For Stefania LaVie Owen, the world premiere of Harmony Korine’s “The Beach Bum” in Austin, Tex., was quite the reunion. Considering her motley crew of costars in the film — lead Matthew McConaughey, Snoop Dogg, Isla Fisher, Jimmy Buffett, Jonah Hill — it’s easy to see the appeal in revisiting the project, which shot in Miami at the end of 2017.
“It’s crazy that now it’s here and so much has happened between then and now so it’s like, ‘Wait, this is alive again?,'” says Owen from a suite overlooking the festival convention center. She’d already watched a screening a month prior, with her family. Her reaction? “Harmony did a great job.”
“Everyone was so awesome. As soon as I came to set, it was a very warm feeling,” she adds. “The music was playing all the time. We were smoking cigars in Miami. It was just a very happy set.”
The now 21-year-old actress auditioned on tape for the role; once she was cast, she packed her apartment into boxes, dropped them off with a cousin in upstate New York, and flew down to Miami for filming. Owen describes the process of working with Korine as “fluid.”
“He’s a very in-the-moment kind of director, like, ‘Oh, see where it goes,’” she says. “So it gave all of us flexibility to go any direction we wanted, which for me, because I haven’t had a director like that, one side of it’s kind of scary but also very freeing as an actor. So it was very just reality and filming blurred.”
Owen worked primarily with McConaughey; in the film, she plays the daughter of his whimsical poet-artist Moondog.
“I learned a lot just from watching him and his presence,” she says of her costar. “He pretty much maintained character throughout and we had conversations about life and stuff. It rippled through his real life, so it was also fun to be around, because Moondog is fun to be around.”
In the mix of the film’s colorful characters, Owen plays a sort of counter to the free-wheeling lifestyle.
“Heather is Moondog’s daughter and so she’s grown up in a privileged family, but she’s the most sensible. She knows what’s right and wrong and she loves her dad so much but is also frustrated by him,” she says. “She’s sort of the one in his life who’s like, ‘C’mon, you’ve got to get your s–t together,'” she adds. “Amongst the chaos, she’s like a strong pillar.”
The actress will next appear in the Netflix series “Messiah” later this year, and she recently completed filming Alex Wolff’s directorial debut “The Cat and the Moon” in New York.
What’s next after all of that?
“We’ll see. That’s the business. It’s very exciting and very spontaneous, so whatever will be will be,” she says, proving that the Moondog-Snoop Dogg-Jimmy Buffett lifestyle may just have rubbed off on her.
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