“Blurred Lines’” Emily Ratajkowski goes for box-office big time opposite Ben Affleck in Gone Girl.
Ratajkowski works a silk dress ($2,995) and lace-up boots ($1,675) by Versace, 248 N. Rodeo Dr., Beverly Hills, 310-205-3921. Yellow-gold Sassi amethyst and pavé diamond ring, Bulgari, ($9,300). 410 N. Rodeo Dr., Beverly Hills, 301-858-9216
It would be easy to discount Emily Ratajkowski as just a pretty face. After all, it was her role as that girl in Robin Thicke and Pharrell’s “Blurred Lines” music video last year that catapulted her to viral infamy. But sitting down with Ratajkowski reveals that the 23-year-old is anything but vapid: she is as well versed in the art world as she is in the theater.
The only child of a painter and English professor, Ratajkowski was born in London while her mother, Kathleen Balgley, was teaching on a Fulbright scholarship. “I was sort of a last-minute decision,” she admits. “My parents weren’t married when they had me and my mom was 39. But they’re still together, so it’s a good story!” she adds with a laugh. The actress’s peripatetic childhood was spent everywhere from Bantry, Ireland, to Majorca, Spain—“I am pretty damn good at doing accents,” Ratajkowski notes—while her parents renovated homes they had bought when they were younger.
Eventually the family settled in San Diego, where a young Ratajkowski was scouted by Ford Models at age 14. But for the teen, being in front of the camera was simply a way to make pocket change; it was never supposed to be a career. “I was making enough money to take myself shopping, buy my lunch, and put gas in my car,” she shrugs.
What really excited her was acting, which had been a passion of hers ever since her early years in London. “My mom got tickets to the theater every weekend,” she recalls. “I got to a point where I was completely obsessed,” But later, after enrolling in theater school in California, Ratajkowski “fell out of love” with it. “The TV roles I was going up for didn’t really interest me,” she says. “There were a lot of cutesy, mean-girl, Disney-type things. Not that there’s a problem with that, but it just wasn’t really my style.” When her modeling career took off, however, her heightened profile gave her the freedom to choose: “I was in more of a position to get the meatier roles,” she says.
This October, Ratajkowski makes her biggest star turn yet in the eagerly anticipated adaptation of Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl. The actress plays Andie Hardy, the lover to Ben Affleck’s character Nick Dunne. “It’s funny. I get defensive when people say, ‘Oh, you play the mistress,’” she says. “In my mind, she’s just a girlfriend who really loves her boyfriend and has been taken advantage of and doesn’t realize that. Of course, she doesn’t understand the full situation, which really breaks her heart later in the story.” The film, which was shot on location in tiny Cape Girardeau, Missouri, was certainly a change from Ratajkowski’s hectic life in LA, and not an entirely unwelcome one. “It was a bonding experience,” she says. “It’s a small town; there aren’t a lot of places to go, so the cast and crew spent a lot of time together.”
As for her next move? She’s not one for labels: “It’s no longer a culture of ‘Are you an actress? Are you a model?’” she says. “It’s an overarching ‘You are a figure. What do you want to do with yourself?’ I hope in five years that I’m doing both… and have figured out exactly how to manage that!”