She's Making A Name With Challenging Characters

by Christine DiStasio

It's been a big month for Bates Motel star Nicola Peltz — the 19-year-old actress had her first starring role in Transformers: Age of Extinction, began her ascent as a style star to watch, and on July 11, her latest film Affluenza will be released theatrically and On Demand. Peltz's Affluenza role in the Kevin Asch drama about suburban Long Island families ahead of 2008's economic crash has this actress in a familiar spot: playing a teenager in distress. Her character, Kate Miller, goes through growing pains under over-the-top circumstances. "I liked playing Kate. She’s definitely a dark person when you get to know her. And she’s very different from me and that’s what’s fun about acting," she tells me.

Peltz’s Affluenza character Kate is a Great Neck, Long Island teen from an affluent family. As her family and friends are hit with the 2008 financial crisis, she tries to maintain her careless attitude while her world crumbles. Peltz calls Kate the “emotional fulcrum” of the film.

Kate, to put it simply, is the quintessential spoiled, selfish, and self-absorbed teen that's been left to run around will an endless supply of cash and no parental supervision. And as the film expands on her character, you realize that, even though she's the apple of so many people's eyes, she has no depth and really doesn't know how to treat people.

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Peltz describes Kate in one sentence: "I think Kate is a really broken person." But, while Kate consistently takes more than she gives from the people around her, the actress insists that she is not completely void of human emotion. "She really does care about Dylan, but Kate gets lost up in the materialistic things."

But for Peltz, who's the daughter of billionaire Nelson Peltz and model Claudia Heffner, she can't really relate to Kate's economically influenced worldview, at all. And she doesn't feel the pressure to be a role model, either. "I don’t live in L.A., I live here [in New York City] so I’m a little removed from everything. I mean, I definitely go to L.A. a lot — my brother lives out there most of the time. But, no, I don’t feel any pressure like that."

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In the past two years, the native New Yorker also starred in Eye of the Hurricane, Bates Motel, and Transformers. All were challenging roles that showcased her range: In Eye, she had to deal with a natural disaster, and in Bates, she was thrust into the process of coping with the murder of a parent and a life of crime. In Transformers, where she plays Mark Wahlberg's daughter Tessa Yeager, the actress took on the physically demanding, as well as the emotional challenging experience of shedding her daddy's-little-girl image.

Peltz, though just taking her big leap into Hollywood stardom, is on the rise.