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"Ever since I was really, really young, I loved to perform in front of people. I loved to be the center of attention!"
"You just have to keep the faith and if it's really what you want to do, you go for it."
"Having my family and friends around me. And also the mountains - being able to look at the snowcaps - it's just amazing."
"They don't treat me like I'm any big deal. I still have chores and they don't treat me any differently."
"The best part about being an actress is being able to tell great stories."
"It's going to be a challenge because I've never written a book before, let alone four!"
"I want to get out there and try to help as many people as I can, just because I think it's just so important!"
AnnaSophia Robb  

Interviewed by Mark Sells
March 2008

Denver native, AnnaSophia Robb, has the kind of sparkle that is both endearing and pure. "Ever since I was really, really young, I loved to perform in front of people. I loved to be the center of attention!" And the center of attention, she has become. At the tender age of 14, AnnaSophia has put together an extensive resume - acting, singing, and writing with some of the best performers and filmmakers in the business.

Her interest in show business evolved out of extracurricular activities ranging from choir to dance to gymnastics. On her very first trip to Los Angeles, she landed a Bratz Dolls commercial for McDonald's. On her second trip, she earned the leading role opposite Jeff Daniels in "Because of Winn-Dixie," not to mention a supporting role as Violet Beauregarde in Tim Burton's remake of "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" alongside Johnny Depp.

Onwards and upwards, AnnaSophia continued to shine in 2007. In addition to co-starring in Katherine Paterson's classic, "Bridge to Terabithia," she contributed a hit song: "Keep Your Mind Wide Open." Even more impressive, she landed roles opposite Academy Award winners Hilary Swank in "The Reaping" and Charlize Theron in "Sleepwalking." Later this year, AnnaSophia will appear with Val Kilmer and Lara Flynn Boyle in "Have Dreams, Will Travel" - another magical adventure about two neglected children in search of a new family.

Wonderfully talented and perfectly grounded, AnnaSophia Robb is sparkling with stardom.

Reel Questions, Reel Answers

You got your start at quite an early age. Was there a particular moment or a particular film where you just thought, 'I want to be an actress?'

No, I don't think so. I just remember that ever since I was really, really young, I loved to perform in front of people. I loved to be the center of attention (laughs) and wanted to be on TV or in movies. When I was eight, almost nine, I begged my mom for an agent because that's how I heard kids got into acting. So, she found me one in Denver and that's how it all got started.

What were those first moments like on the set of "Because of Winn Dixie?" Were you nervous?

You know, I was never really nervous. I definitely remember being excited and I remembered getting into it and loving it. I still do. I just love being on a film set! The crew becomes a family and you get totally submersed in the story. It's so much fun!

I think the only time I was nervous was the night before. I had a really serious scene and I would think to myself, 'Can I pull it off? Can I do it? Oh, please God, let me be able to accomplish this scene!'

Now that you've worked with several of the top actors and filmmakers in the business...has your interest in acting gotten stronger?

It's gotten way stronger. Before, it was just like, 'This is what I want,' and I didn't really know why. But now, I've met so many wonderful people. I've gotten to travel all over. And I've learned about all these amazing stories that I want to tell.

There're so many different possibilities in the film industry - being a producer, a director or writer - anything, really. It makes me even more curious. And I want to be more involved.

For those not in the industry or contemplating going into it, what are some of the surprises and disappointments that you've learned along the way?

Well, I think in my case, being an actor, sometimes it can be discouraging if you don't have an audition for a long time or if you don't get a role. Sometimes you're just like, 'What's wrong? I know there are things happening! Why am I not doing anything?'

That's how it was for me at the beginning. But you just have to keep the faith and if it's really what you want to do, you go for it.

I think one of the hardest things other than being discouraged is to be away from your family. That's what's hard for me. And being away from school. As I get older, I have more homework, more extracurricular activities, and it's hard to fit everything in. I don't really have any free time, which is fine, because I'm doing what I love. But it's just kind of hard to be away from your life (laughs).

Does it ever become a distraction?

It never becomes a distraction. In school, movies totally disappear; I never think about them. It's only when I'm about to leave on a trip to LA or for a film that I need to collect all my stuff, make sure I have everything, make sure I have the directions, and stuff like that.

What's school like for you? Do kids/teachers in school treat you differently because you're in movies?

No, no. In the beginning it was a little. But none of my teachers treat me differently. Some of the kids at the beginning sucked up to me a little bit. But they're all pretty good, all pretty normal from what I've seen. They're really cool kids!

And it makes you feel more normal, right?

Definitely, definitely! Sometimes it's hard because somebody will be having a party or - for instance today, all the girls in my class have a basketball game and I really wanted to go, but I had to come back home, so it's just little things like that, that I miss.

What is it about Denver that you like most? What makes it home?

I think what makes it home is my family; my grandparents are just a little ways from our house, so they're close. And I've gone to the same school for my whole life, so that's my home, pretty much - that's what I've known since kindergarten. Having my family and friends around me. And also the mountains - being able to look at the snowcaps - it's just amazing.

What are some of your favorite local hangouts and why?

(Laughs) I don't really hang out a lot? But if I ever have any free time, I go up to Boulder (to visit family). Also, one of my favorite hangouts over the summer is Elitches. And spending time at my friend's houses, going to the mall, etc.

Skier or snowboarder?

I snowboard. And I love it!

Do you also participate in drama class or take acting classes locally?

No, not really. I mean, we have school plays and musicals and stuff, but I love to watch theater.

To tell you the truth, I'm kind of intimidated by it! And I don't know if I'll be able to do it. But I'm going to a big public school for high school next year, so that'll be new, and I'm excited about it.

A lot of young stars growing up in the limelight have difficulty adjusting to their newfound fame. What role do your parents play in keeping you grounded, allowing you to have a normal childhood, but also giving you the encouragement and support for your career?

They've definitely kept me grounded. First, I think, by staying in Denver. And just being able to come back to a regular school and see my family keeps me grounded. My friends treat me the same. They don't treat me like I'm any big deal. I still have chores and they don't treat me any differently.

If I have an interview or if I should write a letter to someone or read a script, they treat it just like they would homework. They've done a good job, I think.

You've got a new film coming up called "Have Dreams, Will Travel." What can you tell me about the story and the character you play?

"Have Dreams, Will Travel" is not a light-hearted kid's fairy tale! It's set in west Texas and it's about two children who both have disturbing backgrounds. My character gets in a car crash in front of Cayden Boyd's house (who plays Ben) and both of her parents die. And she's very precocious. She decides that his parents don't have anything to offer her or him and that they should leave.

So the story is mainly about them going on a road trip, through the country to get to her - to Cassie's aunt and uncle's house, where her past unravels and she starts having these nightmares.

It's a story about commitment to yourself and commitment in love and in friendship. Although it's a very hard story, I think it came across on film really well. I loved the script! And if you get a chance to see it, I would definitely go!

There seems to be common theme in many of your films - abandoned or neglected children. ("Have Dreams, Will Travel," "Bridge to Terabithia," "Sleepwalking"). What makes you attracted to these types of roles and characters? Or how do you choose your films?

Honestly, I never saw that! Thank you for pointing that out! I think in any story there's abandonment of some sort, you know - that's what gives some characters depth and gives tension to the story. But I never noticed that!

In addition to acting, you've done some voice over work (Danny Phantom), you've recorded music ("Bridge to Terabithia"), and I even read, that you were writing short stories. Do you see any of these things blossoming into something more? In addition to acting?

Actually, I will be co-writing four books. Writing them is definitely going to be blossom into something more because I'm co-writing with Ellen Weiss. It's going to be a challenge because I've never written a book before, let alone four! So that's gonna be over the course of the next two years, I think, and then we're hoping to turn them into movies.

The books are about a group of kids and there's going to be a natural disaster. It'll be about them helping out in their society and we're also going to be bringing up some of the issues that are going on in our world right now, in the US, and all over.

One of the things I admire about you, in addition to your acting, is your sense of global responsibility (Darfur, India, Environment). Your intent to change the world. Can you talk to me about that, where it started, what you're doing now, and what you'd like to do in the future?

Well, it all started with Mia Farrow. I did a movie with her called "Samantha: An American Girl Holiday." And she is the UNICEF ambassador for Sudan. About a year or two ago, I got an e-mail from her about what was going on in Darfur and I was horrified! I couldn't believe what was going on and it got me interested and aware that there are all these things happening in our world today.

Then, I learned through Walden Media about the "Dalit Freedom Network," which is a great organization. They're based in Denver and they're trying to help abolish slavery in India.

India is the biggest democracy in the whole world and I never knew they had slaves. But the Dalits are the lowest caste in the Hindu religion and they are not treated as humans. And the "Dalit Freedom Network" is trying to bring education to the children, because this caste system is so engrained in their heads. At 5 years old, they're taught to think that they're not worth anything, which is just so sad!

So I have been home for several months and I've been able to really get involved and raise awareness. I'm actually sponsoring a little girl there, and it is so cool! For Christmas this past year, instead of giving actual gifts, I bought things in their honor - vaccines for children, sewing machines, and for my lawyer, legal counseling for women.

There's just so many things that need to be done there and it seems like no one knows about this. So, I'm really trying to raise awareness. And it's exciting!

Do you see this being a big part of your life?

I definitely want to stay in the film industry, but along with that, I want to get out there and try to help as many people as I can, just because I think it's just so important!

What is the hardest part about being an actress? What's the best part?

The best part about being an actress is being able to tell great stories. It's exciting to be able to tell stories that you're really passionate about and that you want to tell other people about. It's also wonderful to be able to travel all over. I love to travel and I love meeting new people and making new friends. I also like having the power to help the world or change things...just having a voice.

The worst part is probably also traveling, being away from home, and trying to balance everything.

What has been your most memorable experience in movies to date? Have you ever had an out of body experience?

With every single movie I do, there are always so many memorable things. In "Sleepwalking," we did a table read with Nick Stahl, Dennis Hopper, and Charlize Theron, as well as director, Bill Maher. And we were all in the room, reading a scene, and I just went, 'WOW! I am with Dennis Hopper!' And it was his 108th film and it was my 8th and I kept thinking: 'There are so many things I can learn from him!' And Charlize. She was there, encouraging me, and we were just talking about the scene and I thought, "This is so cool! How many people get to do this?'

What's the best advice you've ever been given?

I've been given a lot of good advice. But for an intense scene in "Sleepwalking," Charlize told me to just put my heart into it and feel the emotion, which helped plunge me into the moment. And then, afterwards, she helped pull me back out of that sadness.

Surely, you can't get bogged down in a role because it's not real. Even though you're playing it for real, you know it's not your real life and you have to get out of it, otherwise, it'll make you depressed (laughs).

What can we expect in the year 2008? What's up next for you?

After "Sleepwalking," I will be shooting "Witch Mountain" with Andy Fickman and Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson. I'll be working on the book series. And oh, school of course - high school!

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