If you've noticed recently that you've been getting more Facebook event invites to marches than birthday parties and that your friends are spending their brunch money on poster boards and paint, it's not just you; these days, it seems, everyone's an activist, taking to the streets and social media for the causes they believe in. Whether it's because of Trump's presidency, the focus on women's health, sexual harassment, or a combination of many issues, more people than ever are speaking up. And while that may seem like a great thing, some people worry that some of the outspoken majority are simply getting involved because it's trendy, and that the current wave of activism will go out of style in a few months' time. If that's how you feel though, let actor Zoey Deutch — a major Planned Parenthood supporter and outspoken feminist — quell your fears.
"I see activism as a trend right now, which is an awesome thing," she says when we speak over the phone in February. "I mean, you could make fun of it and you could talk about how bizarre that is, but at the end of the day, if something that’s a trend is changing the world for the better, who gives a f*ck if it’s a trend or not?"
Besides, the star of the new film Flower (out March 16) isn't worried about activists eventually losing their mojo. "I actually do really think that this is going to change the work environment that I live in. I really do," says Deutch. "I feel like the notion that silence doesn’t make you safe is finally being heard, that people that were maybe not previously speaking out want to speak out."
No one has to worry about Deutch piping down anytime soon. At 23, the actor is so involved with the fight for women's rights that "activism" has its own category on her Wikipedia page. "I’ve always been so grateful to Planned Parenthood," she tells me, adding that the recent attacks against women's rights have "massively affected" he support for the organization. In January, on the anniversary of Roe v. Wade, she attended a rally at the Capitol and gave a moving speech about Planned Parenthood's importance in her life.
"If Congress thought we were loud in 2017, they won't know what to do in 2018. Because we're Just. Getting. Louder," Deutch told the crowd, and it's clear she wasn't kidding. Just take her thoughts on James Franco, her co-star in both 2016's Why Him? and 2017's The Disaster Artist. On Twitter, Deutch has re-tweeted several posts about Franco's alleged sexual misconduct, and in an interview with the New York Post, Deutch said that she was "proud and in awe" of the people who've come forward with their claims against the actor. When I bring him up in our interview, Deutch's anger at Franco is palpable.
"I was so shocked that his public statement was that he believed and wanted to empower all the women that come out, but that the ones that are coming out about him are not true," she tells me, laughing in disbelief. "That he would say that on Colbert, that was shocking to me."
Although Deutch's Flower (cinematographer: Caroline Costa) was filmed long before the allegations against Franco, Harvey Weinstein, and other powerful men were revealed, it feels like it was made a response to everything that's happened. As a film about a rebellious 17-year-old (Deutch) intent on calling out the sexual misdeeds of older men, Flower is "bizarrely relevant," as Deutch says, adding with a laugh that, "For me, at least, it’s an awesome time to watch this young woman take control of her life and get back at the f*ckers who deserve it."
Deutch's Erica is, to put it bluntly, a bit of a mess; she's bold and smart and determined, yes, but also often unstable and reckless in her actions. She's the kind of girl who thinks justice is blackmailing the middle-aged men she manipulates into fooling around with her; in other words, she's complicated, confused, and seriously messed up, an anti-hero of the first degree.
"I couldn’t believe they were gonna let a movie get made where the central character is a girl who gets to do this kind of stuff and talk like that, because I feel like I’ve been on the sidelines — most people are on the sidelines watching all of our male actor friends get to play parts like this," Deutch says.
She adds that her hope is that people view Erica as just as complex a character as the many male anti-heroes that've come along over the years, from Walter White to Don Draper. "I was obsessed with the idea that when men play vigilante parts as this, they are described as morally ambiguous," Deutch explains. "And when women play them, they are described as unlikable."
For the actor, Flower felt like a bit of "wish fulfillment" — a (guilt-free) way to "strike back at men in power who abuse their positions," she says. "It’s not a secret that this business has been a very unequal power struggle and women have been taken advantage of and preyed upon for as long as its inception," she adds. "This movie was a little peek [into that]."
Whether or not the world's current focus on activism ends up being as long-lasting as Deutch believes it will be, it's reassuring to know that at least on-screen, women are fighting back against the men who abuse them and taking the power back into their own hands.