I recently got the chance to talk to Kayla Barr about her role in Anton Yelchin’s new film, ‘Like Crazy’. Here, Kayla talks about how she got involved in the project and what it was like working with the cast and crew on-set…
Hey Kayla. Thanks for taking the time out to talk to me about your new film, ‘Like Crazy’.
What’s the general plotline surrounding the film?
The story is about two college students (Anton Yelchin and Felicity Jones) who fall in love, but when one (Jones) overstays her Visa, they are forced into a long distance relationship – and the trials of tribulations that go along with that. Aside from long distance relationships, though, the story is truly about that first love, which is a universal experience that everyone can understand, relate to, and often have a beautifully bittersweet memory of.
Tell us a bit about the character you play in the movie…
I play Anna’s (Felicity Jones) obnoxious college roommate. Or as I think of her – Anna’s hilarious and misunderstood roommate. She’s a stark contrast to Anna, which highlights how different Anna is from those around her. I basically just drew from girls I had come across (and my own embarrassing experiences) in college and heightened those characteristics into an amalgamation of disgusting awesomeness. (I certainly hope my sense of humour isn’t lost in print, what a shame it would be for all this cheekiness to go to waste!)
How did you get involved in the project in the first place?
This is actually an amusing story, well amusing perhaps for you, a touch mortifying for me. When I first got the audition, it was an initial meeting with Drake (our director) and we discussed the project and he interviewed me a bit. I remember being so confused that there was an improvised script, and asked him about it several times. It went something like this:
DRAKE: So the script is an outline and you get to improvise.
ME: So, do you want me to read sides?
DRAKE: No, there are no sides, just improv.
ME: So…I’m not reading any lines?
ME: I don’t understand.
Brilliant. Luckily, I was called back for a taped audition, where I improvised as my character, and was fortunate enough to get the job. However, I had NO idea that the film was as established as it was, so when I received my call sheet the night before shooting and saw Anton Yelchin, Oliver Muirhead, and Alex Kingston’s names on it I had a full-blown panic attack. I was on the phone with a couple of friends who were trying to quell my nerves while I shouted, “I didn’t know I was filming with Chekov from ‘Star Trek’!” I had also watched Oliver on ‘Buffy The Vampire Slayer’ (I know he’s been in a plethora of projects, but I adore ‘Buffy’ – don’t hate), and Alex from ‘Doctor Who’, so I needed to get my pre-game jitters out before getting to set the next day.
How would you say this film is different and unique?
Well, working with an improvised script is likely the most unique aspect of the film that sets us apart. Why I was so confused when Drake first told me about the script is because it is extremely rare for your writer(s)/director to trust the actors to take creative initiative and experiment with the characters and scenes. It is truly a gift, and I believe it reflects strongly in the film through the honesty and genuineness in every moment.
The film stars Anton Yelchin, Felicity Jones, Jennifer Lawrence, Charlie Bewley, Alex Kingston and Oliver Muirhead – with Drake Doremus onboard as director – what was it like working with the cast and crew on-set? Any good anecdotes?
We were fortunate to have both an amazing cast and crew. Everyone was incredibly cool and wanting to make a great film. Both Drake Doremus and Ben York Jones (co-writer) were refreshingly kind and generous. I would have to say, however, that my favourite memory was sitting in the trailer with Oliver, Alex, and Felicity eating this delicious artisan bread that Oliver had baked from scratch. Yes, indeed, Oliver Muirhead is a master breadmaker (the man can do everything!), and I was happy to be able to say that I literally broke bread with the cast.
Let’s talk a bit about you Kayla. What made you want to get into the industry in the first place?
I grew up performing and being on stage through dance, predominantly ballet, from a very young age. I didn’t always fit in easily with kids at school (not everyone readily appreciates this cheekiness), and I quickly learned that it was when I was on-stage before an audience that I felt an overwhelming sense of belonging and happiness. I always knew that performing was what I wanted to do, but it wasn’t until college that I had the courage and confidence to truly begin pursuing this career.
What advice would you give to anyone wanting to get into the industry?
While I’m continuing to learn everyday myself, the one thing I will say is that if you plan on getting into this business you better have a strong sense of self. I am blessed that I also have an immensely strong support system with my family, and perhaps having grown up in LA I’m a tad jaded, but I can’t tell you how many people I’ve seen come to this city and completely lose themselves and what they believe in. On a more positive note, though, I’ll say to train as much as you can, take your work seriously, but don’t take yourself seriously – have a sense of humour about yourself….but that’s not necessarily solely for this industry, I’d say that’s a nugget of advice for life, thanks Mom for instilling that one in me.
What is your favourite word?
Phalanges. I honestly use this word on a near daily basis, and find ways to incorporate it into conversation probably 10x more than the average person. And let’s be real, how can anyone not read or say “phalanges” without laughing or at least cracking a smile? To those who say they don’t think it’s funny, they are either lying or they’re a cyborg.
If you could have dinner with three guests – (living or dead), who would you choose and why?
I would say Barbara Stanwyck – my film idol, I can’t watch her enough times in ‘The Lady Eve’ and ‘Christmas In Connecticut’, she’s just brilliant, witty, and charismatic – my kinda lady! Also, Paul Newman. One of my Dad’s all-time favorite films is ‘The Sting’, starring Newman and Robert Redford, so Newman has been a part of our household for ages. Not only is he an incredible actor who (I’m sure unintentionally) steals nearly every scene he’s in, he is also someone who’s philanthropy and activism I find especially admirable, plus he’s not bad to look at either. Lastly, I have to say Diablo Cody. To put it simply, her writing, tone, and humor are boss. I also watch her Red Band Trailer interviews on YouTube, which are best things to happen to me since flavoured chapstick.
If you were stranded on a desert island, what three things could you not live without?
Hmm, for my sanity I’ll need my MacBook. A box set of Rosetta Stone language tutorials….I may as well learn something with all that time on my hands. Thirdly, a surplus of Nickelodeon 1990’s TV show DVD’s, aka the epitome of my childhood.
What’s coming up for you in 2012?
I’m currently pursuing my Master’s degree at the University of Southern California, so I’ll be continuing my studies (I’m someone who needs a balance of arts and academia to keep me happy). I’m also auditioning and actively searching for the right project for me – I love playing the quirky/funny best friend, so that’s at the forefront of desired roles. A short film I had shot called ‘The Record’ is currently making the rounds in a few horror film festivals, so I’m excited for that. And, I’m especially hopeful to make a trip back to London since I haven’t been back since I lived there (for about 5-6 months) a few years ago, and I miss it terribly. I’d absolutely love to film a project in the UK – British film and television, especially comedy, are my favourite. I was feeling a void in my life when ‘The Inbetweeners’ ended, but I just discovered ‘Fresh Meat’ and it’s helping me cope wonderfully!
Thanks for the interview!