In an exclusive interview with The Untitled Magazine, actress Emma Howard opens up about her acting career and her recent role in “The Beguiled,” directed by Sofia Coppola, who was awarded Best Director at the 70th Cannes Film Festival in May.
Emma is currently sixteen years old, but she made her acting debut when she was twelve years old as part of the original Broadway cast of the Tony Award winning musical, “Matilda.” Emma was also one of the seven finalists for the role of Annie in the 2012 Broadway revival of the musical. Although, Emma has been singing, dancing, and acting on various stages since she was four years old.
Untitled Magazine: How did you get your start in acting?
Emma Howard: My neighbors were starting a small theater group when I was very young (probably about 4 years old) and I have never stopped acting. As young kid, I remember playing in the playground with my friends while we were pretending to be pirates and they would say “let’s pretend” and I was like “we are not pretending we are being real. Be real!” So there was really no question there.
UM: You are still in high school, so how do you balance your course load with your career?
EH: I’m honestly looking for this answer too. Balancing school and work is really hard, but I have really great friends who FaceTime me for hours on end to understand the material I missed at school.
UM: You are a singer, dancer, and actress. Do you have a favorite among the three?
EH: Definitely acting. The thing is, acting is involved in all three. Everything always comes back to acting for me.
UM: What are some of the biggest adjustments you’ve had to make as an actor going from stage to screen?
EH: When your acting onstage, I was always reminded to play to the back of the house. When I was in Matilda, it was definitely harder for me to be more animated than some of the other kids because my acting is more geared towards the screen. For film, the camera picks up everything. I feel like I was always more used to film acting so, the transition was luckily not too difficult.
UM: Do you have a preference between film, television, and theater?
EH: I love them all for sure, but if I had to pick I’d say film.
UM: Can you tell us about your role in “The Beguiled”?
EH: I play a young girl named Emily who’s attending Miss Martha Farnsworth’s Seminary for Young Ladies in the South during the 1860s. Emily is a very hard-working girl, but when McBurney comes along she unleashes her flirty flair and I find that really fun.
UM: The film has quite a dark plot. How did you prepare for that mindset?
EH: I love dark plots. I don’t know what it is! I always gravitate towards stories that have a twisted plot (some of my favorites include: Carrie, the Sixth Sense, Orphan,etc.) I think it makes the story more interesting and it always makes me sit at the edge of my seat.
UM: This is your first movie! How do you feel about the positive reception at Cannes and Sofia Coppola’s win for Best Director?
EH: I couldn’t think of anyone who is more deserving than Sofia Coppola. She is so inspiring to me and she never fails to amaze me. I feel so elated from the positive reception at Cannes and it’s such a good feeling to know that people are excited to see it.
UM: How was it working with Sofia Coppola?
EH: Incredible. She’s such an amazing woman. She knew what she wanted, but also listened to the input of the cast and crew. She’s so easy to collaborate with and she has an amazing amount of patience. Being my first movie, I did feel a bit nervous to be acting with such pros and with my dream director, but she made me feel so comfortable and I’m very grateful for that.
UM: The movie has a strong female cast with acting veterans like Nicole Kidman, Kirsten Dunst, and Elle Fanning. What was it like being a part of that?
EH: The females in this cast are absolutely astonishing. I have admired Nicole, Kirsten, and Elle for so many years and being able to work with them was crazy to me. It’s being with such amazing woman that I feel so empowered and proud. They inspire me so very much and I have learned a whole lot by acting with them.
UM: Can you describe one of your favorite moments on set?
EH: It was the last day of filming and it was the last shot of the day. Oona, Addison, Angourie, and I were singing one of the songs in the film while everyone watched. I don’t know what it was, but I felt so much love in the room. Everyone was there supporting us and we all were super emotional that it was our last day. To feel that together as a cast and crew, was truly so beautiful.