Teen films have been dominating box offices and television screens for years. From Mean Girls to 10 Things I Hate About You, time and time again, we see teens rule the screen. Sadie’s Last Days on Earth is soon to join the rankings of these young adult classics.
Actress Morgan Taylor Campbell is set to star in the independent film, Sadie’s Last Days on Earth as Sadie Mitchell, a teen struggling to survive an apocalypse, and high school. We spoke to the lead about the new project, her work with Freeform’s Dead of Summer, and her advice for overcoming career challenges as a young woman in any industry.
Sadie Mitchell might seem like your typical high school teen, but Morgan Taylor Campbell was able to dig beneath the surface to find the qualities which made her unique, and brought them to life. Campbell says her character’s gumption, and confidence, helped make the already-exciting story that much better.
“Man, does that girl have spunk!” Campbell says. “She doesn’t really know how to process the transition from the safety net of her childhood to the wide open world of adulthood. So, she throws herself to a bigger cause, where ultimately she doesn’t have to worry about growing up because in her eyes there will be no future. It feels more realistic for her to invest in an apocalypse because it has a definite outcome that adulthood cannot offer her. She really takes us on a ride as we watch her batten down the hatches for the incoming flood.”
Working on the project gave Campbell the opportunity to do some hefty research into her character, and what she goes through. Her adoration for her fellow cast and crew members was certainly a bonus to creating this story, but ultimately, the research is what the 21-year-old actress really loved the most.
“Aside from the lovely friends made and exploring a new city, I’ll talk about the joy of the research. [John Hughes’] work was a huge inspiration for Michael Seater’s vision of the film. I spent a lot of time watching performances of a stylized nature,” she says. “I also absolutely adored spending days with Madeleine L’Enge’s A Wrinkle In Time. And I learned to knit! That 20 or so odd foot scarf was all me! And then there are the countless sites and videos I kept myself company with teaching myself about anxiety, which was so valuable for me personally as well, as it is a factor that exists in my personal life in companion to Sadie’s,” the actress admits.
However, your first time seeing Campbell might not be as Sadie Mitchell. The Alberta native also lended her talents to Freeform’s summer show, Dead of Summer. The show, which was ultimately cancelled after its first, and only, season, ended in August of this year. We wanted to pick Campbell’s brain on her time with the show, and what she learned about the 1980s.
“Right off the bat I was very into the 80’s throwback. In middle school I was constantly trying to relive that era! Thirteen year old me is rather elated,” she jokes.
Campbell plays Margot, a popular girl with a tenacity that just won’t quit. Campbell credits Margot’s larger-than-life personality as a primary reason she was more drawn to her character, and ultimately wanted to portray her on the show.
“I love what a go-getter Margot is. She wants it, she jumps in. The prospect of staying trapped under her parents’ ideologies was never an option for her. She was learning to develop opinions that belonged to her and dig for her own meaning to life.”
During filming for the show, Campbell had a few scenes in which she was standing on the roof of a six-foot-high house. While the young star’s safety was taken into account for filming, Campbell managed to keep a significant secret from the rest of the show’s cast, crew, and production team.
“My house in the show was partially rebuilt in a studio about six feet off the ground, and although I’m harnessed in, I could still take a dive if I didn’t keep my wits about me,” she states. “I was also still rehabbing from a broken leg, which I never told anyone on set, but it was a funny secret I had with myself considering I’m hanging out a window and no one knows my bone isn’t fully reattached.”
As far as research for this role goes, Campbell kept it simple by watching a few 1980s household favorites.
“Can we just take a moment to throw a kiss up to John Hughes? And then send a high five over to Michael Lehmann for bringing us Heathers?”
Campbell’s early success in the entertainment industry is something to be marveled, but that doesn’t mean she hasn’t faced her fair share of criticism. Many young women, whether in film, medicine, law, or otherwise, find it difficult to break through their own industry’s glass ceiling. Campbell offered these words of encouragement and advice, and reminded us all to take control of your future.
“It’s going to be hard. You are going to want to quit and you are going to cry and expose your heart, even though you’re not ‘supposed’ to. But pull your scrunchie around its third loop and keep going. I think that’s a beautiful way to fight. To honor yourself and all the cracks, just one foot at a time, not leaving it up to anyone else to determine your future.”
Catch Sadie’s Last Days on Earth in theaters across the U.S. and Canada on December 9th, 2016.