SBJCT gets Freaky with the wonderfully fashionable, zany, fun and fierce Kathryn Newton. EW spoke with KN about Shape-Shifting, her generation’s positivity movement, how we can lift each other up, the art of going with the flow, and how she raises her vibration. Oh, and her glorious poodles. Read on below…
BY ERIN WALSH
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Erin Walsh Hi angel!!! We had the most fun shooting and collaborating with you. Congrats on the wild success of your latest project, Freaky! What a cool surprise for you in a very strange year. I want to go back to the beginning. Can you tell me about how you started acting and got involved in the biz in the first place?
Kathryn Newton Thank you so much! I am so proud of Freaky and the response it is getting. Just to watch a movie and forget about being stuck at home is so nice. I don’t know how acting started for me, I just know it’s all I’ve ever known. When I was little, I was like a really shy kid in school, so I think my parents just tried to expose me to a lot of activities. They put me in ballet, golf, painting classes, anything just to see what stuck and motivated me. I started doing kid modeling like for Toys R Us and stuff like that, then I started auditioning and I did well with lines. It was always fun for me so I kept doing it. Acting has always just been a hobby and now it’s grown into my career.
EW Were your parents involved in your career from an early age? How do you navigate being a daughter and a professional? And how has that shifted these days?
KN These days I’m mostly a daughter. I haven’t hung out with my parents this much since high school really, so it’s been interesting, you could say. I appreciate the time I have with them but I’m ready to get back to work somewhere far away that’s Covid safe. Haha My dad and I have been golfing so much. It has always been our thing.
EW Did you do professional school or home school?
KN I went to school. I was captain of my high school golf team and was on the ACADECA team. I had to learn how to communicate well with teachers to attend school and work at the same time. I loved being at school. For me it worked to be at school and to be an actor. The friendships I made in high school are still with me and the experience of a classic high school has made me who I am. It was difficult missing school because I would get behind, but that is what taught me how to work harder for what you want. I still use the work ethic I learned in high school as an adult actor. When I was at school it was everything, and when I was on set that was everything. I gave 100% to both aspects of my life.
Just to watch a movie and forget about being stuck at home is so nice.
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EW Working on set as a very young person- was it fun for you? At what point do you feel like you were seen as an adult versus a child actor?
KN When I was young, I would eat the props and was infatuated by the cameras and the fantastic elements of being on set. I am still the same, I don’t eat the props, but I still feel the same magic. I started at 4 years old which made working on set always feel like dress up for me. I still like dressing up. It switched for me on The Society. Netflix gave me the opportunity to tell a great story, a grownup story! I felt responsible for the role of Allie in different way. The cast were all the same age and we grew a lot as team and family. I felt a shift in myself on that set. People were looking at me to make decisions and I realized if I don’t make them someone else will. That was also the first year I hosted a Friendsgiving, I felt like a real adult.
EW Tell me about filming Big Little Lies and your journey from say, the beginning of the series, to where you ended up when you completed filming. Was the process informative to your acting process at all? Any stories from filming you would love to share?
KN I showed up wide eyed and quiet and I left Big Little Lies inspired and determined to do more good work. Big Little Lies was like going college for me because I learned so much from every person on that set. I got to observe the work ethic and detail that goes into an award-winning production and be a part of something much bigger than myself. I was pulled up by Reese and hope that I can show the same generosity to my future cast mates.
EW What is your process to finding a character and how has it evolved over the years?
KN I strive to tell the truth of my characters. There is always something I can find to relate too. Once I find it, I lean into that and expand it until that character becomes me and I slip away completely. I think I’ve always been that way. I’m a shape shifter. At this point I think I like characters that I don’t relate to at all. So I can literally become someone else. A basic transformation starting with the words on the page. For example, the butcher in Freaky. I have nothing in common with the butcher so becoming the butcher felt impossible. But I allowed myself to get lost in that character and transformed into him. Sometimes it’s a little freaky, but mostly it’s just me being truthful.
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EW You are very physical- from the golf, to your intense workouts- tell me a bit about connecting your body and mind and how you do it on a daily basis. Some people have a love-hate relationship with this part of training yourself as an actor, but you seem to really relish the connection. What does it do for you? And what is your routine?
KN I am an athlete and I’ve always treated acting like a sport so they kind of go together. I have always loved being outside golfing with my dad. I always feel great after I hike with my dogs and work out with a trainer. Exercise makes my mind and body feel good. So I do that for me, it’s a lifestyle and eventually I might pull in better nutrition. For now, Hot Cheetos stay a prominent food group in my daily snack routine. I think it’s about finding a balance of what works for you.
EW Let’s get Freaky. I would love to know how you and Vince Vaughn figured this out. Had you met each other before filming? And how did you figure out the physicality of it?
KN Our first meeting was at dance rehearsal. It was hilarious and I immediately knew this movie was going to be insane. We worked with our director Chris Landon on creating back story and physicality for both Millie and the Butcher. Vince had so many great ideas and I just got inspired by him. The best part was to be in a scene as the butcher and be able to ask Vince for his thoughts. The chance to share a role with an actor who is on set with you is unlike anything I’ve ever done before. It opened up an abundance of creative opportunity. We could take so many risks because we were both there to back each other up. We could bounce off each other and see what worked. Vince really elevated my performance, and I am so grateful to have worked with him in that kind of way. It was unbelievably fun.
EW Did you have any idea what the movie would be tapping into this year, in terms of the response it has received?
KN I had no idea how people would react. We kept calling this movie “bonkers” on set. None of us knew how it was going to come together. It’s a crazy movie and I am so grateful people love it. It’s fun to see it in theaters and hear other people’s reactions. Nothing is better than making people scream. But I don’t think we knew how many people would respond so positively to the heart of the story. I have to give that up to our Director Chris Landon. He had the bigger picture in his head the whole time. He was thinking big, but simultaneously never missed a detail in every scene. The movie is grounded in the heart of the story and if you watch the movie you can tell we had a good time making it. In the end people are liking it, and that is rewarding.
EW Are you personally able to handle scary movies? Watching them?
KN No! But I do watch them with friends. I scream and jump and grab them. It’s the experience I’m looking for and who you watch with is a huge part it.
EW As someone still young but with SO very much professionally behind you and SO very much ahead of you, how do you plan what lines up in terms of what projects you sign on to? Do you have anything in the way of a 5 or 10 year plan, or is it more organic than that?
KN I don’t really have a plan. Maybe I should get one! I know when I went to high school I definitely thought I was going to college. That plan didn’t work out, but I ended up exceeding what I thought my future would be. Being open was the key to allow that to happen. I never thought to plan it but somehow my life seems like it’s where it’s supposed to be.
DRESS Alexander Vauthier
What I’ve learned most is to lift each other up.
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EW What keeps you sane these days?
KN Full out dancing in my bedroom and my poodles. Music all day, streaming, learning to cook, reading. I definitely do a lot of karaoke at this time too. Keeping that vibration high.
EW Who really inspires you in terms of your art?
KN I get inspired by the people I work with constantly. What I’ve learned most is to lift each other up. When someone you look up to makes you greater, it changes you. I want be able to do that too.
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EW Tell me about your responsibility as a person with a platform. What do you consider it to be? You have an enormous following, so many people look up to you. How do you see it?
KN I try to use my platform for good. As it grows, I hope my platform maintains a positive and light feeling. I started on social media posting for my friends, getting all my selfies out there, my fit pics, and dog updates. This is who I am! But now I am starting to pay attention to the conversations social media starts. In the future I hope to post more about what I believe in as well as poodle pics. I am proud to be a part of the positive movement of my generation. Our voices are powerful and are changing the world.
EW What are some of your favorite causes and ways to pay it forward? I love to share with our readers ways they can contribute to the change you would like to see in the world…
KN I am a supporter of St. Jude hospital. They are completely run by donations and what they do saves so many lives. I play in charity golf events with St. Jude and when possible, I can’t wait to go back to the hospital to visit again. I think the kids inspire me more than anything I can give back to them.
EW Favorite way to unwind?
KN Try to start my day with a mediation to set a good intention and then I end my day with a long hot bath. Just take minute to breath for myself.
EW Favorite film?
KN Almost Famous! And then The Godfather – all of them.
EW Go to dinner spot in LA?
KN That’s tough. I am never here in LA so I never know where to eat. I end up at CPK for that BBQ chicken salad or Urth for a green tea boba and call it day.
EW Favorite traveling before quarantine?
KN Paris for fashion week. It’s the most romantic place and I miss the glamour. I went to thrift shops and bookstores and painted in my journal on the river. Just walking around in Paris is like being in a movie. It’s all I want to do. Take a long walk in Paris.
EW What is your quarantine routine this year?
KN I wake up and do yoga and either golf or have zoom meetings all day. I’ve been playing a lot of music and catching up on all the shows!
EW Anything that you found to be surprisingly wonderful about hibernation?
KN I am happy doing nothing and I think that might be the key to life. Also, my poodles have become my ultimate best friends.
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Fashion gives me the power of transformation.
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EW I have to talk about fashion- obviously. You have such a natural knack for playing around with clothes and putting them together in wonderfully surprising ways. How did this start? What are some of your fave fashion moments? I LOVE OUR SHOOT PS!!!
KN I love what we did on our shoot!!! I like to have fun and take risks. If I feel like no one else would ever wear something that’s when I want to rock it most. Fashion gives me the power of transformation. Sometimes it’s a princess dress at the golden globes, but it can also be a golf outfit that makes me feel like a superhero out on the course. It could be a red leather jacket like on the butcher in freaky or a grandma sweater for Millie. Choose who you want to be and your outfit can help tell that story.
EW What do you hope your legacy to be?
KN I just want to be true to myself.
EW Kathryn, What’s Your SBJCT? What really motivates and drives you?
KN My heart really does drive me. It hasn’t failed me yet. I can tell when I’m doing the right thing because I am happy. I listen to that.