Most recently, Vivien Lyra Blair was in the cast of the supernatural horror film The Boogeyman as Sawyer Harper, with the film being based on Stephen King’s short story, and she attended the red carpet premiere at the El Capitan Theatre in Hollywood. In the Star Wars franchise series Obi-Wan Kenobi, Vivien plays Leia Organa (a character made famous by Carrie Fisher) alongside a cast including Ewan McGregor (as Obi-Wan Kenobi) and Hayden Christensen (as Anakin Skywalker / Darth Vader), and she attends Comic-Cons with the show. For the Paramount+ series Fatal Attraction, which is based on the 1987 film and released this year, Vivien plays the recurring role of Young Ellen, and last year, she played Emily Gladstone in the feature film Dear Zoe. With the release of We Can Be Heroes, which is a standalone and legacy sequel to the 2005 film Sharkboy and Lavagirl, Vivien played Guppy – the daughter of the 2005 film’s titular characters – working alongside the original Lavagirl actor Taylor Dooley as her on-screen mother. Amongst Vivien’s previous work, she was in the cast of Bird Box, played Little Eleanor Roosevelt in The First Lady, and she recently finished filming for the feature film Goodrich with Michael Keaton, Mila Kunis and Jacob Kopera. Vivien chats to us about playing Sawyer Harper in The Boogeyman, being on set of Obi-Wan Kenobi as Leia Organa and filming as Guppy in We Can Be Heroes.
In the new release of supernatural horror film, The Boogeyman, you star as Sawyer Harper, was there anything that drew you to the role and script?
Well, when I first got the sides, I was unsure about the role. I believed that Sawyer was another little girl that had to be saved by an adult or a teenager. Then I read the script, and I saw that Sawyer is so much more than that. She’s strong, and willing to stand up for herself.
Can you tell us about the film and your character, and what was it like working on a film based on Stephen King’s short story?
I hadn’t read any Stephen King before reading the script, but the story drew me in and I’m excited to read his work now. I think Night Shift is a great place to start so I have that and started with The Boogeyman. Sawyer is such a brave and tough but compassionate person. She fights for her family even though they don’t believe her about the boogeyman.
What was Sawyer like to play and how was your experience on set of the film?
Sawyer was so fun to play and everyone was so fun on set, especially Rob (Savage), Chris (Messina), and Sophie (Thatcher). We got to film in New Orleans during the spring which is Mardi Gras season, the town comes to life with music and parades and just so much personality, I got to tour a swamp and see animals I don’t get to see at home.
How was it attending the red carpet premiere and reading the fan response to your performance in The Boogeyman?
The red carpet was so fun! It was in Hollywood and it was great to be so close to home, and the El Capitan is such an amazing theatre; it felt very immersive, and almost like we went back in time a little. The fan response was great, I think it was definitely nerve-racking entering a second very large fandom, the Stephen King fandom, after already being in the Star Wars fandom, but everyone has been really supportive and I’ve heard a lot of really kind things about my performance.
Last year, you took on the role of Leia Organa in Obi-Wan Kenobi, how was it joining the Star Wars franchise and what was it like finding out you’d booked the role?
Well, my first thought when Deborah (Chow) offered me the role was “OMIGOD!!!”, then there was a moment of “Yikes, this is terrifying, and feels kind of BIG”. Leia was awesome to play. She’s such a powerful and iconic character and it was amazing getting to portray her. Ewan (McGregor) and Hayden (Christensen) were so kind, and the whole set was just such a cool environment!
How was it working alongside the rest of the cast, and did you have a favourite scene to film?
Everyone was amazing. I got to spend time with Simone (Kessell), who played my mom, while filming the scenes on Alderaan and we had a lot of fun together. She is so funny and incredibly talented and an awesome person to be around. I also got to spend time with Moses (Ingram), who’s such a great person and not at all like the Third Sister, she’s a really great actress. I think one of my favourite scenes was the scene in the truck where Leia asks Ben ‘Are you my real father?’. I think it is one of the most moving scenes in the series and getting to act opposite someone as talented as Ewan helped me learn a lot about doing the thing I love most.
How did you prepare for playing young Leia and how was it getting into character?
There was a lot of physical preparation including stunt practice, training, and even learning to wear contacts to change my eye colour. As far as mental and emotional preparation, I got to work with a talented woman name Sammy (Quan) who helped me overcome the largeness of the role and be able to deliver a performance I’m proud of.
Do you have any favourite highlights from being part of Obi-Wan Kenobi so far and how is it attending Comic-Cons?
One of my favourite highlights was spending time with the props department where I got to be around so many fun things like lightsabers and droids, and anything else that makes Star Wars STAR WARS. I think everyone on set did a great job of keeping the magic alive while being behind the scenes. The conventions have been super awesome. It’s amazing getting to meet fans in person, and then I also get to meet a lot of really talented people in my line of work that I can learn from. I also get to talk about being Leia on panels and Q&As which is amazing after having to keep it a secret for so long! And… DROIDS!!! Every convention has a droid builder faction and getting to meet the builders and drive their droids is just pure bliss to me.
What was it like filming for the Paramount+ series Fatal Attraction as Young Ellen?
It was really cool to film so close to home. I also got to work with some really talented people like Amanda (Peet), Josh (Jackson), Lizzy (Caplan) and the showrunner Alex Cunningham, who was always so kind and treated me with an amazing amount of respect. And I really liked getting to meet Alyssa (Jirrels), the actress who played the older version of Ellen, we were so much alike and she was very cool to hang out with.
Can you tell us about your time playing Emily Gladstone in the feature film Dear Zoe?
I got to meet Gren Wells on this shoot and she’s basically like family to us now. She’s not only a great director but also a great human being. Getting to film in Pittsburgh was really fun, it was the first time I got to see snow, since I’ve lived in L.A. my whole life. It was really fun getting to film with Sadie Sink and Kweku Collins, we played a lot of UNO together, which was cool.
In 2020, you played Guppy in We Can Be Heroes, had you seen the original Sharkboy and Lavagirl film before auditioning and what are some of your stand-out memories from filming?
I had not seen Sharkboy and Lavagirl before auditioning, but I did watch it before we started filming. I became really close with Hala Finley, who played Ojo, and had a lot of fun with the whole cast. It was an unforgettable summer and I will always be grateful to Robert (Rodriguez) for making it possible. I really can’t pick just one memory, it was that cool.
What was it like playing Sharkboy and Lavagirl’s daughter and filming alongside Taylor Dooley?
Taylor (Dooley) was incredible, she was so kind and fun to work with. She’s very talented and was definitely an inspiration since she started acting when she was young like me. Being Guppy was so much fun. I knew how important she was to Robert and his family and it kind of made me feel like I was part of their family (which is really cool, because that family is SUPER AWESOME!).
What do you remember most from being in the cast of Bird Box and playing your character?
I was only five when we began filming, so I don’t remember a lot of details, but I remember that Sandy (Sandra Bullock) made it so much fun and she’s too amazing to ever forget. I also remember Julian (Edwards) being really fun to work with, it’s always great to get to work with another kid on set.
Can you tell us about some of the other projects you’ve worked on so far, which have included The First Lady, Mr. Corman and Goodnight Darling?
It was really cool to get to work with Susanne (Bier) again on The First Lady, who had directed me on Bird Box. And on Mr. Corman, it was amazing to get to work with Joe (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), who is definitely an inspiration who started as a child actor and moved up to writing, directing and producing just like I want to when I’m older. He is successful while also being kind and funny, which I hope I can be too. On Goodnight Darling, I had a stepping stone into horror which helped influence my performance in The Boogeyman.
How did you get into acting and was it something you always wanted to do?
I got into acting really young when I had just turned four. It started as a favour for a friend of a friend, and I really loved being on set and told my mom I wanted to do it again and again and so… I did. I still feel very at home on set and I think I always will no matter if it’s in front of or behind the camera.
What are some of your favourite films and TV shows to watch, and how do you like to spend your free time?
One of my all-time favourite TV shows is Bob’s Burgers, I watch it too much (according to my mom), and my two favourite movies are The School for Good and Evil on Netflix and Better Off Dead, which I watch with my dad and we both know every line by heart. I also like both The Office and Parks and Rec. I have five cats and a bearded dragon that I love spending time with. I play ukulele, piano and guitar and LOVE to write music. I have a black belt in Taekwondo. I like to explore many other creative passions whenever I get the opportunity.
Do you have any upcoming projects that you can tell us about and what are you hoping the rest of the year brings for you?
I completed filming on Goodrich in May with Michael Keaton and Mila Kunis and also my brother in the film Jacob Kopera, and that was a lot of fun. And I hope that 2023 brings a lot more wonderful projects and people my way.
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