Megan Charpentier takes on the haunting role of Victoria in Mama, the hair-raising horror about two sisters haunted by the ghost of what appears to be their murdered mother. After being abandoned in a forest for five years, their uncle Lucas (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) and his wife Annabel (Jessica Chastain) take on the responsibility of raising the children while having to deal with the terror of a dark spirit. Aside from playing the emotionally complex Victoria in Mama, the 11-year-old Vancouverite has portrayed equally dark roles as the young version of Amanda Seyfried’s characters in Jennifer’s Body and Little Red. But the surprisingly upbeat environment of horror films has kept the Young Artist Award nominee hooked on her passion for acting. Youthink sat down with Hollywood’s freshest face to discuss how she transitions into these dark roles, what she loves about Vancouver, and everything behind-the-scenes that keeps Hollywood horror happy.
YT: What were the challenges of playing the role of Victoria? And how did you prepare for the character?
MC: The challenges for playing the role of Victoria were the continuity and having to match the same emotions as her for every different scene. Victoria has very strong emotions. I prepared for the character just by reading the script to get to know her a bit more. And watching the short film also helped me prepare for that as well.
YT: What’s it like being a part of a horror movie?
MC: Well, I guess it’s a bit different than what people might see in the movies cause it’s not as scary. It’s kind of cool looking at all the things that you’ll see, like the grotesqueness. It was fun because we had all these jokes and stuff when we weren’t filming the scenes.
YT: So, if you’re having a fun time filming, how do you act so scared?
MC: I usually think of scary things and screaming helps as well. Jessica taught me a quick trick on helping your breathing during a scary scene. She said that doing a couple of jumping jacks keeps your heart beating faster and breath going faster.
YT: What’s it like working with mostly adults?
MC: There was also Isabelle Nélisse, the one that plays my sister Lily, so I did have the company of a younger kid on set. We grew a very strong bond. We were the only kids on set for pretty much the entire filming process. Working alongside adults, I’m used to that, so it wasn’t complicated for me.
YT: You’ve acted in a lot of dark and scary movies. Have you always been drawn to these types of films?
MC: Sometimes being in scary movies is probably not as scary as seeing the movie. Filming scary movies is fun because you get to see all the makeup artists’ tough work. Also, seeing the actors scared helps me get scared as well. But I would like to play funnier roles in the future!
YT: At such a young age, you’ve portrayed a younger version of Amanda Seyfried twice, and you’ve been in box office hits. How surreal is all of this for you?
MC: It’s always fun being in movies! But I am getting a bit older now, so I’m getting pretty used to it. I’ve had a lot of practice since I started at a young age. It’s fun for me! It’s what I love to do. I’m not in an area to stop.
YT: How did you become interesting in acting?
MC: I was really young when I started! I think I started when my mom got a call from someone, asking if I wanted to start modeling or just doing small commercials. So I went out to try out for a commercial and I danced around for a little part – it was for Hasbro. And I got the part! And I loved it. So that’s how I got started, and I haven’t stopped since.
YT: Are there any actors in the industry that you look up to?
MC: Tom Hanks is one that I absolutely adore. I also look up to Meryl Streep and Matt Damon because they’re really good actors. But Tom Hanks has to be my favorite!
YT: You grew up in Vancouver but probably don't get to spend too much time here. What do you miss most about the city?
MC: I guess I kind of miss the mountains!
Mama will be released in theatres January 18th, 2013.
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