For the rising American actor Kylie Rogers, it seems like the stars are finally aligning and deservedly so.
When you first start out as an actor in most cases you’ll be a complete unknown but through booking in more roles, you’ll not only enhance your talent for bringing characters to life but you will also build up your reputation in the industry. Allowing you to get to the next level and book bigger parts. When it comes to the case of the enthusiastic and gifted actor Kylie Rogers, she’s been honing her craft over the last eleven years. As a child actor first starting in both TV and film back in 2012, Rogers has already impressively worked alongside the likes of Jennifer Garner and Russell Crowe to name but a few. Now at the age of nineteen years old, the creative is currently best known for her role as Young Beth in the hit US neo-western drama series, Yellowstone. Yet it truly feels like after all her hard work and dedication to the art form, Rogers’s career is about to be elevated to new heights as she is appearing alongside Joaquin Phoenix in Ari Asters’s hotly anticipated newest A24 release, Beau Is Afraid.
The premise of the film is that Phoenix’s character embarks on an epic odyssey to get home to his mother. Rogers plays Toni, a character that has been described as a teenage daughter whose life is falling apart. From the film trailers alone, it looks to be an epic and quirky tale full of twists and turns and as Ari Aster is an in-demand writer-director at the moment thanks to his previous horror flicks, Hereditary and Midsommar, the excitement surrounding the film is palpable. Undoubtedly, it’s a pivotal role for the emerging artist to display her talents on a scale like never before.
In conversation with 1883 Magazine’s Cameron Poole, Kylie Rogers discusses auditioning for Beau Is Afraid, how she feels about her career elevating to the next level in 2023, Phoenix doing TikTok dances on set, and the time when she met the biggest K-pop boyband in the world.
Kylie, thanks for chatting with 1883. Let’s talk about your latest project, Ari Aster’s Beau Is Afraid which is out now in the States but not out in the UK yet. As we all know it’s a very hotly anticipated film and has such an exceptional cast. It really feels like A24 is paving the way at the moment when it comes to producing quirky and amazing films that are taking Hollywood and the world by storm. So Just to start, can you tell us about what drew you to the role of Toni and the process of auditioning for the role?
I think the first thing that really drew me to the character was… I got the audition appointment, I saw that the film involved Joaquin Phoenix and Ari Aster. Ari Aster is one of my top three directors, I’m obsessed with all of his work and Joaquin is my favourite actor ever. So I was like “Oh, that’s awesome!” But what really got me interested was the description of Toni’s character, the very first sentence was: ‘If Frank Booth from Blue Velvet had a TikTok’, which I thought was so funny. Dennis Hopper played the character in Blue Velvet and he’s like a horrifying guy with an oxygen mask that is crazy. So I was immediately intrigued.
I sent in my first little video, and at the time I was working on a movie at the time when I got the callback. So I did that, me and my mom, who helps me with all my tapes, we came up with a–I can’t say it because it would spoil it–but we came up with a creative way to add something special to the scene. I then got the director meeting and they were like “you’re going to meet with Ari and do the scenes” and I was like “Oh my God!” As I was working on a movie at the time and they wanted to do the director meeting whilst I needed to be on set, the film crew were kind enough to let me be 30 minutes late so I could Zoom call with Ari.
I was so nervous as I had to do these crazy scenes for one of my favourite directors ever. And then I did it and I just like had a feeling, I like ran out of my apartment barefoot and my mom was waiting in the car for me so we could go to the film set and I ran out and I knocked on the door and said: “Mom, I think I’m gonna get the part. Ari really liked me!” In my excitement, I locked us both out of my apartment and we had to stand there at the apartment gate yelling “someone let us back in!” I think a day or two later, I found out that I had booked it. It was the craziest feeling in the world. I felt so lucky.
That’s really nice of the film crew to let you move your time on set around so you could do the director interview with Aster. Were you able to tell the film crew what the project was about that you were auditioning for? I would imagine some auditions are so secretive and you can’t say much…
I just told them it wasn’t awkward at all. They were all so supportive. When I got to the set after the meeting, everyone was asking me how it went. And of course, I couldn’t really tell them much. I could tell them what it was for but just not what it was about or anything.
I’m aware it’s such an expansive and wacky film in a way because Aster wanted it to feel novelistic rather than a traditional movie structure. Your character Toni has been described as a teenage daughter whose life is falling apart. But I’m curious to hear from you how you would describe your character and by playing this part have you learnt anything new about your craft?
We can talk about it. Toni, she’s hard to describe, she has so many different layers and so many different issues. I think what I can say is a lot of her issues are birthed from her home life and I think she feels a little neglected and she takes all that out in very unhealthy ways. Her life is sort of falling apart. Playing this character taught me so much about my craft because I’ve never played a character like this but I’ve always wanted to play a character like this, where I can really go deep into someone and let loose.
I learned so much from playing the character and sort of diving into that but I also just learned so much from Ari and from Joaquin of course. They’re both always giving 110% no matter what. Joaquin was so amazing about that. I think a Variety article or something just got released about how he fainted during someone else’s scene because he is always putting in 110% even if the camera is on him or not. It is so true, so real, and it was so amazing to work with such influential, inspiring people. I learned from the character, the cast and the crew, and I learned from the entire experience and I’m so grateful for it.
Obviously, this isn’t your first rodeo, you’ve been acting since 2012 and have appeared in a ton of shows and films such as Yellowstone and you’ve worked alongside Jennifer Garner in the film, Miracles From Heaven to name a few. But it seems to me that 2023 will see your career elevated to new heights because of Beau is Afraid, your role in Amazon’s sci-fi adventure, Landscape with Invisible Hand. Do you feel ready for it all? Or are you taking it all in your stride as you’ve been acting since childhood?
I feel it’s a pretty even mixture of the two, I’ve got some amazing movies coming out this year with amazing people involved with them. Working with Joaquin, Ari, Nathan Lane, Amy Ryan, and Patti LuPone on Beau Is Afraid is crazy. Then I have Landscape With Invisible Hand, for that project I had the honour of working with Corey Finley who is such an amazing writer and director, and I got to work with Annapurna and Plan B on the film. They are both dream movies for me and I was able to work with dream people as well, So I feel nervous and anxious but I’m also feeling very confident and just like “it’s okay, everything will be good. Everything will be great”.
I have been working for so long, I’ve been working for probably almost eleven years now which is crazy because I’m only nineteen years old. Above all, It feels almost unbelievable that I have such great projects coming out this year, including Yellowstone as I’m still working on it. Getting to work with Taylor Sheridan on the show is great, he’s amazing. I feel so unbelievably grateful and I’m just like “how did this like happened to me? Oh my God!”
Can we take a minute to talk about when you met the biggest K-pop boyband in the world when you were younger….
[laughs] Yeah I did!
How did you end up meeting BTS? Do you still listen to them? And what sort of music are you listening to these days?
I haven’t spoken about this in so long, I’m excited. When I was around eleven I got really into K-Pop like viciously into it. I was so obsessed. At the time, no one in the states knew what it was like, they’d be like “oh, what music do you listen to?” and I’d be like, “K-pop” and they wouldn’t know what it is. Someone who I worked with, on a movie called Fathers and Daughters, who is really near and dear to my heart, Russell Crowe bought me BTS tickets for my birthday. I tweeted about it or something because I was thirteen and I was like “Oh, thanks for the BTS tickets!” After that, it was so random, Charlie Puth tweeted saying that he loves BTS and I commented something and all the K-pop fans saw it and it started circulating that I was going to the concert and then their publicist at the time reached out to me, I think it was a publicist.
She reached out to me and she was like “hey, do you want to meet the boys before you go into the concert?” And I was like, yeah obviously. I was so nervous, I was sweating. The setup was honestly so funny because I went down to the venue’s basement and I’m there with my mom and my friend. There was a super long hallway and they stood at the very end of it and I just had to walk down this massive hallway. When I got to the end I said hey and they all said “Kylie, we saw your tweet!” It was a crazy moment, I still have trauma from it [laughs]. It was great and they were so sweet. It’s crazy that it happened to me.
I’m not so much into K-pop anymore as I was but I still am very interested in it. I don’t really listen to the newer K-pop artists but sometimes if I’m like feeling nostalgic, I’ll go back to my old like K-pop playlists. Now, I’m more so into like Bob Dylan, The Eagles, The Smiths, The strokes. Anything that starts with ‘The’, I probably like [laughs].
What is one fun fact about yourself that people wouldn’t know?
I may not be into K-pop as much as I was but I am still very much into K-dramas. They’re insane and I’m obsessed with them and I watch them all the time. I guess that is something most people wouldn’t know about me. I’m an avid watcher.
Any K-dramas in particular?
I’m about to finish this one right now that’s on Netflix called The Glory, it’s crazy. I would recommend it to anyone. So that’s what I’m watching that show at the moment.
Do you have any on-set stories from your time on Beau Is Afraid with either Phoenix or Aster that you can share?
Yeah, they’re both such incredible, interesting, sweet people. I feel [Phoenix] is going to hate me for saying this as it’s kind of unexpected, so it makes me giggle when I think about it. Whenever I would see Joaquin on set, if we’d bumped into each other for the first time that day, he would start to do a little TikTok dance for me and be like “Oh, this is TikTok right?” And I just think it was so funny. Just the thought of Joaquin Phoenix doing a TikTok dance for me is so great.
Ari was always hilarious on set. He’s so funny. Anytime on set with Ari, everyone was just laughing and having a good time, even if it was a really intense, stressful day, which basically every day was because the movie is intense and stressful. Yet everyone would make it as fun and relaxed as it could be. I couldn’t have asked for a better cast and crew on that movie. I love every single person who worked on that movie.
It must be nice when you work on a film project and everything just gels together so well with all the cast and crew.
Yeah. It was 100% a dream of a movie to film. It’s funny because l always call it “a dream movie” but I’m pretty sure Ari has called it a “nightmare movie” multiple times. Literally in the trailers it says “from his worst nightmares comes his greatest adventure” but it’s a dream and nightmare, I guess. It’s just crazy, get ready for it!
You were asked in a previous interview ‘What are you most proud of?’ And I really admire your answer. You said that you are most proud of learning how to accept yourself and not to be afraid of what others think of you. I think everyone struggles with that sort of thing from time to time but I can only imagine it’s potentially harder when you’re an actor?
I think every single person has struggled at some point with accepting themselves and truly loving themselves. I think as an actor and as someone with a platform, sometimes people can think “oh, they’ve probably never struggled”. That sort of view is implemented a lot with with actors, models or influencers. Yet I think everyone struggles with those issues. I don’t think it is necessarily harder because I’m an actor but I think I had a different experience because I had the general public looking at me. A part of it was because I was playing so many different people and characters from such a young age, for a minute it felt like “Oh, who am I like? what’s going on?” Figuring things out is hard and it’s always going to be a difficult journey and experience but I think once you really get there and you accept yourself, I think it’s great. You can’t be scared to look at yourself inwardly.
For sure. I can imagine acting has been a great way to get over any fears and helped you accept yourself because the industry toughens you up as you go through audition rejections and more…
Acting has made the journey a little different for me but it also in a way helped because when you’re acting, you’re going to hear more no’s than yes’s. I think because I’ve experienced rejection when I’m acting as it happens a lot, It sort of prepared me and made me realise that you can’t take things so personally. At the end of the day, not everyone is going to think the same way or look at things the same way that you do and you just have to like be like “Oh, well”. So I think that actually helped me that aspect of acting has truly helped me to accept and love myself more.
Over the next few years are there any types of roles or genres that you’d love to sink your teeth into next?
I love character-driven movies. I think they’re so beautiful. I love would love to dive into honestly just more of the same sort of roles as Toni. That doesn’t necessarily mean she has to be super messed up all the time but just characters with authentic feelings that connect with people. If one person watches a character that I play, and relates to it, and maybe it makes them feel a little less weird or alone then that’s all I could ask for. I would love to do something character-driven. If I should be so lucky, I just want to continue down the same path that I’m on that’s all I could ask for.
Amazing, thanks for sharing. To wrap up, I can imagine you’re so excited for the film to release. It’s only a matter of days until it’s out!
Yeah, I’m so excited. I filmed it almost two years ago now. I was seventeen when I filmed it, So I’m going crazy [laughs]. I cannot wait for it. I can’t wait for people to see it. It’s mind-blowing and genre-defying.
Beau Is Afraid is out now in US cinemas and releases in UK cinemas on May 19th. Follow Kylie Rogers @kylieannerogers
Interview Cameron Poole
Photography Shelby Goldstein
Styling Emily Cavari
Hair Ashley Lynn Hall
Set Design Dominique Prout
Lighting Tech Timothy Mahoney