Film: The savviest kid on the block

Self-taught, street-literate and living in fear of `Y2K',

Chloe Sevigny is the very model of indie film cool.

Now, starring in Whit Stillman's `The Last Days of Disco',

Hollywood beckons. Will she just say no?

IF THE controversy-laden Kids is to remain emblematic of this decade's Generation Xers, Chloe Sevigny is a perverse reminder of the limitations of director Larry Clark's slice-of-life. A descendent of the 18th century French court gossip the Marquise de Sevigne, the actress who burst on to the screen three years ago in Clark's depiction of wasted youth is hardly heading for oblivion.

Like her on-off boyfriend (and Kids screenwriter) Harmony Korine, Sevigny is a self-taught, street-literate product of the Nineties, a symbol of the disparate influences that feed into youth culture. A maelstrom of contradictions, in the same breath she can talk of her love for Alan Clarke and Sissy Spacek, and her fear for the Millennium, or Y2K as she dubs it. The savvy 23-year-old, an ex-model for Prada, is no Heather Graham wannabe, more an anarchic Jean Seberg.

Sevigny is in London to talk about Whit Stillman's The Last Days of Disco, a shrewdly scripted and preppie-populated take on the exclusivity of the early Eighties NYC Studio 54 scene. Claiming to have "no interest in playing the leading lady", Sevigny does just this - alongside Britain's own belle du jour Kate Beckinsale. As the naive clubber Alice, it's the role closest so far to revealing the layers beneath the actress.

"Coming from Connecticut, I can understand arriving in the big city and being shellshocked by the whole experience," she admits. "When I first moved to Manhattan I would go to discos every night of the week. I was living in a flat with five other kids who all worked for this `club-lord' who owned Club USA, the Paladium, the Limelight. I had a lot of connections, so it was easy for me. I knew everyone on the doors. But the clubs just aren't quite as fabulous any more. It's not as big a production as it used to be. I don't think as much money is pumped into the nightly events".

Calling herself the "irresponsible actress", Sevigny admits to doing little research of the milieu for her latest film - set in a time when she was only seven. "I do remember when I was a girl, my father worked for a company where he had this pretty wild secretary who invited him and my mother to a disco. They got all dolled up to go to Studio 54 - and came home with a Polaroid of them with an ape."

Raised in Darien (a town where residents are forbidden to sell their houses to Jews), her early years were far removed from city glitz, spending summers at theatre camp, with dreams of a part-time Broadway musical career ("ridiculous as it sounds - I don't have a voice") alongside costume design for period films. She moved to New York when she was 18 and garnered the attention of the style press while working as a seamstress at fashion outlet Liquid Sky.

Compared to Audrey Hepburn and Twiggy, Sevigny was putting together a charity-shop chic long before the high street chain stores molested the look. Fashion is now an industry she dislikes fiercely, but pigeon-holing is proving the bain of her life. From fashion guru to teen seductress, Sevigny was last year's Dominique Swain, following an appearance in Steve Buscemi's loser comedy Trees Lounge. "The whole Lolita thing after Trees Lounge - that I was a sexpot girl - I don't think of me in that way at all. It's so hard to get perspective on it. I'm trying not to work a lot now. I prefer to remain anonymous. People don't recognise me from one film to the next."

Almost rejected from Kids because she was seen as too old, Sevigny is perhaps suffering from this chameleonic approach, missing out on a part in the much-hyped (and Disco precursor) Glam tribute Velvet Goldmine. "I wanted Toni Collette's role, and they said I was too young. So whenever I see Todd [Haynes, the director] on the street, I give him a hard time."

Sevigny, unafraid to present herself with new challenges, has just finished her first stage experience, the Rob Urbinati play Hazelwood Jr High, based on circumstances leading up to the trial of four Indiana teenagers who beat up, tortured and burned to death a 12-year-old classmate. It was a chance to overcome her fear of live performance.

"That was the most fun, the most challenging, and the most far from myself. I played a really bad girl, a murderess. She was really evil. I became an insomniac because of the part I was performing on stage. It was the first time I brought a character home and had to deal with that." Director Scott Elliott, whom Sevigny credits greatly, will also be shepherding her through the next film role, based on the Jane Hamilton novel Map of the World. Alongside Sigourney Weaver and Julianne Moore, Sevigny is back to playing the bitch, as a young mother who manipulates her child into accusing the school nurse of abuse. No stranger to Hollywood, Sevigny even made an appearance in Volker Schlondorff's dismal neo-noir Palmetto, a spy in the enemy camp it would seem.

"I think the US Indie scene has rather turned in on itself. I'd rather go see a bad studio film than a bad independent film, at least it will look good. Indie films can look so drained. The true independents have a vision: they're trying to break new ground, make a new kind of cinema."

Unsure yet whether she will appear in Harmony Korine's follow-up to the radical Gummo (in which Sevigny featured kissing a bunny-eared boy in a swimming pool), she may just hit Hollywood again and shake them up. Giggling with her infectious laugh, she adds: "I've met Joel Schumacher, y'know. I've sat in on those meetings. I went in and auditioned for I Know What You Did Last Summer, if you can believe that."

`The Last Days of Disco' screens tonight at the Edinburgh Festival and is released on September 4.

Chloe's Clips

Kids

The part that made her name, but strange to say, Sevigny's one of the worst things about Kids. The rest of the cast tingle with street life - she looks like someone stuck on a conveyor belt in the airport lounge.

Trees Lounge

Sevigny didn't rate this performance but it's by far her best. She plays young suburbanite Debbie, whose loose-limbed, bug-eyed wisdom intrigues and ultimately overwhelms cowardly, insecure Tommy, played by Steve Buscemi. The scene where they almost have sex is superb.

Gummo

Chloe's performance is more of an aesthetic shock than a creative one. Normally as gangly as a foal, she's transformed here into a hulking, white- trash goddess who is given woefully little else to do.

CHARLOTTE O'SULLIVAN

Arts and Entertainment
On The Apprentice, “serious” left the room many moons ago and yet still we watch

TV
Arts and Entertainment
A scene from David Ayer's 'Fury'

film
Arts and Entertainment
Taylor Swift performs at the 2014 iHeart Radio Music Festival
music review
Arts and Entertainment
Paul Anderson plays Arthur Shelby in Peaky Blinders series two
tvReview: Arthur Shelby Jr seems to be losing his mind as his younger brother lets him run riot in London
Arts and Entertainment
Miranda Hart has called time on her award-winning BBC sitcom, Miranda
tv
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Boy George performing with Culture Club at Heaven

musicReview: Culture Club performs live for first time in 12 years

Arts and Entertainment
Laura Wood, winner of the Montegrappa Scholastic Prize for New Children’s Writing
books

Children's bookseller wins The Independent's new author search

Arts and Entertainment
Pulling the strings: Spira Mirabilis

music
Arts and Entertainment
Neville's Island at Duke of York's theatre
musicReview: The production has been cleverly cast with a quartet of comic performers best known for the work on television
Arts and Entertainment
Banksy's 'The Girl with the Pierced Eardrum' in Bristol

art
Arts and Entertainment
Lynda Bellingham stars in her last Oxo advert with on-screen husband Michael Redfern

tv
Arts and Entertainment
Hunger Games actress Jena Malone has been rumoured to be playing a female Robin in Batman v Superman

film
Arts and Entertainment
Tim Minchin portrait
For a no-holds-barred performer who is scathing about woolly thinking and oppressive religiosity, Tim Minchin is surprisingly gentle
Arts and Entertainment
Clara takes the lead in 'Flatline' while the Doctor remains in the Tardis
tvReview: The 'Impossible Girl' earns some companion stripes... but she’s still annoying in 'Dr Who, Flatline'
Arts and Entertainment
Joy Division photographed around Waterloo Road, Stockport, near Strawberry Studios. The band are Bernard Sumner (guitar and keyboards), Stephen Morris (drums and percussion), Ian Curtis (vocals and occasional guitar), Peter Hook (bass guitar and backing vocals).
books
Arts and Entertainment
Sean Harris in 'The Goob' film photocall, at the Venice International Film Festival 2014
filmThe Bafta-winner talks Hollywood, being branded a psycho, and how Streisand is his true inspiration
Arts and Entertainment
X Factor contestant Fleur East
tvReview: Some lacklustre performances - but the usual frontrunners continue to excel
Arts and Entertainment
Richard Tuttle's installation in the Turbine Hall at the Tate Modern
artAs two major London galleries put textiles in the spotlight, the poor relation of the creative world is getting recognition it deserves
Arts and Entertainment
Hunger Games actress Jena Malone has been rumoured to be playing a female Robin in Batman v Superman
film
Arts and Entertainment
On top of the world: Actress Cate Blanchett and author Richard Flanagan
artsRichard Flanagan's Man Booker win has put paid to the myth that antipodean artists lack culture
Arts and Entertainment
The Everyman, revamped by Haworth Tompkins
architectureIt beats strong shortlist that included the Shard, the Library of Birmingham, and the London Aquatics Centre
Arts and Entertainment
Justice is served: Robert Downey Jr, Vincent D’Onofrio, Jeremy Strong and Robert Duvall in ‘The Judge’

Film

Arts and Entertainment
Clive Owen (centre) in 'The Knick'

TV

Arts and Entertainment
J.K. Simmons , left, and Miles Teller in a scene from

Film

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Wilko Johnson, now the bad news: musician splits with manager after police investigate assault claims

    Wilko Johnson, now the bad news

    Former Dr Feelgood splits with manager after police investigate assault claims
    Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands ahead of the US midterm elections

    Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands

    The Senator for Colorado is for gay rights, for abortion rights – and in the Republicans’ sights as they threaten to take control of the Senate next month
    New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

    New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

    Evidence found of contact between Easter Islanders and South America
    Cerys Matthews reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of Dylan Thomas

    Cerys Matthews on Dylan Thomas

    The singer reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of the famous Welsh poet
    DIY is not fun and we've finally realised this as a nation

    Homebase closures: 'DIY is not fun'

    Homebase has announced the closure of one in four of its stores. Nick Harding, who never did know his awl from his elbow, is glad to see the back of DIY
    The Battle of the Five Armies: Air New Zealand releases new Hobbit-inspired in-flight video

    Air New Zealand's wizard in-flight video

    The airline has released a new Hobbit-inspired clip dubbed "The most epic safety video ever made"
    Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month - but can you stomach the sweetness?

    Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month

    The combination of cinnamon, clove, nutmeg (and no actual pumpkin), now flavours everything from lattes to cream cheese in the US
    11 best sonic skincare brushes

    11 best sonic skincare brushes

    Forget the flannel - take skincare to the next level by using your favourite cleanser with a sonic facial brush
    Paul Scholes column: I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo

    Paul Scholes column

    I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Jones and Rojo
    Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

    Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

    While other sports are stalked by corruption, we are an easy target for the critics
    Jamie Roberts exclusive interview: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

    Jamie Roberts: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

    Wales centre says he’s not coming home but is looking to establish himself at Racing Métro
    How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

    A crime that reveals London's dark heart

    How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
    Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

    Lost in translation: Western monikers

    Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
    Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

    Handy hacks that make life easier

    New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
    KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

    KidZania: It's a small world

    The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker