The Next One Is Right Around the Corner
by Jay S. Jacobs
Copyright ©2011 PopEntertainment.com. All rights reserved. Posted: February 27, 2011.
You may have been reading all over the interwebs that gorgeous young actress Alexandra Daddario is going to be playing a vital role in David Fincher’s upcoming film version of the best seller The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. (Go ahead and Google it, I’ll wait.)
The only problem with that juicy little casting fact is that there really aren’t any actual facts in it. Daddario is absolutely confounded as to how that rumor started or was allowed to spread like wildfire, being picked up by dozens of websites that “specialize” in show business news and gossip.
However, she assures me, “That is not true. I have no idea how that came up. I think it somehow got on my IMDb page – Internet Movie Database – and then I think people picked it up from there. But I don’t know how it got on there. I don’t know who put it on there. It was some kind of mistake or glitch or… I don’t know how it got approved,” Daddario laughs. “It’s one of those things.”
However, don’t feel too sorry for her. Daddario is keeping plenty busy even without a dragon tattoo.
In fact, this is a particularly busy period for the New York-born actress. After the popularity of last year’s film Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief, she has two new movies starting in February and March, plus a vital recurring role on a popular cable series.
Not bad for an actress who won’t even reach 24 years old until a few weeks from this writing.
The first movie is the horror film Bereavement, in which Daddario plays a troubled teen who moves out to the country with her uncle’s family when her parents are killed in an accident, only to become fascinated by a mysterious boy she sees peeking out the broken windows of an apparently-abandoned slaughterhouse. However, when she explores, she finds that the truth is much more horrible than she could have ever imagined. This film is Daddario’s first leading role – though her role in Percy Jackson was a pretty substantial one as well.
She also has a smaller role in the Farrelly Brothers’ latest comedy Hall Pass, in which Owen Wilson and Jason Sudeikis play married men with roving eyes who are given complete no-consequences sexual freedom from their wives for a single week.
Daddario also recently got the most screen time yet that she has had on the popular TV series White Collar. On that show, she plays Kate, the mysterious and apparently dead true love of con man Neal Caffey (played by Matt Bomer). The memory and possible murder of Kate has been haunting Caffey and Daddario has mostly shown up throughout the series’ run in short recollections, but the recent “Forging Bonds” episode centered around a flashback look at their meeting and their relationship.
It’s all a long way from Daddario’s acting breakthrough, playing a victimized teen for a couple of years on the soap opera All My Children. Like so many other actors over the years, daytime drama became sort of an acting boot camp for her.
“I had the opportunity to be on All My Children and I hadn’t done anything,” Daddario recalls. “They gave me that chance. When I first started on it, I didn’t know where to stand to get my light, I didn’t know where to position myself for my camera, I didn’t know the basic technical aspects of acting. It really helps teach you what to do. Also, it just gives you experience being on set, in front of a camera, getting used to that.”
Daddario followed up that experience with a whole load of guest appearances on television: showing up on most of the Law & Order franchise series, The Sopranos, Damages, Life on Mars and Nurse Jackie. She also took roles in a fair amount of films – including The Squid & the Whale, The Hottest State, The Babysitters and even Jonas Brothers: The 3D Concert Experience.
However, it was catching the eye of Percy Jackson director Chris Columbus that shot Daddario’s career up the next level. Playing the female lead of a huge tent-pole epic was a big responsibility, but one she relished.
“It was sort of shell-shocking, I guess,” Daddario admits. “I had put myself on tape in New York and I screen tested a week later. Then a few days after that I found out I got it. So it was a quick process. I know they had been looking forever and I guess they had sort of exhausted all their options in LA or wherever they were looking. Just the stars aligned. I couldn’t believe it.
“The first month I was there I sort of thought that I was going to get fired,” Daddario laughs, “and have to get back on a plane home. It’s just one of these things that you can’t even believe it. But that was an incredible experience. That was a five-month shoot and I got to work with tons of great actors that I’ve admired my whole life. And Chris Columbus, who is just incredible and I got to do a big press tour. It was really fun. I got to be like a princess for a little while.”
At about that point, Daddario had also gotten the vital background role on White Collar. Of course the character’s options were limited – she is supposed to be dead after all. But the character of Kate looms large in Neal’s life and psyche, even though she would pop up on screen only for short, enigmatic moments. Besides, one of the mysteries of the show is that no one knows for sure what happened to Kate. Particularly with her recently getting more screen time than ever, is it possible this is a precursor to the revelation that perhaps – to paraphrase Mark Twain – reports of her death have been exaggerated?
Daddario is the first to admit that she knows no more than we do. “They actually have told me very little,” she says. “I have heard from some of the main people just in press, things that everyone knows. I think Tim DeKay and one of the writers said that Kate is not coming back. I haven’t heard other than that. But, she is this very mysterious character and that was fun to play. Working with Matt Bomer is just great and Tim DeKay and everyone – it’s just a great group of people. They’re such gentlemen. I’m very lucky.”
With both Bereavement and Hall Pass soon getting releases within weeks of each other, she doesn’t really have too much time to worry about it.
Bereavement was writer/director Stevan Mena’s prequel to his 2005 thriller Malevolence, about a serial killer who lived in the abandoned slaughterhouse. The new film looks back at his background, as an autistic young boy he was kidnapped by a crazed former slaughterhouse owner, who teaches the boy the intricacies of slaughtering humans.
“I wasn’t aware of [Malevolence] before,” Daddario says, “but I got a copy of it from Stevan while we were shooting and watched it. I hadn’t heard of it before.”
Still, watching the film and reading the script, she saw a craft and intricacy that you do not always find in horror. This was just one of the reasons she decided to sign on for the role.
“It was a couple of things,” Daddario explains. “I’d never really done anything like that before. I’d never been able to stretch myself and play a character who is essentially tortured – emotionally in the beginning of the film. She was going through so much. Just really got to let me broaden what I had done. Also, it was the first lead in a film I had ever done, so it was a great opportunity for me to practice and to work on something great with great people.”
Among those great people were science fiction icon Michael Biehn (The Terminator, Aliens, Planet Terror), who was impressed with his young costar.
“The thing about star quality,” Biehn says, “you know there are a lot of pretty girls in Los Angeles. When I met her, there seemed to be a depth to her. Then when I worked with her I felt she was a really good actress. I thought it would take a while, but she was going to make a splash somewhere along the line, because she’s not only beautiful, she was very talented.”
Writer/director Mena agrees, comparing Daddario’s mix of acting skills and beauty to that of a young Jennifer Connelly in interviews.
Daddario is moved by the positive words. “It’s amazing,” she says. “It makes me so happy. I’ve been doing this since I was very young. It makes me so happy that in the thing that I love doing, people acknowledge my work and see potential in me. That is incredibly flattering. It’s great. [Mena] is an incredibly nice guy. A great director. It was wonderful working with him. He has a very interesting way of… even when you might be over schedule or things aren’t the way you want them to, I can imagine being the director – sort of the captain of that ship – it would be easy to panic or flip out. He has a great way of staying calm and keeping everyone calm. That makes it a lot easier to work. He can connect with his actors and get what he needs from everyone, even if we’re over schedule and there are other things that people have to worry about.”
And panic is an emotion that Daddario had to be in touch with in the role, as her character is kidnapped and physically and emotionally tortured by the mysterious owner of the slaughterhouse. It is a pretty emotionally draining thing to ask of any actress, but Daddario saw the positive side as well.
“It was difficult, but there’s also something kind of freeing about it,” Daddario says. “There’s something great about it. It’s very, very tough, but one of the things I had to overcome as an actress was being nervous. When you have to scream and cry and be in a vulnerable position in front of people, it helps you learn how to shed off what is going on around you. So, it was a great learning experience, but also, curiously, you feel very accomplished at the end of the day when you realized you’d pulled something off like that.”
It also helped that there were film veterans on set, like John Savage, Nolan Gerard Funk and Biehn.
“Yeah, [Biehn]’s great. He’s a wonderful guy, very professional, really nice to talk to. Everyone I got to work with was great. It was really an interesting experience. John Savage has really interesting stories. He was great.”
There was a very disturbing undertow in Bereavement, though, that a small child would find himself immersed in violence and death. Working with child actors in that sort of environment could become a little dicey as well, but Daddario feels that the filmmakers handled it as well as could be expected.
“I think we all knew what we were getting into, but honestly, it didn’t ever become uncomfortable, as far as the kids,” Daddario says. “The Lists – Peyton and Spencer are both in the movie. They are twins. They are incredibly mature for their age. They never at any point – Spencer, in particular, obviously both of them, but Spencer has most of the very gruesome scenes – they never got upset or flipped out. They enjoyed working and they knew the difference between what they were doing and reality. They’ve been doing it a long time and they’re both still working and their parents are fantastic and I think that they viewed it the same way that everyone else who was older viewed it, which was we’re making a movie and this is what it is. They were fantastic. So it never really got uncomfortable with the kids, even though, there are a lot of dramatic and terrifying scenes involving them. They actually held it together better than I did.”
She’s had a bit of time to recover from the experience, though, because Bereavement was actually filmed a few years ago, though it is just now getting released. Daddario, for one, is happy that her work is finally seeing the light of day.
“Oh, yeah, it’s so exciting!” she says. “I made it… I think it’s been three years now. I was so excited to do it. I’m so glad it’s coming out. I’m so happy for Stevan and everyone involved. It’s great that people are seeing it and appreciating it. I know how hard Stevan has worked and what he’s been through – the stories that he told about the set of Malevolence and how hard it was. He just has some crazy stories from that shoot. So, I think it’s great that he’s being acknowledged for how great he is.”
However, beating Bereavement to the theaters by a couple of weeks is Hall Pass – a very different kind of movie.
“Yes. Polar opposite,” Daddario laughs.
Created by the acclaimed comic directors Bobby and Peter Farrelly (There’s Something About Mary, Dumb and Dumber), the film is a funny look at the battle of the sexes and married men’s compulsion to check out other women. When two friends (Owen Wilson and Jason Sudeikis) look at other women once too often in front of their wives (Jenna Fisher and Christina Applegate), the wives decide to call the guys’ bluffs and give them one week of no-questions freedom. The wives know what the guys take a while to figure out – just because there are beautiful women everywhere, that doesn’t mean that they will go for just any middle-aged guy who hits on them.
“I play Owen Wilson’s kid’s babysitter,” Daddario says. “He basically gets a hall pass from his wife for a week off of marriage – because his wife sees him always checking out other girls. I find out about the hall pass and I try to be one of the girls he chooses, I guess. It’s a very funny movie. I’m really excited to see it.”
In a career in which Daddario has mostly done dramatic work, it was a treat to do a comedy.
“If I had it my way, I would do equal amounts of both,” she says. “I love comedy. I love working with comedians. Some of the best movies – even if they are dramas or horror films or whatever they may be – I think elements of comedy make for a great movie. There are elements of comedy in Bereavement. That’s just how people get through life, I guess – comedy in dark moments. I think actors are all comedians in a way.”
Now that she has done a good amount of work on both independent films and larger studio productions, Daddario realizes the differences between the two are not so stark.
“Probably the biggest difference is the food,” Daddario laughs. “Crafty is a lot better on Percy Jackson. It was like gourmet food vs. pop tarts. No, the difference is when you have more money; it’s just a different kind of [vibe], but everyone’s there to do the same thing – whether it’s a small production or a big production. Everyone is there because they love film, they want to do their work and they are excited about what they are doing. Percy is obviously this huge fantasy with green screen and that kind of thing, but they are both fantastic in their own ways. That’s pretty much it, I guess.”
And since there is no truth to the Dragon Tattoo rumor, what does Daddario have coming up?
“At the moment I have Hall Pass and it’s sort of a busy time in LA – it is pilot season,” Daddario says. “And sort of the unknown. Nothing for sure, yet. It’s exciting to see what will happen. The next one is around the corner.”
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Copyright ©2011 PopEntertainment.com. All rights reserved. Posted: February 27, 2011.