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‘Pacific Rim: Uprising’ Actress Cailee Spaeny on Getting the Role, Working With John Boyega

Cailee Spaeny found her passion for performance from singing in church and in a rock band. Each summer, for four years, she and her family would drive for three days from Missouri to
Los Angeles to go on theatrical auditions. The hard work and sacrifice paid off: Spaeny is featured in the upcoming film “Pacific Rim: Uprising,” starring John Boyega and Scott Eastwood.

What were those car rides like? 

We’d drive from Missouri to Oklahoma to Texas to New Mexico to Nevada, and then California. We couch-hopped, and one time we stayed for four months in a small room with a random family that we met at a church — my two younger siblings, myself and my mom. One time we stayed in a $40 hotel, and we all thought we were going to die. My dad would stay home and make money and send it to us while we were out there. I miss going through those states and eating at Cracker Barrels, going off to the sites like the Grand Canyon. I just get excited to go on the road trip.

How did you land your “Pacific Rim” role?

It went from zero to 60 very quickly. A month before I booked “Pacific Rim,” I called my agent and asked her to get me a background role in the film. I made a self-tape and I went full out. Agents usually say to stand behind a blank wall, good lighting, close on your face, and not too much movement so it’s not distracting. I didn’t do that at all. I put on a hoodie, was really sweaty, put dirt on my face, threw myself onto the floor. I pushed myself on the ground, had an actual pole in my hand, and hit a pile of pillows like I was attacking someone. I got a call about two weeks later to fly out to meet the director [Steven DeKnight], read with John Boyega and do a chemistry test.

Your character in “Pacific Rim” is very independent. Who are some people you look up to?

When I was prepping for the role, I definitely pulled from strong females in film. Amy Adams is such a strong actress but also holds herself very well and is a super kind person. I just worked with Felicity Jones. She treats you like a human being. And of course there’s John Boyega. He didn’t have to take me under his wing. I’ll still message him when I’m nervous.

Things You Didn’t Know About Cailee Spaeny

Age: 20 Born: Springfield, Mo. Number Of Siblings: 9 Dream Vacation: Bali Last Show Binged: “Peaky Blinders” Guilty Pleasure: Cracker Barrel mashed potatoes Favorite Accessory: her white Chucks Celebrity Crush: 1990s Leonardo DiCaprio

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