USA Today: Third time's the charm for Johnson, Kravitz, Keough

by - 3:31 PM

In Mad Max: Fury Road, her character has the sublimely absurd name of Toast the Knowing. But there's nothing laughable about Zoë Kravitz, the only child of Lenny Kravitz and Lisa Bonet, granddaughter of actress Roxie Roker, and her major career moment. She's also the female lead in Good Kill, playing a drone pilot who can't quite handle the cool, distant brutality of her job.

Then there's Riley Keough, daughter of Lisa Marie Presley, granddaughter of Elvis and Priscilla Presley, and, along with Kravitz, one of the tenacious brides in Mad Max. Next up, she's headlining the 13-part series The Girlfriend Experience on Starz, executive-produced by Steven Soderbergh.

"These three, in particular, are good and interesting, naturally charismatic," says documentary producer and longtime casting director Marcia Ross (Oblivion, Enchanted). "Although they may have grandparents and parents in the business, they stand on their own completely.

"They are all talented and capable of having the careers they are having even if they had no lineage or connection to the business. And they have put the time in, doing consistently strong work."

Johnson knew the world of film and was drawn to it from a young age. She never entertained a Plan B. "I always wanted to make movies," she told USA TODAY while promoting Fifty Shades. "I grew up on set. It's the place I'm comfortable. I think I thought there wasn't anything else I was capable of doing."

Sure, having a successful parent helps, but no studio or director would hang a potential blockbuster movie on someone they met once at a barbecue.

"A famous last name gets you through the door. But talent is what will win you the role," says Chris Phoenix, who heads his eponymous New York-based entertainment production company and has known Kravitz professionally for years. "In this age of every penny counting, no studio will ever entrust a movie, and especially a franchise, to someone who can't cut it talent-wise or bring in box office."

The actors in question haven't coasted on their parental coattails, Ross says.

"Dakota has never promoted that her parents were actors. It wasn't until she started Fifty Shades that the press were interested in who her mother and father were," she says.

"Riley, that last name isn't familiar unless you know her family history. She's been working for some time, and she has a very striking presence. Zoë hasn't suddenly gotten famous because of her parents. She's been acting for some time."

Director/writer Andrew Niccol cast Kravitz in Good Kill without being aware of her genetics. "Later on, I realized," he says. "They're not bad genes, by the way.

"She could have been Zoë Smith. She put in the mental energy it required."

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