Growing up in a New York showbiz family — dad is “The Sopranos” and “Boardwalk Empire” director Tim Van Patten; uncle was veteran comic actor Dick Van Patten — Grace Van Patten seemed destined to carry on the family tradition.
But it wasn’t until she took time off after graduating Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School of Music & Art and Performing Arts to take a few college courses that she realized acting was her singular passion.
“I wanted to experience other things and make sure that acting was something I wanted to do,” says Van Patten. “I knew I loved acting so much, but I hadn’t admitted to myself that it was really what I wanted to pursue, probably because I didn’t have the full confidence.”
That soon changed once the budding ingénue landed roles in the horror thriller “Central Park” and the comic drama “Tramps.” She’s now earning raves as Adam Sandler’s daughter in Noah Baumbach’s treatise on familial dysfunction “The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected).”
Popular on Variety
“It was the scariest audition I’ve ever had to do,” she says of the film. “I walked in and I get handed 15 pages of sides I’ve never seen before in my life, so you can imagine how fast my heart started beating. I didn’t find out until, like, six months later that I got a call back. And then I didn’t find out until three months later that I actually got it, But it made the news of me getting it so much more exciting.”
In “Meyerowitz,” “Dustin Hoffman plays an artist whose success never quite measured up to his dreams. It’s a theme Van Patten, surrounded by creative people her entire life, understands. “I’ve seen it firsthand but also it’s a known fact that being successful as an artist is unpredictable,” says Van Patten, also now in “The Wilde Wedding” with Glenn Close.soon to be seen opposite Andrew Garfield in “Under the Silverlake.”
She adds, “So to see someone struggling in this movie — friends, family — you definitely feel for them as an artist. Because when you choose to do something that you love and are so passionate about, you want to do it more than anything. The people that have the passion for it … nothing stops them.”
Influences: “Being on set has been the most inspiring thing thus far.” Also: Brie Larson.
Representation: Agency: WME; Manager: Brookside Artist Management