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 find your time playing Grace Beauchamp in Casualty?
Grace has had, 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 thought doing a panic attack on screen 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 people’s stories, for example, with the epilepsy storyline – 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 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 as Grace?
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 training did you have to do for your role of Young Diana in the feature film Wonder Woman?
I did nine weeks of training in Leavesden Studios which is 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.
You attended the advanced screening last year, how was the experience at the event?
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 were so many people on set and we got to see everyone again when we got to the screening. It was very emotional seeing the film for the first time.
The women who play the Amazonians are such incredible people, they’re so genuinely lovely and they were just so happy to see me, which I didn’t expect at all. I spent a really long time training with them – nine weeks of training for my one scene. 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.
Is there anything you can tell us about the upcoming Netflix film Anastasia and what was it like to film?
I can’t tell you too much because none of the trailers are released or anything at the moment. I can tell you that it’s going to be very exciting, and it’s certainly a twist on the original. I should mention that it’s not quite like the original cartoon. 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 and 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 are 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, so you’ll just have to watch it when it comes out.
How was it finding out you’d booked the leading role of Anastasia?
It was crazy, to be honest, and 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) watched screenings of Wonder Woman separately 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 out I’d been offered the role and 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 as I’m up for auditions on a regular basis, so 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 the way Dean Cundey, the cinematographer, 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 for Baby, It’s Cold Outside by Idina Menzel and Michael Bublé?
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, 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. Harry’s so tiny and 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 and 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.
Throughout your career so far, what would you say has been the most challenging scene 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. 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 and 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 it’s even harder. I think Grace had three seizures in the end, either 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 and what’s it like being away from home when filming?
Of course England, and Wales if that counts (that does count, I love Wales). So I filmed Tomb Raider in England, I filmed Casualty in Wales, and I filmed Wonder Woman in Italy, on the Amalfi Coast – it’s so beautiful there. None of the scenery in Wonder Woman, or the majority of it, isn’t CGI, it’s real, it’s an incredible place. Then I filmed Anastasia in America.
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 and 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 and I’d love to travel the world more.
How is the experience walking 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 are 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, and I have normal friends. It’s still odd for me. 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.
What do you remember most from your time in Shrek the Musical and was this your first professional acting role?
Yes, 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.
One of my favourite things to do whilst I was in Shrek was that we had to do a warm-up before every show we did. There 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! The Fairy Godmother costume is this massive dress and it had all these tiny little gems on it, and the gems would fly everywhere at every show. So, after warm-up, before we went to go and get into costume and make-up, we were on stage and 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 and 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 this 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, and 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, and 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’d love to go back to it one day, but maybe when I’m older and have had more experience.
How did you get into acting and is it something you always wanted to do?
I’ve always loved acting and 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.
Are there any films or TV shows you’ve seen recently that you would recommend or that you would like to see?
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, and I recommend that as I love that show.
I really want to see the new movie Wonder. 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 and he plays Jack in Wonder. He’s such an incredible and genuine actor. There’s some young actors who have to try really hard, they’re still amazing, but they have to try, whereas Noah is just such a natural. You put him in front of a camera, and he’s like ta-da and he’s 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 campaign and do you have more charity work lined up in the future?
The #MyBrave campaign is 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! You’d expect the Children’s Trust to be quite a harrowing place. The first time we were going to visit, we were talking to my granny about it and she was worried it was going to be very upsetting but actually it’s such a happy, optimistic and lively place. The kids are so inspirational. The Children’s Trust have hydrotherapy and 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 is great.
The #MyBrave campaign was opened in the Easter Fair which I gladly got to launch. It was amazing and awesome, and it was just like this massive Easter fair with an Easter egg hunt, zorbs, bouncy castles, and 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 who do the bravest things every single day because 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.
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 and it’s such a great place. I’d love to raise more awareness of that because 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, significant amount of money for the Ronald McDonald House and the Royal Marsden.
Have you got any roles coming up in the next few months that you can tell us about?
Yes, I have a role in the new Tomb Raider movie that’s coming out 16th March. It’s very exciting and I play 14-year-old Lara Croft. I had to do some training for that as well, which was a whole new skill set. You’ll have to wait and see when it comes out in March. Go and watch it, it’s going to be great!
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