Interview by Michael J. Lee, Executive Editor for Radio Free Entertainment
February 5, 2007
At the young age of 13, actress AnnaSophia Robb has put together an impressive and varied resume of films, working with a strong list of actors and directors. She has been featured in Tim Burton's Charlie and the Chocolate Factory starring Johnny Depp; she has starred in the family drama Because of Winn-Dixie; and she has headlined opposite two-time Academy Award winner Hilary Swank in the paranormal thriller The Reaping. Her latest film, Bridge to Terabithia, is a wonderfully told coming of age story about two kids coping with the troubles of everyday life by escaping into their own fertile imaginations, and the powerful bond formed by their life-altering friendship.
In this exclusive "get to know you" interview, we had the opportunity to speak to AnnaSophia about a few details of her own life--from the story behind her memorable name to the current trajectory of her career path, from her extensive list of interests to her take on the age-old debate of chocolate vs. vanilla, she graciously takes all the questioning in stride. With her solid slate of upcoming projects, fortified with her passion for academics and charity work, there is little doubt that she'll continue on what we hope will be a long and fruitful career.
Bridge to Terabithia opens in theaters everywhere February 16.
RadioFree.com: You have such a unique name--is there a story behind it?
ANNASOPHIA: Well, my great grandmother's name, on my mom's side, is named Anna Sophie, and [my parents] really liked that name. And then my dad's mom's name is Anna Marie...And then it just kind of turned into AnnaSophia. Has a nice little ring. But they spelled my name with two Ns, which is really a disappointment. I can't believe they did that. [laughs] Because people pronounce it "Ann-uh" Sophia, not "Ah-na" Sophia. And I much prefer "Ah-na."
Well, it's nice to have people pronounce your name correctly, so I agree. When you're not working, do you still live in your hometown in Colorado?
Yeah. I still go to school there, my family's there, my friends...
So is being here in LA to promote Bridge to Terabithia part of a nice little work/recreation roadtrip?
Well, you know what? It's been a lot of work. Like it's been extremely tiring. [laughs] Actually, usually, I'm really full of energy and I love doing press work. But it's been a new city every day, and it's been on the go. I haven't gotten to see the city, it's the same questions over and over again...It's a little bit difficult. But I got to see everybody from New Zealand. And I get to travel with Josh [Hutcherson], and I haven't seen him in a long time, so it's good.
According to your bio, you're into a lot of physical activities. Gymnastics is one of them, yes?
Yeah, I used to do gymnastics, about four and a half years. I got into team and then I started acting and I quit. [laughs] I had to. I do love gymnastics, but it's such an intense sport and you have to be so committed. It's such a commitment that it's really hard to do anything else other than gymnastics as people progress. Like one of my best friends...It's her whole life, six days a week, three hours every day, you know?
Your Terabitihia character Leslie is very athletic. Did that background come in handy with all the running and swinging on ropes? And I would think it would be useful for even less obvious scenes, like when Leslie climbs over the bus seats...
Wow, I never thought of that...
Was that something you were just able to do without thinking about?
Yeah, I just did it. That's actually interesting you mention that. It was really fun for me because I like to climb. I don't love to work out. Actually, I hate to work out. You know, I tell myself, "AnnaSophia, you have to work out. You haven't gotten any exercise in the longest time." You know, I don't have time, really, to work out or play a sport. But I love to dance. I like to run in the springtime or in the fall. I like to go outside. I don't like running on a treadmill. I get tired. I'm like, [gasps] "Oh my gosh, I'm so tired!" I just get sick of it. But if I'm outside, I could just run for ages. Or walk, if I need a break. [laughs] And I love to swim. I do get a little lazy, though, I have to admit.
Do you swim recreationally or competitively?
Both. I was on the swim team in the summer time. It was actually my first summer in a really long time that I got to be home, and I went on a swim team. I'm a pretty good swimmer. Actually, it's the one thing I can beat Josh at: swimming.
You can't beat him at running, like in the movie?
No, I cannot. Josh is a really quick runner. I like to run, but not as much. He's just quick. It's surprising. It's very surprising.
You sing on the Bridge to Terabithia soundtrack. Was singing something you were always looking to do, or did Disney request it of you?
Yeah, they asked me to sing a song for the film, which was a little intimidating. I actually tried to quit a couple times. And they just really wanted me to do it. And I'm glad I did, because it was an experience I've never done before, and stretched me, and I had a good time, and it was a fun thing.
How much gum did you actually have to chew for your role in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory?
Oh, lots! I mean, the first week and a half, my jaw got really tired. And sometimes if I didn't eat a big breakfast, I always had to constantly eat, because that chewing and that air gave me the worst stomach--like if I didn't eat, I just got really bad cramps. So I always had to eat constantly. But after a while, I just...I kept all my gum from the movie.
[stunned] Wow. Uh...How big a wad of gum did you end up with?
[demonstrates with hands] It's about as big as a softball.
Yeah, it's one big ball of gum.
In keeping with the theme of sweets: chocolate or vanilla?
Chocolate. No doubt.
You've already worked with some fantastic actors like Johnny Depp and Hilary Swank, and you've done all sorts of movies from family films to dramas to thrillers. Where do you go from here? Like what's left to do?
[laughs] It's actually kind of hard, because I was like, "What kind of movie have I not yet done?" And I was thinking about it, and I haven't done a really good comedy. Like you know Best in Show?
Sure...And those films with the whole "Christopher Guest ensemble of actors?"
I love those movies. I would love to do something like that. I think that would be fun. And just anything that's really worthy of doing and is a good script and has good people and a good director, and can help people or teach someone a lesson, I think is worth doing.
Maybe this is a little early, but do you have plans for college?
Yes! Oh my gosh. 100% yes, definitely. I've always wanted to go to college--I don't know what college--just to explore the world. I want to learn languages--many, multiple languages. And I love to help people, so I think it would be fun to do some nonprofit work. I already am doing nonprofit work, but just to try to help people.
Are there certain groups and organizations to which you're particularly attached?
Yes. Save the Children, and...Oh my gosh, there's so many. There's also the Untouchables--those people in India. Environmental nonprofits...[Organizations] to help all the people in Darfur...
Well, keep up the good work! Thanks for your time...
Thank you very much. It was nice meeting you.