Ansel Elgort was born in Manhattan. His parents are Arthur Elgort, a fashion photographer who has worked extensively for Vogue for over thirty years, and Grethe Barrett Holby, an opera director. His father is of Russian Jewish descent, and his mother is of English, German, and Norwegian ancestry. His maternal grandmother, Aase-Grethe, was in the Norwegian resistance during World War II, and saved Norwegian Jewish children by moving them into neutral Sweden; because of these activities, she was imprisoned in a concentration camp.
Ansel has two older siblings, Warren, a film editor, and Sophie, a photographer. At the age of nine, his mother took him to try out for School of American Ballet. He attended The Professional Performing Arts School, Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School and Stagedoor Manor summer camp. While at LaGuardia, Ansel performed in a rendition of Hairspray with Kyle Jean-Baptiste. Ansel started taking acting classes at the age of twelve and starred in his high school’s productions of Guys and Dolls and the aforementioned Hairspray.
Ansel’s acting career began through professional stage acting, in Regrets, by Matt Charman. His film debut was a secondary role in the 2013 remake of Carrie. His first highly publicized role was in Divergent as Caleb, the brother of Beatrice Prior (Shailene Woodley). The film, based on a popular young adult novel by Veronica Roth, was released on March 21, 2014.
In May 2013, immediately after the filming of Divergent was completed, it was announced that Ansel would play Augustus Waters in the film adaptation of John Green’s novel The Fault in Our Stars, opposite Woodley who would play Hazel Grace Lancaster. The film followed the story of Hazel, a teenage cancer patient, who is forced by her parents to attend a support group, where she subsequently meets and falls in love with Waters, an ex-basketball player and amputee. The film, directed by Josh Boone, was released on June 6, 2014. Ansel next co-starred in the comedy film Men, Women & Children, directed by Jason Reitman and released in October 2014. He also reprised his role, Caleb Prior, in The Divergent Series: Insurgent, the second film of the book series Divergent. The film was released March 20, 2015.
On June 23, 2014, Deadline announced that Ansel had been cast in the titular role in Van Cliburn. Based on the biography by Howard Reich, the film will depict Van Cliburn’s rise to fame in 1958 when, in the midst of the Cold War, Cliburn won the first International Tchaikovsky Competition in piano – an extraordinary event, since Cliburn was from the USA. The adaptation will be produced by Wyck Godfrey and Marty Bowen, who also produced The Fault in our Stars. In January 2015, Ansel had also signed to play the lead, Addison Schacht, in the book adaptation The November Criminals with Chloë Grace Moretz. Elgort then reunited with Moretz to present the award for Best Visual Effects at the 2015 Oscars.
Ansel Elgort is represented by CAA and Brookside Artist Management’s Emily Gerson Saines.