Lauren Sweetser – Natural

Q&A By Lucky Smith

What was it like growing up in Arkansas?
It was amazing growing up in Arkansas. Fayetteville is nestled in the Ozark mountains so it is an incredibly beautiful part of the country. I grew up on 12 acres so my brother Blake and I were always outside. We had horses that my mom would break and teach us how to ride. Our dad taught us about camping, fishing and hunting. They helped shape our love for the outdoors and also taught us to have an immense amount of respect for nature. We recognized early on in our lives that we essentially had an outdoors playground around us, so we took full advantage of that.

How did get into acting?
I somewhat fell into it! I was carpooling home with my friend Grace in high school when she said that she was going to audition for a play before her mom picked us up. She suggested I audition too since I would just be waiting otherwise. I had no idea what to do or what went into an audition but I decided it would be more fun than sitting around. She gave me a few minutes crash course on what to do and I just went for it. The play was Rumors by Neil Simon. I ended up booking one of the leads. I had danced since I was 3 so I understood and enjoyed that type of creative expression but acting thrilled me in a way that dance never had. I was hooked from the first rehearsal.

Break down your experience while making your debut in the film, “Winter’s Bone”.
That was such a crazy experience looking back on it. I was in college at the time and I had booked the table reading for the project after learning about it. It wasn’t until two years later that they started the real casting process for the film. I loved the script and knew it was a story I wanted to tell but I was also very green and new to the business so the thought that I was going to get my SAG card was such a big deal. We couldn’t have predicted or expected that it would do as well as it did. It was and still is such a big honor to be part of that film and is even more wild that it was the first film I ever did. 

Were there any memorable moments on set?
I had never been on a film set before so for me I just remember learning as much as I possibly could about everything that was happening around me. It was incredibly thrilling for me to be able to see first hand how it all worked. You can read every book or take every class about acting or film production but there is nothing like actually getting to work on a set. 

Jennifer Lawrence starred in that film and I read you two became friends at some point. What do you like most about her and what is your favorite film that she has appeared in?
I love that Jen is unapologetically who she is, no matter what. Her honesty is so refreshing in a business where everyone is trying to be someone else. She taught me so much about acting while we were on that film. I had taken so many classes and workshops up until that point that I had begun to over think and over analyze every move I would make. She had such a natural understanding of the material and how to bring that to life with a scene partner. When we met we were fast friends and I think that came thru in the casting process since we were supposed to be playing best friends on screen. She also taught me to run straight towards the fear, that if you’re scared it’s probably because you’re in the right place and just need to go full force. Her favorite performance for me would be her as Rosalyn in American Hustle. She was so hilarious. I probably watched that scene with the microwave over 50 times. 

When playing a character that is much different than yourself as a person, how do you approach it?
I do as much research as possible. If it’s something I haven’t experienced, I try to educate myself as much as I can about whatever that is. You’re inevitably going to have to play someone who has experienced things that you haven’t and the only way I know to do that is be as educated and prepared as possible. You also have to be open and fully trusting of the director and of the collaborative process to bring that character to life. 

Is there any particular film genre that you prefer acting in?
Its less about the genre for me and more about the story, writing and character. I have to have a passion for telling the story and living in that character whether its comedy or drama. I take pride in how hard I work and what I bring to the table so I’ll never be able to do that if I don’t fully believe in the project. I would love to expand into more comedic roles, since that’s not something I get to do a lot, but again it would need to be the right fit. 

What can you tell us about your role in HBO’s “True Detective”?
I think viewers are really going to love watching Isabele and seeing how she folds into the narrative of the season. It was such a joy to play her and I’m looking forward to watching it all come together! It airs on Sundays on HBO.

What has been your favorite acting experience to date?
Probably this film I got to shoot in Hawaii a few years ago called Pali Road. I got offered the part because I knew one of the line producers as well as the assistant director. I was their bartender when I worked at this Irish pub and they thought of me when they began casting my character. Doing what you love in Hawaii for a month? I’m in! 

In your opinion, what is the biggest misconception about the entertainment business?
That it’s easy and that there’s not a lot of hard work involved. I will have people say things to me like why don’t you just do this show? Or, why don’t you just do a Spielberg movie? Well that would be lovely but there’s not a sign up sheet and it doesn’t work like that! You’ve got to have an incredibly thick skin to survive this world. People see red carpet photos and think that an actors life is all champagne and sparkles. At least in my experience that is not the case. I’ve had to fight and work for every opportunity I’ve ever been granted and I continue to do that. 

I’m going to throw a few names out there. Say whatever comes to mind.

A. Celine Dion 
Absolutely obsessed. My ex took me to her concert in Vegas and I sobbed the ENTIRE time. I couldn’t even make it thru the opening montage video. Her voice is unreal and she is possessed by the musical Gods. 

B. Macy Grant
I loved this role on NCIS! Mark Harmon and Emily Wickersham were so welcoming and lovely to work with. 

C. Boo Radley
My angel fur baby from Heaven! Boo is my maltipoo and I know I’m biased but he is truly the best dog on planet Earth. His paws smell like corn chips and I’m obsessed with him. After caving to tons of pressure from friends and family, you can find him on instagram as @imyourboyboo. 

What are your “Top 5” favorite films?
In no particular order: Some Like it Hot, Monster, The Shawshank Redemption, V for Vendetta and Christmas Vacation. 

Tell us something about yourself that most don’t know. 
Not sure why this was the first thing that popped into my head but I was on the bowling team in high school and our coach had one arm. I always use that for the two truth and a lie game because no one believes it! 

Follow Lauren Sweetser on Instagram as @howsweetseritis and “Like” her fan page on Facebook: Lauren Sweetser.

Photo: Joe Bryant
Hair/Make-up: Kat Lieberkind

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