Lola Kirke Talks ‘Mozart In The Jungle,’ Meeting David Bowie And Going Barefoot At The Golden Globes: BUST Interview

by Erika W. Smith

Lola Kirke in Mozart In The Jungle

On the phone, Lola Kirke sounds nothing like her older sister Jemima: her accent is all American. At 25, Lola is five years younger than Jemima and though the sisters look remarkably alike — save for Lola’s darker hair — their careers couldn’t be more different. (Another sister, Domino, is a singer.)

Unlike Jemima, who only recently began acting and has mostly played fictionalized versions of herself, Lola has acted since she was in middle school and has played characters that are all fiction: in Gone Girl, she plays Amy’s tattoo-covered friend-turned-betrayer in a small but pivotal role; in Mistress America, she plays a naive freshman that Greta Gerwig takes under her wing; and in the Amazon series Mozart In The Jungle, which recently released its second season, she stars as a talented, driven and sensitive young oboist. She has several other major roles coming up: a supporting role in a new Tom Cruise thriller, and the role of a non-magical teen in a supernatural romance she compares to Twilight. If you don’t know Lola yet, give it a year and you will.

Last week, Lola spoke to BUST from the backyard of the home she’s renting in LA— stopping briefly to marvel at the kale in the garden (“only in LA do you randomly walk outside and find beautiful kale planted!”). We talked about Mozart In The Jungle, the only two people she’s been starstruck by and her surprising dream role.

The Mozart in the Jungle ads are all over the subways in New York!

I left right before I was pasted all over the subway, but as I arrived here it was really funny, there are billboards here of it and I was in the back of an Uber one night and I was kind of zoning out and the driver was like, “Hey, Mozart in the Jungle!” and I was like, “Yeah, do you watch it?” and he was like, “No” and he pointed and above the spotlight there was a giant picture of my face.

Is it surreal to see your face everywhere?

It’s not as surreal as always I thought it would be. And I say always because I’ve wanted to do this for a long time and the very vain, ambitious little girl in me really wanted to be on billboards everywhere, and I think that kind of changed when I grew up and realized that’s not really what I wanted. But it’s not as surreal because I’m so airbrushed in those pictures that it doesn’t really look like me, anyway.

Have these last few weeks been crazy after Mozart in the Jungle took home two Golden Globes?

It’s been pretty cool. I feel like the show was relatively obscure prior to the Golden Globes, and now people actually know what it is. So that’s great. You want people to be able to enjoy it. And I feel like Amazon Prime had a relatively slow start — I didn’t really know how to use Amazon Prime. My Prime subscription got canceled from lack of use so I was using my mom’s to watch Transparent. But now people are catching on.

I saw some photos of you from the Golden Globes and it looks like you ditched your heels halfway through.

Yes! I did. They hurt a lot. It was really funny because my stylist texted me, “Where the fuck are your shoes? Did they break?” and I was like, “No, no, no.” Power to anyone who can walk in high heels, they make your butt look really great and they’re pretty looking, but I actually can’t. But then they broke later. The irony!

Your Mozart in the Jungle character is a professional oboist. What was your experience with classical music before the show?

I’ve always been — dare I call myself an aficionado — of certain kinds of music before the show, mostly rock and roll. But I was really unfamiliar with classical music, and still am to some extent. But it’s so wonderful to have access to that type of music before the show, to be introduced to these pieces that before that I would never have really been able to find.

Do you play oboe now at all?

I do not play the oboe now, at all. I can play some notes on the oboe, but a person who plays the oboe can actually make those notes sound good. I just work with my oboe coach Marilyn Cole on looking like I can play the oboe, which maybe is an art in and of itself. Watching myself play the oboe is one of the most humbling things to do because I look so ugly. It’s not a sexy instrument like the cello. Whenever I see shots of Saffron [Burrows] playing the cello, wow, that’s a sexy thing to do. But the oboe is not. You have to put all vanity aside. Also, my pinky double joints and locks and I’m constantly reminded by people in the oboe community that that is a no-no.

You were also recently in Mistress America. What was that filming experience like?

That was an amazing experience. It was my first real movie. It was just incredible to get to work with Greta [Gerwig] and Noah [Baumbach], I think they’re fantastic and great filmmakers. Because I had never really worked before, I was unaware that the way we made that movie was very unique. We shot it over a very long period of time and it was really old-fashioned filmmaking, there were none of the fancy accoutrements like trailers or abundant amounts of carbohydrates waiting for you between shots. But it was such a pleasure to be able to speak the lines that they wrote.

Your sister Jemima is on our December/January cover, and in the cover story she talks about how she never really wanted to be an actress, but it fell into her lap because of her friendship with Lena Dunham. For you, it seems like acting has been your goal for a very long time.

It has. I’ve had a very different experience from Jemima as far as finding success as an actress. In school, middle school and high school and college, I did lots and lots of theater, and in college I studied filmmaking, mostly as some sort of guize to put myself in my own movies.

What’s it like pursuing the same career? How do you support each other?

It’s really cool. It’s a bizarre job, and it’s really great to have someone who understands that. I think she’s great at what she does. I love her on that show [Girls] and in Tiny Furniture and I’m really excited to see her go beyond that.

Have you ever tried out for the same parts?

Oh yeah, we audition for the same things all the time.

Is that awkward?

Yeah, I guess it’s a little awkward. But it’s funny, I go up for the same parts as actresses I know all the time. It’s just part of the job.

You’ve got several movies coming up that are all very different. How do you choose which ones to do?

I’m still definitely at a point where I’m very lucky to get a job, but considering which jobs to pursue, it’s all about the character being someone who I want to play, and if the script is something that I want to do, and who else is involved with it.

Which one will be out next?

There’s Mena, which is a Doug Liman film starring Tom Cruise, and then there’s a film we did called Fallen, directed by Scott Hicks, which is kind of the vein of a Twilight-y thing, it’s about magical teenagers and I’m a non-magical entity involved.

What was it like acting with Tom Cruise?

It was awesome. I never really thought that would be part of my reality. But I feel like the only people I’ve really been starstruck around are Connie Britton and David Bowie. Otherwise it’s pretty easy to be like, “That’s a person.” But he was very accommodating in terms of allowing me to go into his “pain cave,” which was a trailer that he had on set in which two trainers would help you achieve your fitness goals, which for me are very minimal. He was lovely.

Can you tell me about meeting Connie Britton and David Bowie?

I met Connie Britton in line for a photograph thing in Sundance last year and I think I said to her, “The only other person I’ve been starstruck about meeting was David Bowie,” and I met David Bowie when he actually came to my family’s Christmas party when I was like ten years old. I remember that he was smoking a cigarette and he asked my sister Jemima where there was an ashtray, and she said that he could ash in her hand. And he said that he would never do that to her. And we both were paralyzed in love and shock and awe.

Do you have any directors or actors you really want to work with, or any dream roles?

My dream director is Deniz [Gamze Erugven] who directed Mustang, which is the entry into the Academy Awards for Best Foreign Film. I think she’s wildly talented and that film was gorgeous and I what she was exploring. My dream role, I would love to play Monica Lewinsky and that’s where I’m at right now. I think that she is kind of representation of all sorts of cultural intricacies and questions that I would love to hear asked about media and about the reputation of women. And I think she had a really great hairdo that I would like to rock.

Image via Amazon

More from BUST

‘Mustang’ Is A Moving Portrait Of Five Sisters

‘Girls’ Star Jemima Kirke Talks Acting, Art And Abortion: BUST Interview

‘Mistress America’: An Allegory For Millennials Who Love Movies


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Founded in 1993, BUST is the inclusive feminist lifestyle trailblazer offering a unique mix of humor, female-focused entertainment, uncensored personal stories, and candid reporting that tells the truth about women’s lives.

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