“I think the best advice that I could give, is wake up every morning and see what you want to do and what needs to be done and just do it, don’t think about doing it, actually do it.” -Isabelle Fuhrman
(Interview follows photo series)
“I think the best advice that I could give, is wake up every morning and see what you want to do and what needs to be done and just do it, don’t think about doing it, actually do it.”
INTERVIEW BY MICHAEL WILLIAMS
STORY BY KATINA GOULAKOS
Most 19 year olds are trying to find the energy to wake up for class, however, Isabelle Fuhrman is not like most 19 year olds. We at Imagista had the pleasure of speaking with the talented young actress who is way beyond her years.
Imagista: You have a crazy amount of projects coming out this year, are they all films?
Isabelle: Yeah, I have a movie coming out called Dear Eleanor that funny enough I actually filmed a few years ago, that just got picked up by Sony which is really exciting, because people are finally going to be able to see it. Dear Eleanor is a movie that I was attached to for like two years before it even got made, it was a script that I was sent, that I read and I fell in love with and I chose to get on the project and sometimes with movies, directors drop out or producers move around but luckily it finally came together in this one amazing piece.
Imagista: Kevin Connolly from Entourage is the director, is that right?
Isabelle: Yeah, I think he had directed a few episodes of Entourage, but this is his first movie that he did.
Imagista: What was it like working with him?
Isabelle: He was fantastic, really a great director. He is so fun, he knew what it was like to grow up in that time, at that age and he was talking about all these memories that he had from when he was younger. He wanted this movie to be a slice of Americana life and I think they really did a great job with it. I actually haven’t seen the final cut of it, so I am actually dying to see it.
Imagista: That’s awesome!
Isabelle: I also have a movie called HellBent that I filmed last year, that is suppose to come out this year. It’s about a girl who meets a drifter, and basically enlists him to take her to Canada and they end up having this amazing relationship. I am really attracted to characters that not only are different from me, so that way I can live in someone else’s shoes, but I love working on movies about relationships because you as an actor and you as a character can get to build those relationships with the people you are working with. I think part of the reason I love my job is because I am fascinated by people constantly and by what they do and who they are. So being able to discover something about myself through a character, learn something about someone else through them and their character, [laughs] it’s addictive to me.
Imagista: You got an early start in acting, what was your first major role?
Isabelle: It was a movie called Orphan and I was 9 and a half when we booked it and ten when I filmed it. I’m 19 now, so it was a long time ago! It was such a huge moment for me, it was the first time I was working six days a week, I was going to school on Sundays. Everyone including my parents were worried and thought it would be too much for me but I lived for it. I loved waking up at 5 am and working all day (well as a kid you only work 9 and a half hours) and then going to bed and waking up the next day to be able to do it all over again. I thought that was just the greatest thing in the world, going to work with people who were so supportive, I mean I was ten years old, I had no idea the caliber of talent I was working with. To do a movie with true actors like them, not celebrities who are in the public eye, but people who do tons of research and work their asses off to make their characters as believable as possible was really eye opening and it made me realize that this was what I wanted to do. That is when I realize that acting was more than something I liked, it was something I loved and I loved doing the research. I think thats one of the most fun parts about it. If I have an audition, even if I don’t get the part I get to do all the research and all the work and if they like me great, if not at least I got the experience.
Imagista: You have such a great attitude, is that something you got from your parents or is that just who you are?
Isabelle: Well my mom is a journalist, one of the earliest pieces of advice was something she learned in school, and that was to verify everything. If your mother tells you she loves you, verify, and I always thought that was so funny because it really has spawned this curiosity in me since I was little, and I always want to know more about everything, which is a good and a bad thing. When you are so curious to figure out, you get easily distracted by different things that interest you, but at the same time, when I am working it’s the greatest asset I have because I don’t just look at a line or a description and say this is what it is. I kind of take it like when you were in school and you had to dissect poetry, and you ask yourself, “what do they mean, there has to be more to this”. A lot of that discovery comes from reading over and over again and really cracking down to the grainy tiny bits of everything in not only the pages you are in but in the text itself. Thats where I feel you get all the best information.
Imagista: That’s fascinating. I’ve never heard anyone describe what they do quite in that way, you are definitely in the right field!
Isabelle: Thank you!
Imagista: You got your start at a very early age, and it sounds like a big part of your training has been going from project to project, which is every actors dream come true. Do you have any ideal roles you haven’t landed yet or any specific people you are dying to work with?
Isabelle: It’s funny because I feel like every single role I have done is one I haven’t expected. When you look at the things that you “want to do”, they seem so generic (at least in my head). I had put out in the universe that I wanted to play a character who was homeless and I played a foster kid who ran away in a movie called HellBent, and although she was homeless, her character was so much more than that. I don’t know if I have particularly a type of role that I would want to do, I feel like when I read a book or script I latch on to certain people. I saw the Amy Winehouse documentary, I was sitting there and watching her be herself when she was young and performing. It was one of those beautiful things where I knew who Amy Winehouse was but I never looked further into the music I heard of her. Hearing her story, made me realize that if they do an actual fictional movie about her, I need to find a way to play her.
Imagista: I mean theres gotta be one in the works no?
Isabelle: There has to be, hopefully it’s a little far off so I am old enough to play the part. You know sometimes you just see something or read something and you just feel like you understand that person. Even though I have gone through nothing that she has ever, I was starring at her face on the screen and I was thinking “I understand you” and this happens when you are really touched by the character.
Imagista: Can you sing?
Isabelle: It’s funny, my sister is a singer right now, she waned to be an actress when she was younger and I was a singer when I was younger and I ended up flip flopping with her. I can sing well, I’m happy with my voice, it could be better if I trained more. It’s something I would do for a movie, but I don’t know if it’s necessarily something I would pursue outside my acting.
Imagista: In terms of music itself, how would you describe your taste, what do you listen to?
Isabelle: Anything that makes me feel something. I listen to all sorts of music; when I work out I listen to the most insane techno that I can’t listen to if I’m not on the treadmill or running. I dance ballet, so I listen to a lot of classical music, I think it’s really beautiful. I have been listening to a lot of Jazz because I took a tap class this morning. I think as long as I enjoy the music I am listening to I am a fan of it. If I am sitting in my room I love Ben Howard and Ed Sheeran and Edith Piaf.
Imagista: Do you see yourself eventually writing and directing?
Isabelle: Yeah, I have actually directed some music videos for my sister. I would love to direct a movie, I am writing a short right now that I would direct myself. I have a very weird rule that if I were to direct a movie I couldn’t act in it, I feel like I wouldn’t be able to fully focus on the one aspect.
Imagista: What advice would you give to another young actor or actress?
Isabelle: I’ve been told since I was little, before I even acted “you are so young, you have so much time” and I always felt like you never know, tomorrow isn’t something that is promised, it’s there and of course you make plans but you don’t know what is going to happen. I think the best advice that I could give is wake up every morning and see what you want to do and what needs to be done and just do it, don’t think about doing it, actually do it. You cant just wait for something to happen or hope that it will because people are saying it will. That attitude of “you may not be here tomorrow” has been a big thing for me because it makes me realize it’s not just going to happen for me, I am going to have to make it happen for me. I wasn’t going to graduate school because I was in school, I was going to graduate if I got good enough grades.
Imagista: Do you have any heroes in or outside your profession, living or dead?
Isabelle: One of my heroes is probably Meryl Streep, not for the fact thats she’s an insanely talented actress who transforms in every role that she does. Also, I really admire the fact that she was able to take time off and have a family but raise her own kids and still come back in the industry and be welcomed with open arms and still be able to work. She has had a long career and that is something very difficult to have.