February 5, 2023

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‘M3GAN’ star Violet McGrath opens up about bonding with Allison Williams

7 min read

Consumer Warning: This article contains mild spoilers for “M3GAN”.

At just 11 years old, Violet McGrath already has a proven talent for capturing the unusual: playing against it, inhabiting it and grounding it in performances as compelling as they are organically evocative. Her turn as young Nell in Mike Flanagan’s acclaimed Netflix horror series “The Haunting of Hill House” drew tears and praise from audiences, while her portrayal of young Yelena Belova in Marvel’s “Black Widow” showed her flair for the dramatic.

But it was McGrath’s next role in Blumhouse and Universal’s horror-ish satire “M3GAN” that put him squarely in the spotlight, adding a comedic spin to his already horror-filled resume. In the film, McGrath plays Cady, the niece of Jemma (Allison Williams), a robotics engineer for a toy company. After Caddy’s parents die in a freak car accident, Gemma takes her under her wing and, in a well-planned but misguided attempt to distract her niece from her grief, creates M3GAN, an animatronic doll designed to cater to Caddy’s wishes and needs. M3GAN, whose wondrous, wide-eyed design embodies the evolution of a world that evolves itself around artificial intelligence, plays as eagerly as the Model 3 Generative Android — capable of exponential growth and devastating impact. In his review, diversityIts Wayne Glaberman called the film a “diverting genre film, with a healthy sense of its own absurdity”.

As Cady, McGrath took on the task of playing opposite M3GAN, who comes to life through a combination of human acting, animatronics, puppets and VFX. New Zealand actor Amy Donald donned the M3GAN costume on set, perfecting the moves that contributed to the doll’s viral dance moment, while Jenna Davis (“Raven’s Home”) provided the voice of M3GAN. Director Gerard Johnstone called McGrath a “force of nature”.

“When I first met him, it was really funny, because he wanted to talk to me about his character. It was really cute,” he said. “As a parent, I naturally want to make sure mom is included in the conversation, because she’s his parent. but [Violet] was, ‘Mom, you’re at the other end of the table. I’m talking to Gerard.”

Santa Clarita, Calif. From talking to Zoom, chatting with McGrath diversity About the process of shooting “M3GAN”, how he bonded with the cast and crew on set and what he tried his favorite food while filming in New Zealand.

How was the audition process for “M3GAN”?

I auditioned, and then I got a callback. Then I had a Zoom meeting with the director. Then it was my ninth birthday, and my managers at Zoom told me that I had booked “M3GAN” and that I was playing Caddy. I was really excited, because I thought it was a really fun new idea, and I couldn’t wait to be a part of it.

Cady, how do you feel about your relationship with your character?

Cady is a young girl, and she is sad because she lost her parents. I still have my parents. But I think we have similar personalities, because Cady became very close with M3GAN. I think I would also really connect with M3GAN, because I think of her as my best friend and my sister. I think that’s how we can relate a lot.

What were some of your favorite toys that you played with growing up?

I loved playing with dolls. I loved playing with American Girl dolls, because my sister and I got a bunch of sets. We put them in this open space and we made this whole little town look like a beach. It was really cool, because every year for Christmas, we would ask for a new set, so we could complete our town.

What was your favorite American Girl doll?

I got a real me doll, and a really me doll where you make it your own I got one, and I named it Violet, because she had my hair and we got the same clothes.

What did you and Alison Williams talk about when you first met?

We were talking to get to know each other better, and I randomly asked him, “Do you like ‘Lord of the Rings’ or ‘Harry Potter’ more?” He said, “‘Harry Potter'” and I was a little upset because I love “Lord of the Rings.” They are my favorite movies. Don’t get me wrong — I love “Harry Potter,” but I love “Lord of the Rings” more. But it was literally our first small conversation when we met.

Did you have any fun bonding moments with Alison and the rest of the cast?

We usually hang out on the sets. At lunch break, we played twelve-square, which is like four-square but with only twelve squares. We played it with the entire cast and crew. I thought that was an amazing tradition that we all had. It was so much fun. I always looked forward to lunch every day on set, because I just couldn’t wait to play twelve-square.

What was your favorite scene to shoot in “M3GAN”?

Anything with M3GAN is a must. Also I really liked — I wasn’t in the scene, but I got to see M3GAN dance. I just love to dance. It is so iconic. That was really cool to see. I also liked — spoiler, but I also liked when I got to control Bruce, it was really cool and fun, because I felt like a superhero.

How did you film that fight scene with Bruce?

Well, they set Bruce aside, and then they flipped the camera on me. I just had to make some movements, and I had to pretend I was seeing everything. Bruce was filmed in New Zealand, and I actually filmed Controlling the Gloves in Atlanta. I had a little visual of it, so I just imagined it in front of me.

There are many funny moments in the film — for example, when M3GAN starts singing “Titanium” to Caddy. Was there a time during the shoot when it was difficult to keep a straight face?

I don’t think it was that hard for me, because when we were filming, Amy Donald inside the doll was singing to me. She has a really good voice. I just stayed in the moment and I just listened to his amazing music.

I saw in a different interview that you wanted to visit the Shire when you were filming “M3GAN” in New Zealand. were you able to go What was it like?

It was very quiet, and it was very beautiful there. I got a little emotional, because it was a dream for me. The Shire was just so beautiful, and I wanted to live there. I remembered the scenes when I was there, and I thought it was just amazing — like, Bilbo’s house I saw there. I couldn’t believe I was there. Then we had drinks at the Green Dragon across the bridge.

Do you watch any horror films or shows?

I have permission to visit something scary movies I’m not allowed to watch them all because some of them might be a little too big for me. But I saw “M3GAN”. I saw “The Black Phone”. I’ve seen so many that I’ve been in, because I know what’s going to happen and everything so I can see my own The only other movie I’ve seen that I’m not in is “It”.

What are some things you would like to do in the future? Or are there other styles you want to explore?

I definitely want to do horror films. Hope to work on a Marvel film soon. That would be so much fun. But I definitely want to continue working in all films. It doesn’t matter. I just want to continue acting. But I really hope I’m in a murder mystery movie, because I love murder mysteries.

Have you seen any fun murder mysteries lately?

Yes, my favorite is definitely “Knife Out”. i am I love That movie. I saw it literally a few days ago.

What was your favorite snack to eat from craft service?

They had this really yummy chip called Square. They were like goldfish without the cheesiness and they had no salt in them. They always bring yummy pastries to set, because we were in New Zealand and they have really good pastries. So I always had a yummy raspberry pastry. Then I had a croissant. So lots of pastries and chips for me.

I’m sure being in New Zealand has introduced you to many new snacks and meals!

I went to New Zealand with my two brothers and my mother. In the house where we lived, we walked to this place called Good Friday, and we always got some pastries and hot chocolate. It was so much fun, it was like another little tradition that we did. They had an ice cream place nearby and we always went there. It’s called Duck Island, and they had some new flavors that I hadn’t tried.

What kind of ice cream flavors have you tried there?

I had this different kind of vanilla. I think it was called French Vanilla. And then I tried – I can’t remember what the name was. Was it like butter with nuts? It was just really good. My mom got it too, but can’t remember what it was. But it was really, really good.

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