In the beginning of 2022, just a few months after Grace Gummer married the British music producer and D.J. Mark Ronson, her new husband began to regularly ask, “Are you mad at me?”
Gummer, 34, wasn’t mad. She was just exhausted from filming Let the Right One In, a vampire drama that has just premiered on Showtime. The series is based on John Ajvide Lindqvist’s 2004 novel and its 2008 Swedish film adaptation. In it, Gummer stars as Claire Logan, the daughter of a pharmaceutical magnate who turns down an inheritance of billions to research diseases.
The series has two plots that slowly converge. One centers on a 10-year-old vampire forever stuck at age 12, the year she was turned into a vampire. The other focuses on Claire and her estranged father, who is dying but has a secret to tell Claire before he’s gone. That revelation throws Claire’s life into chaos.
It also put a strain on Gummer’s own life. “It was just like a lot of long days, and a lot of really deep soul searching and diving deep within myself to find a lot of inner darkness,” says Gummer from her home in the West Village. “It was really hard.”
“I sent my friend the trailer today, and she was like, ‘You’re always in really scary shit,’” says Gummer with a laugh. It’s intentional. Gummer is drawn to dark plots that focus on women.
She hasn’t always gravitated toward Hollywood. While her mother is Meryl Streep, Gummer and her four siblings were raised by Streep and their father, the sculptor Don Gummer, in rural Connecticut. Grace, the second youngest, spent her childhoods outdoors, often playing sports.
She didn’t start acting until she went to Vassar—her mother’s alma mater—in 2004. There, she majored in art history and Italian, and started auditioning for plays.
“You’re always in really scary shit.”
“I had this transformative experience playing Nina when I was 18 in [Anton Chekhov’s] The Seagull,” she says. “But I graduated thinking I’d want to do everything else.” After finishing college, she interned for the designer Zac Posen and then worked for the legendary costume designer Ann Roth. Because Gummer spoke Italian, Roth recommended she try working in Italy.
“It was life-changing,” she says. “But then, of course, I read a play.”
It was Lukas Bärfuss’s The Sexual Neuroses of Our Parents. Bärfuss tells the story of Dora, an 18-year-old with learning disabilities who has long been fed a cocktail of psychiatric medicines. When her mother decides to take her off the pills, Dora suddenly discovers sex and her sexuality. “It was a really dark, fucked-up play,” Gummer says.
She returned to New York in 2008 to audition for the role of Dora in the Electric Pear theater’s production of The Sexual Neuroses of Our Parents. She got the part, and it launched her career.
Gummer has worked steadily ever since. In 2011, she received a Theatre World Award for her Broadway debut in a revival of Tom Stoppard’s Arcadia, then she transitioned to television, playing parts in shows such as Dr. Death, Newsroom, and American Horror Story. “I can’t imagine myself doing anything else,” she says.
Surely, her dream part will come soon: “a beautiful, big, meaty, complicated movie role.”
Let the Right One In is available for streaming on Showtime
Clara Molot is an Associate Editor for AIR MAIL