Camila Morrone isn’t wearing shoes. Seated at the head of the table in an empty conference room on Park Avenue, the 22-year-old is clad in a gray plaid suit, her bare feet resting beside a pair of particularly painful-looking pumps. “I’m so happy to not be in them,” she jokes of the cast aside footwear.
Looking at the actress in her full press tour regalia is jarring — her dark ‘90s lip and glittering eyelids a stark contrast to the messy top-knot and loose tee typical of her character Mickey Peck in festival darling Mickey and the Bear.
It’s clear that Morrone’s not afraid to be raw — whether sitting barefoot for an interview, or on social media, where she intersperses glamor shots with more candid images and sentiments (“will wait 1 hr for fried chicken”). It's the same authentic energy she brings onscreen as a fresh-faced Montana teen burdened by a dysfunctional relationship with her veteran father.
I was surprised to find that we were alone when I finally entered the room with the model-cum-actress. While Morrone’s film career has taken off over the past few years, it’s her relationship with a certain cinematic “king of the world,” Leonardo DiCaprio, that’s generated much of the conversation around her name. Considering the existing narrative, I expected a team of publicists would be monitoring our conversation. But, perhaps testament to the lack of airs about Morrone, our interview is a true one-on-one.
For someone who experienced the scrutiny of the fashion world at a young age, has been hounded by the tabloid media for going on two years, and was subjected to the ins and outs of Hollywood her entire life (her parents are both actors — and Al Pacino is a stepfather figure of sorts), a hefty dose of cynicism would seem only natural. That doesn’t appear to be the case for Morrone. The actress is excited to have a voice in the realm of creators — something she craved as a model who often felt like more of a vessel for others than an artist in her own right.
Morrone loves gangster movies, vintage Levi’s, and, once upon a time, Chad Michael Murray. Read on for more about the actress’s newest film, her Hollywood upbringing, and why modeling made her feel like a “puppet.”
InStyle: You've said that you need to personally connect to a story to take it on. How did you relate to Mickey?
Camila Morrone: I related to Mickey being a 17-year-old girl, and wanting to break free of your home life and looking forward to the future and what's to come. And I think also I have a really close relationship personally with my father, so I was able to tap into that in terms of proximity of their relationship.
[I also relate to] taking on more than a kid should — I think at all points of being a teenager we feel like that, whether it's through school, or homework, or activities, or work (which happened to be my case), you feel like you're maybe taking on more than you can handle. There were so many different aspects of Mickey that I understood.
I feel like in [your previous film] Never Goin' Back it was the same dynamic — a teen taking on more than they should.
Yeah, which I don't even think I realized when I read Mickey. But now in interviews everyone's like, "you seem to be playing similar character all the time."
It is the same thing with Never Goin' Back — it's a girl who didn't need anyone to get what she wanted, and it's just her and her best friend, and they have a goal and it's getting that goal. That's the same thing for Mickey. Her goal is to leave this life behind and ultimately she does.
Do you feel like the nature of starting a career young forced you to grow up faster than you would have otherwise?
For sure. But I also feel like I was lucky because I grew up in Hollywood, so I didn't have a big illusion of what it was. I knew the reality of how difficult this industry was and how hard it was to be a working actor. I didn't come in with some sort of fantasy of money and fame. Both my parents were actors and they struggled, so I was raised with that. Being raised in this industry from a young age definitely forces you to grow up a little faster than maybe the normal kid.
Right, I'm sure. Considering that both your parents were actors, did they ever warn you against acting, as a career?
Oh, yeah. My whole childhood was like, “Don't be an actor. All you're going to do is suffer." But now, when my parents saw the film, they were very happy for me because they know that they can't stop me from doing this ultimately. But I am grateful that I saw their experience and I was able to have their experience, but also create my own now, and not to let their experience stop me, or affect me, or deter me from doing what I want to ultimately do.
As someone who started as a model and became an actress, which industry do you think has more behind the scenes pressure, personally?
Modeling was very difficult. It's obviously a lot about appearances — it's everything, really. I think that, especially for a girl who was very young and doing this, I got very insecure and hard on myself and really beat myself up to try and create this illusion of who either my agency wanted me to be or my clients wanted me to be, and it just wasn't me. And I don't think that's very healthy for a young girl to be in that mindset at such a young age. And I see it again and again within the industry. And I think today, now people are being a little more protective and conscientious of young women's mental health. But it was definitely a struggle for me.
Has anyone acted as a mentor as you've entered Hollywood?
I don't have one person that's a mentor. I have so many different people that do so many different things within the industry. And they've all been working for so long that they give me little pieces of advice here and there. But yeah, I feel lucky because I didn't walk into this completely blind. I knew people, and I know producers, and I know directors, and I know the people that put up money for movies, so I knew that it was difficult in every aspect of this industry and I wasn't disillusioned.
I read that you helped define Mickey's aesthetic. Why does fashion feel like such an important storytelling tool for you?
It's so interesting because I didn't realize when I was in fashion and doing that full-time how important that was for movies and for cinema. Now that I do all these different auditions for different characters in different time periods, [I realize] it helps you get into that character so much easier. It's like an extra tool to help you either feel of that era or give you a certain kind of walk and talk. It's like the finishing touch of every character.
And I added my own scrunchies [in Mickey and the Bear], which I know the world knows, and I had a big part in choosing the outfits. They actually let me put some of the stuff together, but I think it worked for who Mickey is. It really helped put her together. It was like the last puzzle piece.
You’ve been doing this festival circuit for a while now. What do you look for when you're picking a red carpet piece?
I'm actually pretty instinctual when I try it on. All women know their bodies and what they think is going to work for them. But I've actually had fun on this press tour. I've never been on such a long press tour, so I've gotten to change it up depending on the place or what we're doing, or if I'm in Cannes, or if I'm in Savannah, or if I'm at SXSW ... They're all such different worlds and different vibes. I've been having fun with playing up wherever I am and whatever I'm doing. Because in real life I don't look like this. In real life I wear one outfit and it's jeans and a white tee shirt.
You have this big social media following, which is great in a lot of ways, I'm sure. But it can be really overwhelming, I imagine. How do you handle the negativity online?
The negativity online is there for any person who is on social media. Whether you have 100 followers or you have 10 million, it's like there's always going to be people that are going to be negative on the internet because it's such an easy way to be negative and to project your anger out. I definitely try to protect myself and I'll take breaks and not use my Instagram as much or not post for a while, and I'd be lying if I say it doesn't eventually get to you. For me, the best way to do it is just to not read the negative comments because eventually I think they end up hurting you.
A lot of influencers and people with big followings constantly post these glamorous photos, and I love that you mix it up by posting more realistic and candid photos as well.
Yeah, because that's me in real life. There are so many different me's. Me with my friends and my family, and then the work me. You have to separate it to protect yourself. I'm not the person that's looking like this every day, so I try to be as real as I can on social media and be like, look, I get bloated, and I eat fried chicken, and I wake up looking horrible, just like all of you on here too. I think it's not very healthy to only show this positive, beautiful, glamorous image, selected version of yourself.
You used to have a lifestyle blog. Have you ever thought of starting that back up?
It was honestly a transition between modeling and acting, and I wanted to get my voice more out there than I was with modeling. I felt really restrained in modeling and like a mannequin, a puppet of what people wanted me to be. I just wanted to put my thoughts somewhere, and my emotions, and my energy somewhere. That's what the blog was. It was just for a few months. It was short-lived. But I was able to have a dialogue with the world and didn't feel like I was someone else's doll. And then ultimately I was like, this isn't really what I want to do, and landed back in the place that I've always wanted to be in from the beginning.
Both of your parents are Argentinian — are you interested in exploring stories with people from similar backgrounds?
Yeah, I would love to. I've actually never read a script written by an Argentinian, or with an Argentinian director, or based in Argentina, so I would love to incorporate my culture and my background, because it's such a big part of who I am. It was the first language I learned, I was raised in a Spanish speaking household, my whole family still lives there, so it's more than half of who I am is that Latin part of my life. I would love, even if it's not Argentina, to do something in Spanish or with a Spanish crew, or telling a Spanish story.
Who was your first celebrity crush?
Who was the actor from that movie with Lizzie McGuire?
No wait, hold on. I'm going to show you. You're for sure going to remember him. It was A Cinderella Story. Who was the guy?
Chad Michael Murray!
Chad Michael Murray! Chad Michael Murray from A Cinderella Story was my first crush.
What is the wildest thing you've ever read about yourself?
Probably just being misquoted and people making up things that I didn't say. That's always fun.
Do you ever fight back when that happens?
Yeah, I try to but once it's already out in the world, it's hard to get it back.
What did your childhood bedroom look like?
I had so many childhood bedrooms because I had divorced parents and I moved every two years. I don't know, my childhood bedroom changed a lot. I didn't have like one childhood bedroom, [but] I had Lizzie McGuire posters wherever I went, and I had my Yorkshire terrier Princess that came with me to all my different houses and split time with my divorced parents.
What is your favorite item of clothing that you own?
I have a really good pair of vintage Levi's jeans that I wear with everything and I pray that they don't rip soon because I only have one pair of this certain style. I wear them to literally any event or daytime to go to the supermarket. One universal pair of good jeans is I think all you need.
True. What's your go-to date night look?
Probably my Levi's, a tee shirt, and some sort of cute heel to jazz it up.
Do you cook, and if so what?
I can make a really good spaghetti pomodoro and cacio e pepe, and spaghetti puttanesca.
That's all you need.
All you need to know how to do is make pasta. I basically only know how to make pasta because it's all I eat anyway, so I've mastered it.
Who have you been the most starstruck to meet?
Rihanna. I didn't even really meet her. Someone was like, "Rihanna, this is Cami." I was like, "I'm not worthy” [laughs].
What was your last binge-watch?
I just binge-watched The End of the F—king World yesterday, season two, in one day. And I just binge-watched Fleabag. Both, simultaneously.
If you could only watch three movies for the rest of your life, which would you choose?
It would probably be Goodfellas, Bringing Up Baby … maybe Casino? My theme is gangster movies.
What is one thing you wish more people knew about you?
That I speak three languages. I speak French too.
French is so hard.
French is so hard. I don't speak it perfectly, so don't quote me, but I speak decent French.