Kaya Scodelario reprises her role as Teresa, one of the heroines in “Maze Runner: The Death Cure,” which opens Jan. 26. Next for the British-born actress, who also starred in “Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales,” is “Die in a Gunfight,” a modern-day action remake of Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet.”
You’ve been vocal about having been sexually harassed.
I never thought I would have an opportunity to be able to reach people like this. I’ve always believed if there was just one person who spoke out and said, “This thing has happened to me,” maybe as a young child I wouldn’t have had so much depression and felt so conflicted growing up. To know that I could perhaps do that for someone else, I feel like I owe it to myself to do that.
What inspired you to become an actor?
It was the only thing I ever felt confident doing. I was painfully shy as a child; I was dyslexic. I had a single mother who’s an immigrant. I just didn’t believe acting was something that people like me could do on a professional level. I remember doing my first school play. We were doing “Oliver Twist,” and I was cast as Oliver. It was the first time I ever felt brave and confident and truly happy about something. My mom always let me watch movies that were probably slightly too mature for my age but she wanted me to see different stories. We grew up with quite a hard life, so she wasn’t afraid to show me that in movies.
What would you be doing if you weren’t acting?
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I’d like to think that even if I wasn’t acting professionally, I would still be doing it for free. It helps me get through the day. If not, I’d love to run a rock ’n’ roll bar one day. Actually that sounds pretty good.
Why is it important for you to portray strong females on screen?
I’ve never met a woman who isn’t interesting and layered and f**ked up and beautiful and emotional and a million things in one. So I’ve never understood why we represent women on screen as anything other than that. It’s very important I play a character that I believe can be a real person. I make sure she’s not just there to be in her underwear at some random point.
How do you prepare for roles?
I like to work a lot off of instinct. I believe in vulnerability as an actor. I believe in allowing yourself to be immersed in a character instead of planning every movement. I do a lot of backstory work where I annotate my scripts or write for hours on end about her. Then I’ll put that away before I start the project and never look at it again. There’s no point in planning when to sneeze or when to pull your hair behind your ear, because it should just come to you in that moment.
Things you didn’t know about Kaya Scodelario
AGE: 25 BIRTHPLACE: Sussex, England FAVORITE MOVIE OF 2017: “The Florida Project” FAVORITE SOCIAL-MEDIA PLATFORM: Instagram DREAM CO-STAR: Her husband, Benjamin Walker MOST-USED PHONE APP: Google Maps