Rising star Emily Carey’s acting portfolio is rapidly growing with appearances in TV and blockbuster movies, soon to appear on screen as young Lara Croft in 2018’s Tomb Raider. Having appeared in Casualty as Connie Beauchamp’s daughter, Grace since 2014, Emily will be appearing in the lead role of Anastasia in the Netflix movie of the same name. We sat down with her recently to talk about her time on Casualty, her film roles and her involvement in charities.
How did you get into acting?
I’ve always loved acting it’s just been what I’ve wanted to do forever. I grew up around theatres, I have a very theatrical family and in my head it was never a question of will I get to be on the stage, it was always a question of when will I get to be on the stage! I was lucky enough to be spotted by an agent when I was eight and that was what sort of made it for me and from there I did Shrek. I’ve just been working really hard ever since and I know this is what I want to do as an adult, if I stop and take a break that’s fine but I still have to keep going with it because it’s what I love and I just want to do it forever.
What was your first professional acting role?
My first professional acting role was Young Shrek and Grumpy the Dwarf in Shrek the Musical in the Theatre Royal Drury Lane. It was such an incredible experience, I was only nine at the time and I just cannot describe in words how much I loved it and as my first professional experience I’d never been on a stage that big. Of course it’s such a fun show and I got to wear the prosthetics, I just loved it.
What can you remember about your time in Shrek?
One of my favourite things that we used to do in Shrek was, every show we did we had to do a warm-up beforehand so it was a singing warm-up and a dance warm-up as well, even though we didn’t dance in the show, it was just fun to join in with the rest of the adult cast. After warm-up before we went to go and get into costume and make-up, we were on the stage because that’s where the warm-up happened, the fairy godmother costume, this massive dress, it had all these tiny little gems on it, and every show the gems would fly everywhere. We’d spend about half an hour picking up these tiny little gems off the floor, by the end of our six months we had this massive collection of multi-coloured gems, it was just sequins and sparkles. That was one of my favourite things that we did, it sounds really boring when I say it but I swear it was like digging for gold.
Would you like to do more theatre work?
I think at the moment in my career I’d like to focus more on TV and film but I’d definitely love to come back to theatre. It’s such a different world to being on set because you get the adrenaline rush, you’re there in the moment. What I also like about it is, if there’s a funny bit, you get the laughs, if there’s a sad bit, the whole auditorium goes silent, you know that everyone is listening to that one moment. Also with musicals, you get to sing and of course I love singing so I mean I’d love to go back to it one day, but maybe when I’m older and have had more experience.
How do you find playing the role of Grace in Casualty?
So, Grace has had, well let’s just say a tough journey over the past three years. A very young girl played Grace as a toddler so there wasn’t really much for me to go on character wise when I started playing Grace. I didn’t initially sign up for doing all of the blood guts and gore it just started as Connie’s precocious daughter who always seems to cause trouble around the hospital and I loved that side of Grace! She’s had such an incredible journey since then, of course with the car crash, the helicopter crash, the brain injury, even before that, I mean doing a panic attack on screen, I thought that was going to be the toughest thing I’d ever have to do as Grace. Then after that came the brain injury storyline which led me to discovering new things that I never realised were such big issues. I was able to tell different peoples stories, for example, with the epilepsy storyline as well it all helps to raise awareness. That’s probably why I like playing Grace so much, because it’s kind of excessive that she’s gone through so much, but that’s what I enjoyed about it, being able to raise awareness and perhaps be relatable in a small way. I get a lot of mail from other people saying thank you so much, you did it justice, you did this storyline justice, and that’s what makes me so happy. I feel like I wouldn’t be able to play a role quite like it ever again because it’s a once in a lifetime opportunity to portray such an incredible story through someone else’s eyes.
What was it like filming your last scene?
Well it might not be my last scene, I can’t say, but it’s definitely open. I’m still in touch with all the cast especially Amanda Henderson and Crystal Yu, we’re all really close and we do FaceTime often and chat. It’s nice to keep in touch with them.
How much fun did you have at the advanced screening of Wonder Woman?
It was absolutely incredible. We didn’t expect any of that to be honest, I’m only in one scene and it was amazing enough to be on the film set. Wonder Woman was my first Hollywood movie. It was absolutely crazy, there was so many people on set and when we got to the screening, we got to see everyone again. It was very emotional seeing the film for the first time. The women who play the Amazonians, they are such incredible people, they’re so genuinely lovely, they were just so happy to see me, which I didn’t expect at all to be honest. I spent a really long time training with them, nine weeks training for my one scene, of course you have to do this, you can’t just go in and learn the sword fighting routine, you have to start from the very basics. I spent so much time with these strong and wonderful women and then, when we got to the screening we were all just reunited, it was just so much fun because we filmed it back in April, and we didn’t go to the screening until June or July the following year. We had to wait over a year to see everyone. It really was so special.
Did you have to do a lot of training for your role as young Diana in the film?
Yes, I did nine weeks training in Leavesden studios so it’s next door to the Harry Potter studio tour which was amazing. It’s just so cool knowing they filmed Harry Potter right next door. You have to learn the basics first, you can’t just go straight in, it’s like most things, it is easier to learn complex things once you have nailed the easy stuff. Sword-fighting isn’t your everyday sport, so it was just an incredible experience for me to learn something new and have it on my CV. They are skills I will always have and can take with me through life.
Is there anything you can tell us about the Netflix movie Anastasia, and what was it like filming?
Okay, so I can’t tell you too much because none of the trailers are released or anything at the moment. I can tell you it’s going to be very exciting, it’s certainly a twist on the original. I should mention that it’s not quite like the original cartoon, so when you say Anastasia the movie, you probably think of the cartoon but it’s a completely different take on the true story. It’s sort of following one of the conspiracy theories of what possibly happened to the real Anastasia, but then of course because it’s a family film we have added in a bit of fantasy, a bit of magic. I filmed mostly in Kentucky and I just can’t put into words how much I loved it. It was literally one of the best months of my life. The cast, they’re so lovely and we’ve become so close. What I love about Anastasia is that there’s so many different references to other films in there, like little surprises that if you watch the film two or three times you’d then notice more and more. It was just so fun filming those bits knowing it was inspired by well-known movies. I’m not going to spoil it and say what they are, you’ll just have to watch it when it comes out.
What was it like finding out you got the part of Anastasia?
It was crazy to be honest, it all happened so quickly. There’s a story behind it, they were trying to cast the role of Anastasia for a while and they weren’t ever casting in the UK. Armando Gutierrez (Producer) and Blake Harris (Writer/Director) seperately watched screenings of Wonder Woman and they both of course saw my scene, and they both just said she’s our Anastasia. They then looked me up found out I was British, which works with the Russian accent and contacted my agent. It all moved so quickly from there. It literally happened within 48 hours, I found that I’d been offered the role, next thing we’re applying for a visa for me to work in America. I remember that it was a school night and my mum had been acting strange all the way home from school. I’d been up for other things at the time, I’m up for auditions on a regular basis, I’m always asking mum to and from school things like, ‘have you heard anything new, what’s happening this week,’ so I remember asking her that day and she had said nothing and kept changing the subject. When we got home she told me, ‘sit down and read this email, you’ve been offered a role’. I had to read the email about twenty times just to actually take in what was happening. It was so new, we had no clue what the movie was about because it happened so quickly, and that evening I read the script and it’s so beautifully written. Blake has done an incredible job and Dean Cundey the Cinematographer, the way he brought it to life on set as well, it’s such a dream team to work with.
What was it like filming the music video, Baby It’s Cold Outside?
That was so much fun. I’d never worked with that many children before because it was all kids and we all got on so well. Harry Collett who played young Michael Bublé, he also did Casualty, so we met up again afterwards and we’re still really close. I have a funny story from the music video, well it wasn’t funny at the time, but it is now. There’s a shot in the music video where we’re dancing on the stairs, I don’t know if you’ve seen it, basically Harry’s so tiny he had to do this little lift thing where I jump over him, he was so small and I slipped on the stairs, I literally slid all the way down the marble staircase I did have a bruise but I was fine, we just got back up and did the shot again and I didn’t fall that time. It was like a clip from You’ve Been Framed! It really was so much fun to work on.
What’s been the most challenging scene that you’ve ever filmed?
I’ve done so many scenes when you think about it. When you put it into perspective, every scene that I film is challenging in a completely different way, even if it’s two lines. I had a lot of challenging scenes as Grace, mainly when she was mute. I mean it’s going to sound strange, but it’s really hard to act if you can’t talk, you never realise how much emotion comes through your voice. When Grace went mute, there were four episodes, it was incredibly hard to actually act without talking, you don’t realise how much you say, so that was hard. Of course, having a seizure as Grace was incredibly hard too, but the crew were so fantastic about it, especially Medical Nick. We had a medical guy on set at all times, Nick’s incredible, we love Nick, and he’s an actual A&E Nurse. He taught me so much. I’m a really squeamish person and he talked me through it all. I’m a very scientific person as well, so he taught me the actual science of how it happens in your brain, it just helped me to understand it a lot more. It’s hard to get your head around at first and of course with prosthetics on your face, fake blood, in a CT scanner its even harder. I think Grace had three seizures in the end, two or three seizures, and I could notice myself getting better at it each time, it’s exhausting but it helps you understand more of how people who actually have epilepsy have to cope with life.
What countries have you filmed in?
Okay, so of course England, Wales if that counts, that does count, I love Wales. I filmed Tomb Raider in England, I filmed Casualty in Wales, I filmed Wonder Woman in Italy, on the Amalfi Coast, it’s so beautiful there so all of the scenery in Wonder Woman none of it’s CGI, or the majority of it isn’t CGI, it’s all real so it’s an incredible place, and then I filmed Anastasia in America.
What’s it like being away from home when filming for your roles?
It’s tough, especially with all my schoolwork, but I’ve kind of got used to it. I think the worst thing now about being away from home so often, is that I miss my dog so much, she doesn’t miss us, she’s fine, she loves it, she gets to spend a lot of time with my grandparents, but we miss the dog so much when we’re away, and my grandparents, my cousin and my entire family, and all of my friends as well. We’ve stayed in a wide variety of hotels, I think we should write a blog of how many different hotels we’ve stayed in, but I love travelling, I’d love to travel the world more.
How is the experience walking down the red carpet at premieres and film festivals?
It’s very surreal, just the fact that everyone knows your name, I can never get over that. At the BFI Film Festival when we went to watch Thoroughbreds, I wasn’t part of the film but everyone knew my name, it was hard to get my head around, everyone was shouting Emily, Emily, Emily here, Emily there, they all try and get your attention in different ways. It’s really hard not to say something, because as soon as you say something they’re going to get a really bad photo of you, with your mouth half open and you blinking, so you just have to stand and smile, then eventually you move down the red carpet. There’s so many lights and it’s literally like you’re in a movie funnily enough, it’s hard to describe unless you experience it, it’s really hard to put into words because you get such an adrenaline rush and it’s over so quickly. You’re like wow that was weird because everyone knew who I was, everyone wanted me to look over there, I’m not used to that at all. I’m just a normal fourteen-year-old girl, or at least I say normal, I lead a normal life, I go to a normal school, I have normal friends. It’s still odd for me, I mean as I get older and my career hopefully progresses then I might get used to it more, but I really don’t think I can ever get completely used to it.
Have you seen any films or TV shows that you’ve enjoyed recently?
I don’t watch a lot of TV to be honest. There’s a show on Netflix I’m really into at the moment called The Good Place, I recommend that, I love that show. Wonder, the new movie I really want to see, it’s only just come out but it looks like such a heart-warming film and I loved the book, also my friend Noah Jupe is in it. We did Houdini and Doyle a couple of years ago, he plays Jack in Wonder, he’s an incredible actor, he’s such a genuine actor, there’s some young actors who have to try really hard, they’re still amazing but they have to try, whereas Noah he’s just such a natural, you put him in front of a camera, and he’s like ta-da and hes suddenly switched on, so yes I really want to see Wonder. There’s a movie that I watch every Christmas, and that’s Nativity!, I love the kids in that, it’s just so great, we actually saw Nativity! the Musical live not long ago which I highly recommend, it’s going to be coming back this Christmas, so if you have the chance to get tickets, go get tickets, because it’s so great.
How did you get involved with the #MyBrave and do you have any more charity work lined up in the future?
Okay, the My Brave campaign, it’s very close to my heart because the Children’s Trust is such an incredible place. I’ve been saying the word incredible a lot to describe my life. The Children’s Trust, you’d expect it to be quite a harrowing place, the first time we were going to visit, we were talking to my granny about it, she was worried it was going to be very upsetting but actually it’s such a happy, optimistic and lively place, and these kids, they’re so inspirational. The Children’s Trust have hydrotherapy, play therapy, we actually watched a bit of play therapy, and just seeing the kids smile and having fun, and at the same time knowing that this is helping them get better. The #MyBrave campaign was opened in the Easter Fair which I gladly got to launch, that was amazing, it was awesome, it was just like this massive Easter fair with an Easter egg hunt, zorbs and they had bouncy castles, all the kids got to come out and play, and of course it was raising money for the Children’s Trust. The #MyBrave campaign celebrates these wonderful children they do the bravest things every single day, they have to be brave. One of the children that the #MyBrave story follows is Coco, she had a stroke at the age of seven, and just putting that into perspective, she couldn’t walk, she couldn’t talk, she couldn’t eat, and now she’s back on her feet and she’s so cheeky and happy and with the help of the Children’s Trust she was able to find her brave. Also more charity work in the future, I’m planning to do some fundraising for the Royal Marsden Hospital, it’s very close to us at the moment, because we have a close friend who’s being treated there, so it’s a tough time. I also wanted to do some more raising awareness of the Ronald McDonald House, because her family stayed there whilst she was being treated at hospital, we went to visit them, it’s such a great place. I’d love to raise more awareness of that, because I mean when you go into McDonald’s and you see their little fundraising box, you never really put that much money in, so I’d love to actually help raise a good amount, a significant amount of money for the Ronald McDonald and the Royal Marsden.
Have you got any roles coming up that you can tell us about in the next few months?
Yes, I have a role in the new Tomb Raider movie that’s coming out 16th of March. It’s very exciting and I play one of the young Lara Crofts, I play fourteen-year-old Lara Croft, I had to do some training for that as well, which was a whole new skill set, and you’ll have to wait and see when it comes out in March, go and watch it, it’s going to be great!
Follow Emily on: