Hollywood and American culture have a fascinating connection with child stars, particularly when they land significant roles in grown-up films. It’s worth noting that young actors often have a limited grasp of the movies they star in as kids or teenagers.
Nevertheless, when we get a peek behind the scenes through interviews with these actors, we uncover the secrets of making such movies. This provides us with a deeper appreciation and understanding of the difficulties faced when working with young performers, especially in films that explore mature themes. It’s truly captivating to explore the intricate dynamics at play in these situations.
1. Jodie Foster Was Embarrassed By The Provocative Outfits She Wore In ‘Taxi Driver’
In the critically acclaimed film Taxi Driver, director Martin Scorsese delves into the complex world of American masculinity. While Robert De Niro’s character, Travis Bickle, takes center stage, Jodie Foster’s portrayal of a young prostitute also garnered attention and sparked some controversy. One aspect that raised eyebrows was Foster’s age at the time – a mere 14 years old.
Foster herself has openly discussed her feelings of shame regarding her character’s wardrobe choices. She recalls feeling utterly embarrassed by the clothes she had to wear for the role, clothes that were far from her personal style. The discomfort stemmed from her aversion to exposing her legs and her general phobia of certain types of clothing. Picture platform heels, heavy makeup, and halter tops – it was a far cry from her comfort zone. The whole experience left her mortified and completely humiliated.
2. Asa Butterfield Of ‘The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas’ Said Realizing The Holocaust ‘Actually Happened To People’ Was Difficult
The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas has faced criticism for not accurately portraying the horrors of the Holocaust. However, the film did receive praise for the exceptional performances by its cast, including Asa Butterfield. Even at a young age, Butterfield demonstrated remarkable talent, which later shone through in his role in the popular Netflix series, Sex Education.
Considering the heavy subject matter of the film, it is understandable that it took time for Butterfield, who was just 11 years old at the time, to fully comprehend its significance. When asked about the emotional difficulty of filming, Butterfield honestly admitted, ‘Yes, it was all hard. When I did the scene towards the end, I realized that this actually happened to people. That made it very sad.’
3. Harvey Stephens, Damien In ‘The Omen,’ Was ‘Petrified’ Filming The Baboon Scene
The 1970s were a great time for horror movies that had a rich and eerie atmosphere, and one of those films was The Omen. This movie tells the story of a family who unknowingly raises the Antichrist, and it still manages to give you chills and make you feel terrified. A big part of that is thanks to the amazing performance by Harvey Stephens, who was only 4 years old when he was cast in the movie.
The Omen has a lot of scary scenes, but one that really sticks with you is when the family visits an animal park and all the animals start acting violently. The baboons, in particular, are absolutely terrifying. Stephens even mentioned in an interview just how frightened he was by them:
“They got a baboon, stuck him in the back of the car… with a soldier with a gun. I sh*tted myself. Of course I was scared. That wasn’t acting. That was me petrified.”
He also mentioned that being so young, even though the scene may look scary to others, it wasn’t actually scary for him because there were so many people around during the filming. The only thing that scared him were the baboons.
4. Oliwia Dabrowska, The Girl In The Red Coat In ‘Schindler’s List,’ Regretted Watching The Film Too Young
Steven Spielberg’s Schindler’s List is a powerful film that delves into the tragic impact of the Holocaust. Shot in black-and-white, it offers a visually striking portrayal of this dark period in history. Amidst this monochrome setting, there is one significant burst of color that stands out – a young girl in a red coat. She is first seen on the streets and later amidst the unsettling sight of bodies being loaded onto a cart.
Oliwia Dabrowska, who was only 3 years old during the filming, initially carried a sense of shame for her involvement in the movie. However, as she grew older, she came to realize the significance of her role, stating, “I had been part of something I could be proud of.”
Spielberg, recognizing the intense nature of the film, advised Dabrowska not to watch it until she was much older. However, she disregarded his advice and watched it at the age of 11. Unfortunately, this decision left her deeply disturbed, as she explained in an interview, “It was too horrible. I couldn’t comprehend much, but I was certain that I never wanted to watch it again.”
5. Isabelle Fuhrman Of ‘Orphan’ Recited Adult Lines Without Knowing What They Meant
Popular culture often has a fascination with the concept of a creepy child, and this is evident in the movie “Orphan.” The film tells the chilling story of a couple who adopt a child, only to discover that she is actually a 30-something psychopathic murderer who has been pretending to be a child to deceive her victims. While the movie received mixed reviews from critics, Isabelle Furhman’s portrayal of the girl/woman Esther was particularly praised. It is impressive to note that she was only 10 years old when the movie was filmed.
In the movie, Esther says some sexually explicit things and even attempts to seduce her adopted father. Furhman, in an interview, shared the challenges she faced while acting in these scenes and how the production team guided her performance:
“They explained it to me as, ‘He is someone you love, who finds you absolutely repulsive and wants nothing to do with you.’ That’s how they described the feeling of sexual rejection, but not in terms of actual sex. You don’t understand that until you grow up, but the emotions were the same… There were other instances too. I remember that iconic line, ‘I’ll cut your hairless little prick off before you even figure out what it’s for.’ I didn’t even know what it meant!”
Furhman’s recollection highlights the unique challenges she faced as a child actor and how the production team helped her navigate these mature themes in a way that she could understand and portray convincingly.
6. Dominique Swain, After Starring In ‘Lolita,’ Got A Lot Of Offers For Nude Roles
Vladimir Nabokov’s Lolita is a well-known novel that has gained notoriety due to its controversial storyline. The book revolves around a man’s illicit desire for a young girl, which has sparked much discussion and debate. Over the years, the novel has been adapted into several films, including one released in 1997. In this particular adaptation, the role of Lolita is played by Dominique Swain, who was only 15 years old at the time of casting.
Although Swain received considerable critical acclaim for her performance in the film, portraying Lolita turned out to be a mixed blessing for her. On one hand, she was praised for her acting skills, but on the other hand, she faced challenges due to the nature of the character she portrayed. Swain defended herself and her work, expressing her reluctance to take on roles involving nudity. In an extensive interview, she shared her thoughts:
“I turned down opportunities that required nudity because I believe it takes more than simply taking off your clothes to demonstrate class. Since I had a body double in Lolita, I felt like the intention was to reveal what I actually look like. I was being offered scripts that lacked substance.”
Swain’s comments shed light on her perspective and the decisions she made regarding her career. She prioritized projects that had depth and meaning, avoiding those that solely relied on explicit content.
7. Thora Birch Said The ‘Abject Terror’ She Felt About Her Nude Scene In ‘American Beauty’ Helped Her
Thora Birch, known for her childhood roles in popular movies like Disney’s Hocus Pocus, gained recognition for her transition into more mature films in the late 1990s and early 2000s. One of her notable roles was in American Beauty, where she received critical acclaim and even a BAFTA nomination. Despite being only 16 years old at the time, the film included a brief nude scene featuring Birch.
During an interview, Birch reflected on her experience filming the scene, expressing her initial fear and discomfort. However, she also acknowledged that she embraced these feelings, as they mirrored the unease her character, Jane, was experiencing. She emphasized that it wasn’t a gratuitous moment but rather a way for Jane to communicate non-verbally with Ricky, played by Wes Bentley. Birch found the scene to be a natural and vulnerable portrayal of Jane’s emotions.
8. Danny Lloyd Thought ‘The Shining’ Was A Drama About A Family At A Hotel
Stanley Kubrick’s horror film, The Shining, tells the tragic story of a family’s gradual breakdown when Jack Torrance, played by Jack Nicholson, loses his sanity due to the dark influence of the Overlook Hotel. The role of Danny, Jack’s son, is portrayed by Danny Lloyd, who was just around 5 years old during filming.
What’s interesting is that young Danny had no idea The Shining was a horror film. In fact, Kubrick intentionally kept him in the dark about the true nature of the movie. According to Danny, he thought it was simply a family drama. He even recalled a particular scene where he saw Jack Nicholson with an ax, the iconic “Here’s Johnny” moment.
In his memory, Jack was in the hallway with the ax, having a great time and goofing around. Danny mentioned that the ax Jack held was most likely made of plastic. The whole situation was actually quite funny, with both of his parents there and everyone laughing. It definitely wasn’t scary for him at that time.
9. Anna Paquin Of ‘The Piano’ Said She Didn’t Get To See A Full Script
These days, Anna Paquin is best known for her role as Sookie Stackhouse on the popular HBO series True Blood. However, before diving into the world of vampires, Paquin received critical acclaim for her performance in The Piano, a period drama directed by Jane Campion.
In fact, Paquin’s portrayal of Ada, a woman exploring her own desires, earned her an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress. The film, with its mature themes, was definitely not suitable for Paquin herself, who was only nine years old at the time. As a result, she was only allowed to watch the first 20 minutes of the movie.
During an interview on Fresh Air, Paquin revealed that she didn’t even have access to the full script. Instead, she had an abridged version cut and pasted into a scrapbook. This was done to ensure that the content remained appropriate for a young child like her.
One particular scene that Paquin recalled was when her character, Flora, witnessed Alisdair (played by Sam Neil) severing Ada’s finger with an ax. While the scene may have felt intense at the time, Paquin explained that the atmosphere on set helped to maintain a clear distinction between reality and fiction.
With rain machines creating a muddy and cold environment, Paquin had been working with the cast and crew for several months. As a result, she didn’t remember being scared during the scene. She understood that it was all make-believe and even had the opportunity to play with a rubber ax.
Overall, Paquin’s experience working on The Piano, despite its mature themes, was a combination of professionalism and careful consideration for her age.
10. Linda Blair Said No One On The Set Of ‘The Exorcist’ Explained Anything To Her
The Exorcist continues to have a gripping impact, leaving audiences shocked and terrified. This is largely due to the masterful direction of William Friedkin, who skillfully transforms a somewhat cheesy storyline about a possessed girl into a work of sublime horror. Linda Blair, the child actress who portrays the unfortunate Regan MacNeil, delivers an exceptional performance, despite being just 12 years old during filming.
One notable aspect of the movie is its incorporation of various elements of Catholic dogma. However, Blair herself was not familiar with this aspect of the story. In an interview, she revealed that she had no knowledge of the religious questions surrounding the film. Growing up as a Protestant in Connecticut, she had never been exposed to discussions about the devil, which she considered to be a topic exclusive to Catholicism. This lack of awareness actually served as a safety net for her during filming. Blair explained that it was fortunate she wasn’t a Catholic child who had heard about the devil and the things associated with it, as those were subjects that no one wanted to openly discuss. Therefore, she approached her role with an innocence and naivety that allowed her to give a genuine performance, as she had no idea what she was truly dealing with.
Interestingly, the topic of the devil was never spoken about on set. Neither Blair nor her mother, nor even Billy Friedkin, the director, engaged in any conversations about it. It remained a taboo subject, confined to the metaphorical closet. Blair reflects on this as the best thing that could have happened, as it allowed her to approach her role with a sense of curiosity and exploration, completely unaware of the true nature of what she was portraying.
11. Danny Lloyd Thought ‘The Shining’ Was A Drama About A Family At A Hotel