PHOTOS: Katie Levine over Zoom
TALENT: Nat Wolff
WORDS: Parker Schug
PRODUCTION: Jasmine Perrier at Studio J•T•P
From writing songs since the age of five, to acting in award-winning films, and now directing his own, Nat Wolff has established himself as a creative. As a child, Nat had his heart set on acting — something his mother [Polly Draper] was initially opposed to. However, Nat later on was one of the stars of his mother’s film, The Naked Brothers Band: The Movie, which turned into a television series on Nickelodeon. He was also seen in multiple John Green films, among many others. His talents are not confined to the screen, as he contributed a great deal of music to the Nickelodeon series and went on to create a music duo with his brother, Alex Wolff. The star’s success has no end in sight with his recent projects premiering in 2020 and more to come.
Nat’s acting career has been unique — one of his first on-screen roles on The Naked Brothers Band led him to work alongside his entire family, starring as himself. With his mother producing, father as the co-producer and his co-star, and his brother acting in the project as well, Nat was surrounded by his support system. While he explains his situation to have some pros and cons, he says that the adults understood his and his brother’s needs as young boys. “My family was smart enough to know that for lunchtime, they got us a little basketball hoop that we nailed to the dressing room, so that we could just expend our energy,” Nat says. In turn though, he found his experience working on the show to set him up for a distorted view of what the acting industry was like. “You know, it was almost unrealistic to set up that level of comfort, because it was also on my best friends on our show. But then when I went into making movies, I thought ‘Why isn’t every movie I do with a group of loving family and friends?’”
Then, Nat went on to act in John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars, portraying Isaac — a cancer patient and Augustus Waters’ best friend. He was thrilled when asked to star in Green’s later film Paper Towns as Quentin, one of the main characters opposite Cara Delevingne — because he was brought back to that feeling of working with a tight-knit group. “We all were stranded in North Carolina in the same apartment complex and we all spent every single second together,” Nat says. “That cast was a really beautiful group of people and recently, we did a Zoom as a reunion and it was like no time has passed.” Some of Nat’s other roles include his work in the film Palo Alto where he acted alongside James Franco and Emma Roberts, playing Walter in the film New Year’s Eve with Halle Berry, Jessica Biel, Josh Duhamel and Zac Efron, and acting as Justin in the film The Intern that also starred Robert De Niro and Anne Hathaway.
Over the course of his career as an actor, Nat has continued to put work into his music. Whether that was making music with his preschool band, or for The Naked Brothers Band, the multitalented artist did not stop. For each new episode of the show, he had to write a new song, this being some of his favorite “homework.” He clarifies, “I think growing up, it’s kind of set me up on this thing where I write a lot of songs — I’m always trying to, and I’m always working on a variety of different creative projects because it’s cathartic for me, sort of therapeutic.” In recent years, Nat has put more focus towards creating music with his brother Alex. The duo put out their album Black Sheep in 2011, followed by singles and an EP. While quarantining, they continued to write, putting their creative energy towards something. Nat believes that their upbringing has had an impact on their music over time. “We were exposed to the same influences as a kid and we both have the same end goal,” he says. “Anytime we’re not working on music together, we miss it. We’ve been doing it since we were alive.” It’s no surprise that Nat is a creative being that he comes from a pianist father and actress, writer, producer and director mother. “It almost felt like I would have been really taking a risk or been the black sheep of the family if I wanted to be a lawyer or a doctor, but I think it was amazing having that creative influence in my young life.”
However, Nat has proved time and time again that he made a great choice with his successful character portrayals and award-winning music. As for what the future holds, he recently directed and wrote a short film called Youngest, in which he had the opportunity to direct and teach his ways to June Van Patten who made her film debut and also happens to be Grace Van Patten’s little sister. “The percent where she’s on point on camera is just brilliant, and then there’s a huge percentage where she’s just running off said, or crying, or going skateboarding at lunch,” he says. “There’s nothing more magical to me than any real person on film, but it’s especially true with real kids on camera.” Another one of Nat’s recent roles is playing Lloyd Henreid in the Stephen King adaptation of The Stand, available on CBS All Access. Talking about how he prepared to portray this character who evolves in an apocalyptic world destroyed by a deadly disease, he says, “The night before my first day of shooting, I freaked out and I panicked. I was like, ‘I don’t know what I’m doing’ and I went to eat dinner at a Subway. I was ordering a sandwich and Like a Virgin came on the radio in the restaurant — I just started dancing, this sort of impromptu dance, and I became Lloyd,” Nat says. It seems that nothing will stand in the way of Nat’s career in his projects to come as the 26-year-old star continues to inspire, create, and learn.