On Tuesday night, Pratt Institute in New York had an audience with the Elgort family - the entire brood. Ansel, the actor, was there, so was sister Sophie (a fashion photographer) and brother Warren (a filmmaker) and mother Grethe Barrett Holby (an opera director and creative producer) and, of course, the patriarch, Arthur, whose fame precedes him. Despite their collective star power, the audience learned the Elgorts are just like us - they ride the subways, they eat Chipotle, their dad takes awkward family pictures. Here, those and other takeaways.
On when the parents first met:
Arthur: We met on a dance floor. We danced until we couldn’t dance anymore
Grethe: No, until I said yes. It was a disco at Xenon’s. We were doing the Lindy.
On taking the subway:
Arthur: I always take the subway. I don’t like cars. Except in Brooklyn. I don’t know where I am here. Ansel takes the subway all the time.
Ansel: You used to quiz us on the subway. At the breakfast table, we had to learn the stops.
Sophie: You also said that if we rode the subway, we would save our money and could go buy CDs at the end of the week.
Ansel: I saw how much my Instagram…no, what do you call it? My Uber car…and I said forget that, I’m going on the subway from now on.
On big breaks:
Ansel: I was at summer camp at Stage Door Manor and this woman named Emily Gerson Saines saw me. It was a matter of chance. The camp had sent a group of good people to meet her, and I wasn’t on that list but I was walking through the cafeteria and my pants had ripped earlier and my underwear was out. She said, “Who’s that kid?” So, I changed my pants and I met her.
Ansel: I had seven auditions [for Carrie] and the seventh wasn’t even an audition. They said, 'Well, we really like you for the role, but you’ve never been in anything, and we’re not sure if you’re going to be good in the sex scene where you have to have your shirt off. So, can you come in and take your shirt off?' I’m serious! That’s movies. So, I went in and took my shirt off and they said, 'Oh, great.'
On having their picture taken:
Sophie: At the breakfast table, the basket of napkins also had cameras in it. So, you would be eating your cereal and [Arthur] would take a picture of you.
Ansel: It’s not natural having a camera in your face. Sometimes we’d be like, “Dad, we’re just trying to eat.” Being photographed by my father didn’t make being in front of cameras any easier. Because my dad isn’t just a camera, he’s a man behind a camera who talks to you and makes you feel comfortable. My mom calls it the 'gift of gab.'
On giving each other advice:
Warren: A lot of the time, after you’ve done something really good and you know you’ve done a good job with it, immediately our parents will say, 'Well, what are you doing next?'
Sophie: It’s great to have people who will be honest with you. I’ll send my dad pictures. Sometimes he’ll say they’re good and other times he’ll say 'better luck next time.'
Arthur: But when you do good work I say it’s good.
Sophie: When he says it’s good, I know it’s good.
Warren: And mom, you help us do the good work.
Sophie: Dad had a stroke five years ago.
Arthur: I couldn’t speak or move.
Warren: And you guys almost broke up before that, but you supported each other through this whole thing.
On which member of the family they would want to be for a day:
Arthur: Ansel! No, he asks me for money all the time. He doesn’t like to pay when we go out, unless it’s Chipeole.
On what aspiring photographers should learn:
Arthur: I think you should learn the dark room. I think it’s going to come back big. It’s a lost art.
On what they love most about their jobs:
Ansel: I love the feeling of being creative. It keeps me happy.
Grethe: Seeing a project come to life.
Warren: I like learning about myself.
Sophie: I like working with people.
Arthur: The last picture I took is important. I’m waiting to see how it comes out.
Sophie: That’s beautiful.