Interview: Georgie Henley of “Sisterhood of Night”

Posted on April 12, 2015 at 3:41 pm

Georgie Henley stars in “Sisterhood of the Night,” a story of intense teenage girl friendships and bullying, based on a story by Steven Millhauser. I have been a big fan since she played Lucy in the Narnia movies, and it was lovely to get a chance to chat with her about filming on location in New York state and working on her American accent.  The film is now in some theaters and available on VOD.

Did you enjoy working on location for the film?

georgie henley sisterhood night
Copyright 2014 Cinemosaic

We were shooting in Kingston, where we were a couple of hours out of New York City. It was a place in the world I’ve never been to. The scenery was just gorgeous. And we were so welcomed by the locals. The whole community got really involved in the shooting of the film which is always fantastic. You know you don’t want to invade people’s space and rub them the wrong way. So it was just gorgeous and we have an incredible director of photography on the movie and he really made the most of the fantastic location that we were working with there.

The film really captures the intensity of friendships which are so important at that age. So how did you and the cast get comfortable with each other and establish that chemistry?

It’s all happened pretty quickly. We were all kind of at tender ages in our teenage years. From the very minute that we met we just all knew that we were going to get along. I remember we had a lot of pre-production stuff in New York and we went to go see a few shows together and we would have dinner all the time and we were all kind of getting costumes and enjoying getting to know each other. Then once we got to Kingston and we actually started shooting the film we were all staying the same Holiday Inn. We all pretty much spent every single minute with other, just became pretty much inseparable and when we were not kind of messing around on set we were messing around at the hotel or staying up until 3 o’clock at a diner somewhere and just having fun and taking walks. So we really did not have to force that connection. It just came really easily. We all just got to completely adore each other and we still do. We made friendships for life which is kind of beautiful but also I guess sometimes quite rare. It was fantastic, it was great!

How did you manage that superb American accent?

Oh thank you. When I thought about auditioning for American project I knew I needed to get a good American accent. I’m terrible at accents. I think American is the only one that I can do kind of possibly. So I used to have Skype sessions with a dialect coach in New York and we would go through scripts, thinking about rules but also kind of developing an ear for the accent. And I found that after I have had some sessions with her I found that I was able kind of just pick stuff up just by listening to it. It is surprisingly easy when you’re on the sets with Americans to kind of let that natural osmosis happen and it just kind of seeps into your brain and into your dialect. So I find that when I’m around Americans I can just kind of slip into it quite naturally. I do stress about it a lot so it is nice when people tell me that it is a good. That makes me very happy.

Did you pick up any Americanisms?

I’ve just been at the Atlanta Film Festival and me and my mom became obsessed with that expression y’all! It compresses everything nicely and it rolls off the tongue.

Copyright 2014 Cinemosaic
Copyright 2014 Cinemosaic

When did you first hear about “Sisterhood of the Night?”

I read the script a really long time ago, must have been two or three years before they even started auditioning for it. And then about three or four years later I had this script land in my inbox again and the draft that I read was even better than the last draft. I’m very picky about projects, I feel like when you read something you have to really be absolutely absorbed in something. This script to me was just incredibly raw and honest and just really beautifully written.

And I could tell that within the kind of complexities of the description that it was also going to look incredibly visible stunning. I was like, “I have to be in this film.” And I tried sending some audition tapes. I actually originally auditioned for Lavinia and Emily. I love the role of Mary but I just couldn’t see myself as a Mary. I was just thinking to myself, I’m definitely more of a dreamer, maybe more of an outcast and I kind of fit the role of Lavinia and Emily more. And then they came back to me said, “We would love to see you try Mary.” And I’m like “Really? Are you sure?” I was lucky enough to get the role, and it still surprises me to this day that they trusted me with such incredible role. It was a leap of faith for them, especially because they never met me before. It was done entirely by tape. It was pretty terrifying for me.

You started acting very young. What did that experience help you bring to this film?

It’s kind of weird because I’m used to being the least experienced one on a film set. And then I came into this and I found that people were now asking me questions, and me advise them when normally it had been the other way around. I just like to kind of being able to be a bit of a big sister to everyone. If someone was worried about having an emotional scene or something like that, being able to talk to them about it was wonderful. I don’t think it makes a difference in my performance because I think no matter how experienced you are I’m still always a nervous wreck when I’m on set because I just want to do a good job. But it was nice to be able to help other people and to kind of be able to say to them that it is going to be okay, it doesn’t matter if you mess up, and talk to them about things that they were kind of worried about or scenes that they were unsure how to approach, so yes it was nice to do that.

One of the most interesting things about the film is the way that we see how developments in technology and social media have amplified the typical adolescent intensity in dealing with relationships and feeling left out. So tell me a little bit about how you think that plays out in the film.

Yes, social media is definitely a generational thing. And it was exciting to be part of a film that explored themes of alienation and identity but in an entirely fresh new perspective with this kind of social media. And I’m not a social media person myself, I don’t have anything, I don’t have Facebook or Twitter or Instagram or anything like that but I can understand the pull of it. And I think that this film is really important for a lot of young people to see, girls and boys because it shows kind of the dangers of over exposing yourself and also the dangers of giving into peer pressure, letting something spiral out of control because once something is online it is pretty much online forever. There is no real erasing of it.

The word I keep coming back to it and I know it’s quite simplistic, but it really is an important film. I think it is an important film for people to be seeing and if you put aside the beauty of filmmaking and the beauty and of the scripts and if you put all of that to one side it is incredibly important film for people to be looking out for the message alone. Because it is not a preachy film and is not saying that social media is bad but it is just exploring the different elements of it and trying to show people that obviously there are two sides to everything, there are two sides to all dialogues on the Internet really.

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