Alice Englert tells us about starring in 'Beautiful Creatures'
Alice Englert has movies in her blood. The 18-year-old actress is the daughter of Oscar-winning director Jane Campion ("The Piano") and grew up around the world of high-end filmmaking.
So it's not a surprise that Englert, heretofore a virtual unknown, seems set for Hollywood stardom. If her lead role in "Beautiful Creatures," a new franchise geared toward occupying some of the young-adult void left by "Twilight" is any indication, we'll be seeing a lot more of her soon.
amNewYork spoke with Englert about the movie, in which she plays Lena Duchannes, a mysterious new student in a small southern school that intrigues local good boy Ethan Wate (Alden Ehrenreich). The film, adapted from the first novel in a series by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl, opens today.
Signing up with a potential franchise like this requires a major commitment. What made you want to make one here? What I realized, reading the script, was that as far as a big movie went, one that did involve potential sequels, this was something that I could feel I could do, a character I could feel I wanted to be with without being compromised.
Why was it in your wheelhouse? There's something in the script that I think, while it does sit in a mainstream genre, it always leans a little left of center [from] each cliché. That's something that allowed us in this first film to really be able to play with that and have fun, and have humor. With that and having that already part of the feel and the atmosphere of "Beautiful Creatures" and the team we created, it's something I think we can riff on for the next two films if that's what happens.
What did you take away from working with people like Jeremy Irons, Viola Davis and Emma Thompson? What's so great about these actors, who I have admired for years and years, is that they still don't take anything for granted. You could totally understand a jaded point of view, but it's not. I've never seen people who have so much wisdom and yet so much vigor and youth in them at the same time. Emma Thompson is the funniest woman I've ever met, such a riot, so much energy and it's just electric. It elevates you, being with people of that pedigree.
"Beautiful Creatures" is being touted as, potentially, the next "Twilight." What do you make of the comparison? I really believe that the "Twilight" phenomenon can't happen again in the same way because it just did and was like nothing else that we've seen in years and years, the media reaction and just the world's reaction to it. Alden actually says it well. He says, "Look, if lots of people go see the film, love the film and go mad about the film, that's an OK problem to have."
What's the most important thing your mother taught you professionally? What I learned just in general from my upbringing was to always have the work come first. You should always be doing this because you love the work. Forget your ego, leave it at the door. That's really always kept me sane. What my mom really said to me about acting, which I always think is my favorite piece of advice, is to just stop trying to do things. If you feel like you're trying to tell an audience that you're emoting something, or whatever, stop. Just stop. And don't try to tell anybody anything, because it's just not interesting. People know when they're being manipulated. They feel it subconsciously. And you stop believing. You stop being interested. The most interesting thing is always going to be what's real.