It may seem like Margaret Qualley is hitting a career peak, but don’t be fooled — this young star who already has nearly a decade of onscreen experience under her belt is only just getting started.
The dancer-turned-model-turned-actor was born in 1994 to Hollywood royalty. She spent her adolescence in top art schools, prestigious ballet programs, modeling gigs, and Manhattan apartments. At the age when most people graduate high school, Qualley was acting in a hit HBO series. Fast forward five years to 2019: Qualley was nominated for an Emmy for her performance in Fosse/Verdon, and she gave a scene-stealing performance across from Brad Pitt in the Oscar-winning Quentin Tarantino movie Once Upon A Time… in Hollywood.
In her personal life, Qualley is regularly snapped alongside her very famous friends, including supermodels Kaia Gerber and Cara Delevingne and actors Tommy Dorfman and Cole Sprouse. Qualley has also been swept up in some highly publicized — and even controversial — romances. Despite her position sitting pretty on the world’s stage, there is plenty that many people do not know about Qualley and her fears, insecurities, struggles, passions, and epiphanies. Read on for an inside glimpse into Qualley’s world.
Margaret Qualley's childhood included a Parent Trap gone wrong
The 1998 remake of The Parent Trap stars Lindsay Lohan as a pair of twins who successfully conspire to bring their parents, played by Natasha Richardson and Dennis Quaid, back together. The movie is beloved among millennials, and Margaret Qualley is no exception. The actor’s parents — fellow actor Andie MacDowell and former Gap model Paul Qualley — separated when Margaret was five years old.
“Like every child of divorce, I had Parent Trap fantasies,” Margaret said in a 2017 interview with the Belfast Telegraph. “In fact, The Parent Trap was my favorite movie. I was a nineties baby, so I particularly loved the Lindsay Lohan version. I made a point of telling my mom how much I loved the movie. [I] talked about it a lot. And then she started dating Dennis Quaid, who stars in the film. And I was like, ‘Noooo! You got it all wrong! This is not what I meant at all!'”
Thankfully for Margaret, she didn’t have to deal with the awkward romance for long. According to Page Six, Dennis and Andie’s courtship was “brief” and followed their work together on Dinner with Friends.
You won't catch Margaret Qualley hitting the Hollywood party scene
Despite her uber-famous circle of friends, Margaret Qualley hasn’t always been a social butterfly. “I went to a private school and I was an outcast,” she said in an interview with the Belfast Telegraph, adding, “I was debating about vegetarianism and hanging up posters of cows being slaughtered in my cafeteria. Needless to say, I didn’t have many friends.”
Despite her high onscreen energy levels, Qualley describes herself as the quiet type in her personal life. “I was really shy and introverted,” she told Wonderland in 2019, adding, “Or I still am, probably, but I’m working on it! Not that it’s something you have to work on, but I’m slightly better at talking to other humans now.” Though Qualley is often a part of large ensemble casts on TV and movies, and began lockdown in a bubble with a handful of her pals, she also told the outlet that “two or three people is [her] safe zone,” and she had a tendency to “get kind of overwhelmed if [she’s] talking to more than that.”
She further professed her reclusive tendencies in a 2019 chat with the The Hollywood Reporter, claiming her social life hadn’t changed much at all since her rise to fame. “I’m not cool and I don’t party,” she said.
Margaret Qualley's sister, Rainey, is her best friend and roommate
Margaret Qualley’s best friend is her older sister, Rainey Qualley, who performs as a musician under the moniker, Rainsford. According to a 2019 profile in The Hollywood Reporter, the now grown-up daughters of Andie MacDowell live together, coast-hopping between Rainey’s house in Los Angeles’ Echo Park and Margaret’s apartment in Manhattan’s East Village.
“She’s my idol, my best friend in the whole world,” Margaret said of Rainey in an interview with the Belfast Telegraph. “I wanted to be close to her, so I live in her guest bedroom. We have a puppy together. His name is Books — he is adorable. I think I would find being in Hollywood intense if I had more of a social life, but all I do is stay indoors with my sister and play with our puppy, watch movies.”
Margaret also revealed that when she and Rainey do venture outdoors, they cruise around Hollywood feeding wild coyotes. “My sister and I are pretty dorky, so we drive around at night in her car listening to old Disney songs and feed the coyotes cans of wet cat food, which I’m sure is a terrible idea,” she said, adding, “Meanwhile, Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty showtunes are playing in the background. It’s a big night for us.”
The grueling world of ballet was too much for Margaret Qualley
Margaret Qualley grew up taking dance lessons in Asheville, N.C. “I was really serious about ballet and always thought that’s what I was going to do,” she said in a 2017 interview with the Boston Herald, adding, “Even when you’re 13 or 14 and you’re serious about dance, it’s 16 hours a day and really rigorous training.”
Although Qualley found her dancing shoes in Asheville, she also used them as a way out of the southern town and toward bigger things. First, at the age of 14, she moved to Winston-Salem to attend boarding school at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts. Though Qualley loved to dance and found the experience exciting, it was also extremely hard on her.
“It’s a normal part of the culture of ballet to go to a nutritionist in your first few weeks,” she explained to the Belfast Telegraph, adding, “They write down everything you eat and use a little roller that pinches you to measure the fat all over your body. They calculate all your measurements and then every semester, you get a letter saying either you’re too thin or you’re okay or you’re overweight. You have to adjust accordingly and if you don’t you’re not asked back the next year. It’s sh*tty; it’s really hard.”
Margaret Qualley got a wake-up call from a woman in a wheelchair
At the age of 16, Margaret Qualley moved to New York City to attend a summer program with the American Ballet Theatre. According to Vogue, she was dancing eight hours a day, six days a week.
One Sunday, her only day off, Qualley was dancing at the Upper West Side studio Steps when she spotted a woman in a wheelchair in her class. “We were in the middle of barre, and I just started watching her,” Qualley told C in 2019, adding, “She was so happy, really listening to the music and taking it all in… She can’t even stand up, and she’s not getting anything out of this class other than the joy it brings her to watch ballet, to listen to the music, to learn these combinations. I was like, ‘OK, why am I here? I’m not having fun, I’m not enjoying myself. I’m tired, my body hurts, but I don’t want to give myself a day off because I’m competitive and I just want to be perfect.’ At that point, Qualley got emotional, left the class, and never returned.
Although Qualley was set to begin a prestigious apprenticeship at the North Carolina Dance Theatre Company, she realized that it was not what she truly wanted. She no longer had family in Asheville to return to, so she decided to stay in New York, enroll in the Professional Children’s School, and figure out a new path forward.
Modeling made Margaret Qualley miserable
After quitting ballet and turning down her apprenticeship opportunity, Margaret Qualley signed with IMG models to continue to support herself in Manhattan. She was used to the discipline and hard work of her intensive ballet training, but with modeling, she felt the only thing she could apply her work ethic to was becoming as skinny as possible. This led Qualley into an extremely unhealthy and unhappy lifestyle. “I was 20 pounds less than I am now and starving myself,” she recalled in a 2017 interview with The Cut. “I lived alone, I didn’t know anybody in New York, and I was definitely a recluse. It had been, like, two weeks, and I realized I hadn’t said anything. I was laying in bed and I was like, ‘Hello?’ I just talked to hear my own voice. And it was such a strange feeling.”
After a few months with IMG, Qualley quit modeling to search for the next dream to chase. “Modeling was easy, and I was fortunate enough to be able to capitalize on the way that I looked in a society that will pay you to look that way,” Qualley told C, adding, “But after about four months I was like, ‘I’m lucky and I’m privileged and I’m an asshole, but this is making me very unhappy.’ So I quit.”
Nat Wolff introduced Margaret Qualley to the world of acting
According to The Hollywood Reporter, Margaret Qualley began acting because her former boyfriend, actor Nat Wolff, brought her along to an improv class. “I was like, ‘Oh, my God, I have so many feelings, and this is all I want to do. What have I been thinking?'” Qualley told THR of the enlightening experience.
She went on to land her first movie role while visiting Wolff on the set of Palo Alto, as a soccer player who cries in a scene with James Franco. After her breakup from Wolff, the former couple co-starred in the 2017 live-action adaptation of Death Note. The movie’s director, Adam Wingard, told Vogue that their chemistry was “the best I’ve ever seen. Speaking with the same outlet, Qualley revealed, “I grew up never thinking about acting as a profession because that was what my mom did, and often you don’t want to be like your parents. But she added, “Nothing ever goes to plan. As soon as you are OK with that, everything is much easier.”
Once Upon A Time… in Hollywood was unique for Margaret Qualley in many ways
Margaret Qualley was sure she had blown her audition for the role of Pussycat in Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon A Time… in Hollywood. Shortly after the audition, she flew to visit her dad, Paul Qualley, who lives in Panama.
“[My dad] said that I should book a plane ticket, and then I’ll get a Quentin Tarantino movie,” Margaret recalled during an interview with W magazine. “He was saying it with the logic that if I made plans, that life would get in the way and I would have work, you know? He had no idea that there was actually a Quentin Tarantino movie that I had just auditioned for. … My third day there, I got a call saying that I had to come back home and do a chemistry read with Brad Pitt. That was crazy that my dad called it, and now he feels like he has magical powers.”
Of course, Margaret went on to land the role, and she — and her bare feet — had plenty of onscreen chemistry with Mr. Pitt. In fact, the two got on so well, Qualley told IndieWire that Pitt broke the on-set secrecy rules surrounding the film’s infamously gory twist ending, and told her all about it even though she wasn’t supposed to know. We won’t spoil it here, but Qualley said of the legendary director’s alternate take on history, “[It’s] the most beautiful surprise that there could possibly be.”
Margaret Qualley is worth a (few) million bucks
There’s no denying that, as the daughter of an actor and a former model who were both at the wildly successful peak of their respective careers in the mid-’90s, Margaret Qualley was born rich. Still, she has worked her way up to a booming acting career of her own that seems to just be getting started.
Early in her career, Qualley starred in the hit HBO TV series The Leftovers and was nominated for an Emmy for the FX miniseries Fosse/Verdon. Her significant movie roles include Palo Alto, The Nice Guys, Death Note , and, of course, Once Upon A Time… in Hollywood. She is also a Chanel ambassador, and the star of the viral 2016 commercial for the fragrance Kenzo World, which was directed by Oscar-winning director Spike Jonze, and put to use nearly ever element of her significant dance training.
According to Celebrity Net Worth, Qualley’s modeling, dancing, and acting has reportedly amassed her a net worth of $3 million and counting.
Is a young star even famous without a string of controversial romances?
Margaret Qualley’s love life has been subject to controversy and scrutiny over the years. From 2012 to 2014, Qualley dated actor Nat Wolff. In 2017, Us Weekly reported Qualley was dating director Cary Fukunaga. The rumored couple’s 17-year age gap caused a small stir, but neither Qualley nor Fukunaga ever commented on the relationship, and the headlines (and, apparently, the romance) soon faded away.
Qualley also briefly dated comedian Pete Davidson following his highly-publicized romances with Ariana Grande and Kate Beckinsale. Davidson and Qualley were photographed together in Venice, Italy at the end of summer in 2019, when Qualley’s film, Seberg, was premiering at the Venice Film Festival. The pair appeared to split when autumn rolled around, but a source told Us Weekly that “they remain friends.”
Qualley’s most controversial romance to date was with actor Shia LaBeouf. The pair co-starred as lovers in Qualley’s sister Rainsford’s music video for “Love Me Like You Hate Me,” and were inseparable through the last few months of 2020. While they were together, LaBeouf’s ex-girlfriend, the musician FKA Twigs, came forward with allegations of abuse and a lawsuit against LaBeouf. Qualley faced scrutiny for staying with LaBeouf despite these allegations — although their split was announced as 2021 began. As of this writing, Qualley’s only comment on the matter has been an Instagram post in which she shares FKA Twigs’ Elle cover with the caption, “Thank you.”
Margaret Qualley is passionate about saving the Earth
In a 2020 interview with Hunger, Margaret Qualley got real about what she thinks about the future. “The younger generation is where the real change is coming from, because they are the ones who are having to deal with the impact, so it’s frustrating when people whose lives are barely affected by it are so dismissive of these problems,” she said, adding, “I would say that young people feel they don’t have a choice right now. It feels very dire.”
Qualley went on to cite Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Bernie Sanders, and Elizabeth Warren as inspirations. She also discussed her opposition to “privatized prisons,” and the questions she has about whether it is responsible to have children, suggesting that it may not be “ethically sound to bring a child into this planet,” because we live in “a world that might be ending.” The profile also mentioned Qualley’s avid support of the Coalition for Rainforest Nations, an organization dedicated to protecting the rainforest.
“I first became aware of climate change when I was a little kid,” Qualley said, adding, “I was in sixth grade, and I remember it pretty clearly, actually. I remember thinking, ‘Well, I’m glad I’m alive.’ I know that, despite any hardships that could be in store, I am very grateful to have a beating heart.”
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