One would be hard-pressed to outdo Nat Wolff. He made his first movie at age 9. He had a Billboard-charting album and his own Nickelodeon series at age 13. And now at age 20, he’s entering leading-man territory in the much-anticipated coming of age movie Paper Towns, the adaptation of the best-selling novel. But wait, there’s more! He has an original song that closes out the summer anthemic soundtrack for Paper Towns.
Let’s just admit it now, Nat was born with “it”.
“I've watched him my whole life and he really just makes people want to be around him,” Alex Wolff says of his big brother’s uncommonly empathetic personality.
We completely agree; he has this special charm, this cheeky grin, and certain je ne sais quoi that lights up the screen. Paper Towns author John Green endlessly (and deservedly) sings his praises: “Nat is so dedicated, hardworking, and grounded. There are a lot of talented people out there but very few with Nat's maturity and commitment. He’s such a great actor that he could play lots of different roles brilliantly. The way he talks and moves when playing [his Paper Towns character] Quentin really just brings to life the Quentin of my imagination.”
But it’s the unbreakable bond that Nat has with his brother Alex that has really shaped his career.
“We’re in a band together and we act together,” Nat shares. “We keep each other grounded. We spend every second together making music when I’m not working on a movie, or he’s not working on a movie.”
“I feel this otherworldly closeness and connection with him that no one else will ever understand,” Alex adds of his bond with Nat. “Sometimes we work telepathically. I'll make a suggestion and he'll have the exact same thought or sometimes we'll be at a dinner party and some annoying dude will be talking and Nat and I will look at each other and we'll know exactly what the other is thinking.”
Well, we bet Nat wasn’t thinking Alex would share this one last anecdote: “Nat claps after movies and stuff, it’s the worst thing in the world. He has a piercing clap. He's got two perfectly nice hands, they're long and sexy, and then you put them together and you get this trebly awful noise. And Nat’s a great guy don't get me wrong. But man. That clap of his. It's brutal.”
But it’s Nat who will have the last word when audiences everywhere are clapping for his performance in Paper Towns, out July 24.
Nat Wolff: It’s so exciting! I was in The Fault In Our Stars as a supporting role and on set, producers Wyck [Godfrey] and Isaac [Klausner] came up to me and said “You should be in Paper Towns,” in this really mischievous way. But I didn’t know they were making a movie out of it and a couple of months later, they called me and said, “Do you want to be in Paper…” and I was like, “yes!”JJ: In what ways do you relate to your Paper Towns character?
NW: I really related to Quentin and actually related to Margo [played by Cara Delevingne] as well. I thought they were both so complicated and opposite sides of the same coin. With Quentin, a lot of finding that character was going back to when I was 13 or 14, even though he’s a little bit older. Because I grew up in New York and I was an actor and musician, I grew up a little faster than Quentin did. But there was definitely a time where I was that romantic, passionate, innocent and just hung out with my friends. It was intoxicating going back there, a really great experience.JJ: After working on The Fault in Our Stars and Paper Towns, can you tell us something about author John Green that nobody would know?
NW: As much as he seems super comfortable, when you spend an entire press tour with him, there’s a couple of really bad jokes that I’ve had to save him from throughout the carpet. (laughs) It’s also so genuine how much he loves the fans of his books. I feel like everybody says they love their fans, but most people actually don’t care. He actually cares what they think and they inform his work, which is really great.JJ: These movies are becoming the seminal romantic films for this young generation. What were some of your favorite romance movies to watch growing up?
NW: I had a lot of weird favorite romance movies. I loved Harold and Maude, which is a nice, huge age gap romance. And I loved Annie Hall. That was one of my favorite movies growing up. The Graduate is kind of with the other girl, kind of romantic at the end. But I guess that’s mostly just Mrs. Robinson. So all of these answers are really strange. (laughs) When I was in like sixth grade I liked this girl, I had a crush and she was watching The O.C. and so I got into it. I wanted to date her so I would just go and watch The O.C. with her. At first I hated it but then I really got into Adam Brody and the girl romance (Rachel Bilson) in that one. So that was my dorkiest romance that I was probably into.JJ: Your co-star Cara Delevingne is a relative newcomer to the acting world. What kind of tips and advice did you give her about making a movie and what did she bring from her modeling experience into the movie? Did she ever give you any modeling tips?
NW: Cara is a great actress and she doesn’t need my tips. I'm not a great model and I definitely need some tips. I’ve watched her and she does a lot of head bobbing and nodding. So I’ve taken that on. We went to the MTV Movie Awards and I said, “You really have this modeling thing down.” So, I’ve been trying to imitate her.
NW: Yeah, I think so. She’s definitely crazy and cooky like she presents on Instagram and Twitter, but she’s also really innocent and sweet. That’s what made her so perfect for Paper Towns. And Margo, she’s this force of nature, but then inside, she’s kind of fragile.JJ: What is your most memorable experience together on set?
NW: In the middle of an emotional scene with Cara, she just said, “Is that a water slide?!” She saw a water slide that she hadn’t seen yet, it was across the street. “Is that a water slide?!” In the middle of a take, the camera’s on her, and she’s like, “Quentin, I… Is that a water slide?!” That was probably my favorite thing that happened.JJ: You’re not in the public eye as much as other young actors and musicians your age. How do you avoid being written about in the tabloids and staying out of trouble like other stars your age?
NW: It helps that I live in New York, went to real high school, have good parents, and a brother that I grew up with in the business. [My brother Alex and I were] in a band together and we acted together. We kept each other grounded. I find a lot of that Hollywood stuff really boring. I’d rather play music and hang out with my friends. Even the people who are in the tabloids say that but I really do.
NW: Shailene, Selena, and I just worked with Josh Hutcherson and James Franco, those people are already so in the public eye. They don’t give me any tips about it but I’ve learned the way they handle it. The way they deal with it is that they’re really appreciative of their fans, fame and success. At the same time, they keep a level of privacy and they have their own lives. ‘Cause you’d go crazy if you don’t have that.JJ: Your brother Alex and you seem to be very close. Is it weird to be doing projects separately after working together for a while on the Naked Brothers Band?
NW: Yeah, it’s a little weird but it’s good to get a little break. We spend every second together!JJ: Do you foresee doing more projects together in the future?
NW: Yeah, hopefully. Alex and I still play in a band together, so we spend every second together making music when I’m not working on a movie, or he’s not working on a movie. So it’s probably good to have a little break so when we get back and appreciate each other, ’cause we start fighting if we spend too much time together.JJ: Do you think you’ll ever split your social media into separate accounts?
NW: No, it’s kind of my favorite part of our Twitter and Instagram accounts, that I share it with my brother. (laughs) But we both moderate each other because once in a while, I’ll tweet something when I’m in a bad mood or he’ll tweet while he’s in a bad mood. Or he’ll usually tweet something that’s a little offensive. I have to say, “Alex, text that to me next time. It’s funny but we can’t put it on.”JJ: Who wanted to get into show business more when you were younger. You or Alex?
NW: Neither Alex nor I really thought about getting into show business. We just really loved music and acting in movies. So we basically just spent all our time geeking out listening to The Beatles, watching movies from the seventies, and trying to become the best musicians and actors we could be. And the show business part has been so fun and exciting but it’s not that important to either of us.
NW: I try to keep a good diet of Family Guy and South Park. I just started watching Daredevil. I just worked with Vincent D’Onofrio and he’s one of my favorite people in the world. He’s so funny and a super great actor. And the show’s so good.JJ: Who are your favorite artists to listen to?
NW: I’m an obsessed Beatles fan, so that would be it. I always have to say that. Recently I’ve been listening to a lot of different singer/songwriters. I’ve been really into Neil Young. I go through different stages and their replacements. And then more modern bands, I’ve been listening to a lot of Kanye [West].JJ: What’s your favorite Rolling Stones song?
NW: Probably “Beast of Burden,” but I loved listening to “Gimme Shelter” today.JJ: What’s a normal day off like for you? What do you do?
NW: I’ll play piano and guitar, and sleep in. (laughs) And hang out with my dog E.T. And then I like to save kids from burning buildings and sometimes when people are being mugged, I like to save them from that. Then I kind of help solve world peace and world hunger. That’s just kind of an average day off for me.JJ: Who's your celebrity crush?
NW: Betty White! But these days, she doesn’t return my phone calls, emails, or my Snapchats. But you know, we’ll see what happens.