While people might be making obvious comparisons to such films as “E.T.” and “Super 8,” actress Ella Wahlestedt (TV’s “Army Wives”) says her new movie “Earth to Echo” is a different kind of sci-fi adventure.
“[‘Earth to Echo’] uses a lot more technology to tell the story,” Wahlestedt, 15, told me during a phone interview last month. “This is a story about the kids and how it empowers them and tells them that if they set their mind to something, they can do anything.”
In the film, Wahlestedt plays Emma Hastings, one of four kids who decides to help a small alien stranded on Earth find its way home.
During our interview, Wahlestedt, who was born in Sweden and moved to the U.S. at the age of six, talked about being the only female in the main cast, working alongside a puppet and explained where she would like to see herself in the future as she builds on her Hollywood career.
What attracted you to a sci-fi project like “Earth to Echo?”
Well, when I auditioned for it, it was an untitled film. Only after I was cast did I find out it was a sci-fi adventure film. I was really excited to be a part of it.
What was it like to be the only girl in a cast of young men?
(Laughs) Well, there’s definitely a lot of testosterone. Luckily, I have an older brother, so I could relate to the guys. We found things that we had in common. It wasn’t that much of a struggle. We got along really well.
Did you go back and watch any family-friendly sci-fi movies that some people are comparing this film to, like “E.T.?” I know you’re only 15, so I’m not sure if that is a film you had already seen prior to this.
Yeah, I grew up with it because it’s a classic. It will always be a classic. I know “Earth to Echo” is a new take on a story like “E.T.” It’s for a new generation and takes a new perspective to the sci-fi alien movie. I think a lot of kids are going to be able to relate to it.
Talk about the character Echo and how you interacted with something created by computers and that wasn’t actually there on set with you.
Yeah, we had a toy puppet that looked exactly like Echo and he would move up and down and we would react accordingly. I definitely had to use my imagination. Some of the action that [Echo] did, I would have to make up in my mind.
What did you think the first time you saw what Echo was going to look like?
I though he was so cute! He is miniature! How could you not love those big, round eyes?
Do you think he could give WALL-E some competition when it comes to cinema’s cutest robot?
I mean, they’re both cute in different ways. But I’m sort of leaning towards Echo.
What do you remember about living in Sweden when you were a kid?
I remember it very distinctly. I moved when I was about six years old. I remember how cold it was. I have a lot of relatives and friends there. I visit every summer. It’s a big part of who I am.
What do you foresee yourself doing in this industry? What kinds of projects would you like to work on?
I’m auditioning for more projects right now. Even big stars have to audition. It’s not always fun, but it’s necessary. I also got a part in [James Franco’s] new film “Killing Animals” recently. It very interesting because it’s a series of short films that relate to one another.
James Franco is someone in Hollywood that does a little bit of everything. Is that something you want to do or are you focused on acting?
I love acting. It’s my passion, so I want to continue doing that. But I definitely want to dabble in producing later on because I want to create my own content.
Since you are only 15 years old, a lot of people consider you a “child actor,” a term which has a lot of negative connotation to it. Some kids who work in Hollywood are exposed to things other kids are not and sometimes that can cause problems later in life. How do you plan on handling that?
Yeah, with all the child-actors-gone-wrong, there is a lot of negative connotation to it. I’m sure I’ll be able to stay away from that route. There are actors that were child actors who have been very successful like Jodie Foster and Natalie Portman. They are very impactful on me. Hopefully, I’ll follow the same path as them.