You might know Jane Levy from her comedic turn on the gem of a sitcom Suburgatory or from that time she scared the bejesus out of you in Don’t Breathe. It could be that she caught your eye in Showtime’s Twin Peaks: The Return, or maybe she had you on the edge of your seat binge-watching Hulu’s Castle Rock. Or perhaps it’s her latest project, Netflix’s Renée Zellweger–led suspense thriller What/If, that has you buzzing about the 29-year-old. Whatever it may be, one thing is for sure: The actress is a force on screen.
Ahead of the What/If premiere, we caught up with Levy to talk shop and all things fashion. In addition to dishing on Zellweger’s surprising car choice, Levy let us in on her affordable T-shirt secret, made a strong case for jumpsuits, and told us who she thinks nailed the Met Gala theme. Don’t miss our conversation with the actress below.
Cliff Watts / Netflix
How would you describe What/If to your friends?
Our show is a sexy melodrama. There are a lot of storylines, but the root of the story revolves around a young couple who, because of desperate circumstances, decide to make a deal with the devil and then have to suffer the consequences. It's the ’90s-esque thriller you've been waiting for.
What surprised you most about Renée Zellweger while working together on this project?
She's very low-key. She doesn't have an assistant and she drives a minivan. Renée is extremely gracious and hardworking. This part isn't necessarily a surprise, but she is a true class act.
What/If is created by Mike Kelley, who was also behind the popular series Revenge. What do you think it is about his storytelling that appeals to audiences?
Well for one, Mike is great at writing female villains and female rivalry. Who doesn't love Cruella De Vil? We love drama! I love drama. He puts his characters in extraordinary circumstances and watches them crawl themselves out. What I think makes Mike so good is that even in delicious, over-the-top scenarios, the characters are coming from real human need. Also, in our story, women aren't actually fighting over a man, they are fighting for power and domination, and on a deeper level, they are fighting for acceptance and love. Each character in What/If is complex, yearning for love, and hurting someone along the way. I think the audience will disagree over who is good or bad, right or wrong. I also just think Mike is fun, and because of that, his writing is entertaining as hell.
You are no stranger to a good suspense story. What is it about these stories and your characters that speak to you as an actress?
I, as a viewer, love suspense. Silence of the Lambs might be my favorite movie. My attraction as an actress comes from my attraction as an audience member.
Who are the women in this industry who inspire you?
Jane Fonda, Reese Witherspoon, Melanie Lynskey, Annette Benning, Laura Dern, Kristen Stewart, Glenda Jackson, Viola Davis, Margot Robbie, Holly Hunter. And many more…
Switching gears to fashion, how would you describe your style in a sentence or less?
Classic/sometimes glamour/mixed with California beach and hill walking.
What is the outfit you feel most yourself in?
A T-shirt and a great pair of jeans.
What are your favorite clothing brands/ stores to shop?
Levi's, Wrangler, Hansel From Basel, Rachel Comey, BaBaa knits, Ganni, Celine. I shop online at Garmentory, Maryam Nassir Zadeh, and Etsy for vintage.
What are the five holy-grail clothing items you own?
A pair of pink Celine sunglasses I've managed to hold onto since 2012.
My perfectly worn-in Dr. Martens.
A pinky signet friendship ring I got made for my best friend Mae Whitman and I designed by Kate Jones of Ursa Major.
AMO Demin's Babe Tee. I own it in seven colors.
A pair of black vintage Yves Saint Laurent trouser pants that I found and fit perfectly without tailoring (I tailor all of my clothes).
What's your favorite thing you've worn to an event or on a red carpet so far, and why?
Wearing a jumpsuit to events gives me a sense of confidence. I feel like I can stomp around freely, and it often showcases the butt!
What is one of the most valuable fashion lessons you've learned from your stylist Tara Swennen?
That I can't dress myself—ha! Tara went to an Ivy League school and studied fashion for four years. This woman is highly trained at her art.
Finally, in response to this Instagram, we're curious, who do you think got it right at the Met Ball this year?
I thought Harry Styles looked fabulous. I also liked Bella Hadid, Billy Porter, Ezra Miller, Janelle Monáe and… Lavern Cox might have been my favorite of all.
Shop Jane Levy’s favorite tee below.