Molly Moriarty. Photo Courtesy of Molly Moriarty
10-year-old child superstar actress Molly Moriarty chatted about starring in ‘Cowboy Bebop’ on Netflix.
Congratulations on your journey! You must be the envy of your friends? How jealous are they?
Thank you. I’m not sure if my friends are jealous of me as I don’t really talk about my acting at school. I don’t want to feel like a ‘show off’ and it might make other people feel bad, but I hope they are proud of me.
My friends and other kids at school do come up to me sometimes saying they saw me on TV on a TVC so that’s nice and they aren’t mean about it, so I hope it stays that way.
No one knows about the upcoming projects I’ve worked on as I’m not allowed to tell anyone yet. So maybe that will change, especially with the boys at school once the feature film I worked on last year comes out. I know they all love those types of movies as they talk about them all the time, so I hope they think it’s good I was able to be a part of that. I guess we will soon see.
Being cast on ‘Cowboy Bebop’ must have been a real win for your career? How surreal was it, filming opposite actors like Jon Cho?
It was an amazing experience working on Cowboy Bebop and I’m really proud of getting that role, especially since it was my first big audition. Having to use a US accent was a bit nerve-wracking but when I met the Director, Michael Katleman, he said he was very impressed with my accent in the audition and asked who taught me. I had to be honest and tell him it was by watching all my favorite Disney and Nickelodeon shows and movies on TV.
Working with Hollywood actors was very cool and something I didn’t think I’d get to do at eight years old. I was a bit nervous when I first met them all but they were all so nice to me so my nerves quickly went away. John Cho was lots of fun to work with. He’s really funny and made me laugh a lot. We had a lot of thumb wars which I always won (I think he might have let me win though).
Mustafa Shakir was also amazing to work with and I did a lot of scenes with him since he was my on-screen dad. He had this way of making me feel really calm and I didn’t feel nervous around him at all. It wasn’t something he did, it was just being near him that was calming. He’s super cool.
Before I started filming, I was a bit nervous, especially s I had to use a US accent in front of so many American actors, but I ended up forgetting about being nervous and just did what I was directed to do and had so much fun. Being able to watch all those brilliant actors at work was definitely a big win for me as I learnt so much from them all. They all work so hard so I know how important that is no matter how famous you are.
Had you read the ‘Cowboy Bebop’ comics or seen the anime? Or was it a new experience for you?
It was a completely new experience for me in many ways, especially being part of a comic series I hadn’t heard of before. Seeing all the different sets and worlds that had been created was unreal. The size of the Bebop was so realistic and was not what I was expecting. I remember being taken through the Bebop for the first time and sitting at the driver’s seat and thinking it was just like a being in a real spaceship. It was amazing.
It was really exciting to learn about Cowboy Bebop but my mum wouldn’t let me read all the scripts as she said not all of it was suitable for me. So, she read it all and gave me the scenes I was in so I could learn my lines. My mom told me all about the storyline so I learned about it that way. I still haven’t watched the series apart from my scenes as I’m still too young so I’ll have to wait until I’m older.
Was it hard being away from home, filming all the way over in New Zealand, on that show?
I loved being in New Zealand and having the opportunity to live in a new city and country for a few months, it was an adventure. I got to experience having an on-set tutor as well as living in a whole new culture.
People in New Zealand are so friendly and mummy and I didn’t feel out of place at all. My mum and I love traveling and learning about different cultures so I loved learning about the Māori culture.
My tutor took me to her high school one day so I could see the students do a ‘Kapa Haka’ in their sports groups. It was something I won’t forget. I got goosebumps. It was really special to watch.
Since it was during the pandemic when international borders were closed and the rest of the world was unable to leave their country, we knew how lucky we were to be in a different country and be able to travel around when I had some time off. I did miss my family and friends but I was able to speak to them via video calls all the time so that helped a lot. I think I spoke to someone back home at least once a day so that was great.
My mum and I made some great friends while in New Zealand and we really miss them. I hope I get to see them again one day, as they all made our time there really special. New Zealand is my new favorite country and I really want to learn more about the Māori culture. I will definitely go back there again.
You’re in a huge blockbuster this year- but aren’t allowed to talk about it yet – can you tell us about going from working on commercials and smaller projects to working on a big studio?
Working on any set is similar in a way as there are always lots of people doing all different jobs, but a big studio project has far more people working there. There are people everywhere doing all sorts of things and it’s a lot to take in at first. You have to be driven by a golf cart to one side of the set to another it’s so big as there were different stages all over being used for different scenes.
The costumes and sets would have cost a lot more money on the big studio project as well. The smaller projects I’ve done don’t usually have 2 different units working at the same time, so that was something new to me. Some days I’d be working with Main Unit and other days I’d be working with the 2nd Unit. Both were just as fun and action-packed and everting was very organized.
I think one of the biggest differences for me while working on the big studio project, was being surrounded by famous Hollywood superstars all day. It was a little strange at first seeing these famous actors all the time, especially having a trailer a few meters away from theirs, but I got used to it pretty quickly and it just became normal. I think working on smaller projects has helped me understand how a production works and prepared me to know what to expect. Who I need to listen to and to who I can ask questions.
It might have been a bit overwhelming if the first thing I ever did was a massive studio project as I might have felt out of place, but I didn’t on that big project and I really enjoyed every minute of working. Sometimes after a really long day or night shoot, I’d be really disappointed when they wrapped me. I would ask my mum if I could keep working but I wasn’t allowed because of the strict rules around kids working hours.
Was it hard to work during the pandemic on the film? I imagine you had to get tested for covid each day on the set?
I didn’t find it hard working through the pandemic as everyone on all the sets has always been sensible and safe. It might have been hard for the people who had to organize everything to make sure things were safe but I didn’t find it hard.
The number of covid tests I’ve done in the last two years would be way over 100, maybe close to 200 but I’ve never really been stressed by them as I understand why they are needed. It actually makes me feel safe knowing everyone on a set has to be tested and take Covid seriously.
When the film releases, will you come back to talk to us about it?
For sure, I’d love that.
Do you have any advice for young actors like yourself? Things you’ve learned along the way?
I guess the best thing to do is be yourself and listen to the Director. I think making sure you know your lines is very important as well but if you practice and understand what a scene is about, then it’s just like having a conversation with someone.
My mom has always said to me, that the most important thing is to have fun, and if acting stops being fun or enjoyable, then I need to tell her because no one should do anything they don’t want to do.
I don’t think I’ll ever stop loving acting, but I think it’s important that young kids and teenagers only do this if it’s something they want to do and something they enjoy.