying it?
CK: It’s great. I’m studying at NYU. They are very kind because they allow me to do acting and juggle school. I am studying history and political science. At the moment, I am doing a play in Austria and Germany and I’m flying back every week to perform. It’s a bit tough with the jet lag and the flights are quite long but it’s okay. It keeps things exciting!JJ: What surprised you the most about NYC after living in Europe for so long?
CK: The fact that the city is really alive every single minute of the day and the night! In Austria, when it gets dark, people disappear from the streets and you won’t see anyone – even on a Saturday or Sunday.JJ: Your acting career seems to be taking off fast.
CK: I started with theater and had that background and didn’t do a film until I was 18-years-old. Two years ago, I had a casting for my first film, The Carer. It was my first film and I will be forever grateful to the director for allowing me to be a part of this project and to take the lead in this film, which he had been working on for 10 or 15 years. I was actually a bit nervous in the beginning because I had only done theater before and I wasn’t exactly sure how to approach the film. I didn’t want to overdo anything but I decided to be as natural as possible and I think that worked out well.
After that, I got a smaller part in Assassin’s Creed, which was interesting. I had a scene with Michael Fassbender and Marion Cotillard. It was a wonderful opportunity. And now I am working on a classical German play by Schiller. There is a love story within the story. I play the only girl in the play. Her name is Amalia. It was a very interesting project. We’ve been working on it since May. We are filming everything that is happening on stage. And people can watch it live on TV in Austria and Germany. It’s almost like you are going to the cinema and you are on set while the cinema is playing that movie. So it’s a very specific experience. It’s a fun project. The director worked on it for 7-8 years and finally brought it to life. I was very happy to be part of it.JJ: You die at the end of the play. What is the secret to faking your own death live in front of tons of people?
CK: It’s horrible! I am so bad at it (laughs). This sounds funny but I’ve never died before. This was the first time that I actually had to act out a scene like that. The scene right before I die is a very dramatic one. I ask the guy I’m in love with to kill me because he is part of this robber gang that allows no love and no women. So I tell him that I would rather die than not see him again. He ends up killing me and after that scene, I’m always so exhausted. It’s very hard for me to stop breathing. And because I have a camera right in front of my face, you can see when and if I move. I have this interesting thing with my eyes. When I close my eyes, I can’t really keep them closed because I am too excited from the scene before. It’s been quite difficult. That is probably the scene where I have the chance to mess up my entire performance. It’s always a risky one. While we were rehearsing one time, I wanted to make sure that you could see my face in the camera and when I was already dead, I fixed my hair! So that was not good.
CK: It’s about an old man who has Parkinson’s disease. He’s played by Brian Cox. He’s an old retired acting legend in England. His name is Sir Michael. I play Dorottya, a Hungarian immigrant who starts working as his carer. She actually wants to become an actress and she uses him as her mentor and starts applying to an acting school in England. It’s about their relationship and about how she learns from him. She ends up making him very happy and brings out a youth in him that he didn’t have in him since he was at home, sick and didn’t have the chance to perform anymore. I could relate to her very well. First of all, she wants to become an actress. I wasn’t really sure what I wanted to do at that point in my life but I was always sure that acting was one of my big passions. I had a mentor as well. He was actually the director of all of my plays that I have done before The Carer. I started working with him when I was 13 and we built up this bond together that was very similar to Sir Michael and Dorottya in the film. So that was something I could link to my story. Unfortunately he passed away last year; The Carer has a happier ending, so that’s good. It was a wonderful opportunity to be part of this film and she’s a very interesting character.JJ: And what about your part in Assassin’s Creed?
CK: It was a smaller scene but in a bigger production and it was all very different than anything I had done before. These big productions have a very different energy and atmosphere than the smaller ones do. Michael and Marion were very professional and it was a wonderful experience. I only spent seven or eight days on set but it was still nice to have a part in it. My role was as an orderly who is working in this new place that Michael Fassbender ends up going to. He’s an incredible actor; I realized right away by watching the relationship between him and the director. Whatever the director would say he would pick up right away. He’s truly a wonderful actor.JJ: You were recently photographed attending Fashion Week. What do you love most about fashion?
CK: I was always interested in fashion. It’s a wonderful way to express yourself and to show who you are as a person. Often the way you dress can say more about your personality. Moving to New York was wonderful in that I now have the chance to dress up in a more fancy and crazy way than I did in Austria. And the fact that fashion is very much appreciated here is something that I really love. I like dressing well without having to be embarrassed or to feel like I’m doing something too ostentatious.JJ: How do you describe your personal sense of style?
CK: I would say boho chic but then sometimes I like some glamor as well, so the mix of the two is quite nice. Style always changes and it’s interesting to go back into my mom’s closet to see things that she wore from the 90s that are coming back into fashion again now. And then I start wearing them again now. I think it’s wonderful how fashion comes back again and again. Even though you think “I might never wear this again,” you never know. So it’s always good to keep an eye out for things that you think might not be in style anymore because sometimes you can really be wrong.JJ: Do you have a stylist that you work with?
CK: Yes. My stylist is Elizabeth Saltzman. She is wonderful. She is American but she lives in London. Her sense of style is incredible. I’ve never seen someone with such a great eye before. She knows right away. You put on an outfit and she’ll tell you right away if it’s good or bad and what to change about it. And everything she ever gives me to wear has just been beyond beautiful. So I’m very fortunate to be working with her.JJ: Do you have a favorite memory from this past fashion week?
CK: The W launch that Lynn Hirschberg organized was very beautiful. I was actually very happy to be invited to that. I’ve been watching her interviews for a few years now and I think they are always extremely interesting. She always asks the best questions. And I also got to wear a beautiful outfit – trousers with a top, the red and the purple one from the photos that are circulating. It was such an amazing outfit. Elizabeth threw silver shoes into it and said that was the perfect mix and that is something I would have never come up with. And when I wore it, I loved it. I’m happy that I have someone who can do some more daring things that I wouldn’t pull off myself and then end up loving.JJ: You have such lovely curly hair. Did you ever feel pressure to straighten it in the past?
CK: Absolutely. I’ve had very curly hair all my life. I was never proud of it when I was younger. Everyone has straight hair and so I thought I would need to have straight hair in order to fit in. I would straighten it all the time, to the point where my hair was actually destroyed; it wasn’t even healthy anymore. And then I ended up showing up to a job with curly hair and they told me that it was so much better. Since then I started leaving it natural and now I’m just over straight hair. It’s not good for you and it’s not the way it’s supposed to be. For an event that you dress up for, that’s fine. But for an everyday look, I prefer my curly hair now. But it’s been a struggle because I was a bit self-conscious about it. I really don’t know why but fortunately I’ve really learned to embrace it.
CK: Rings.JJ: Something that you have to have with you at all times.
CK: I always have a pen.JJ: Do you have any pre-audition rituals?
CK: It’s not a good luck charm but I have this poem that I always go through in my head. It’s actually a small part of the monologue of Viola by Shakespeare in German. I played Viola in a play when I was 16-years-old.JJ: What about a good luck charm?
CK: I do have a scarf that I take. And whenever I’ve taken that scarf, I got the part. So that is one scarf that I always have with me on winter auditions.JJ: Who are your style icons?
CK: I think Gucci is very beautiful at the moment and I also really like Chanel.JJ: What is your student style like?
CK: Usually a cool top with loose jeans and sneakers.JJ: Your Instagram page is private. Do you allow fans to add you?
CK: I accept whoever requests me. But I’m probably going to go public soon. I just wanted to keep that bit of privacy for a bit but at the moment, I’m thinking I may be ready to turn it public.JJ: Are you in an apartment or dorm in NYC?
CK: I live in an apartment in downtown Soho. I love the energy down here. It’s a bit more European just in the way that it doesn’t really feel like you are in the US. It reminds me a bit of London. I love that because when I come back, it’s not too much of a difference. I have a living room and a sleeping room and that’s all I need. It’s very nice. And all my friends live close by. I’m very happy with the location. It’s quite nice, especially when you are traveling; it’s almost like a family away from home.JJ: Do you have any pets?
CK: No. I really wanted to get a dachshund and I wanted to call him Pretzel. But I don’t even know where I am these days so it will be difficult to have a pet right now. But maybe one day when I’m a bit more stable in terms of where I live.JJ: What is your favorite food to cook?
CK: I actually learned to cook not too long ago because I thought that when you live alone, you need to cook. My favorite cookbook is "Deliciously Ella." She has the best recipes and they are very healthy and vegan and sometimes vegetarian. I’m not vegetarian myself but I like to eat healthy. I just tried her Pasta Pomodoro and it was really good. My kitchen looks like a complete crime scene after I cook.JJ: What is your favorite thing to do on a day off?
CK: To relax with my friends, go to the museum or go to the cinema. I just watched Café Society, the new Woody Allen film, the other day and I loved it. It was great! I am Woody Allen’s biggest fan and I thought that film was extremely good.JJ: What movie that you could watch over and over again?
CK: Probably a Woody Allen one. Probably like Annie Hall or Manhattan. But then again The Grand Budapest Hotel with Wes Anderson is also one of my big favorites.
CK: Henry IV by Shakespeare because I’m taking a Shakespeare class in school. I just finished it.JJ: What is the last TV show that you binge watched?
CK: I used to watch Mad Men, Homeland and everything. And lately I haven’t had time to binge watch a show, which is something that I am very much looking forward to after the month of October when I am done with my play. At the moment, I’m on the lookout for a new show to watch.JJ: What kind of music do you like?
CK: I really like hip-hop but then I also like classical music. My iPod is a mix of ABBA, Destiny’s Child, and Tchaikovsky. I’m one person that can’t put their phone on shuffle and hit play because it’s more moods than you can imagine.JJ: What is your favorite thing in your closet?
CK: This leather jacket I have from Saint Laurent, which is extremely comfortable and I literally wear it every single day.JJ: What’s your relationship status?
CK: My relationship status is a private one (giggles).JJ: What do you want your career to look like five years from now?
CK: For now, things have been going in the perfect way for me. I’ve always had one project that brought me to the next. In between that, I’ve had a few months of school. And if that could go on this way, I would be really happy. I want to keep doing projects that interest me, are of a certain value and have interesting backgrounds to them. I’m always going to try to stick to projects that are close to my heart or that I find fascinating after reading them once or twice. And I hope that I can do more of those films or plays in the next couple of years. So as much as I can work, the better!