AnnaSophia Robb Interview, Bridge to TerabithiaPosted by: Sheila Roberts
MoviesOnline recently sat down with actress AnnaSophia Robb who stars opposite Josh Hutcherson in the new Disney film, "Bridge to Terabithia.â€ The film is directed by Gabor Csupo, the world-renowned animation artist who makes his live-action debut, from a screenplay by Jeff Stockwell and David Paterson, based on the award-winning novel by Katherine Paterson.
The adventurous and moving tale inspired by Patersonâ€™s story explores the wonders of friendship, family and fantasy and is imbued with an unsinkable sense of childhood magic and a belief in the power of the imagination. The story begins with Jess Aarons (Josh Hutcherson), a young outsider on a quest to become the fastest kid in his school. But when the new girl in town, Leslie Burke (AnnaSophia Robb), leaves Jess and everyone else in the dust, Jessâ€™s frustration with her ultimately leads to them becoming fast friends.
At first, it seems Jess and Leslie couldnâ€™t be more different â€“ sheâ€™s rich, heâ€™s poor, sheâ€™s from the city, heâ€™s from the country â€“ but when Leslie begins to open up the world of imagination to Jess, they find they have something amazing to share: the kingdom of Terabithia, a realm of giants, ogres and other enchanted beings that can only be accessed by boldly swinging across a stream in the woods on a strand of rope. Here, Leslie and Jess rule as King and Queen among the incredible creatures they create, and not even the forces of evil can break their bond. Now, no matter what happens in the real world, in Terabithia, Leslie gives Jess a magical place that will always be filled with amazing stories and dreams.
Whereas finding Jess had taken a far and wide search, finding Leslie happened almost in an instant, when AnnaSophia Robb showed up in producer Lauren Levineâ€™s office before the casting process had even really begun. Levine already knew the blue-eyed beauty who first came to widespread attention in the lead role of "Because of Winn-Dixie,â€ and who went on to win the plum role of Violet Beauregarde in Tim Burtonâ€™s "Charlie and the Chocolate Factoryâ€ with Johnny Depp. But their conversation convinced her that, without a doubt, AnnaSophia was meant for this role.
"We were talking about the new Harry Potter book that had just come out at that time and we were both completely obsessed with it,â€ recalls Levine. "It was just so clear in talking to her about all this fantasy that I was basically talking to Leslie, that she had that same kind of spark and magical presence. She might be physically different from Leslie in the book, but the spirit of Leslie and the spirit of AnnaSophia are nearly identical. It was a match made in heaven.â€
Producer Cary Granat, who previously worked with AnnaSophia in "Because of Winn-Dixieâ€ was equally won over. "In this role, sheâ€™s like a little Annie Hall â€“ thereâ€™s so much depth and character she brings to Leslie, but at the same time, sheâ€™s a very relatable little girl,â€ he says.
AnnaSophia had read "Bridge to Terabithiaâ€ before she auditioned for the film and was already a huge fan. "I remember I would stay up late reading the book and then wake up and start reading again in the morning,â€ she says. "It touched me in a way I hadnâ€™t been touched by a book before. I really loved the characters and all the imagination. I think it reminds me that even though I have to grow up, I donâ€™t ever have to stop pretending and imagining.â€
AnnaSophia especially felt close to Leslie. "Sheâ€™s one of those people whoâ€™s just always lit up, who has this glow about her, and no one can bring her down,â€ she says. "Leslieâ€™s such a lively and energetic character, it was really fun for me to become her.â€
Although Leslie is already an amazing person, AnnaSophia believes she becomes even more inspired after meeting Jess. "She canâ€™t really find Terabithia until she meets Jess,â€ the actress notes, "but once they meet, this whole world opens up for both of them. They are both kind of outcasts who take a leap of faith to see who they can become.â€
AnnaSophia has her own clear vision of what Terabithia is: "Itâ€™s a place that is anything and everything you want it to beâ€ she says. She continues, "In Terabithia, you just put out your ideas and they happen just like that. Itâ€™s about having fun, itâ€™s about friendship, itâ€™s about hope, and itâ€™s also about learning to deal with your problems when you go back to the real world. I think Terabithia is a place thatâ€™s different for everyone. Itâ€™s a place where you can go if youâ€™re feeling sad or down, and youâ€™re never really alone because there are always creatures watching you. I think all kinds of people will fall in love with Terabithia.â€
While preparing for the part, AnnaSophia became even more excited when she first saw illustrated drawings of Terabithia hanging in director Gabor Csupoâ€™s office. "I saw some pictures of fairies and I got so pumped,â€ she recalls. "Iâ€™ve loved fairies since I was a little girl, and now I knew this world was really going to come alive for me.â€
On the set, she was further inspired by the colorful, creative and definitely contemporary costumes designed for her character by costume designer Barbara Darragh. "One of the reasons I adore playing Leslie was because of her clothes,â€ admits AnnaSophia. "Theyâ€™re really, really awesome with all these funky little touches like armbands and bracelets and things like that. It captures how Leslie presents herself to the world and makes a really cool appearance. And it reflects how she responds to life, because sheâ€™s very funky and willing to break the rules. Her clothes let you know that she believes in who she is, and sheâ€™s not afraid to show it.â€
Hereâ€™s what AnnaSophia had to tell us about making "Terabithia,â€ what it was like working with Josh, and her love of reading:
MoviesOnline: Leslie is smart, athletic, and nice to people. Would she really be the outcast amongst the other kids?
And I know that bullying comes in all shapes and forms, and it doesn't matter how old you are. I mean, a lot of people get bullied at an office when they're adults, and then it also happens on a playground at school. So it's really sad, but I think for those who are out there getting bullied, bullying is just trying to push someone down to make themselves look taller.
What Jess and Leslie found out with Janice Avery is that she was going through some troubles at home, you know, some personal things. Which doesn't make it any more...It doesn't make it acceptable to be mean to someone just because you're going through personal issues, it just means that the person getting bullied should try to be kind to them, or try to be understanding, or just turn the other cheek, because you can't change anyone, but you can change yourself.
And at lunch, he goes, â€˜Let's race!â€™ I was like, â€˜Okay. Fine, Josh, we'll race. Fine. Whatever you want.â€™ So we say go, and I take off, but then I stopped, and I'm just...You know, I walk back. I'm just feeling comfortable, because I'm all tired. And he gets to the end, and he's all excited, and he turns around, and he's like, "Yes! I won! I won! I won!" He turns around, and he's like looking for me, and then he realized it was a hoax. And his face was so disappointed I actually felt kind of guilty. I was like, â€˜Jeez. Wow, he takes it really serious.â€™ But he's definitely a fast runner.
You know, the little ones are so much fun to play with because they have their imagination, like Jess and Leslie do, but they pretend, you know? Like they love Barbies, and they...It's just wonderful to see how free they are, and just how okay they are with themselves. And they have no pretensions, and they don't think bad about anyone. They're just...They are who they are. And that's how Bailee Madison is, who plays little May Belle. She reminds me a lot of Leslie, because she was dancing around one day, and she just fell over. You know, she tripped. She wasn't embarrassed at all. She just got right back up and started dancing again. And I really admire that. And I think everyone should try to have that, because we're all just people.
"Bridge to Terabithiaâ€ opens in theaters on February 16th. Be sure to checkout the many video clips and features we have posted on site. One clip is below, click the link under the clip to watch the others!