Director Wang has high praise for the newcomer. "I knew AnnaSophia was very bright and intuitive. When I asked her to try a lot of different approaches to a scene, she was always happy to jump right into it and explore those new territories. She always came up with fresh and lively ways of playing the scenes. She was afraid of nothing."
INTERVIEW WITH ANNASOPHIA ROBB ('Opal'):
What was the audition process like for this movie?
It was my first movie and a lot of times you have to audition. It was kind of a long process. It was about a three month process. I had the audition in July. About a week later, I had another audition with the casting agent and the director Wayne Wang. Then, about two weeks later, I had another audition with the producers and director and casting agent. Then I went home and they called me about a week later and said, Can you come to Louisiana for a screen test? So, I went out there and I was a little anxious when I came back. And, about two days later, they called me and said, Can you come to Louisiana for three months in four days? So, its like, Okay, wow! I screamed, I was so excited.
What do you think of the small-town life portrayed in the film?
I think its good for three months but more than three months, I think its kind of boring.
What did you miss the most during filming?
Well, Im kind of an urban girl. I like big cities. I like New York. I like London. I like L.A. I like people. I get lonely, really, really easily. But, I think it was good. It was very different and I think thats good.
You worked with some incredible actors on this film. Did you know about their work before doing this?
Well, I think I did. I knew who Jeff Daniels was. I had seen Dumb and Dumber but that doesnt really count. Eva Marie [Saint] and Cicely [Tyson] I knew about Dave Matthews because my parents listen to his CD, but I dont think [I knew] Eva Marie or Cicely. Theyre a little bit of an older generation and I wasnt born when they were getting really big. But, I had seen On the Waterfront.
Who was the most fun person on the set?
Thats a tough one. Everybody was very different. Funny, like cracking jokes?
When the camera was off, who was fun to hang out with?
I think everyone but jokes-wise, Dave Matthews. Being just really warm and grandma-like, Eva-Marie. Being very friendly and just being a friend, Cicely and Jeff just feel like a friend. Hes dad-like, too.
Do you share any qualities with Opal? Are you that open with people when you meet them?
I think I am. I love meeting people. Its one of my favorite things to do. I like meeting nice people like you all. But I think Opal is very welcoming and she listens to people. She doesnt just try to like cut them off or say, Well, this is what I think. She tries to be kind to them and Id like to think of myself like that.
Do you like dogs?
I do. I love dogs. Theyre one of my favorite animals.
Did you have to give this dog a lot of commands? Did he listen to you?
We really bonded. There were two dogs and I bonded to both of them. Mark (Forbes, the trainer) was off camera making him do stuff but I could make Leiko do stuff. Hes a little excited today. Hes seen some little birds outside the window and got excited about that.
What was the hardest thing for you to do with the dog?
For me, just watching when the dog goes crazy during the thunderstorm. Wayne wanted him to jump onto the table between this big gap and through a window and that was very hard because the dogs kept slipping and sliding. He finally got them to do that. Just watching that was hard. But me and the dog, it was probably when Winn Dixie runs away because we couldnt get him out of his kennel. He liked his kennel too much.
How much time did you have to bond?
[AnnaSophia looks at the dog as if asking him and the dog tilts his head]
We had about two weeks.
Do you have pets at home?
Yes. I have a Maltipoo. Its a Maltese and a Poodle mix.
What was it like shooting that party scene in the rain?
It was cold. We were shooting it in December and we were shooting night scenes so it got quite cold. But everybody else was from L.A. and they were all freezing and Im from Colorado so I was wearing a skirt and short sleeves and I was okay. It was okay but, it was funny, when we were shooting some of the scenes it was supposed to be a warm summer rain and you could see your breath.