Odeya Rush – Lady Bird

January 30, 2018 by  
Filed under Interviews

In the critically-acclaimed, Oscar-nominated drama/comedy “Lady Bird,” actress Odeya Rush (“Goosebumps”) plays Jenna Walton, a pretty albeit slightly arrogant student who attends the same private Catholic high school as Lady Bird (Saoirse Ronan), but isn’t very interested in anything outside of her social circle. In an attempt to change her social status, Lady Bird decides to snub her best friend Julie (Beanie Feldstein) to hang out with Jenna and her popular crew.

During an interview with Rush, who also starred in 2014’s “The Giver” with Meryl Streep and 2015’s “Goosebumps” with Jack Black, the 20-year-old actress talked about working with filmmaker Greta Gerwig on her first film as a director, what kind of student she was in high school and what she ultimately wants out of a career in Hollywood.

Greta Gerwig was already a really great actress and screenwriter, but now she’s added directing to her repertoire. What did you see from her on set in this new role?

Being a great creator and awesome person makes her a great director. I think she is an artist and such a talented writer. I’ve really loved all the movies she’s written and acted in. I think she’s very intelligent. You can tell by the acting choices she’s made. She directed [“Lady Bird”] at a perfect time. We had this incredible script and nothing really had to be changed.

What message do you think “Lady Bird” is trying to convey when it comes to fitting in as a teenager?

I think what is amazing about Lady Bird is that you don’t just see her in one place. You don’t see her in this one clique that defines who she is. I think in high school you go through different phases. Some people have the same friends their entire life and others like to try out different things. You hang out with different people or join different clubs. I think Lady Bird is so driven and has this badass mentality and doesn’t let any group define her. What’s cool is that you can’t put Lady Bird in a specific place in high school.

Were people able to put you in a specific place in high school? What kind of teenager were you?

My high school was in a small town in New Jersey, so our high school actually started in the seventh grade. We didn’t have a ton of kids, but I feel like I was pretty much friends with everyone. I hung out with a group of good girls. But I think we all got to a place where we didn’t have cliques, especially since the school was small. I think we all just got to a point and said, “You know, I think we should just all be friends.” The more the merrier!

What specifically attracted you to your character Jenna?

I think Greta’s writing is so great. When I read the first line in the script, I already knew how to say it. I felt this girl’s essence through the page. It was really smart dialogue. I could really understand her as a person just from reading it. She gave every character their own storyline and struggles and pain.

I know you said you hung out with everyone in high school, but would that have included Jenna?

I’m always nice to everyone. I have a lot of acquaintances, but I wouldn’t be close to her. Probably not, because I think that energy rubs off whether you want it to or not. It can really affect you. I think I would be friends with someone like Beanie’s [Feldstein] character (Julie). She is a really joyful spirit and not judgmental. I think those are the type of people I’m attracted to more.

Do you think independent films like “Lady Bird” are more attractive to you at this stage of your career, or are you hoping a huge $100-million franchise comes knocking at your door?

I just like movies that have good scripts and good people attached to it. I think that’s what ultimately makes your experience good. The movie “Goosebumps” had a big budget, but the director, Rob Letterman, was a really awesome person, too. That always trickles down to the rest of the crew when you have someone great directing the movie or if your co-stars are really great. For me, it goes back to the intention of the script and what kind of message it’s sending out and if I’d be working with someone I’ve been a fan of for years like Greta.

The relationship in “Lady Bird” that everyone loves, of course, is the complex one between Lady Bird and her mother. What do you hope audiences take away from the dynamic between Saoirse Ronan and Laurie Metcalf’s characters?

I think this movie shows that these relationships aren’t perfect. They don’t follow the same pattern all the time. A lot of times with family you can get into a huge fight and two seconds later you’re sharing a laugh or a hug. I think with family, you show each other more of those colors. A lot of times when you’re at that age when you want to battle and you get into fights with your family or your mom, it shouldn’t be viewed as super heavy. I think it’s really about that age where you want to feel free and your parents are really scared to let you go because all they want to do is protect you. I look back to that age and it’s not super heavy. It’s just all this tension bottled up. I think you have to go through that tension to see that sometimes you just need time away from each other.

You’re fairly new to Hollywood. What would you say you’ve learned about yourself in the short time you’ve been in this industry?

I think I’m just really grateful that I had a normal upbringing and that I always surrounded myself with genuine people. This industry is so up and down and you never really know what’s going to happen. When you have a movie that’s doing really well, everyone is really super nice to you. When nothing is going on and you’re a hungry actor auditioning, which is what I was a few months ago, it’s different. I think it’s about surrounding yourself with people who are constantly there for you. I think it’s about constantly loving yourself and knowing that you’re self-worth isn’t measured by how many people see your movie or how many movies you’ve done.

Goosebumps

October 16, 2015 by  
Filed under Jerrod, Reviews

Starring: Jack Black, Dylan Minnette, Odeya Rush
Directed by: Rob Letterman (“Monsters vs. Aliens”)
Written by: Darren Lemke (“Shrek Forever After”)

“Goosebumps” books and the Robin Williams movie “Jumanji” are two memories I have of youth in the ‘90s. Not me, mind you; I was a teenage nerd more into Space Ghost and “Mystery Science Theater 3000,” but the younger people that I’ve come to know over the years who embraced those things are apparently the ones who have made BuzzFeed and Jimmy Fallon who they are today, with their brightly-colored ‘90s nostalgia powering the internet away from my beloved absurd comedy. But I digress. We’re here to talk about the film adaptation of R.L. Stine’s kid-targeted horror books and how big a debt it owes to “Jumanji,” since it, too, is full of decently-realized CGI creations that rampage through a city while a somewhat faded comedy superstar looks to reign in the chaos. This isn’t high praise, but the formula will likely turn the movie into a fondly-remembered experience for any kids in the crowd.

After moving to a new house in a new town (of course), Zach (Dylan Minnette) struggles to fit in at his new school. Making things more difficult in the popularity department is his mom (Amy Ryan) being the school’s new vice principal. As luck would have it, though, Zach meets a cute girl next door in Hannah (Odeya Rush), who takes him on a nighttime adventure into an abandoned amusement park. Not amused, however, is Hannah’s mysterious recluse father (Jack Black), who forbids Zach from seeing Hannah again. When Zach later sees what seems to be her father abusing her, Zach calls the police on Hannah’s father. Finding nothing unusual, Zach and his new friend Champ (Ryan Lee) break into the house to rescue Hannah, only to find out her dad is hiding a spooky secret: he’s horror author R.L. Stine and all of the monsters he’s conjured up on the page over the years are in fact real, and they’re itching to escape into the real world.

Though frenetic and paper-thin at times, “Goosebumps” comes alive when the monsters do. From a ventriloquists’ dummy named Slappy (also voiced by Black) to an army of garden gnomes to a levitating poodle, the creepy creations are more fun than most anything the generically bland Minnette and the the cute-but-underwritten Rush turn in. Black handles himself fine as a fictionalized version of R.L. Stine, though the magic behind the story – why the things Stine writes come to life – is so woefully under explained it’s basically a giant shrug. Still, though, the movie has enough charm when the various creatures are onscreen with Danny Elfman’s Halloween-ready soundtrack bouncing along in the background to power past the (goose)bumps in the story.

Brenton Thwaites & Odeya Rush – The Giver

August 16, 2014 by  
Filed under Interviews

In the sci-fi drama “The Giver,” which is based on the young-adult novel by author Lois Lowry, actors Brenton Thwaites and Odeya Rush play Jonas and Fiona, two teenagers who begin to learn there is more to life than the uniformity they have been taught in their utopian community. After being given the pre-determined jobs they will work at for the rest of their lives, Jonas, who is chosen to manage all past memories of a world that no longer exists, realizes the world he lives in is void of history and human emotions, including love.

During an interview with me, Thwaites and Rush talked about how “The Giver” is different from other recent dystopian movies targeted at teens and young adults and what they’d miss the most if they lived in a society as static as the one in the film.

With as many dystopian-themed films that have come out over the last few years where there is a central teenage character like in “The Hunger Games,” “Divergent,” and “Never Let Me Go,” what makes something like “The Giver” so different? Some people might argue this genre is getting a bit diluted.

Odeya Rush: I think a lot of those movies are different. Some have violence and action. [“The Giver”] is a really deep story and something really thought provoking. The book is considered a young-adult book, but I don’t see it as a young-adult film. It can be enjoyed by people of all ages.

Brenton Thwaites: I think the film focuses on the characters’ reactions to the world as opposed to the consequences of the world towards the characters. I feel like people will be able to connect with these characters and the story.

Talk about the love story in this film. I think a lot of moviegoers who are not familiar with the book might go in thinking there is going to be this grand romance between your characters. But it’s not like that at all.

BT: You can tell them, “Sorry, but this isn’t a love story.” It’s about people that are depressed and are experience all these things, including love, but also pain and laughter and war and color. There is a multitude of different things that have been kept from our characters. This is a story about finding the truth and searching for what’s right. Still, one of the reasons Jonas fights for what’s right and for the truth is because of his love and his passion for Fiona.

Since this novel has such a strong following, what kind of conversations did you have with director Phillip Noyce about why scenarios would change in the film and what the thought process was behind those changes?

BT: Well, I have to say it wasn’t really our decision. Those were decision by [author] Lois [Lowry] and Phillip and the producers and Jeff Bridges, who was also a producer. They had conversations about how to bring as much of the book into the film as possible while making it an entertaining movie. There were things left out like how the young [characters] interact with the old [characters]. There were story plots left out that people might be disappointed with, but the main ideas were still brought to the screen.

One of those big changes was making the characters about six years older than they are in the book. What do you think a decision like that does for the film?

OR: I think making the characters older allows Jonas to discover his emotions on a deeper level. You’re only capable of so many emotions at the age of 12. You look at the world through different eyes. When you’re older and discover something like love, you can really expand on that in a movie. It makes the community around him seem harsher because you see that all the people are being deprived of such a strong, beautiful feeling.

Author Lois Lowry said in a recent interview that the film “stays true to the spirit of the book.” Was that something you feel was a major goal of this film, or were you looking at the project as something that could standalone cinematically?

BT: We had to stay true to the story in order to capture and bring in the people who read the book. That includes the original ideas and the beginning and the end. We even incorporated a lack of color to the start of the movie. If you read the book, the experience of Jonas finding the color red is a shock.

If this society that “The Giver” is set in was something you lived in today, what do you think you’d miss most about your life now?

OR: I think I would miss my freedom. I’m so fortunate I’m able to do what I want to do. It’s something that some people don’t have in this world today, but I feel for these characters because everything has been decided for them. There’s no way to grow or develop. Everything is out of their hands.

BT: The greatest memory I have of this film is discovering new music. That was so important to me. Now I can’t imagine a world without it.

Odeya, since this story is based in a society where uniformity and sameness is advocated, was it a challenge to allow yourself some flexibility with your character and not stay so static all the time?

OR: Yeah, it was a challenge, but Phillip allowed us to approach every scene in a variety of ways. There are takes where I would have to keep [all my emotions] inside. Then sometimes he would tell me to look at Jonas with love or with anger. I am a little more static and calm at the beginning, but it wasn’t like that through the entire filming process.

“Precision of language” is a phrase that is said a lot in the film. Do you think it’s something that will be trending on Twitter soon?

BT: (Laughs) I think that’s definitely something that should be said to me more often.

OR: I agree with that statement.

BT: (Laughs)

OR: No, it would be great. That would be funny if it started trending on Twitter.

BT: Precision of language. I meant “Fuck off!” not “Fudge off.”

OR: It’s a trending topic now!