You may best recognize Ashleigh LaThrop for her portrayal of Anastasia’s Steele’s assistant, Hannah in the popular Fifty Shades franchise, but the Chicago native is just getting started in the entertainment industry. We recently caught up with LaThrop to discuss her starring role in Netflix’s upcoming series The Kominsky Method, growing up in the Windy City, and her words of wisdom for inspiring actors in the making. Check out our exclusive interview below.
CelebMix: When did you first develop an interest in acting?
Ashleigh LaThrop: I’ve always been interested in storytelling. I have distinct memories (and photo evidence) of dressing up as a knight and going on quests, or staying up late creating scenarios of what I’d say and do when Peter Pan showed in my room. As I got older, I realized I could act out scenarios on a stage. So, I auditioned to be in basically every school play from 4th grade onward.
CM: How did growing up in Chicago affect your passion for the art?
AL: Chicago is an incredible city because it’s so culturally diverse. As I mentioned before, I’ve always loved telling stories, and I think growing up in Chicago helped foster that love because there are so many different people from different backgrounds. So it makes you realize just how many stories there are, and how many that haven’t been told yet. Chicago is also a very artistic city. There’s always some festival to go to in the summer, some museum, some gritty play. I don’t think I took full advantage when I was little, but just knowing that those avenues existed was enough for me.
CM: Who are your some of your biggest influences in the industry?
AL: Oh man. I don’t have major influences, or rather, I think I’m influenced by too many people to count. There are so many people in this industry that I admire either for their talent or their career choices or their intelligence and eloquence or their humanitarian efforts. It would be hard to narrow that list down.
CM: As someone who has done both theater and film, do you prefer one over the other?
AL: There are things I love about doing theatre and things I love about working on film, so I’d have a hard time choosing one over the other. I will say that even though you act in both, the style of acting is very different. Film is much more physically technical. For example, if you raised your hand in one take, you have to do that for every take so that they’ll match when someone goes to edit it together later. That definitely took some adjusting to. But like anything, it eventually becomes second nature if you get to do it enough.
CM: What was it like being part of the last two films in the popular Fifty Shades franchise? How was the atmosphere on set?
AL: It was wonderful. The fans for the Fifty Shades franchise are amazing! The movies were actually my first big budget project, and the whole experience was new and exciting. We shot in Vancouver, which was fun because I’d never traveled for work before. I was there off and on for 3 months, but I was lucky because a lot of my scenes happened during the first 3 weeks of filming. So I got to be there from the start of movie. Everyone in the cast was so lovely. It was nice because since I didn’t start until movie two, a lot of the relationships between the major stars had already been established, so there wasn’t a lot of awkwardness. So in that regard, it felt like a hang out with old friends. But the director and a lot of the crew were new, so it still felt like everyone on set was very excited to be there and excited to see what new direction it would take.
CM: How is filming going for “The Kominsky Method?” Can you tell us about your role in this exciting project?
AL: The cast on Kominsky Method is a dream. I love the show and my character, but I’m most excited about going to work every day and getting to hang with my new friends. The show is about an aging acting teacher played by Michael Douglas and his class full of aspiring actors. I play Breana, one of the students. She’s really smart and talented and cool, but she’s also guarded. You really have to get to know her to know what she’s actually thinking.
CM: How is it starring alongside big names such as Michael Douglas and Alan Arkin?
AL: The most exciting thing about working with Michael Douglas and Alan Arkin is discovering how down to earth they are. These guys have had such fantastic careers and done such amazing work, and so I expected them to be unapproachable, but they aren’t at all. Michael is incredibly kind and Alan is a bit of a class clown-always cracking jokes in between takes. I mean we’re only on episode two so I still get a bit intimidated whenever I have a scene with either of them, but they’re both so lovely.
CM: What was a pivoting moment in your career where you’ve stopped and thought to yourself, “I can’t believe I’m actually doing this?”
AL: Pretty much any time I’m on working on a project I feel that way. I play pretend for a living. I get to become people who think in ways I’d never think, and be in situations that I’d never be in. The last show I did before Kominsky Method was a pilot where I got to have superpowers. It’s all so much fun.
CM: Who is your dream actor or actress to be casted alongside?
AL: Meryl. She’s amazing.
CM: What is your biggest piece of advice to those who hope to be in your shoes one day?
AL: Have patience. Being an actor isn’t the easiest path to take, and there will be close calls and lots of rejections along the way. But as long as you’re patient with the process and continue to do your best, this career is also totally worth it. I can’t imagine doing anything else.
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