Alex Wolff on Becoming 'Hairbrained,' Avoiding Jerk Status, & More! (JJJ Interview)

Alex Wolff on Becoming 'Hairbrained,' Avoiding Jerk Status, & More! (JJJ Interview)

Alex Wolff cracks us up in this brand new interview!

The 16-year-old actor stars in Hairbrained as a genius outcast who ends up at an Ivy League wannabe college where he befriends a 41-year-old freshman, played by Brendan Fraser.

Meanwhile, his indie flick A Birder’s Guide to Everything received a ton of praise at the Tribeca Film Festival last year.

JJJ caught up with Alex to chat about all of his projects, including some upcoming new music from him and his brother Nat! He even shares his fondest memories from The Naked Brothers Band show! Check it:

JustJaredJr: Let’s talk HairBrained first! Eli seems like such a fun character to play. What drew you to the role?

Alex Wolff: Eli was like nothing I’d ever seen before. Such an original and fantastic character, who I felt like I could really do a lot with. I thought he was hilarious, clever, vulnerable and everything else in between. I was very lucky to be able to pretend I was a genius for a month.

JJJ: In what ways could you relate to him?

AW: Well, since I am in fact NOT a genius, I’m still in high school, so college-wise I didn’t have a lot to draw from. I related to the character of Eli in a big way, though. I think he’s very different than I am. He’s full of sarcasm and anger which I can relate to, but as a person I’m for the most part pretty external and have a big personality, so it was interesting to play such an introverted character. I think I was able to get in the mindset of Eli and really understand him while making the movie. And I really hope that comes across.

JJJ: Serious question: How hard was maintaining that head of hair?

AW: On camera my hair looks like a curly-haired raccoon curled up on my head. So, there wasn’t much organization involved, which was nice. I came to set with my hair completely wild. All we did was just put extensions on my already insane hair, and voila, my hair was ready.

Click inside to read the rest of our interview with Alex Wolff Interview – Alex Wolff

JJJ: The movie looks like it was a blast to film too. What’s your favorite memory from shooting it?

AW: The whole thing was awesome for different reasons. My scenes with Julia Garner were really fun. She’s an absolutely amazing actress – it was so cool getting to act with her. My scenes with Brendan Fraser were also really great, I learned so much from that guy. He was so nice to every member on the crew and never yelled, got mad, or anything. He was just completely nice to everyone and I thought that was really cool. I also got to act with Parker Posey, who is one of the smartest people I’ve ever met. Such a great actress. I was so sad I only got to work with her for one day – I wanted to just follow her around and ask her questions about life all day.

JJJ: We don’t blame you. Meanwhile, A Birder’s Guide to Everything got great reviews at Tribeca! Were you excited and surprised to hear it would get a wider distribution?

AW: Yeah, I was really excited. You know when you’re acting in a movie like that where you forget you’re actually working, because you’re having so much fun doing it with these extremely bright and fantastic people around you, you never stop to think about what’s going to end up happening with it. I don’t really know if I was surprised. I think Rob Meyer did such a fantastic job directing it that I really felt like when I saw it, people would get it, and it seems like they have been! I’m really proud to have been a part of it.

JJJ: What’s most important to you when considering a role?

AW: I really make sure it comes across as a real person and not a caricature of what a writer THINKS people are like. Both my character in Hairbrained and in Birder’s stood out to me because they were complex and layered characters, and it’s very rare to find that in a script.

JJJ: You more or less grew up in this industry, which can sometimes burn young stars out. What keeps you grounded?

AW: I hope I’m grounded – I don’t know. I think everyone handles these things differently. I have great parents to make sure I didn’t become a little Hollywood jerk, and an amazing older brother who was in the same situation as me, who also made sure I wasn’t a jerk. So all around I have had people my whole life making sure I don’t become a jerk. And still I ask myself, “How did I become such a jerk?”

JJJ: We think you’re pretty nice! You’ve already worked with some really cool people. Anyone you’re still dying to work alongside?

AW: Oh my god, yes. Too many to name. But I’m going to anyway. Here’s a huge list in a random order. Probably leaving out a ton of people but these were who I came up with in the moment: Sofia Coppola, Wes Anderson, Paul Thomas Anderson, Woody Allen, Noah Baumbach, Coen Brothers, Derek Cianfrance, David O. Russell, Alexander Payne, Cameron Crowe, [Quentin] Tarantino, and I think Zach Braff is pretty awesome. I think that guy has big balls and I’ve admired him since Garden State. Great movie.

I’m also a huge fan of Mark Ruffalo, Bill Murray, John Malkovich, Natalie Portman, Jennifer Lawrence, Cate Blanchett, Dustin Hoffman, AnnaSophia Robb who is a really great young actress, and Ethan Hawke who is super fantastic. And you know who’s really awesome, but makes me look bad cause he’s so cool? Ryan Gosling is so good it’s ridiculous. That guy can stare towards the camera and give a crowd of women a heart attack.

And finally everyone look out for Joe Swanberg. Fantastic filmmaker. If you haven’t already, go see Drinking Buddies. That movie was one of my favorites last year.

JJJ: We loved that movie too! So what’s next on the music front? Are you and Nat working on a new album?

AW: My brother and I are playing a show on the 28th of March, and releasing a bunch of new songs soon. Really excited!!!

JJJ: Speaking of the band, so many people don’t get along with their siblings. What makes yours and Nat’s relationship work so well?

AW: Therapy. Just kidding. I’m not sure. He’s just a great guy. And we’re both weird which helps.

JJJ: You’ve been writing songs for years. What’s your songwriting process like, and has it changed at all over time?

AW: I mean, I think it changes all the time, but it’s still trying to write the best thing we can no matter what it is. It’s still me or Nat trying to tweak things in each other’s songs and it’s gone really well since we were very young. Just hopefully as we’re getting older, our songs are getting better.

JJJ: Finally, looking back, what’s the first thing that pops in your mind when you think about The Naked Brothers Band show?

AW: Hanging out in the dressing rooms rehearsing lines. I hopefully will do a lot of things in my life, but I don’t know if anything in my entire life will give me the pure pleasure that sitting down in one of the dressing rooms with my brother and my best friends running our lines gave me.

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Photos: Getty
Posted to: Alex Wolff, Exclusive