by Ryan Meehan
Although a fresh face, Sara Lindsey, has had a very productive year with roles in some of the biggest films pending release, alongside some Hollywood’s A-List: Tom Cruise, Matt Damon, Maggie Gyllenhaal and Viola Davis. Sara went on to study drama at Carnegie Mellon University where she graduated with a BFA with honors in 2011. She booked her first film role while still in college in the J.J.Abrams thriller SUPER 8. Although the role was small, the experience of being on set and meeting such an icon convinced Sara to make the big move to Los Angeles in order to pursue her dreams of becoming an actress. She was nice enough to be our guest today in 5 Questions.
FOH: When did you first get into acting, and what was your first break in the entertainment industry?
SL: I sort of always knew I wanted to be an actor or performer of some kind. My first play was a collection of Shel Silverstein poems arranged by my first grade teacher for our class. My poem was “Deaf Donald” and the whole class thought the actor playing Donald and I were totally in love. We weren’t but I had definitely fallen in love with acting and the process of working on a play with a bunch of my friends. I think my parents always knew I was creatively minded – my main activities growing up were singing, dancing, playing the oboe and piano, drawing sort of a renaissance elementary-schooler. I loved school and wasn’t disinterested in academics, but the arts always came first and thankfully my parents supported that. I continued performing throughout high school and decided to pursue acting more seriously towards the end of high school and into college. I think my first real “break” was getting accepted to Carnegie Mellon because that’s when I started to get serious about the work and what I wanted to do and say as an artist. But my first paycheck came in 7thgrade when I played Pepper in a local dinner theater production of ANNIE. That was considered to be a pretty big break in my social circle of 12-year-olds.
FOH: You graduated from Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh – What was your major and minor while attending that school? What was your overall experience attending such a prestigious institution?
SL: I majored in Acting and minored in Gender Studies while at Carnegie Mellon. The CMU School of Drama is conservatory style and very intense, so you really eat, sleep, and breathe theatre while you’re there. It was a struggle schedule-wise to find time to for the required gender studies courses, but ultimately having a well-rounded education in college was extremely beneficial for me both artistically and personally. I can’t say enough good things about Carnegie, my teachers there, and the people I met and worked with who are now my best friends and favorite colleagues.
FOH: Several critics have suggested that the film “Won’t Back Down” that you were in with Holly Hunter, Rosie Perez, and Maggie Gyllenhall was made as an ideological vehicle of conservative activist Philip Anschutz and that the film is shot in such a manner that it appears to promote the parent trigger movement. Alexander Zaitchik of Salon.com even went as far a calling the film a “propaganda flick” that specifically attacks teachers’ unions. Where do you come out regarding that discussion? Do you feel that the film was intended to sway public opinion regarding that topic, or do you prefer not to comment on that?
SL: I was so surprised to hear that feedback about the film. To me, WON’T BACK DOWN is pro-children and pro-education, not anti-union. I think the movie highlights certain issues that currently exist in the public school system, and some of those issues are within the realm of jurisdiction of teachers’ unions. But the film by no means suggests that unions are the cause or perpetrators of these issues merely that they are involved in the system and a part of the discussion. I’m a product of the public school system and feel strongly that a great education is an inalienable right. Every child deserves a chance to succeed, and that starts with education. But there are definitely existing issues: dwindling or non-existent resources, classrooms that are too full, teachers who have checked out, and children who need a different learning method, as a few examples. In my mind, the film sought to highlight these problems and start a public discussion, rather than sway public opinion or make a degenerative judgment on unions.
FOH: Congratulations on landing a role in the upcoming film “Promised Land” which stars Matt Damon, Frances McDormand, and John Krasinski. The thing that stuck out to me the most about this film is that it’s directed by Gus Van Sant, who is without question a living legend. What was it like working with him? Did you have any interactions with some of the other stars in the movie and whose company did you enjoy the most?
SL: Thank you! Yeah I was so excited I got the opportunity to work with Gus and the rest of the cast, and the environment was extremely collaborative. When I was auditioning and doing callbacks, I tried to watch as many of Gus’ films as I could to really get a sense of his style and aesthetic. Gus strips filmmaking down to the essentials: the story, the people, the places. He’s not interested in the frills or glamour of a story in which there are no frills or glamour, and his direction and sensibility with actors are always about finding truth and authenticity, rather than what is visible on the surface. I got to know the other actors very well… Matt and John wrote the script and were also producing, so they were always in the room throwing around ideas or giving notes, which was incredible. The passion and love they had for the story was contagious. I also go to spend a lot of time with Fran and Rosemarie, and the three of us went out to dinner one night with John’s wife Emily and just had the best time. We talked about acting and the business a little bit, but really it was just girls’ night out.
FOH: You’ll be seen in the 2013 release “Jack Reacher” starring Tom Cruise. Could you tell us a little bit about that film? Have you read any of the novels in the Lee Child series?
SL: The film is really really cool. I sometimes have a hard time with action movies because I get caught up in the car chases and can’t figure out exactly what is going on story-wise, but I could follow JACK REACHER from start to finish. Chris McQuarrie is such a skilled storyteller, Tom is awesome to watch, and the film as a whole was a pleasure to work on. I also like the message and driving force of Tom’s character – that no matter what, you have to stand up and fight for what is right.
FOH: Outside of acting, what other things do you do to fill your time when you aren’t on set? Is there anything that you like to do in your spare time that might surprise people who have seen your acting work?
SL: I adopted a dog a year and a half ago, and I’d say 25% of our time together is spent either cuddling or posting adorable pictures of him on instagram. Max is seriously so cute – just the best – but he eventually gets bored with me being his paparazzi. I have several projects in development right now that I’m working on, I take classes, read a lot of books and watch as many movies as I can, try to cook, stay active, and volunteer for different organizations around Los Angeles including Planned Parenthood.
FOH: What’s next for Sara Lindsey in the twelve months to come? Any big plans that we should know about?
SL: I’ve got a few things up my sleeve! But nothing is ever certain in this business. I’m just excited to keep working and learning, and hopefully I’ll be able to take a trip and do some traveling. Oh and Max and I are working on a really amazing Christmas card photo to top last year’s. Big plans.
Sara on IMDB: http://www.imdb.com/name/nm3935293/
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