Finn Little, a 14-year-old from here in Brisbane, has a starring role opposite Angelina Jolie in the new Hollywood action-thriller Those Who Wish Me Dead. I recently had a chance to speak to Finn about his biggest project to date…
Matt: You’re a teenager from Brisbane starring in a Hollywood movie opposite Angelina Jolie. Tell us a little about your background. Have you always lived in Brisbane?
Finn: Yeah, I’ve always lived in Brisbane. Born and raised and I love it here.
Matt: How did you get into acting?
Finn: Mum got me into acting when I was younger. She got me and my sister into Eisteddfod performances to help us with our public speaking so we wouldn’t be nervous. She must have thought we were all right because she signed us up with an agent. We did some commercials and then when I was 10 years’ old, I landed the role in Storm Boy.
Matt: Have you always enjoyed movies growing up?
Finn: Definitely. It’s a great escape from reality to just watch someone else’s life for a bit.
Matt: What type of movies do you enjoy? Do you have an all-time favourite film?
Finn: Um… I don’t know. I love Saving Private Ryan and also Breathe with Andrew Garfield. Those are both great films.
Matt: Those Who Wish Me Dead is a big project. How did you become involved?
Finn: I have an American agent and they told me about the role. I did a self-tape in the lounge room at home with my mum and sent it through to them. They must have liked it because they sent me to Los Angeles to interview with director Taylor Sheridan and Angelina Jolie.
Matt: I’m sure there would have been a lot of people up for the role so to land it would have been pretty cool?
Finn: Yeah. I was quite nervous for the audition so to get the part was very exciting.
Matt: Angelina Jolie is someone herself who started in the business quite young. Was there much you could learn from her in terms of acting and the movie industry as a whole?
Finn: Definitely. She’s very experienced and it was great to work alongside someone who also has an action background to help me through it. There was a lot to learn and I think we had a great time with each other.
Matt: Did you get to spend a lot of time off-screen with her as you did on-screen?
Finn: Yeah. We spent a few weekends together and I was with her kids doing stuff like airsoft, skate rooms, BBQs and swimming. We got to know each other pretty well off-set and it was great to have that so we’d feel more comfortable on-set.
Matt: There are some scenes in this movie that require some big emotions and the camera is right there up in your face. How easy is it to create those moments?
Finn: I just think about school which is quite traumatic (laughs). Nah, I just think about past experiences. Everyone has some stuff in their past that’s changed them a bit. I think of that and try to bring it onto the screen as best I can.
Matt: You’ve done a couple of big movies now. Do you find it gets easier now the experience is building up?
Finn: Yes. It was hard at first to get into that headspace but now I can turn it on whenever I need it.
Matt: You touched on the subject of schooling. How does that work? Do you get home schooled on set?
Finn: I do have a tutor on set who helps me with my school work while I’m away. That’s all right I guess but I then come back and go to normal school.
Matt: Those Who Wish Me Dead is rated MA in Australia which means you actually can’t watch this unless in the company of a parent or guardian. Do you get a laugh out of that?
Finn: Yeah, a little bit. It’s interesting that I’ve done the stuff on set and have lived it but I can’t watch it myself… but I have watched it on the big screen and it looks really great.
Matt: On that note though, are there safeguards in place for a young actor like you on the set? This is a very violent, intense movie in places with much of it shot at night.
Finn: There are a few little things that I have to stay in-bounds of. Kids have a certain amount of hours on set that they’re allowed to work. I can’t be overworked so they had to get my scenes done fairly quickly each day. There were a few more rules but I was happy to follow them.
Matt: This movie was shot roughly two years ago but it’s taken a while to reach cinemas due to the impact of COVID-19. I’m sure you’ve grown and matured a lot over that time. What’s it like for you watching this movie and judging the performance of your younger self?
Finn: I hate it. I can’t stand it. It’s hard to watch everything I do because it’s me and I notice every tiny thing that’s wrong with my American accent and every little acting mistake that I make. I still haven’t gotten used to it yet.
Matt: Have you had the chance to show the movie to family and friends yet? Did you get some good reactions?
Finn: Yes I did. We invited quite a few family friends to the premiere last Friday night at Palace Cinemas. That was my first time watching it on the big screen and it was great.
Matt: I was a big fan of both Sicario and Hell or High Water which were written by Taylor Sheridan. What can you tell us about his approach to this film as director and how he guided your performance?
Finn: Taylor Sheridan is really great to work with. He builds an environment for his actors to work in that helps them deliver a better performance. With the fire scenes, he actually built a forest and lit it on fire. He did that to help us actors get into a headspace of what the characters were going through. It was a pleasure to work with him.
Matt: Were there many stunts you had to do as part of the film?
Finn: Yeah, there were a few but they were fun and I really enjoyed them. Wade Allen was our stunt coordinator and he always made sure I was good on set. Angelina is such a professional at all that stuff and so it was nice to work alongside her.
Matt: What was the hardest part of the shoot?
Finn: Maybe the altitude in New Mexico. I might be wrong but it’s about 2,000 feet above sea level so the air is a lot thinner and it’s harder to breathe. Anything I normally do might take three times as long but I got used to it after a while.
Matt: How do you find the PR side of things? Doing interviews like this?
Finn: It’s all right I guess. It can be fun to talk to a lot of different people about the movie and I hope I’m doing all right.
Matt: Is there anything you’re working on at the moment? Any projects you can tell us about?
Finn: I can’t talk about too much at the moment but stay tuned and you’ll be surprised and pretty happy about what’s coming up.