Interview: Stefanie Scott Talks ‘At First Light’ and Her Advice to Young Actors

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Actress Stefanie Scott

Stefanie Scott stars in At First Light, about a high school senior who develops supernatural powers after an encounter with some mysterious light-filled orbs. When the police and a secret government agency come to town, she and her ex-boyfriend (Théodore Pellerin) go on the run, trying desperately to stay alive.

Scott has gone from Disney Channel star (A.N.T Farm) to starring in Insidious: Last Key, the upcoming Beautiful Boy and now At First Light. Scott is smart and talented and her decision move to do roles that her “heart really wanted” is a proven winner.

How did you get involved in the film?

Stefanie Scott: It’s funny. I’m 21 now, but I got the script sent to me when I was 17, and that’s when I first met Jason [Stone, director] to talk about doing the movie. And then I auditioned a couple of times, and I ended up getting it when I was 18, and then we shot it when I was 19. And so it’s just been a very long process. But, yeah, we shot it the summer, I guess, August and September of when I was 19 years old. And just over time, I became pretty good friends with Jason since he had kept trying to make it for so long. And we would get financing, and then it would fall through, and then the cast would fall through. But then finally, we got Theodore, I think two days before we started shooting.

And it was really magic. It worked out perfectly. We became instant friends, and it was a really awesome experience.

Now, with something that took so long to get going, does your enthusiasm ever wane?

Stefanie Scott: No, not for me. I always believed we would make the movie. It’s funny, I feel like my agents and managers were like, “Just forget about it. It’s never really gonna happen.” But Jason would send me every new script, or we would shoot a bit of it on a weekend for fun, just to test out a camera or a location in LA or to improv stuff, just to see what happens. So it was always a really fun, creative project for me. And then one summer, I guess a month before we shot it, he was like, “Okay, I think it’s happening, Stef. They’re ready.”

And then I didn’t really believe him until he dyed my hair and then I got on the plane and then I was there, and then I figured he couldn’t really say that it fell through now.

I also like you’re the one who has the power. How do you figure out how to play someone with these abilities?

Stefanie Scott: I’m not quite sure. I feel like it was just … That kind of I feel like grew, also, over time, with the script. I don’t even remember at the very beginning it ever being as powerful as it was. But I feel like I kind of grew with the character, with every time I got a new script sent to me. It really wasn’t that much work as it was just always knowing that Alex was there. It wasn’t really that challenging. It was pretty fun, actually.

You grew up in Florida. How did you end up in Los Angeles?

Stefanie Scott: Yeah, I grew up in Florida. I started doing theater as a kid. And you can do local commercials and stuff, and it was just kind of a hobby for me. But I had met somebody whose daughter was an actress in LA, and she thought that I, I don’t know, had kind of a shot at doing it, or it was possible for me, I guess. And it sounded really fun. So she hooked me up with an agent and manager who took me on and just started sending me auditions and stuff, and I would tape them from Florida and occasionally get one, and then I would get to go to California with my mom and film them.

But then I just started working a lot more, and it was kind of a gradual thing. But my family did not up and move. I have older brothers, so they were on their way to college at the time, and my dad, he stayed, and my mom would come out with me when I had work. But then eventually I got a lot of work and so I was out here quite a lot. But then I graduated high school and I moved out on my own.

You did a Disney show, but then roles you’re doing now, they’re a complete 180 from your time on Disney. I mean, that’s gotta be on purpose, right?

Stefanie Scott: Well, yeah, but also, I was a kid then, so it’s not like I’m talking to you about what you were like when you were 14. But it was fun. I had always wanted to be on a Disney show, and then I got to do it. So, yeah. And then right afterwards, I just started doing what my heart really wanted to do.

You were then in that movie Insidious? That was your first big studio lead in a film, right? Did you feel a lot of pressure on you?

Stefanie Scott: I don’t know. I was really excited about it. It was really an awesome, quite intense shoot, and I was only 17. And it’s funny looking back and thinking about the things that I was doing. It sounds kind of wild, but it felt really epic. I always knew that I was capable of doing that. It wasn’t really… I don’t think I felt pressured that way, but it was just very exciting. And I had a lot of fun. It was more fun than anything, and it was really fun to push myself to see what I really could, I guess, do.

I gotta think being in a horror film has got to be the funnest thing ever.

Stefanie Scott: Yeah. It was fun. It was definitely intense. It was 17 hours a day, overnight most of the time. And I did all my own stunts. Every time you saw me fly in the air or fall or get hit, I was actually doing that stuff. It was pretty intense but it was really fun.

Being the lead in a movie, do you do any sort of extra preparation, acting-wise, as opposed to being the guest star in a TV show or something like that?

Stefanie Scott: Yeah. I mean, I’ve never really, other than SVU, I didn’t really do much guest star work since I was a kid. I guess I wouldn’t be able to answer that question very well, other than I just do the prep that I think is necessary. Memorize your lines and just be prepared, emotionally, on the day. I guess that’s the biggest preparation.

I also read that you really want to do a Broadway show. Is there a show you-

Stefanie Scott: I would love that.

Is there a show you have in mind? Something that you already love?

Stefanie Scott: I love a lot of things. I’ve grown up loving Broadway and theater and musical theater and stuff. So I would love the opportunity to be able to do that one day.

Do you have any advice for young actors?

Stefanie Scott: Yeah. Just do it! And do it because it’s fun, and do it because you love it. Don’t do it to become famous. I don’t really have much advice because I really feel like you shouldn’t listen to anybody but yourself, because you kind of know what to do, you know? I feel like everybody’s intuition can be pretty spot-on if they’re really listening to themselves. But you’re capable of it. Anybody is.

What has been your worst or most embarrassing audition?

Stefanie Scott: Oh, god. I don’t know. I feel like they’re all a learning experience. I don’t really want to say that it’s embarrassing, because I don’t really feel like I should feel shame for anything.

I mean, sometimes you just don’t do your best or you get in your head and get in your own way, and then it doesn’t go well or you don’t get the part. But I don’t think that means I should be embarrassed or feel shame about it.

Honestly, sometimes, my worst auditions are the ones that I get, which is really weird to say. But I feel like if you ask a lot of actors that, sometimes it’s the ones where you go in, you don’t give a shit, and then you’re like, “Oh, no, I really messed that up.” And then they loved you. And then you’re confused on why you’re doing it if they loved your worst performance ever.

At First Sight is in theaters and streaming on VOD now.

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Lance Carter is an actor and the Editor of Daily Actor.

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