'In Dubious Battle' star Nat Wolff on working with his heroes and always following his gut

Fans of Nat Wolff are in for a treat. The talented actor who shot to fame after starring in the hugely successful John Green book-to-film adaptations Fault in Our Stars and Paper Towns returns to the big screen this year in what could be his most remarkable performance to date.


In In Dubious Battle, Nat stars alongside James Franco, who also directed the film.

In the James Franco-directed historical drama In Dubious Battle, Nat plays a young activist who struggles to maintain his morals and values while fighting for a cause that requires more sacrifice than he bargained for. The film is an adaptation of John Steinbeck's novel about labour movements in the 1930s and sees the 21-year-old leading an all-star cast (think Robert Duvall, Sam Shepard, Ed Harris and Selena Gomez).

The movie reunites Nat with his friend and former co-star Selena Gomez.

In Dubious Battle has been on the festival circuit, most recently making its North American debut at the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF). It's there that Hello! Canada caught up with the actor, who is also an accomplished musician, to discuss his courageous role, working with his heroes and how trusting his gut is one of his secret weapons to achieving success in Hollywood.

Even though the film shines a light on labour movements in the 1930s, it has a very modern feel to it... That’s how I felt when I read the script. There were lines in the script that I was hearing Bernie Sanders say on TV. We’re dealing with the exact same problems in America now that we were dealing with then.

Would you say you can identify with Jim's extreme passion for his cause? I mean I’m not as brave or noble as Jim in that way, but I am a relatively political person so I thought that this really corresponded with that.

The one thing that it did remind me of from my own life is what I’ve seen with a lot of young actors. They start off really wide-eyed and excited and naïve and then they’re the ones that I’ll see years later really jaded because they realize that this business is scary. So that kind of reminds me of Jim’s trajectory from being a kid who is like “Oh yeah we’re doing the right thing” to being like “Wow, this is kind of morally precarious.”

Did James give you any freedom to play around with the character? A lot. I think because he’s an actor he knows how to talk to actors and I think because he was also acting in it, he gave me a lot of room to breathe and follow my instincts and then he would sort of guide me one way or another. I loved that.

What did you think when you saw the final list of cast members? I was like, "Oh, these are nine out of ten of my favourite actors in the entire world! Vincent D'Onofrio has been a hero of mine for like forever and Robert Duvall, of course. I just remember watching Tender Mercies and the Godfather movies with my dad and just really wanting to be an actor. Getting to work with those guys was a dream come true.


How do you decide which projects you want to work on? If I go out of my way trying to please people, then I feel like I’m just going to do bad work. Whenever I follow my gut about material it ends up being better than when I’m thinking about anyone’s reaction to it. When I think of people’s reaction to it, it makes me self conscious.

Do you and your brother Alex have any plans to release some new music? Yes!We have a new EP coming out called Public Places. It should be out sometime in late October or early November!

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