It's a Dog's Life for Newcomer Robb
Annasophia Robb/Because of Winn Dixie, Charlie and the Chocolate FactoryInterview by Paul Fischer in Los Angeles.
Annasophia Robb is fast becoming one of Hollywood's latest young starsrising through the ranks. Will she be the next Dakota? Only time will tell,but based on her obvious intelligence and talent, we could have another bigchild star in our midst. Not only will audiences see her in Tim Burton'sCharlie and the Chocolate Factory, but she is also the star of the newfamily drama, Because of Winn Dixie. Based on the perennial best-seller, alonely young girl (Robb) adopts an orphaned dog, Winn-Dixie (so named forthe supermarket where she found him), who helps her make friends in a smallFlorida town, where she lives with her distant preacher/father [JeffDaniels]. The bond between the girl and her special companion bringstogether the townspeople and helps heal her own troubled relationship withher dad.
With the dog by her side, Annasophia talked to Paul Fischer about that filmas well as Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.
PF: How did you get along with the dog?
Annasophia: He's so sweet and he's really great. I loved workingwith him because I love dogs.
PF: He smiles in this movie. How much was real and how much was added later?
Annasophia: You can ask the trainer about that?
PF: This is your first major movie? How did that come about?
Annasophia: It took about three months total to get the wholeentire part. I went out in July to audition for the part with the castingdirector. Then about two weeks later I had another audition with thedirector, Wayne Wang, and the casting agent. Then about two weeks later Ihad another audition with the producers and the director and the castingagent. And then I went home. They called me out to do a screen test, to goto Louisiana. So I did that and I came back and waited a couple of days. Iwas very anxious. Then they called and said they wanted me to be inLouisiana in three days.
PF: There's a really sweet scene in this movie where Dave Matthews sings you asong. What's it like to have Dave Matthews sing to you?
Annasophia: It was really fun and it was interesting because Inever had someone sing to me before.
PF: Did you know who he was?
Annasophia: Yes. My mom and dad listen to him.
PF: What about working with people like Jeff Daniels and Eva Marie Saint and allthese incredible actors? Were you intimidated? Did you know any of theirwork?
Annasophia: I was kind of intimidated. I was scared before I metthem. I didn't know what they would be like. I'd always heard that bigactors are really mean. I met all of them and they're so lovely and so kind.And they just welcome you into their life and tell you stories about theirchildhood. They're wonderful. They make you feel like a family with them.
PF: Did you see Sounder?
Annasophia: I don't think I did. I saw On the Waterfront.
PF: That's a pretty adult film for someone your age.
Annasophia: Yes it was. It was good to see it because Eva Marieis just wonderful in that movie.
PF: How old are you now?
Annasophia: I'm 11.
PF: And were you 10 when you shot this?
Annasophia: I was actually 9 and during the film I turned 10.
PF: And did you always want to be an actress? Why?
Annasophia: I love people and I love performing in front ofpeople. There's just something about it that makes me feel happy andexcited.
PF: Do you like watching yourself on the screen?
Annasophia: It's interesting. I don't. It feels kind of weird.I'm very self-critical so I never think I do a good job, so it's kind of oddfor me to watch myself. I always feel like I'm not real or there's somethingthat I didn't; do right.
PF: Where do you live?
Annasophia: I live in Denver, Colorado.
PF: And do you got to school or are you home schooled?
Annasophia: I'm home schooled.
PF: Do you miss that (going to regular school)?
Annasophia: I do. I miss the activities you do with your class,like doing PE all together and going to recess and having lunch and art anddoing all that stuff as a group and Spanish where you kind of mess around.It's fun, but it's really. I like home school because you get things donequicker and you can, if you're a little bit faster you can go at your ownspeed. Your classmates don't ask questions and if you don't get stuff rightaway you can ask more questions. And if you do get it, you can keep ongoing.
PF: You seem to be aware, even at the age of 10, that you are sacrificingsomething about your life in order to get something else. That's reallyinteresting to me because when I was 11 I didn't think that way.
Annasophia: Well, I really wanted to do this and I think it'sjust worth going out for it. Childhood - not to say I am a child. I am achild. I love being with my friends, but I also like having to do somethingand not just be hanging around because I want to do something with my lifeand to really go for it. If you just want to have fun, that's what kids aresupposed to do. I get to do both. That's why I like doing movie because youwork for three months or however long the movie is but during that period oftime you make friends and you have a lot of fun.
PF: How does your mom make sure that you keep it real, that you don't get toomuch of a big head about all this?
vAnnasophia: I don't really think that it's that important. Ijust do what I love to do. When people see me on TV that's great but it'skind of well, it's just seeing someone on TV.
PF: What is important?
Annasophia: My family.
PF: When you were doing this, you obviously worked a lot with the dog trainer.Is there anything you learned working with these animals that helped youunderstand your own dog better?
Annasophia: Yes. Dogs, they don't just smell. If you say thisdog smells my dog's scent. They're smelling if you're scared, where you'vebeen. They smell millions of different things on you. And so you have to b esensitive to a dog. I was walking my dog and there were these huge dogsbehind a fence just growling at us and she was looking up at me like, whatam I supposed to do? And I tried to stay calm and not get scared and shekept on going. But as soon she sensed that I was getting scared she startedfreaking out. But I got myself together and just calmed down.
PF: Did you read this book before the movie? How similar is it?
Annasophia: It's quite similar. The book is a bit short to be afilm so they added a couple of scenes which I think was good because it kindof helped you. When you're reading something and when you're watchingsomething they're totally different things. And so I think it was good thatthey added some more scenes because it made the characters seem moretogether becoming a family.
PF: You also finished another movie, a tiny little film with Johnny Depp. Canyou compare the two experiences because Charlie and the Chocolate factory isanother classic book?
Annasophia: Winn Dixie was very much a family film. It talkedabout the qualities of life and what you really think about when you moveinto mew towns. Charlie was a very big film that had tons of huge sets andit was funny and it was action packed and it was very interesting. But youlearn some morals. They're both very opposite and in a way they're both verysimilar.
PF: Tim Burton can be a very interesting director and an interesting fellow tosay the least. How did you find working with him?
Annasophia: He's the most brilliant man. He has an imaginationthat just goes off the charts. Most people think Tim Burton is pretty weird,but he's not. He's really normal. He has funny hair and he wears really coolglasses.
PF: What is your part in that?
Annasophia: I play Violet Beauregarde.
PF: Have you read that book?
PF: Seen the original movie?
PF: But there's no singing in this one?
Annasophia: Yes there is.
PF: Do you sing a song?
Annasophia: I can't tell you that.
PF: Did you enjoy playing a brat?
Annasophia: I did. It was fun to play someone different. Opalwas the total opposite of Violet. She's a very sweet character.
PF: She was polite in an old fashion way which I really liked. Even with yourfather, who you call Preacher when you do the voice over, you say yes sirwhich I found interesting.
Annasophia: Yeah, I think it was just respect from Opal to herfather because she was taught that way. And I think the Southern states saysir and m'am a lot and I kind of enjoy that because it shows a certainamount of respect to elders. It's nice.
PF: Which of the characters can you relate to the most, Opal or Violet?
Annasophia: Opal. They're both very different, really different.You can't really compare the two because they're very opposite each otherand the experience was very different. But if I had to play a fictioncharacter it would be Violet but if I had to play a kind loving girl I'dplay Opal. Both of them I loved to play because they gave me a sense of whatI can do.
PF: In your real life do you have any bonding with an older person that'soutside you family like Opal does in this film?
Annasophia: I think I do. I love Eva Marie and Cicely; I thinkthey're my really close friends. Who else? My grandma and grandpa. I have alot of older friends, not like really old friends, but in their teens. Mymom's best friend's children are 15 to 20 and they're like my brothers andsisters because I've been with them forever. I really get along with peopleof all ages.
PF: How many in your family?
Annasophia: I'm the only child.
PF: Do you find that very lonely?
Annasophia: I did when I was younger I was very sad that I wasan only child. It was so boring. But when I got older I had a lot offriends. Sometimes it gets kind of boring because you go over your grandmaand grandpa's and you're like, OK, the grown-ups are going to talk abouttaxes now, what can I do. I guess I'll just sit here. A lot of the time Ilike it because I'm spoiled.
PF: What do you like doing during your down time?
Annasophia: I like to swim. I like to play with my dog. I liketo hang out with my friends. I used to do gymnastics. I sing and play thepiano, but I'm not very good. I'm just learning. I like to bake. Pastries. Ilike cakes and cookies.
PF: Ever bake dog cookies?
Annasophia: I tried for my dog on her birthday but I didn't likeit. I couldn't eat the batter.
PF: Are you signed on for anything else?
Annasophia: No. I'm just promoting Winn Dixie.
PF: Have you seen any of Charlie and the Chocolate Factor yet?
Annasophia: I've seen the previews, but they're not letting ussee the movie yet.
PF: Are there any particular actors who you think I'd like to have their careersomeday?
Annasophia: Yes. I think Nicole Kidman just because she has sucha library of characters and every time I watch her I always believe her.
PF: And you want to marry Tom Cruise?
Annasophia: No. Actually no. He seems like a nice guy but he's alittle old for me.
PF: Who do you want to marry?
Annasophia: I don't know. I don't think a lot about that. I'monly 11.
PF: This film has a lot to do from a parents point of view you can see howcommunication with your children is important. Have you used anything likethat with your parents?
Annasophia: Well, my parents are very open. They tell meeverything. Everything that I ask questions about or don't understand,they'll tell me about. And they don't feel odd. They think I should know. Ithink some parents are very, very protective and that's Ok, but your kidswill start to wonder what life is about and what is going on. And they mightget the wrong ideas and try smoking or something bad for them. So I thinkbeing in touch with your child is very important because parents are rolemodels. And whatever they say or whatever they do they look up to them. Andif they do bad things, the kids look at that and see that and they're morelikely to do the bad stuff their parents do.
PF: Can you talk a little bit about working with Johnny Depp?
Annasophia: That was a lot of fun. Everybody asks me thisquestion and it's kind of weird. You meet him and he's such a normal guy.He's really, really down to earth and he treats everyone with the sameamount of respect. He invited you to his trailer and talks to you and makesjokes. Little simple things that make you feel comfortable and not "Oh mygosh it's Johnny Depp." It's just like, Oh, It's Johnny.
PF: And then you see him transform into Willy Wonka.
Annasophia: Yeah and that's kind of creepy. His character isvery creepy. And it's amazing how he can go from his really creepy WillyWonka character to just a normal Johnny.
PF: This film was shot in London. How did you enjoy that experience?
Annasophia: I love London. I think it's the best town in the world. I love the English accent and their little sayings. The city is very historical. I love it. Ilove the architecture and the museums. All the museums are free which iswonderful because everything else is double the price there. You seepictures from your history books. You walk into the British museum and allof a sudden you see the guy throwing the discus. He's actually there. It'snot like you're looking on him on a page. You can touch him and walk aroundhim. It's very cool.
BECAUSE OF WINN-DIXIE OPENS IN FEBRUARY.CHARLIE AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY OPENS SEPTEMBER.
About Johnny Depp: www.girl.com.au\johnny-depp-willy-wonka.htm
More on Charlie and the Chocolate Factorywww.girl.com.au\charlie-and-the-chocolate-factory-story.htm