During my interview with Alexandra Daddario, I get the feeling very early I’m talking to someone with way more of her shit together than I do. Don’t get me wrong: She’s easygoing, relatable, and fun to talk to. But she also radiates an incredible sense of calm. You know that grounded, settled sort of feeling that most of us have been chasing since (at least) the spring of 2020? Daddario gives off the impression that she’s already totally mastered it.
It isn’t until after we get off Zoom I’m able to put my finger on it: Daddario’s got cool-older-sister energy. Even if you didn’t have an older sister (I didn’t), you probably know who I’m talking about. She’s that girl you admire because she always seems to have the answer for everything but isn’t territorial about it. If anything, she’s glad to share the wealth. In high school, she’s the girl you would have wanted to talk to about crushes and homework. Now, as an adult, she’s the self-possessed arbiter of advice on self-love and skincare.
She’s also disarmingly low-key about the fact that her life is very cool. From gushing about her yoga and meditation practice to sharing fond memories about quarantining with Jennifer Coolidge on the set of her new HBO series The White Lotus, Daddario is eager to share the details of her life over the past year and a half. Pandemic coping skills? She’s got those. Skincare tips? She’s got those too. If you want to know Daddario’s thoughts on filming in Hawaii, rediscovering F. Scott Fitzgerald as an adult, or taking facial oil recommendations from Gwyneth Paltrow, read on.
How are you? Where are you right now?
I'm in L.A., beautiful L.A. It's nice—it’s almost too normal. The traffic is back.
I’m in L.A. too, and I find that the farther west you get, the less likely it is that people are wearing masks.
Yes! I'm still wearing mine. I’m just attached to it now or something. Maybe it’s my constant fear of making someone upset, which is a huge thing I have.
Have you been in L.A. this entire time?
At the beginning of the pandemic, I was in New York. I grabbed my best friend who lived in a studio apartment and was like, Let's get out of town and go to my house in L.A. We came to L.A. with another friend, and then the three of us quarantined together. But then I went back to work around July or August. I went to the East Coast, booked a job in Hawaii, and then spent the rest of the year there, essentially. I was quarantined for two months in a hotel room in Hawaii, which was great and just very odd at the same time. It’s amazing. I’m not complaining, but it was just very weird.
I imagine being in a hotel there was a little like being in a ghost town.
Well, in the beginning, that was the case. It was just us, and it was very surreal. We shot at the Four Seasons in Maui, so we were the first group of people to be in the hotel since March, and it was a ghost town. It's a huge hotel, and when I first arrived, there was no one there. It was very odd. And then people started to come as the world started to sort of open.
That was when you were shooting The White Lotus?
Yeah. I was in quarantine with Jennifer Coolidge, Connie Britton, and all of these beautiful actors. We were all in it together, and I got to sit at the beach watching the sunset every night with all these wonderful people. So I had a very strange pandemic because there were very funny people around me. We always had Coolidge there to make us laugh.
If I had to choose my ideal quarantine buddy, it would probably be Jennifer Coolidge, so I’m glad she lives up to the hype. Who do you play in the series?
I play a woman named Rachel. I'm on my honeymoon. The White Lotus is written and directed by Mike White, who’s incredible. It’s a dark satire about these people who are very privileged. They go on vacation, and their problems are the most important things to them. These people are completely unaware of the trauma around them as they go on vacation. And I think that there's a lot of humor in looking at the things they miss because their problems are the most serious ones. When you look at human beings, that's kind of how we all function. And it's hard sometimes to look at the bigger picture because we're so into our own problems. This show is just a small microcosm of that. Their biggest problem is, “Should I have married this guy?” And those are problems, but when they're compared to what's really going on around you, that's where the humor comes in.
You’ve had a bit of an atypical experience because you were working a lot during the pandemic. What does it feel to see the world opening up when you’ve been working almost this entire time?
I think that coming back is probably a little bit easier for me for various reasons. One is because I have been able to work around people, and I take great comfort in the vaccinations. I’m not totally unprepared to go out into the world. But working was very strange because it was not a normal set. You’re trying to make it normal, but if you were within six feet of somebody who tested positive, you automatically went into quarantine. So, there’s this fear of even being around people. Coming out of it, I am relieved that I don’t have that fear anymore—the fear of testing positive, the fear of being thrown into quarantine, the fear of getting someone sick on set. And look, I’m an actor—there are doctors and essential workers who lived with that fear the entire time while I was safely in my house.
How have you been taking care of yourself?
I’ve tried to get into meditation more. I've also focused on connecting with people. It's about not letting people into your life who don't serve you and refocusing who you have around you. I also do a lot of yoga now that yoga is open. And I have a wonderful partner who's helped me throughout this reopening journey. I feel very lucky, having someone to go through it with.
I think that for many of us who were lucky enough to isolate, the forced reset has been valuable.
I’ve heard people say, "I feel guilty saying this, but I needed that." And I get that. Everybody has a different reaction to being forced to spend time alone, change their lifestyle completely, and deal with loss in the world around them. We’ve all dealt with it differently, and I think some people look around and say, “You know what, I needed to stop and think about what was going on in the world and think about what's going on in my own life.” When you’re going about your life and your routine, you don't really stop and say, Am I really happy? Is this working?
I think that many people this year were like, You know what, this isn’t exactly right for me. No one seems frustrated if you cancel plans. No one seems frustrated if it takes you a few days to respond to an email. We've adopted the mentality that it's okay if you're a little late. I don’t know what we’ve all learned from it. I just think we all need to be easy on each other because there’s no right way to heal from trauma.
It’s also interesting how isolating has affected the way we process other tragedies. I have a friend who got divorced during the pandemic, and they recently said to me, “I feel like I’ve been less traumatized by the pandemic itself because I was busy being traumatized by my divorce.”
I get that. I've had friends who've had horrible life events happen during this time who said the same thing. My dog died while I was in quarantine—and that’s a dog, it’s not a human, but it’s still hard. During the pandemic, your way of processing things is different because you can't hug everybody and talk about it. So you process all of these painful experiences very differently than if the world were open.
How else have you been spending your time? What have you been watching or reading?
I've been reading a lot more. I'm on an F. Scott Fitzgerald kick at the moment. I reread The Great Gatsby, which is funny to read as an adult because they make us read it when we're so young. Reading it as an adult, you have a completely different perspective. Now I’m reading his and his wife Zelda’s letters to each other. I'm also reading a book of his unprinted essays, so I’ve been doing that. I’ve been doing a little bit of traveling with my partner, which I'm very lucky to do. That's been great. I've been taking it easy and figuring out my next step.
What does your skincare routine look like now? I found myself redoing mine as a way of self-soothing.
Well, my skin got terrible because, like everyone else, I was drinking way too much wine and doing everything I shouldn't have been doing and stressing. I let my skincare routine slip. I think I sort of just threw all caution to the wind, especially from March till August. I find myself taking care of my skin better now. I’m back using my products. And I got my first facial in a year and a half, which is very exciting. I highly recommend going and getting that first facial once you’re vaccinated and safe—it’s a game-changer.
What are some of your favorite products that you’re getting back into?
I use a lot of natural products. I love Vintner’s Daughter—they have an oil that Gwyneth Paltrow turned me onto. I’m obsessed with it. I love Epicuren’s moisturizer and my Caudalie spray. I’m someone who tries all these different products, but I always tend to lean towards things that have more natural ingredients.
Did you change your routine at all?
I just try to wash my face every morning and night. Sometimes I forget at night, but even just the whole thing of taking your makeup off before you go to sleep—you have to do things that make you feel good, or you get trapped in a cycle. If you start saying, "Oh, I left my makeup on three nights in a row," you’re going to start to get down on yourself. So it’s the little things that boost you up.
It’s strange how that works. I also think so much of skincare is stress maintenance, and that's another reason I love yoga and meditation. It’s for everything. It's for your heart muscle. And it's for your soul, mind, and skin. I think taking time for yourself and meditating on gratitude makes a big difference in calming down your hormones and letting your skin be what it should be.
Slowing down and giving yourself space to take care of yourself is so important. It’s so easy to steamroll over.
Yeah. I think part of it is age, too. I’m 35, so if I can be in bed at nine o'clock, I am delighted. But there was a time in my life where if no one had called me by nine to go out, I couldn't live with myself. So that’s part of your growing-up experience—you can’t just tell people to go to bed early and wake up for your yoga class. I think that does come with time, but you have to go through those different stages. And no matter which stage you’re at, be easy on yourself about the choices you’re making. It's okay to go out and have a good time, especially after the last year we've had. If you make a mistake, try again. It’s okay.