Gideon Adlon opens the door to her hotel room bright and early the morning after her film “Blockers” premiered (and resulted in parties) at SXSW, and proceeds to tell her publicist that following her interviews, she’s got a full agenda to attend to.
“We’re gonna haul ass to the car: I want to go to Torchy’s Tacos, and Iron Works barbecue and buy a cowboy hat,” Adlon says. “I have my list.”
Adlon is the 20-year-old daughter of Pamela Adlon (and, along with her two younger sisters, is therefore the inspiration behind her mother’s Emmy-nominated show “Better Things,”). A one-time theater junkie, she’s made the switch to movies and is one of three leads in the comedy “Blockers,” about three friends who decide to lose their virginity on prom night. The film was a surprise breakout at SXSW, earning positive reviews for its smart, female-driven approach to sex-comedy and drawing comparisons to “Superbad,” “Bridesmaids” and “Trainwreck.”
It’s not hard to see why director Kay Cannon fell for Adlon: She’s bubbly, disarmingly hilarious, and has the charm of a bona fide young starlet. But from her perspective, the audition could’ve gone entirely in the other direction.
“I went in for an audition the day after I had wrist surgery, and I had been completely put under for the surgery. I went in for the audition and I was like, ‘There’s no f—ing way I’m going to book this’ because it takes a while for that stuff to get out of your system,” she says, as a glam team preps their toolkits for her upcoming blowout. “And then I went in and I guess they liked me? Four days later, I was at the emergency room with my sister because she cut her toe open, and as she was getting her toe stitched up, I got a call from my manager and she was like, ‘You got ‘Blockers!'” as I’m, like, holding my sister’s hand. And then I guess my life kind of changed there.”
Adlon did a semester at Columbia College Chicago studying photography but quickly realized she’d rather be acting.The script for ”Blockers” found its way to her last April; it’s the directorial debut from Cannon, who is known for writing the “Pitch Perfect” movies as well as writing and producing on “30 Rock” and “New Girl.”
“I really wanted to work with Kay, being a female director, on my first film,” Adlon says. Her next release, due in theaters in the fall but “hopefully, fingers crossed” will be at Cannes, is the drama “Mustang” alongside Connie Britton and Matthias Schoenaerts, also from a female director (Laure de Clermont-Tonnerre).
“I feel like it’s pretty rare given there’s only eight percent female directors in the industry and I got to work with two,” Adlon says. “I’m a woman, so that was really important to me, and in light of everything that’s going on right now with the #MeToo movement, females should be dominating more and more. To be part of something like that is really empowering.”
With a comedy behind her and a drama on the horizon, Adlon is heeding her mother’s advice — “to be confident in yourself and stay true to yourself” — while staying open to wherever things take her next.
“I was always nervous to do comedy, but now I feel pretty confident in both,” she says. “I’d love to continue to do comedy and drama. I’m not picky.”