Exclusive Kyliegh Curran Interview
At only 13, “Doctor Sleep” star Kyliegh Curran is set to become an instant Horror icon with her dazzling performance in the long-awaited, highly anticipated sequel to Stephen King’s quintessential classic “The Shining.”
She plays adorably spunky wonder kid “Abra Stone” who “shines” like the all-grown-up-and-liquored-up “Danny Torrance” (Ewan McGregor) who’s desperate to piece together his shattered life years after his psychotic pop went axe-crazy at the Stanley Hotel.
Together, they battle a sinister (and strangely snazzy) evil in mind-bending scenes carried entirely by our new fave 8th grader who gushed about her spooky debut in a cackle-filled interview at the very creepy and very haunted Highland Inn in midtown Atlanta.
(But first, check out the trailer if you haven’t already)
Did you see the original (“The Shining”)?
“Yes, four times!”
How did that go?
“Well, I watched the first time right before the call back, actually, and I remember (laughs) my mom said, ‘No! I am not going to watch that with you’ and I was hiding behind my dad’s back the whole time because the suspense was just so sickening because you are just waiting for the first jump scare — and then BANG! When the title card hits you, it’s like a drug. Then the second time was at a special showing, the third time was for fun with my best friend Jerry, and then the fourth time was at a movie theater with my family.”
Really? This movie is not funny (nervous laugh)
“Well, in some moments it can be so scary that you have to laugh. If you don’t laugh, then you will cry.”
This movie is old, though. It’s older than both of us. So, what’s the difference between watching it and knowing it’s old versus making the movie that you’re making now. The graphics… it’s kind of grainy.
“Well I drew a lot from both, mostly Wendy’s character and young Jenny. And then a lot from the book — mostly from the book because this is a standalone film and it’s just the adaptation of the book, but yea, I drew a lot from Wendy’s character definitely and watching it really helped me out.”
You said you auditioned. How did that go? Bring me to the beginning?
“Well, I was fresh out of summer camp and I got this 10-page long, thick, thick, thick audition and I barely had any time to get it done. So, I wasn’t even off-book. We just taped it and sent it in and I was not very confident. I did not think I was gonna get a call back. Then a month later I got a call back! And I spent two days with my acting coach perfecting the character we drew as much as we could.
But, it was a pretty big script so we did the best we could. We sent it in. I felt much better about it and a week later Mr. Mike, the director, calls my mom and says ‘Hey! We would love Kyleigh to come and read with Mr. Ewan.’ Oh my gosh, the nerves just started building up and building up and building up like a tower, and I was doing this weird twitch thing. Oh, it was so nerve-racking! But when I walked in to the room, all my nerves just melted away because the people were so kind and chill and just laid back.
Ugh, they’re so amazing and I read with Mr. Ewan and I hoped that what I did was enough to book the role. And, I was sitting in school one day — my mom had been working in the same school as me — and she came knocking on the door and my teacher said ‘Hey, your mom’s at the door!’
Oh, I got so nervous. I said to myself ‘Ok, this is a yes or a no. This is very nerve-racking but don’t fret.’ And so I walked out and my mom said ‘Kylie, you’re gonna be in the movie!’ And we were jumping all over the place, screaming ‘Oh my gosh, yes!’ And my classmates were just pressed up against the window, like ‘What is she doing?’ And when I walked back I had messy hair, my face was all red, I was sweating and I couldn’t tell anyone. I felt so proud of myself in that moment. I was like ‘Finally, you waited for this for so long and your hard work has paid off. Yay!”
For so long? You’re only 13.
“Well, since I was 7. I’d been auditioning and auditioning and it’s really a test to your confidence and your patience and self-esteem when you keep getting ‘no,’ getting so close in an audition and then losing it. It’s really just kind of depressing. But, then, once you book something it’s like this wave of relief and you feel so much better.”
I feel it. I’m excited. I’m about to go audition for something… I don’t know what it’s going to be. So, working with Mr. Ewan, how was that?
“He’s amazing. He’s like a big teddy bear. He’s so great to talk to and he’s a great listener and I really enjoyed working with him. Watching him work is fascinating, how he just takes on his character so seamlessly. It’s amazing. And, he’s also very good at chess. I would not challenge him in chess.”
What did you learn from him? What’s the #1 thing?
“Well, his guidance was probably watching him, definitely mirroring how he acts, and building a relationship out of the characters really helped us build a relationship WITH our characters — how our chemistry worked.”
What was the spookiest part about making this? Were you actually ever scared making this?
“No. I was mostly just excited. I kept living in the moment, kept thinking ‘Wow, this is super exciting. This is so amazing.’ But I also had a little bit of a tether, so I was able to pull myself back down to my character and not completely freak out. But, yeah, it wasn’t very scary. It was more of an exciting experience.”
It’s funny that you say that because this movie is —
Now, Stephen King. Did you read the book?
And how did that go?
“Oh it was disturbing. I had nightmares for days. But I was able to just leave it at the door, drop it, and just keep working. I’m really happy I did because now I’ve got a grip on how horribly evil the True Knot are and how Abra projects her energy against them, how she feels about them, and that really helped me with chemistry with everyone and how Abra is. So, I’m very happy that I read the book but I’m also very upset that I did (laughs).”
If you’re going to do roles in the future, would you read the book or would you just go off of the script.
“It depends on what the book is about. If it’s something super iconic, then I’ve gotta read the book. If it’s something that maybe it’s more a new movie and it’s slightly off a book, then I’d probably just go off the script so I don’t completely go off the book. And, if it’s a remake of an old movie, I probably wouldn’t watch the old movie so I wouldn’t copy or mirror the person I’m playing.”
And as far as scary movies, you said your mom didn’t want to watch “The Shining” with you, so do you watch scary movies like that?
“Yes! I love Jordan Peele! He’s a genius! I love Horror movies. I watched a lot of the old Stephen King ones. I watched “Carrie,” I watched “Pet Sematary,” “The Shining.” “Carrie” was, whew, that was freaky. “Pet Sematary,” the newer one was pretty disturbing.”
You’re only 13 though…
I couldn’t even watch these movies until I was 17. What else? Was that it?
“There’s a lot of things I can’t even remember. Oh, It! I love It so much. My favorite Stephen King movies, those were amazing.”
You’re not scared of clowns?
“Nope. They’re funny. Well, I mean I did not appreciate Pennywise eating children. So that was definitely… I did not like that, no one would like that. But when he was shaking his head around I couldn’t stop thinking about my sisters or me shaking my head around in white face paint and a red nose like ‘bahhhh!’ It was too funny to me. But, it was also so disturbing.”
You’re about to be a star. How does that feel? Your classmates know that you’re in the movie now.
“Well, I’m homeschooled. But I never really thought about being a star or anything. I just thought ‘Wow this is a really cool experience. I’m in a movie. This is super cool. This is super exciting.”
It hasn’t hit you yet?
“No, not really. It hadn’t hit me that this was such a huge movie until August and now I’m super nervous, but being a star never really hit my head.”
OK, I’ll check back in two weeks.
“Well, we’ll see (laughs).”
If you could use your power in real life, would you use it for good or bad?
“For both. I would cast hexes and be a little vengeful, sometimes, towards my sister’s enemies and then towards my enemies maybe. And then for good, I would eradicate all single-use plastics and multiple things. Just grab them all in a ball and incinerate them.”
“Doctor Sleep” scares its way into theaters this weekend!