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Alexandra Daddario Interview

Actress Alexandra Daddario plays demigod Annabeth, daughter of Athena, in Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief. Here she talks to View London’s Matthew Turner about bad auditions, soap operas and the chemistry between her and her Percy Jackson co-star Logan Lerman.

Alexandra Daddario (AD): No. Well, kind of - they're lawyers, my parents, so there are some similarities. I'm from New York, my parents are very supportive of me. I grew up in an environment where acting wasn't necessarily considered a real career – you go to college, you go to Harvard and you become a lawyer or a doctor. But that wasn't something that I loved and I knew that I wanted to be an actress at a very young age and I'm happy to be doing what I love to do and my parents are thrilled.

Did you go down the road of actually studying to be a lawyer at all?
AD: No, no, no. I made the decision when I was 11, to be an actress. I was on a soap opera when I was a teenager and there were a few years where you don't know what's going to happen, it's a difficult career path, because you don't know when your next job is going to be, but I had faith and I'm happy it worked out. At least for now – hopefully I'll have another job.

Where you the good girl or the bad girl on the soap opera?
AD: I was the good girl, I was boring.

What's the biggest adjustment, doing a film like this, which is so much bigger than work you've done before? Is it arriving on the set?
AD: There's definitely the 'wow' factor. I've done other films – I did a small horror film, which was my first lead and I think every single thing I've done up to this point was sort of preparing me, you know? I don't think that I'd be here without the soap opera and the commercials I did and the episodics [guest spots on individual TV episodes] and the small horror film. Each one is breaking down your ability to worry and think too much about what you're doing and you become more willing to take chances and get lost in what you're doing and I think that's very important. So when I got to the set it was more that I was so excited and passionate about it, so I didn't have too much time to be fearful. I was, for some moments, but more just enjoyed it and learned as much as I could from all the amazing people that I had the honour of working with.

Chris Columbus said in the press conference that your chemistry with Logan Lerman was an important part of the audition. Can you talk a little about the audition process? Did you have to audition opposite other actors too?
AD: I was flown out from New York to Vancouver to screen test. I had screen tested six or seven other times for a lot of TV and a few films and it's always you're in a theatre or something and there's twenty network executives and you're reading with an assistant. And that doesn't necessarily create an environment that is comfortable to act in and if you're acting against an assistant – well, sometimes you're acting with a real actor, but it's not real. So you can't get the genuine sense of chemistry there.

Chris Columbus set up the set as if he was actually filming - obviously, not completely, but we had props and cameras on us and it just made the audition process more comfortable and you can sense the chemistry between people more easily. And that's actually one of the things he said when he called me after I got the role, 'You had great chemistry with Logan, you were great.' I think it's very important when people work together that they have great chemistry. I think the four of us [Lerman, Jackson and co-star Jake Abel] had great chemistry and it made all the difference in the world as far as our dynamic on screen.

So Logan was already on board when you were cast?
AD: Oh, he was already cast. The three of them were already cast but they had trouble finding my character. I was there three weeks before filming and I think they had all been cast in January and February. So they were just trying to find the right person to fit in with the group.

So it was very much your chemistry with Logan that won the role for you then?
AD: I think chemistry, as far as bouncing energies off each other or responding to each other, I think some actors or actresses can be – they don't respond. It's about response, so if someone sends you a signal and you don't pick up on it, it means you're not paying attention and I think we all paid attention to each other.

It sounds dreadfully unfair that you go into these other auditions and you're giving your all and you have to react to someone who's just a piece of cardboard.
AD: Auditions are stressful. Being an actress is stressful. I've been in a lot of unfair acting situations, but a lot of people in any profession have been in an unfair situation. It's just, you know, they want to see what you can do and, if anything, it's great preparation to handle the intensity of the screentest with Chris Columbus and the people I screentested with.

Was there ever a sense of being overwhelmed by the bigger stars in the film? How did you feel when you heard Pierce Brosnan and Uma Thurman were involved?
AD: It was extremely exciting. I had faith that I was cast for a reason. These are people that I admire and have admired and to have the ability to watch them and listen to them and work with them was incredible. You enjoy it instead of getting neurotic about it, I suppose.

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Content updated: 23/08/2014 08:29

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