Interview Spiderwick Chronicles

Mute slave Harald escapes his Scottish masters with the help of 10 year old ARE, torturing and killing them before joining a band of dispossessed Vikings. They go to sea, determined to return to Scandinavia to fight the spread of Christianity, but for Harald the journey is also a personal one to discover his own origins. Caught in a terrible storm, the group drift for 40 days until, on the verge of death, they find themselves in a freshwater river. The land seems at once strange yet familiar.

While she shone in
‘Stormbreaker’ and ‘Tara Road’ her most memorable role to date is in Jim
Sheridan’s ‘In America’ but that’s about to change as she takes the lead in
‘The Spiderwick Chronicles’ a new fantasy adventure film based on the best
selling series of books from author Holly Black.

The film, an
entertaining treat for both adults and kids centres on twins, Jared and Simon,
and their older sister Mallory as they defend a magical world from the threat
of ogres. For fans of ‘Lady Cottington’s Pressed
Fairy Album
’ (and similar works), you’re in for a treat, as director Mark
Waters (Mean Girls) takes the audience on a visually stunning trip through
Arthur Spiderwick’s world.

Q: How would you sum up the Spiderwick movie?

A: The film is
about a regular New York family, who have been going through some difficult
times with their parents splitting up. There is also a back-story, where they are
having money problems, so they have to leave their family and friends in New
York and move to this old derelict house in the middle of nowhere. So the
family move in and they are surrounded by this magical world and they really
get pulled into it, especially the three kids. I suppose the rest of the film
is really them trying to find their way out of this world.


Q: Being an Irish girl, how did you get the role of
this all American girl?

 A: I met the studio after ‘In America’, they
really liked me in that film. I went to a screen test and did a few scenes with
the other actor Freddie (from Charlie and The Chocolate Factory). To be honest,
I didn’t think Id get the film because it’s a real true American family and
Freddie is British and I’m Irish.  I was
thinking if they are going to pick someone they are going to pick Freddie and
get an American Mallory but no…


Q: Did you hide your Irish accent during the screen

 A: I’ve been practicing accents for years and
I think over time it has neutralised. Before I left for the shoot in Montreal,
my dialect coach said I was fine but he was always on set if needed.


 Q: What
attracted you to your character?

A:  She’s so feisty, it’s fantastic!  The sword thing got my attention straight
away. I mean if you told me, “Ok Sarah you’re going to sword fight”; I would be
like, “Ok fine, don’t give me the script I’m going to do it!” (Laughs).  I’ll never forget the pain I went through! I
was practicing three hours a day for three weeks. I was thought by the Canadian
Olympic fencing coach, who was great, the only thing is he only spoke french so
don’t ask me to name any of the moves in English!


Q: What about the fact you were fighting CGI
characters. Was that difficult?

A: That’s a crazy
experience. Here you are fencing absolutely nothing, trying to remember the
routine and not just that, also trying to remember to put effort into each
swing like you are hitting something. It certainly was an adjustment!


 Q: You still
go to school here in Ireland, how do you work around that?

 A: I go to a fantastic school, they are so
supportive. They email me my homework; they keep me updated on everything. I
also have a tutor on set if needed.


Q: Next year you’ll be facing the Leaving Cert. Will
you take time out for it?

A: Yeah next year
will be more difficult cause of the leaving cert. It’s very difficult. I have
to admit my main priority is acting. I’ll take it easier but if something comes
along, I’m going to grab it.


Q: A lot of your films are adaptation. Are you
conscious of this when auditioning?

A: Definitely,
especially the Maeve Binchy adaptation, I was so chuffed to meet her. I’ve also
been very lucky with the films I’ve gotten to do. They have all had a really
strong storyline, possibly because they are adaptations.


Q: You’ve done a number of both adult and kids films.
Are you trying to stick to the kid’s films while you are young or are you
trying to get more adult roles?

A: Well, ‘In
America’ and ‘Tara Road’ were definitely targeted at an adult audience and with
‘Stormbreaker’ I wanted to try an action packed role.  ‘Spiderwick’, for me, has a darker edge. I
went to a screening of it and I think the adults loved it too.


Q: Just regarding this darker edge you mentioned, do
you think that’s something to consider with 
younger kids or what age do you think is appropriate to see it?

 A: Well at the screening, we had two kids with
us, one was six and the other was ten. I’d admit that they got a bit of a fright,
but they weren’t scared. It was just a momentary fright in fun, if you know
what I mean.


Q: Director Mark Waters has made some girlie classics
like ‘Mean Girls’ and ‘Freaky Friday’. What was it like to work with him?

 A: I was thrilled to work with him. You don’t
really know who is directing when you go to test screening and I was so excited
to see him, I love ‘Mean Girls’ and he’s always on MTV for ‘Behind the Scenes’.
This was one of his first big blockbuster blue screen film and he did


‘The Spiderwick
Chronicles’ opens at Irish cinemas nationwide on March 21st

WORDs: Ian Finnerty