Interview by Michael J. Lee, Executive Editor for
August 7, 2019

Set in a world where those exhibiting superhuman abilities are feared and imprisoned by the government, the sci-fi thriller Freaks follows the insulated Chloe, a young girl kept under lock and key by her overprotective father in their deteriorating home. Yearning to connect with the world she watches from her bedroom window, Chloe grows increasingly resentful of her forced confinement as she dreams of a life on the outside.

In a genre notoriously dependent on a generous budget for special effects and elaborate sets, Freaks maximizes its limited resources by focusing on the rising tensions between its central characters, forgoing the visual spectacle that can frequently serve as a crutch in more shallow science fiction. Breakout lead Lexy Kolker impressively carries the movie as diminutive protagonist Chloe, holding her own with veteran co-stars Emile Hirsch, Amanda Crew, Bruce Dern, and Grace Park, all while intriguing viewers with the mystery surrounding her predicament.

In this exclusive interview, Amanda Crew and Lexy Kolker pair up to talk about working on Freaks as a mother/daughter duo. The two clearly share a warm, supportive relationship, and they have done press together since last year, when the film enjoyed a successful world premiere at the 2018 Toronto International Film Festival.

Freaks opens in theaters nationwide September 13. Lexy, how did you get started in acting?

LEXY: Actually, [my older sister] Ava was my inspiration for acting. When Ava was 2 years old, she said, "I want to be a movie star!" And she started acting when she was about 4 1/2. And then when I was about that age, I wanted to start acting. I was like, "Mom, I want to do what Ava does!" So then I kind of got into it. But then I told my mom, "I want to act, but only on Sundays." [laughs] It was so random. My mom was like, "That's not how it works." So we waited a little bit longer. So I started acting when I was about 5 1/2, and my sister really helped me because she knew a lot about it, because she had been doing it for a long time.

What was your reaction when you found out that you got this starring role of Chloe?

LEXY: I was screaming [for] joy! I didn't care that I was filming it for my whole summer, I didn't care that I was filming it over my birthday--I was just so happy. I mean, I can't even explain my joy.

Amanda, I did a mini-marathon of your movies with Freaks, Tone-Deaf, and Isabelle. What have you enjoyed about working in science fiction and horror?

AMANDA: What I like about those genres is that there's a liberty they can take with exploring characters and worlds and stuff that other genres don't get to. And I feel like in horror and suspense, with casting...You know, there's roles I want, but I'm just not at a place in my career where they're available to me, because they're going to "star names." [laughs] Which is how it works, and that's fine--it's a business and that's the way it is. But what I love about this genre is that usually with casting, they're willing to go with lesser known actors and give them a chance to do something that they've not necessarily seen them do before. Like, so many people know me as Monica from Silicon Valley, which is very specific, one type. And the fact that [writer/directors Zach Lipovsky and Adam Stein] saw me in this character--which is not a vanity character, it's not a pretty girl, it's gritty, raw, and really has to go to a whole other level--is a liberty that they take in this genre. So it's been a great opportunity to kind of push myself out of the box that I feel that most people know me as.

Playing a mom also seemed like a change of pace for you. How did you feel about tackling that aspect of the role?

AMANDA: Yeah, I'm not a mom, so it was new territory for me. But it was so easy with Lexy, because she's so... [gestures to Lexy] I mean, look at her! She's so sweet. We had such a great time. Obviously motherhood's about that connection and that bond, and that was so easy to form with her because she's such a present actor, and so talented. So it wasn't forced, or it didn't feel like I was "trying to become something." It was just a natural thing that happened with us.

Doing a movie in which characters manifest superhuman abilities must have made you think about powers you'd like to have yourself...

AMANDA: [gestures to Lexy] She's put a lot of thought into it!

Let's hear it! What did you come up with?

LEXY: Well, if I had to choose one superpower, I would choose the power to give myself or anybody else in the room any power. [laughs]

AMANDA: So they could just choose whatever power...

LEXY: Yeah, exactly! Like, if I'm feeling invisible, I can go invisible; if I'm feeling to teleport to Africa, I can teleport to Africa; if I'm feeling telekinesis, I can do that. So that would be my power.

I like it. It's very "wishing for more wishes" from a genie.

AMANDA: That's what she said! [laughs] She was like, "If I can't have that, then I'd have the superpower of a genie who would give me a hundred wishes." So I think she's smart. And very clever. Because I didn't think of that answer.

Lexy, you're in almost every scene in the movie. What do you remember from your experiences of working with Emile Hirsch, Bruce Dern, and Grace Park?

LEXY: Well, everybody in the cast was amazing! Separately, Emile was very inspirational, because I did a really intense scene with him when we were yelling at each other in my room, and it got really real for me--like, I actually started crying and I had to take a break. So I was with my mom, and then Emile came, and he gave me this amazing talk. He said it's really good to be in the moment and really feel what Chloe's feeling, because that means you're a true actress. And that meant the world to me in that moment. So Emile was just amazing. And Bruce, he was great! [laughs] He taught me a lot about improv, because the first time I worked with him, he went off-script. And I was confused, I was waiting for my cue. But then I really learned in that experience to just go with it--conversate, just have a conversation. And then it made it a lot more real and in the moment. And Grace, she was also really good. I know I didn't get to do a lot with her because we were in like two scenes, but she was really nice. And Amanda! She was the best. [to Amanda] You're the best!

AMANDA: Awww, you're the best. We had fun.

LEXY: Yes, we did.

Chloe is extraordinarily motivated by ice cream. Where does ice cream fall on your own list of priorities?

LEXY: [gasps] I love ice cream. So it was easy for me to relate to that part. And it's chocolate, too. [laughs]

AMANDA: Sometimes that was your kind of "comedown" technique. After she would have a really intense scene.

LEXY: The last scene when I was crying a lot, I was actually crying and I was sad. I couldn't stop crying, so Adam gave me ice cream, because that's what made me happier. [laughs] And we actually had to reshoot the last scene at Adam's house, the one where me and Amanda fly up, like...What, seven months later?

AMANDA: Yeah. They kind of reworked the ending.

LEXY: We had to set everything up and I had to cry again. And again, I couldn't stop crying, and they gave me ice cream.

Certain talents and skills can often help you land a role. What other interests and hobbies do you have?

LEXY: Well, I'm a good swimmer. I've known how to swim, fully alone, I think, since I was 2. My parents taught me really early--like when I was a newborn, they would put me underwater. I also do karate. I play soccer and tennis. I like those.

AMANDA: You're very active.

LEXY: I like hiking. I like the ocean. I love my dogs. I got a new one!

AMANDA: [excitedly] You got a new dog?

LEXY: Peanut!

AMANDA: Well, after, you have to show me some photos.

LEXY: I will.

Swimming, athleticism, working with dogs...Those all look good on an acting resume. Thank you both for your time this afternoon!

AMANDA and LEXY: [simultaneously] Thank you!

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