Doctor Sleep Interview: Kyliegh Curran
I recently had the opportunity to chat with Kyliegh Curran who stars as Abra in Mike Flanagan’s Doctor Sleep. Curran, who is only 13 years old, acts alongside Ewan McGregor and Rebecca Ferguson with such ease. She is bound to break out after this film and I was lucky enough to chat with about what it was like to make the jump from the stage to the big screen.
Scott Menzel: Hi Kyliegh, How are you?
Kyliegh Curran: I’m good. How are you?
Scott Menzel: I’m good as well. So, how excited are you as this is your first big press junket.
Kyliegh Curran: I’m super excited. A little overwhelmed, but I’m handling it.
Scott Menzel: That is great to hear! You are so awesome in this movie. You are really are.
Kyliegh Curran: Thank you so much.
Scott Menzel: I would love to talk to you a little bit about your career and what was it like for you to kind of go from being on the stage in Broadway with The Lion King to becoming part of Doctor Sleep?
Kyliegh Curran: Well, it was quite a challenge because I wasn’t very used to film, but I learned how to take direction from theater and it was quite the same, but it wasn’t live. I was excited to have a film experience because now I know how to do it.
Scott Menzel: What was the biggest challenge for you going from the stage to film? Was there something that stood out that was different?
Kyliegh Curran: I think keeping the acting contained because in theater is so big and you have to project. I think sometimes I was a little loud, but I got the hang of it. They explained to me that the mics can’t handle a lot of noise.
Scott Menzel: I realize that you’re only a teenager and this is the beginning of what I see is a very long and big career ahead of you, so congratulations ahead of time.
Kyliegh Curran: Thank you.
Scott Menzel: That being said, I know that you’ve got so much stuff going on, but I was wondering, did you know anything about Doctor Sleep or Stephen King’s work before being in this movie?
Kyliegh Curran: I had heard of Stephen King, but I hadn’t seen or read any of his work. I watched The Shining right before the last callback, and ever since then I’ve loved his books. Currently, I’m reading The Stand.
Scott Menzel: Oh, very awesome. That’s a great one. Did you watch the new It by chance? I know a lot of teenagers like that one because of the young cast.
Kyliegh Curran: Yes, I loved It! It’s one of my favorite horror movies.
Scott Menzel: You have such a dynamic on-screen presence. And I’m sure a lot of people have told you this already, but I don’t know if you have been online and reading some comments and reviews. Most people have pointed out how good you are in this movie.
Kyliegh Curran: That makes me happy.
Scott Menzel: Was it a little bit nerve-wracking to be acting alongside people like Ewan McGregor and Rebecca Ferguson?
Kyliegh Curran: I was more excited because they’re all so sweet and so talented. They’re kind of like my mentors because I was so new to film.
Scott Menzel: Is there anything that you feel like you learned from either one of them that you will use in the future?
Kyliegh Curran: Definitely how to get into your character better. How to leave it at the door and connect with your character. They talked a lot about their lives offset and about their film experience. It was a lot of fun being with them.
Scott Menzel: Cool. So I know when it comes to movies, and I know the audition process is different for everyone. Can you talk a little bit about your audition process?
Kyliegh Curran: Well, I started acting when I was seven and I did a lot of theater. I didn’t really start film until I met my manager in New York and then I’ve done a lot of auditioning. It was really a test of my confidence and my patience. But finally, Doctor Sleep came along and it was this big wave of relief.
Scott Menzel: And did you have to do auditions for Doctor Sleep in person or did you send in a video?
Kyliegh Curran: Both. It was mostly self-tapes, but on the last audition, it was a reading with Mr. Ewan in person.
Scott Menzel: Did you have to interview with Mike as well?
Kyliegh Curran: Yes, he was there. The producers, the casting directors, almost everyone was there. It was quite nerve-wracking, but everyone was so sweet so I felt better about it.
Scott Menzel: So I want to ask you, as a 13-year-old, how does your family feel about you being in a rated R movie?
Kyliegh Curran: Well, they’ve always been super supportive of me, which I really appreciate. So they were in it with me.
Scott Menzel: That’s great. I know that you mentioned that you did see It and you’ve been reading Stephen King’s work now.
Kyliegh Curran: Yes.
Scott Menzel: Is there a particular horror movie and it doesn’t have to be It or something like that. Is there a particular horror movie that you really like and you connect with?
Kyliegh Curran: I haven’t finished The Institute, but so far The Institute for its characters. Definitely them. One, because they’re kids. And Two, I don’t know. There’s just an energy about them.
Scott Menzel: Now that you’ve made your way into film and you’re getting praised for your performance in this movie, is there someone who you would like to work with?
Kyliegh Curran: I would love to work with Lupita Nyongo. That would be amazing. Or Jordan Peele. Anything with them would be awesome.
Scott Menzel: Hey, you never know. They might be giving you a call in a few days after they see this movie. I can see you being in a Jordan Peele film. Because he’s been really good at discovering young talent.
Kyliegh Curran: He’s amazing. Oh, Shahadi. When I saw Shahadi in Us, she did amazing.
Scott Menzel: Yeah, she was great in that. You could be next who knows. So, can you tell me about a day on the set and a little bit about working with Mike Flanagan?
Kyliegh Curran: Well, we’d arrive on set when VAD would ask us if we wanted any breakfast. Usually, we’d eat before we went. And then I’d seek out the dogs on set after I got changed. Change into my costume, seek out the dogs and then Ms. Temple would take us to the stage or the location and we’d start shooting. Mr. Mike would walk us through, we’d have rehearsals and then after we’d eat lunch and play lots of games.
Scott Menzel: That sounds like a pretty fun day.
Kyliegh Curran: Then it was repeated
Scott Menzel: It sounds like a lot of fun though.
Kyliegh Curran: Oh, yeah.
Scott Menzel: I always wondered this, when you’re working on a film like this, you have a limited day because of your age. Did you go to school still or did you have someone come in and actually work with you?
Kyliegh Curran: We had a studio teacher. We bring our work to her and we’d work on it.
Scott Menzel: Ah, ok. Did you get to meet Jacob Tremblay? I know he only had a very small role in this movie.
Kyliegh Curran: Oh, yeah. We played a lot of puzzles and games. He’s a super sweet kid.
Scott Menzel: That’s awesome. And then for you playing this character, you have some cool powers and things of that nature, but what was your favorite thing about playing Abra?
Kyliegh Curran: Probably some of the emotional scenes and her dark energy, playing with that. That was a lot of fun.
Scott Menzel: I think this is an interesting role because you’re one of the first to play such a role in a Stephen King movie that I feel could be taken out and actually have her own movie. If that ever happened, do you think you would come back?
Kyliegh Curran: I would love to. I would love to do that.
Scott Menzel: I think that would be really interesting, especially since the way that the movie ends with your character. You never know with movies like this, they wind up building some more stuff if the audience connects with it. Is there any place cool that you traveled to film this?
Kyliegh Curran: Yes. We’d go out to the forest sometimes and that was super cool. But also there were bees everywhere and when we were shooting during one scene, I remember this wasp tried to go into my ear and I tried my hardest to stay still but then it started entering my ear and I had to dance around it to get it out. The bugs wouldn’t leave me alone in the forest, but it was a lot of fun.
Scott Menzel: Do you have any animals at home?
Kyliegh Curran: Yes, I do. I have a cat, two dogs, two rats, and a ferret.
Scott Menzel: I was also reading a little bit about you and learned that you are a vegan?
Kyliegh Curran: Yes. I’m vegan.
Scott Menzel: Was that your choice or was that your parents’ choice?
Kyliegh Curran: It was my choice. I started seeing all the horrible things that are happening on earth and a lot of it is animal agriculture. So I decided to eliminate all animal products.
Scott Menzel: It’s very impressive at such a young age to make that decision for yourself. Impressive. And I was going to ask you one last thing and then I’ll let you go because you’ve got a lot of people still to talk to you. Did you get to actually go to the hotel?
Kyliegh Curran: Yes, I went to The Stanley, actually, in Colorado. My dad and I went and it was so cool. It was just amazing.
Scott Menzel: Super, random question but did you see Ready Player One?
Kyliegh Curran: No, I didn’t. I didn’t.
Scott Menzel: Okay, so now that you’ve been in a Stephen King movie and you’ve seen The Shining, you have to watch Ready Player One.
Kyliegh Curran: I will. Thank you! It was good talking to you too.
Scott Menzel: It was great talking to you too.
Doctor Sleep is now playing in theaters.