Stephen Dorff to Sofia Coppola: “You Made Me Cool”

Stephen Dorff is loving life. When we met the actor at the Standard hotel, it was clear he was still riding high off the buzz from his performance in Sofia Coppola’s Somewhere, literally. “I had a Johnny Marco moment last night,” said the 37-year-old actor, referring to his character’s hard-partying ways, which he’d evidently channeled at the Boom Boom Room the night before alongside the likes of Kirsten Dunst and Marc Jacobs at the film’s premiere. Dorff’s also enjoying the sudden attention that comes with playing the lead in a movie made by someone of Coppola’s stature, who only works once every few years. Before our interview began, Dorff asked if I had seen his story in T magazine. When I told him that his costar, Elle Fanning, had a feature in T‘s sister rag New York Times Magazine, Dorff asked one of his handlers why he doesn’t have one. “Someone should call those fuckers,” he half-joked.

But Dorff’s “rediscovery,” as Coppola puts it, is well-deserved. For years, he floated from starring roles in B-movies (FeardotCom) to supporting roles in major releases (Michael Mann’s Public Enemies). He developed a reputation as a live-wire, someone who refused to play the Hollywood game, and his career took a hit for it. He got cast as the villain in the first Blade movie, still his most famous role, and quickly became typecast as a go-to heavy. He never quite disappeared from Hollywood, but for a while, it sure felt like it. It took a director of Coppola’s vision to see a quality in Dorff that few others did: likability. His Johnny Marco lives life in the fastlane (albeit very slowly), drifting through the halls of Hollywood’s Chateau Marmont, from one party to the next, in search of something that isn’t there. It’s only when his 11-year-old daughter Cleo shows up for an extended stay that Marco finds purpose, and we can’t help but root for him. We spoke to a chain-smoking, laid-back Dorff about living life as Johnny Marco, being misunderstood, and missing Elle Fanning.

Tell me how you got involved in Somewhere. I got a call from my agent. They called and said she was doing a movie, and I was like, What movie? They said its about a movie star living at the Chateau with an 11 year old, and that’s all they knew. I got the script a week later in an envelope. It said American zoetrope, it was black. It had one little word on it, called Somewhere. It was thin. And I was like, fuck—I read it and I was like holy shit, this is something unique, this is poetic, it jumped out on the page even in the way she writes. So I immediately went to Paris and we had this week.

With her? Yeah, she was observing me, talking to me, we went for coffee. We had a great dinner at this Argentinian restaurant. It felt like a vacation, so even if I hadn’t gotten the part, I would have gotten to see my friends again, and I think it was more for Sofia to see me—she hadn’t seen me in a few years—she’d been living in Paris, had a baby, and hadn’t made a film in a while. She really wanted to go in subtle and intimate with this one, and I think she just wanted to make sure that I hadn’t changed, that I hadn’t become some psychopath. We had dinner with Zoe Cassavetes, our mutual friend, we hung out, and at the end of that week she called me on the anniversary of my mom’s passing and offered me the part.

When you came on set, were you confident? Yeah, I checked into that hotel as Johnny Marco and was there for seven-and-a half weeks, so I was living the part.

Was your name Johnny Marco on everything? Everywhere. I had stationary scratched out with Johnny Marco . If I wrote letters to people, it was as Johnny Marco. I wanted to create this iconic movie star.

What stage do you see Johnny Marco at, in terms of his career? I think he’s a guy that like, 3 years before, had done some good parts with smaller roles, probably the 4th or 5th part, opposite Pacino. But I think he got really famous for this Berlin Agenda franchise. So where we open, he’s about to start promoting The Berlin Agenda. She doesn’t explain this, because she doesn’t really explain a lot, but I think he had that kind of crazy fame where you don’t have the movie to back it up, but you’re on the cover of everything. I remember back when Matthew McConaughey became famous, for I think it was A Time to Kill, he was on everything. I was like, Who is this Brad Pitt-y kind of guy, he must have a good PR guy – it was kind of like that. Because I felt that it would be more daunting for an artist or an actor coming in, and I think Johnny inside is more soulful, and you know, he’s broken inside. I think he would have rather been making Somewhere, he would have rather been working with Sofia. I think he’s worried he’s going to be a sellout, and in a way he is.

So if his fame is still new, why does he seem so bored of it all? I think he’s had two years of just running and running—how many cigarettes can you smoke, how many beers can you drink, how many chicks can you bang—and he’s detached from what really matters, from the people that really know him, which is his ex and his little girl. I saw him as kind of a rockstar dad. He probably shows up to the birthday party with some incredible present, takes Cleo for lunch, and then drops her off at home. But now he’s spent two or three weeks with her, and the fog is starting to lift, and by the end, it’s his beginning, I think he’s going to be a great dad. If he returns to acting, I think his work would probably get better, too.

How hard was it to shoot such poignant scenes with almost no dialogue? The most naked I’ve ever been was in this movie. There’s no tricks. There’s nothing happening behind me. There’s no big set piece or banks to rob. This is the real deal. I found it incredibly challenging.

Is it uncomfortable at all? Totally. There’s an intimacy because she’s hand-picked this crew and it’s almost like a student film.

What was it like shooting at the Chateau, in front of all the guests? That was cool. We kind of had a covert little mini-crew. We’d venture outside, if we needed the pool we’d go to the pool and shoot that scene. They gave us free reign at the hotel. I remember one day, I was shooting in the lobby and all of these directors came in—I think it was the piano scene where I play that Bach piece—and Alfonso Cuaron and all these directors were checking in, and they were so envious of how Sofia was getting away with shooting a big movie 35mm, and yet it looked like we were doing some little EPK interview or something. And I thought that people were very envious, like how is she making a movie at the chateau? They couldn’t believe it, and I thought that was pretty cool.

Was there a sudden onslaught of fame for you when you were younger? I never had that kind of crazy fame. I guess I was plastered in magazines when I was 19 or 20. You’d walk by and I was literally on 4 or 5 covers. And I was 20 and rebelling against my childhood, because my upbringing was sweet and nurturing and I wanted to kind of–I think when we’re young we just go for it. I was doing some good films, I was starting that movie SFW, I was into Nirvana, I was just in an angst-y period of my life, and I gave some hardcore interviews and was pretty outspoken.

Do you think you got a reputation? Yeah, maybe it added to the whole, Why I couldn’t stop playing villains and stuff. It made everybody think I was really a mean guy, and I’m not, really. I’ve grown up a lot since then. I think I’m doing better in my interviews now, and it’s nice to play a good guy again, somebody with vulnerability who is flawed, who has a soul.

He’s incredibly likeable, too. Yeah, you have to like him or you’d shit on him

How did you try to accomplish that? That was Sofia, because I thought I was on pills—I’d come at it from reality, but that was wrong in retrospect. Like, instead of taking all that time with the room service tray, shouldn’t I just throw the fucking thing and piss on the lawn? She was like, No, I want him to be sweet, and she was right, because that’s what makes you like him. He’s nice to the room service guy or the valet parker. He still mustered up enough applause for those twins to give them what they deserve. Everything that I was stuck on, in the end, I was wrong and my director was right, and that’s how it’s supposed to be. Actors don’t know everything.

A lot of people are using words like ‘comeback’ to describe this performance. Do you see it that way? I said it from the beginning, since they hired me. I told Sofia, You made me cool. And she was like, No, you were always cool. Rather than comeback, she says it’s a rediscovery. That’s a nice way of saying it. Sofia made me cool. She could have had anybody—an older guy like George Clooney—any of my competition, but she chose me and that meant a lot to me, and says a lot about her and her brains.

Was there a period before this role where you were struggling in your career? A few years ago, as I was losing my mom, all these great things were happening—it wasn’t like I couldn’t get a job. I was working with Oliver Stone in World Trade Center, I was working Michael Mann for Public Enemies, so I was doing big movies, I was just maybe not the number one guy, but the number 4 guy, or something. And I worked real hard on this movie called Felon that I produced, that got really amazing reviews but got a bullshit release

The one with Val Kilmer, right? Yeah, it became really massive on DVD. Kids all around the world love it. That’s how I got the whole UFC crowd to be my biggest fans. I made a conscious choice not to go for money, and just work for directors again, and then this one just landed in my lap.

How is your career changing post-Somewhere? Do you sense some more attention from powers that be? Yeah, I think so. I think there’s more scripts coming in, but the movies still aren’t—you finish Somehwere and the scripts I got were like, Predators. And I’m not going do that after what I just did. I did finally cave and I did this movie, Immortals, and who knows how it will be. There are some really great moments and I’m sure it’s going to look great because Tarsem Singh, the director, is pretty talented.

Are you getting a ton of accolades from your peers? Yeah, a lot of actors really identify with the movie. There were a lot of actors at the premiere last night. My friend Michael Shannon loved the movie. Meg Ryan was there, but I didn’t get to see her.

And Marc Jacobs? Yeah, Marc Jacobs, Lou Reed. Who else? James Franco was there. A lot of actors.

Was it a cool feeling watching this movie with your peers? I didn’t watch it last night because I’ve seen it, like, ten times. I would recommend repeat viewing, not just for the box office.

Does some of the fatherly love you had for Elle onscreen trickle into real life? Totally. After the movie I was missing her a lot. I wanted to call her and I was thinking, Is her dad going to think it’s weird, this 36-year-old actor is calling my daughter. But I was like, fuck it, I’m going to call her. So I called, and I was like, Did you hear we’re going to Venice? And she was off playing volleyball and doing ballet and with her friends, so I didn’t want to like cramp her style, but I do love her. She was my leading lady, and I miss her when I’m not with her.

Recapping on My Way Back to NYC

I’m packing to come home, and for the first time ever, I will be sad to leave LA. I either just got “it,” or “it” changed enough in my direction to have meaning. I had a great time, and I swear I will never use this old joke again: “If its 10pm in New York, it must be 1998 in LA.” It just doesn’t ring true, as NY has become less and LA more. Back in the big wormy apple I hear that Santos’ Party House is reopened, and Gina Sachi Cody is still dearly departed. Gina will be put to rest following wakes and funeral services 2pm to 4pm and 6pm to 7pm tomorrow at the Barret Funeral Home in Tenafly, New Jersey. I’m going, so if you expected to see me, fogetaboutit. I’m sending my sweetness off, even if I must go to Tenafly—wherever that is. I would walk a million miles for one of Gina’s smiles, but will have to settle for a photo on an easel.

The Halloween Bash at the Hudson Hotel had me spinning with my friend Paul Sevigny. I hadn’t seen him spin in ages. He’s one of the last DJs to still use vinyl, and it was wonderful to watch him work. He has great hands, and he mixed seamlessly—from one fun track to the next—and the crowd roared. Paul gets all sorts of ink as a club mogul these days. In fact, I wrote about him and his partner Nur Khan for the November issue of BlackBook. It’s easy to forget that the second thing Paul should be remembered for is his DJ skills. His heart of gold is obviously first. As he spun, a strange smiling character would come up to praise this Ceasar. Paul gave him a card and told the dude to call him so that they could talk about music. I asked Paul what number was on the card, and he told me his cell. I gave him that are-you-pulling-my-leg? look I usually reserve for girls who tell me I’m hot. He answered “Why not? Who the fuck am I?” Paul remains down to earth, and a great DJ, despite a million words that might swell another guy’s head.

I finished up at 4am. I heard the Suzanne Bartsch soiree at Good Units was raided and closed down by the city’s finest, and that she was “devastated.” Over 3,000 people had showed up, and the party was brilliant fun—until its abrupt end. Paul and I were away from the mayhem, but we could hear the commotion and see the flashing lights outside. I felt like those kids from Cloverfield: barely aware and slightly informed of the disaster and craziness just over there, waiting for it to come at us. Alas, we got by.

I slept for 20 minutes and rushed to the airport for the Hollywood/Bollywood BlackBook event at the Standard. The event was sponsored by Russian Standard Vodka and brought together a team of DJs who made their mark in NYC. I was joined by the always-gorgeous Christine Renee and the always-debonair Ethan Browne. The Bollywood dancers did their thing to that unforgetable song from Slumdog Millionaire that we all thankfully forgot. The Lady Miss Tigra performed as well. Tigra used to work with us back in NYC. She is the sweetest thing in the world, and it was crazy to hear her sing lyrics that belied that innocence. That’s, as Murray Hill says, showbiz! The whole shindig benefited the Zeno Mountain Farm.

We couldn’t stop eating at the 24-hour diner-like restaurant at the Standard. I don’t know its name, but I suggest it should be called “24 Hour French Toast,” as it has the best I’ve ever had. [Ed Note: It’s called The Restaurant at the Standard]. We visited old friends at the Chateau Marmont. While the rest of the town was jammed up with celebrities, Chateau was packed with movies stars, and there’s a difference. I won’t name names, as that would be impolite to my hosts, but it was a wondrous evening that I must find a way to relive.

Industry Insiders: Dan Barton, No Such Thing

Brit Dan Barton is President of No Such Agency, a bi-coastal boutique branding and communications agency that specializes in fashion, music, media, art and lifestyle. Some of his clients include British artist Alan Aldridge, urban designer Marc Ecko, musician Danny Saber, and music label Wall Of Sound Records. Barton was also a founding member of the Cool Council, which was a government-endorsed authority on ‘cool’ in the UK. Plus, he serves as the Vice President of Marketing for Flaunt Magazine. More on multitasking with all things abuzz in the cool stratosphere after the jump.

On getting from Point A to Point B: After my degree, I started out in the nightclub business in the UK, and then I was hired by Diesel, working my way up to being the Head of Marketing for the Diesel Group—including Diesel, Martin Margiela, DSquared2 and 55DSL. I moved to the US in early ’05 as Vice President of Marketing for Diesel. I left in late ’07 after 12 years. I realized that I was living off, not working up to, my best work there, and went to Rock & Republic for about five seconds. I then set up NSA as the marketing extension of The Flaunt Group. I’ve been out of the picture for a year or so due to personal circumstances, but this year I’ve returned to set up offices in both Los Angeles and New York, along with our sister agency Erin Hawker’s Agentry PR. I’ve grown the business from no money to a little under $1 million in just a few months. I’ve busted my ass doing so, but all things considered, it all seems to be going rather well. Inspiring folks: Marc Ecko. He’s totally uncompromising, super smart, a brilliant artist, exceptionally likable, and someone who never fails to surprise. He made me eat this giant shrimp once—head, shell and all. It was one of the tastiest things I’ve ever tasted, once I got over the fact that I was chewing on tiny eyeballs, and probably a bit of shrimp crap. Also, Jamison Earnest of Yellow Fever. He’ll hustle his way to heaven, and he’ll do it sponsored by Redbull and with a supermodel on his arm. He’s matured over the last few years, into a creative powerhouse across multiple disciplines—fashion, music and art, and he remains one of most well-connected guys in the city. I admire both these guys so much because they can divide opinion. You either love them or hate them, and only people that are 100% true to themselves can do that. Biggest things happening in the biz: Specialists rule. Ben Sherman has been spending the ‘downtime’ of the recession creating what might well be the best button-down shirt collection in the world. They’re focusing on their craft. Companies that take this approach are smart, as when the upswing gains momentum, they’ll have built more integrity, and consequently will take a stronger position than they were in before the recession. I’ve also seen many clients return to PR as their primary focus for their communications activities, which is also smart, particularly if you hire us! Worst things: Jealous people—usually bloggers—declaring everything lame just because they don’t have the gumption or the talent to go out and do it themselves. Secrets that no one knows: I’m the heir presumptive to the title of Lord of the Manor of Denstone, and I have the freedom of the city of Newcastle-Upon-Tyne (UK). Also, I don’t think many people know that I maintain carbon neutrality, thanks to carbon offsetting, energy conservation and recycling. People don’t realize how inexpensive and easy it is to do. On the horizon for the rest of 2010: We’re working with Falcon Motorcycles, which is an unusual client for a lifestyle company like ours, but they’re so ridiculously cool that they fit in with our media, fashion and music clients perfectly. They make the coolest custom motorcycles from derelict old British bikes. You’ll see them on a very big international advertising campaign later this year. We’ve also been doing a bit of philanthropic work for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. We threw a fundraiser at the Roosevelt Hotel’s Tropicana Bar last month and raised a five figure sum, thanks to generous support from brands such as Tom Ford, DSquared2, Diesel, Ben Sherman and Thomas Wylde. We want to continue down this path as well. Plans for tonight: I just got back from my meeting with Brit photographer Rankin at Chateau Marmont to discuss his forthcoming show in Mexico City that we’re working on with him. Too tired to go out tonight. Guilty pleasure: Vegan food. The poor chickpeas. Go-to spots: I really do love Soho House in Los Angeles. It’s Nick Jones’ best yet. In New York, I love La Esquina for the relentlessly cool crowd, the tequila menu and the best corn on the cob in the city. In London, I love Les Trois Garcons, despite the rather off-putting stuffed giraffe.

Industry Insiders: Lindsay Lebby, Arcade Games

Lindsay Lebby knows a thing or two about the needs of stylish LA women. She’s the director of Arcade Boutique, the West Hollywood one-stop shop for all things designer, and along with boutique owner Rochelle Gores, Lebby and the Arcade crew are making sure that every chic-loving girl in town knows about their fashion Mecca. More after the jump on accommodating celebs, the new in-demand website, and cleaning out your closet to get the perfect new look.

Retail on the brain: I’ve been in the retail industry pretty much my whole life. In high school and in college, I worked at little boutiques and managed stores. I briefly moved to New York, where I worked for Intermix , and I was brought back by Guess. There, I managed the retail marketing department for North America. It was quite a bit of travel and it was managing the day-to-day dealings of over 400 Guess stores. I met Rochelle shortly after moving back from New York. We hit it off right away and became very good friends. I helped her out when she opened her store, spent a lot of time there, and then we just kind of had an a-ha moment where something clicked between us.

On the day to day: My days here involve everything from overseeing all aspects of the sales floor and the sales associates to marketing and working every single day on ways to grow business. We just recently launched ArcadeBoutique.com, which has been a huge focus of mine.

On building the site: The whole process took about three to four months total. Researching everything and coming up with all the strategies of how we wanted the site to look, feel, and work. We had the site programmed specifically for Arcade. It was built by an amazing programmer and graphic designer and customized to our business and exactly how we wanted it to function for the customer. It’s working out very well so far. It’s only been a little over a month, but there’s definitely a buzz developing around it and it allows us to really take our West Hollywood store and offer it nation-wide to customers.

On the Arcade aesthetic: The aesthetic here was a vision of Rochelle’s. It’s modeled after 19th century European shopping malls, which were called arcades. The look and feel of our store feels very much like if you walked into a Parisian arcade. Our style is always a very feminine, very chic, classically sexy style. We reflect that in all of the products we buy, the lines we carry, and it’s really the same style and offerings that we have at ArcadeBoutique.com.

Store Faves: My favorites are Yigal Azrouel, as well as Kimberly Ovitz, who is a fairly new designer based out of L.A. Preen is another great British collection that we carry. Anita Co. Jewelry is a staple at Arcade. Doo.Ri and Barbara Bui. And we are one of the only stores in Los Angeles that sells Barbara Bui.

On personal shopping services: We try to set ourselves apart with an exceptional level of customer service. We can do anything our client needs, whether it is show up at their hotel room with a cocktail dress for a party in an hour, going to their home to clean out their closet and figure out the missing pieces they need in their wardrobe, and then tie that back to Arcade and style them. The clients we work with are fantastic and nothing over the top or real crazy has happened on one of those house calls. They have to have a relationship with us where they really trust our taste level and our own style as well as the style of the store in order for them to want and allow us to do that.

New York vs LA fashion: In New York, fashion is much more influenced by the season, where in LA, you dress the same because our weather doesn’t change very drastically. For me, the difference is that in the summer in New York it’s so hot and you’re wearing clothes that are comfortable and breathable, and you can get in the subway wearing. And then the winter is layers, coats, and cold weather accessories. Here, we’re really lucky to have beautiful weather all the time; it’s not really super cold or hot, and the lifestyle in general is more casual. At Arcade, our style reflects that women should always be feminine and chic and dressed even if you’re just going to a casual lunch with your girlfriend—really being outfitted and put together in a feminine way. I often wear jeans and a t-shirt but I’ll throw on a big statement necklace so the outfit looks completed. I wear heels. Even if I’m in jeans to go to lunch, I probably have on a wedge. I’m always accessorized.

Tips for effortless dressing: I’d say it’s really important to wear what you’re comfortable in, and that’s how you make it look effortless. It’s really important to read a customer’s own style, comfort level, and body image so that you can style them and dress them in a way that they feel good about themselves. If you put someone in something that looks fantastic on them to an outsider, but they’re not comfortable, they aren’t going to appear effortless.

On celeb clientele: In L.A. you get used to seeing the celebrities and it’s a delicate balance between treating them like a V.I.P and making them feel comfortable. It’s also offering them a certain level of privacy. We have a lot of celebrity clients that no one would ever read about because we make sure that their shopping trips are kept private and personal rather than photographed and exploited.

Most coveted piece for fall: Pieces I always, always covet for every season are Yigal Azrouel dresses. The way his dresses fit a woman’s body is unbelievable. You can put on any of his dresses and instantly feel special, sexy, and confident. I love his dresses for every season.

Go-tos: My favorite restaurant is Terroni, great food and music. My friends and I go there for long girl’s dinners. For a quiet dinner, Pace in Laurel Canyon is delicious and has an extensive wine list. The bar I enjoy most is Bronson Bar on Monday nights. I also like to get spicy margaritas and tortilla soup at El Carmen. I always love to go to Chateau Marmont. Any day or time this gorgeous, historic hotel makes me happy.

Uncle Stevie’s Vegas Vacation

If you see me today please talk softly and slowly. Please, no sudden movements or complicated questions. Just like oil and water, Israelis and Palestinians, Bill and Hillary, some things should never be put together. That’s me and Las Vegas. I went for business. My partner and I are designing a big time nightclub in a big time hotel. I swear. The porn star convention just happened to coincide with our stay. The closest I got to a porn star was the limo driver at the airport holding up a Terra Patrick placard. Ok, ok there were a few around, at night, at our tables, but, again, a mere coincidence and completely unsolicited. I have no interest in such matters.

I don’t gamble, whore around or take in shows. The only things I like about sin city are the fantastic restaurants and the desert itself. I spent a great deal of my wonder bread years in the high desert of California. I lived in a little town called Quartz Hill. I had hair down to my waist, ran an organic health food store, lived on a commune, knew how to roll a joint and had sex with hippie chicks. I used to take long hikes in the desert and the Tehachapi mountains, an environment similar to the one I was dragged to this past week, except for the city of sin Bugsy Seigel put there. Sometimes, when hiking way back then, if I was real lucky, I would come across a herd of wild mustangs and my heart would just stop. Their beauty and the primal sense of freedom they imparted lives within me still. There were many herds of horses in the high plains. You were taught that the domesticated ones took no notice of you, while the wild ones looked up and followed your every move.

That life lesson became very relevant in the hallways and casinos during the porn convention. I was told that you could tell the difference between the hookers and the porn stars, as the hookers will take notice of you, smile and watch your every move while the porn stars just ignore you and blow right past. It’s truly amazing how all these lessons from my past can be applied today. I had to get out of this place if it was the last thing I ever did, but we were there for a purpose. We are designing the next big thing.

I had an amazing lunch at the Mesa Grill. Management told me how chef Bobby Flay regularly checks in to make sure the quality is maintained. Everything about the place works. Great service and great food. It is a great experience. Our meetings went well during the day and we were whisked around like VIPs at night.

Pure seemed tired and old. There weren’t a thousand people fighting to get in like I remember it. As we were whisked to the best table in the place, it seemed like it had had its night and was just going through the motions. The crowd was mostly an uneducated, unstylish mass who learned long ago that a couple grand makes you look grand in Vegas, and unfortunately, in many cases, NYC too. LAX was even more tired. I liked the place and could see how it was such a huge hit in its day.

Everywhere at every joint the door staff was buttoned up. Vegas is geared to extract money and the spider web begins at the door. Every waitress had porn star boobs and the go-go dancers helped sell the message that you can have it all, if you spend the money. Vegas is no place for a romantic warrior like me. Vanity was very clean. The crowd was better than the others, the walls were smartly finished, tables nice. The staff was a little bit more sophisticated, but it lacked an energy, a center and it didn’t hold my interest for very long. Tryst was just awful. I was there long ago when the hotel opened and hated it. It’s been redone and it’s a million times better, probably 10 or 15 million times better, as they did throw some money at it. The music everywhere was the same old same old, but seemed even older here. The crowd was less mixed and had fewer really unbearable people than LAX or Pure, but the whole place seems like an afterthought. You have this billion dollar casino/hotel complex and you have to stick a club in there someplace. So the club is downstairs, out of the way, you take a couple of turns… The planners gave it a big beautiful wet rock and not too much else. With Steve Wynn’s quest for the best, Tryst is surprisingly subpar.

Tao never disappoints. Yes, Jason and Noah are my friends, but that opens them up for harsher criticism than the rest. Tao, five years later, is banging. The important tables had important people at them—players, some even recognizable from Manhattan’s hot spots. There was a nice blend of classy women and sexy slutty Vegas types. The music didn’t drown out conversation, but was still driving the room. They added a tier above the owner’s section, which really added to the experience. Also very important, the experience for the general public was better. Most of the places treat the public like the second-class citizens they are, which is very wrong. The general public makes up at least 30 percent of the revenue of these places and should be treated like they are important. I think that Tao treats the GP better than the rest and has them coming back for more. Tao’s high end is cultivated on different levels. It is indeed pushed now to Lavo and will move with the strategic group crowd to the next venture. The public pays lots of bills. That concept seems to escape most of the other places, which treat the masses like seitan. The public areas of Tao had a sexy environment where even an old codger like me was flirted with.

I wasn’t impressed with Haze. Everywhere I traveled within the place security was not so politely moving me along. Flow is terrible and it’s not much to look at. It has “new’ going for it and was packed, but we all know “new” grows old. I chatted with a slim and quiet Andrew Sasson, Haze’s owner, while at Noah Tepperberg and Jason Strauss’ table at Lavo. I congratulated him on his major success in Vegas. Last time I was here he showed me around. He knows everyone and the city’s workers pour big fish and players in his direction. Haze is the least impressive thing I’ve seen him do. It lacks the subtleties of the other Lit Group properties and the real hospitality chops he is known for. The crow flow, lighting and overall experience need to be rethought.

Then came XS. XS is the best club of this sort I have ever seen. It is executed perfectly. It was not an afterthought, but designed to win. It is winning. A zillion tables with few bad ones. The lighting, the decor, the staff were all visibly better than the rest. It features a beautiful, romantic pool, which will take this place to another level when the weather warms. The crowd was more diverse and better dressed than the rest. Xs takes Vegas clubdom to another level. I will be hard pressed to better it. But I will.

Our meetings ended two days early but we couldn’t escape. The porn people and a massive tech convention ate up every flight and car rental. I was going bonkers. I was playing Wheel of Fortune and fantasizing about Vanna White and mumbling a lot. I was telling my penguin joke to senior citizens from Decatur, Georgia and Butte, Montana. We all yelled “wheel of fortune” and screamed with glee at our jackpots. When I was down to my last two cents, I won twelve dollars and 40 cents on a penny slot machine while waiting for Claire Council from Rapid City to free up a chair at the Wheel of Fortune machines. Poor dear needs to go potty a lot.

I was thinking of going to see Bette Midler with her and the gals before my partner Marc Dizon, seeing my rapid deterioration, devoted himself to getting us out of there. We decided to go to LA. We pulled in a ton of favors to get ourselves a new mustang convertible. We headed away from Vegas into the familiar, friendly and romantic desert. Redbulls and starbucks and the thought of seeing my old crew in Venice drove me all night. I slept in Echo Park and walked around Venice the next day kissing baby Indigo and hugging old friends. I hate to say it, but I really loved it. After our BBQ we headed to the Chateau Marmont where my best friend Patty Doria has found a niche at the hotel restaurant. Andre Balazs’ place is wonderful. He doesn’t need me to say it. Everything he touches is gold. There was class all around– a welcome change from the “crass all around” Vegas environment. Leonardo Dicaprio was playing backgammon with Lukas Haas while we sipped fine wine and munched on perfect appetizers and chocolates. Everyone was dressed. Laughter and good conversation had replaced the head banging debauchery of sin city’s strip. What happens in Vegas can stay in Vegas. Hopefully, it will not be exported anywhere else. What happened in LA may make me stay in LA next time I go.

Industry Insiders: Tehmina Adaya, Shangri-La’s Lady

President and CEO of Shangri-La Hotel in Santa Monica, Tehmina Adaya has been hard at work prepping the family-owned business for an expansion to five more locations in the next five years. Adaya also heads up the record label, So Sweet Records. More on her hotelier views after the jump.

How did you come to be associated with Shangri-La? I come from a family that owns commercial real estate and my father bought the Shangri-La in 1983. The family ran it as a mom-and-pop hotel for years, but my father handed the reins to me a few years ago. It’s still a privately owned and managed lifestyle business. I’m a family girl, who is wholly invested in the lifestyle business—as an hotelier in a fantasy destination for the hospitality industry.

How did you get your start? I’m originally from Pakistan, but moved to California when I was 12. I’ve lived in the neighborhood for 30 years and still live six blocks away. My father was my mentor; he set the example of being a balanced individual and was a successful entrepreneur who worked until nine o’clock every night. I grew up in a family business environment. When my father became ill, he began to hand the family business baton to me, the youngest of six children. He groomed me all my life and put me in charge of his whole portfolio. I’m now the trustee for everything. My mother is alive and well, and a great supporter.

Who do you look up to in the hospitality industry? Ian Schrager did an amazing thing for the hospitality industry in general. Where I differ from him is in the elitism at the Gramercy Park Hotel. I also admire André Balazs, who has made the Chateau Marmont better and better. My personal mentors are Goodwin Gaw, who owns the Hollywood Roosevelt—another historic building—and turned it into a very dynamic space instead of a museum where nobody wants to stay. Another person I like is Mark Rosenthal of the Sunset Marquis, which is now an urban sanctuary that didn’t give up an inch of their history.

What do you predict for 2010? Part of the hospitality industry is turning into a lifestyle industry—now you go into a hotel and see beautiful art and hear relevant music, get different bath products in your room, consume different drinks in a unique bar, meet more interesting people. Even if you lead a suburban lifestyle, once you stay at the right hotel, you feel young and dynamic. You feel like you know what’s happening. The hospitality industry is also becoming more environmentally responsible. Our hotel is much more green than it’s ever been, and even the bath product bottles are biodegradable—they’re made of cornstarch and disintegrate in a landfill. Our toilets are green too, they’re dual flush toilets! I read a shocking old statistic that claimed that one American used as much natural resources as 40 Bengalis. My father would get upset if I left the tap on while brushing my teeth because he said, “You’re answerable to God and the environment for everything you waste.”

Positive changes in ’09? You were once treated as either a nobody or as a VIP. Now hosts are treating all guests with an equal hand with the economic downturn in full swing.

Something that people might not know about you? I don’t think people really know that I’m involved in the music industry, that I have my own dance music label, So Sweet Records, and that I adore fashion and I love designers like Vivienne Westwood, Alexander McQueen and Alaia. I’m a complete Anglophile; I love that England is so culturally dynamic and socially diverse, which comes from living in Pakistan for the first 12 years of my life. My husband and I are both Muslims, although his mother is Turkish and his father is Lebanese. He was born in Kuwait where his father was brought to head the nation’s medical profession—his father delivered all of the royal babies there as well.

What’s your favorite city? London! I get withdrawal symptoms if I don’t visit twice a year.

Any non-industry projects in the works? Raising my children. My eldest son, 20, told me he was really proud of me when I started the hotel and the record label because it made things seem possible for him and said, “I can see my mother doing it, and it really inspires me.” The label is another child to me. I also started a school and worked hard at it—it’s an elementary school, pre-school-to-sixth grade called New Horizon. My father donated the land, and I had it accredited within five years.

Where are your go-to places in LA? First, I love SkyBar; it started the whole outdoor lifestyle bar thing in Los Angeles and is fabulously done at the Mondrian. I love the Chateau Marmont; that’s the property I would compare our historic hotel to—it’s a comfortable place with stellar service and impeccable food. Nothing compares to the Four Seasons, and you can actually smoke outside! I love The Edison, located in an industrial ballroom; it’s timelessly hot. I really like Foxtail, it’s just beautiful and reminiscent of Biba in London in the 1970s. My favorite indoor bar is at the Sanderson in London—very French and delicate, mirrored, like a doll house or a jewel.

Winona Ryder Bites Back

“What makes someone an icon? Is Nelson Mandela an icon? Is Václav Havel an icon? Is the alien from Alien: Resurrection an icon? I don’t know what the requirements are.” Winona Ryder pauses to consider the well-oiled word from the far reaches of the lobby lounge at the Chateau Marmont in West Hollywood. Her cap is pulled down to hide the face of an Edward Gorey beauty rendered in chalk. She sits on her tiny feet as if to keep them warm.

When our waiter arrives with two blistering cups of English breakfast tea, the green-eyed actress wonders if Philip Roth might fit the part of icon. By the time the tea has cooled into twin lakes of still cream three hours later, she has settled on Empty Nest’s Kristy McNichol. “But,” she says, “I would never consider myself anything like that.”

Two decades into her film career, and two years shy of 40, Ryder has developed from a doe-eyed ingénue into a full-grown, albeit delicate, woman. And after a nine-year retreat from the spotlight, the actress who personified the knowing malaise of the late ’80s and early ’90s—as the beautiful freak in Tim Burton’s Beetlejuice, the homicidal girl-next-door in Michael Lehmann’s Heathers and the idealistic videographer in Ben Stiller’s Gen X-defining classic Reality Bites—finally returns with The Private Lives of Pippa Lee, an impeccable arthouse film starring Robin Wright Penn, Blake Lively and Keanu Reeves.

Whereas the younger, more exposed Ryder was the portrait of a tortured thespian on the verge of a breakdown, the grown Ryder seems comfortable in her own skin. And unlike most teen actors who devolve into twisted shells of their former selves, the bookish star has gracefully matured, despite a journey neither straight nor narrow.

Top Image: Shirt by Gucci. Ryder’s own ring.

image Stylist’s own T-Shirt and Crown Necklace. Necklace by David Yurman.

Ryder rarely gives interviews, as if rebelling against—or atoning for—her effusive past. “It’s weird,” she says, “the whole concept of an interview. To hold someone accountable for what they’ve said or done when they were younger is bizarre. We evolve, we change—at least I hope we do.” She seldom attends step-and-repeat Hollywood parties. (“I hosted a benefit for this theater company one night with Courtney Love,” she says. “We got photographed on the way in. It was kind of a nightmare.”) She trails off when discussing her private life. “I’ve just been told that news will break next week that I’m pregnant,” she says laughing, “which is impossible.” And just to make sure she has been understood, Ryder adds, “Because, you know, I’m on my… ” Her left hand circles the air just south of her phantom baby bump.

But a strange thing happens when Ryder tries to censor herself. Instead of stifling her words, she continues in a faint whisper, as if simultaneously trying to withhold and share a story. She does this often with trivial anecdotes. She cringes, for example, when recalling her introduction to rapper Dr. Dre: “I was like, Oh, thank god. I just got off a long flight and my ears are still blocked. Can you help?” The same thing happens later, with weightier issues. When discussing the death of her friend, actor Heath Ledger, she wonders, “What happens to you when you die? Does your energy dissipate? Is there something whole about your soul that keeps going?”

When embarrassed, Ryder’s soft-spoken lilt becomes altogether inaudible. “I was once published under a different name for a short story I’d written,” she says, so shy that it becomes difficult to hear her. “I wanted to know what it felt like to have people enjoy something and not know it had anything to do with me.” But wouldn’t the recognition validate the work? “Well, I can’t listen to Wagner because he hated Jews. I can’t read Émile Zola—I mean, I love Émile Zola, but he had some scandals that were kind of scary—and I worship Woody Allen, but he had his thing, too. I struggle with the age-old question of how to separate the art from the artist.”

Biographies have been written about Ryder’s youth, all of them unauthorized. E! broadcast her True Hollywood Story, which, despite the title, she says, “is just wrong—even the flattering stuff! I didn’t watch the whole thing, but my dad was like, ‘Oh my god, they’re making the commune look like Waco.’” She was raised on 380 acres of deadwood in Mendocino, California, by her mother, Cynthia Palmer, a writer, and her father, Michael Horowitz, an author, editor, antiquarian bookseller and, according to Ryder, cultural Zelig. “He was at Altamont [the music festival organized by the Rolling Stones, now infamous for its violence] and he was at the Last Waltz at the Fillmore [the Band’s final concert]. He took me to my first concert, the last Sex Pistols show, when I was 7.” Ryder grew up in the enlightening company of adults like her godfather, the ’60s counterculture guru Timothy Leary, beat poet Allen Ginsberg and musician Tom Waits, for whom she once babysat.

image

image Bodysuit by American Apparel. Sweater by Obesity and Speed. Ryder’s own rings.

Her first big role came in 1986 with the release of the teenage-love tale Lucas, but it was Beetlejuice and her relationship with actor Johnny Depp, which began when she was 17, that shoved her in front of the flashing lights. For four years, she and Depp swooned over one another while Hollywood swooned over them, a frenzy fed by their co-starring roles as suburban star-crossed lovers in Edward Scissorhands. “Things changed for me when I met Johnny,” she says. “This weird thing happens when you’re written about in magazines, where you start to think, This is who I am. This is how I have to be. I felt restricted and pressured into being the way people perceived me. It was hard for me to find my footing. The Johnny thing made me really afraid of the press because, even though it was about him, I was beside him the entire time.”

She and Depp split in 1992. (Depp, for his part, has a tattoo, now edited to read “Wino Forever,” commemorating the relationship.) Not long after, Ryder began dating a dreadlocked Dave Pirner, lead vocalist of alt-rock band Soul Asylum. “I did a few movies and I felt like I had allowed myself to become a more open person,” she says. Comments like these enforce the sense that Ryder’s life has been a steady negotiation between the desire for genuine human contact and a tireless, self-protective whisper in her head that warns against it. “I hate the thought of having to live my life being skeptical of everyone,” she says. “I’ve just always wanted to find someone who understands what I do, who doesn’t think my life is so glamorous and who doesn’t really care. In a way, actors really do fit that category, but I would want to be with one who had been around a while. Newly successful people are just as scary as non-celebrities.”

Ryder, who also dated actor Matt Damon for two years, gets along, for the most part, with all of her celebrity and non-celebrity exes. “Matt couldn’t be a greater, nicer guy. I’m really lucky that I’m on good terms with him,” she says. “With Johnny, it’s like we’re good, but we lead very different lives.” Ryder adds, “I was out at a bar with a friend who said, ‘Do you realize that in America you’re never going to be able to meet a guy who knows nothing about you? Everyone will have preconceived ideas about who you are.’ I got so bummed out. I’d never really thought about it that way.”

image

image Shirt by Alice + Olivia. Jacket by Hanii Y. Ryder’s Own Rings.

Constant media scrutiny—compounded by exhaustion and the normal anxieties of a woman about to turn 20—convinced Ryder to seek psychological treatment in 1990. “I remember waking up one morning,” she says of her breaking point. “I looked in the mirror and thought, Am I going crazy? So I checked myself into a hospital where I stayed for a few days. I was surrounded by people who had been molested and abused. I felt like they hated me, didn’t know what the fuck I was doing there and wanted me to get the hell out because what the fuck did I have to complain about?” A smile builds across her face when she adds, “When it was my turn to talk in group therapy sessions, I was like, I’m just really tired because it’s hard to be famous.”

Out of her experience at the hospital came an appreciation for the marginalized women she met during her stay. And then Ryder cracked the spine of Girl, Interrupted, Susanna Kaysen’s 1993 memoir about life in a psychiatric institution. “What I found so interesting,” says Ryder, “was that if you did something sort of normal-crazy, like taking a bottle of aspirin, you were locked up for years. Now, they won’t hold you if you say you’re schizophrenic and you’re going to kill yourself or someone else. You can thank Reagan for that one.” In 1999, after years spent trying to adapt the book to film, Ryder starred in and produced Girl, Interrupted, for which Angelina Jolie won the Academy Award for best supporting actress.

It was Ryder’s first serious bid for critical acclaim since her Oscar-nominated turn in Nicholas Hytner’s 1996 version of The Crucible. But members of the press were quick to reduce Ryder to a scorned actress overshadowed by a rebellious, brother-kissing man-eater with chaise-lounge lips. “I never had any bad feelings about Angelina,” she says. “And I was hurt that people thought that. Everyone assumed I was really jealous because I thought this would be my vehicle. We said from the very beginning that the actress who played Lisa would probably win an Oscar, because it was the big, great, showy part. But I always related to Susanna.” In a way, Ryder was responsible for jump-starting Jolie’s career. “I fought very hard for her to have that part, and I never really felt like I got the chance to know her.” Did Jolie ever personally thank her? “I feel like it won’t read in print very nicely if I say that wasn’t really her style,” she says. “But she seems to be a completely different person now.”

image

image Sweater by Zadig & Voltaire. Jeans by J Brand. Shoes by Pour La Victoire.

In December of 2001, Ryder was arrested for shoplifting at Saks Fifth Avenue in Beverly Hills. Ryder won’t talk about it. We move on, but before doing so, she touches my arm and, as though forgiving me for asking, says, “I understand. I’m curious about other people, so I have to understand when people are curious about me.”

Despite whispers to the contrary, Ryder insists it was her aversion to shoddy filmmaking that has slowed down her career. “One of the worst things you can be is mediocre,” she says. “I get offered a lot of studio things—you wouldn’t believe some of the stuff I turn down that then gets packaged with two movie stars. I’m getting a lot of horror movie offers, too, but I just don’t like the ones where you have to cut off your own arm to escape the killer. Or,” and here she imitates the nicotine-soaked baritone that plays over trailers for budget slashers, “What if people did horrific things to your daughter and then they were trapped inside your house?”

One of Ryder’s many delightful quirks is her odd out-of-time sensibility. She groans, for example, when discussing “TZM” cameras. She swears she can’t understand the allure of “Facehook.” And while she thinks tweeting sounds funny, she has yet to do so because she doesn’t “have a MySpace account.” Her disdain palpable, Ryder says, “I don’t know what the future holds for the Internet.” Not wholly unaware of how charmingly anachronistic she sounds, Ryder adds, “I don’t know if it’s because of my love of books and the pages and the print—there’s just so much romance in them—but I hate all these doublespeak abbreviations like ‘OMG’ and ‘LOL.’ I still don’t know if that means ‘Laugh Out Loud’ or ‘Lots of Love.’”

This may explain her appreciation for Pippa Lee, a thoughtful, character-driven ensemble drama about women in the lives of successful male publishers—worlds apart from the Saw franchise. “Most actors only agree to work on films for a specific amount of time,” Ryder says. “But I was like, Keep me up there the whole time. Little did I know it would be in Danbury, Connecticut, without a rental car, living off of a highway. I had to rely on Keanu, who had the car he drives in the film, to get me to Starbucks—that’s how low-budget it was.”

Ryder’s part is small but pivotal, and in only a few scenes she dares the camera to pan away from her quirky brand of crazy as Sandra Dulles, an adulterous mess of insecurity and self-interest. “I loved the idea of playing an egomaniac,” she says smiling. “My character doesn’t do anything for anyone but herself. She wants to be amazing and so she latches on to anyone she can.”

image Shirt by Marc Jacobs.

image

Written and directed by Rebecca Miller—wife of Daniel Day-Lewis as well as the daughter of playwright Arthur Miller and photographer Inge Morath—Pippa Lee felt like a homecoming for Ryder. “I’ve known Keanu since I was 16, so he’s sort of like a brother to me. I know Robin from when I used to live in San Francisco. I know and love Rebecca through Daniel [with whom Ryder starred in The Crucible and The Age of Innocence] and Arthur [who wrote The Crucible and its screenplay].”

Sandra might not be richest role of Winona Ryder’s career, nor will it be her crowning achievement. But after all of the good, all of the bad and, yes, a touch of ugly, Ryder has finally gotten to the point in her life where acclaim and validation are no longer necessary. She leans in as if to reveal her greatest secret yet: “I’m the happiest I’ve ever been. I’m not going to turn into Gloria Swanson and sit in my mansion watching my movies, with a crazy cigarette holder,” she says. “But I feel so blessed to have done the things that I’ve done.”

Back when she was still a teenager, her friend Sean Penn wagered $500 that she would tire of acting by her 30th birthday. “But that hasn’t happened yet,” she says as the sun sets on Hollywood. “I still don’t sleep the night before my first day on set. It’s a struggle to make good movies today, and I’ve certainly been in films I’m not thrilled with. I just have to be patient and good in my own life, and know that if I never work again, I still had a great career.”

image

WINONA’S FAVORITE HOTEL: CHATEAU MARMONT, LOS ANGELES.

image

[Photography by Andrew MacPherson, Styling by Anda & Masha. Hair by Yiotis Panayiotou @ Celestine. Makeup by Monica Blunder @ The Wall Group. Manicurist: Jenna Hipp @ Celestine. Digital Tech: Nate Caswell @ Industrial Color. Photographer’s Assistant: Alex Almeida]

Los Angeles: Top 10 Places to Get Devoured by a Cougar

Stone Rose Lounge (West Hollywood) – The East Coast version of this star-lit bar is NY’s reigning cougar palace. This is similar, except the furniture—and the cougars—are a burnt orange. ● The Ivy (Beverly Hills) – Studio bigwigs are more than thrilled to let their bored wives run wild on the company expense account, which means lunch (and dessert) at this Hollywood clubhouse is just a “How you doin’” away. ● Ecco Ultra Lounge (Hollywood) – The only thing that trumps a regular cougar is one that drives a Prius. Savor the ride home from this eco-friendly supper club, because it’s about to get dirty.

Downtown Standard (Downtown) – No one really knows why owner Andre Balazs named his crack den for design junkies The Standard, but we’re pretty sure it’s because every time you hit the rooftop bar, a hungry urban wildcat is waiting to take you into her mod-tastic room for a swift disemboweling. It’s the standard here. ● Sidebar (Beverly Hills) – If you’re wondering what business a slobbering cougar would have in classy establishment such as this, well, none. The cougars here have funds and they’re willing to spend them. Congratulations, you just discovered how to support yourself between auditions. ● Whiskey A Go Go (West Hollywood) – Because cougars are a lot more vicious when they’ve been Motley Cru-ed, Poison-ed, and Bon Jovi-ed. ● Chateau Marmont (West Hollywood) – When Cameron Diaz appeared on SNL as a cougar in early 2009, a new queen was crowned, and this is her court. ● Hal’s Bar & Grill (Venice Beach) – An L.A.-based photographer tells us this where cougars “specifically seek black guys with money.” You know who you are, fellas. ● Mr. Chow (Beverly Hills) – This legendary Asian restaurant, big with Hollywood types and hip-hop royalty, should be renamed Mrs. Chow, if you buy what we’re selling. ● The Dresden Room (Los Feliz) – This hepcat haven (immortalized in the movie Swingers) puts out a distinctly retro vibe. The cougars here just put out. ● Good Luck Bar (Los Feliz) – We appreciate the superstitious name, guys, but the question is: who needs luck when you serve vodka sodas to vaguely single women in their late thirties and early forties? Anyone know the number to a taxi?

Charlize Theron on ‘Vogue,’ Marisa Tomei’s One of the Boys

Vogue’s September issue cover may have leaked and, if so, actress Charlize Theron has landed the coveted title of cover girl for the fashion magazine’s biggest annual issue. Although that’s figuratively speaking of course, as this year’s ad sales are the lowest Vogue has seen in years (meaning the issue is 200+ pages thinner than the infamous September issue documented in the soon-to-be-released RJ Cutler documentary). Sadly, little feels special about the image itself; it’s the same close-up of an actress from the waist up in a formal gown we’ve seen from Vogue for years.

image

A distinctly fresher image can be found in Scott Sterberg’s FW09 ads for Boy. His female counterpart collection to Band of Outsiders pictures actress Marisa Tomei. The latter is wielding a knife in the kitchen of LA’s Chateau Marmont. Save for the cut-out, lace-up boots with knit tights (oh so 2009), Tomei’s style looks decidedly Hitchcock 60s heroine (which isn’t surprising considering Sternberg is a bona fide cinephile). What’s perhaps most interesting about the photo, however, is the fact that Tome isn’t touched up; after all, the picture is a Polaroid in typical Band of Outsiders and Boy style.