Jessica Carison is hanging out in New York City, getting Cold Stone with her girlfriends (cake batter with cookie dough bits) just like any other 16-year-old would. But this Friday, the New York native will be the center of attention when her new movie, Cirque du Freak: The Vampire's Assistant, hits theaters nationwide. Yes, life is sweet all around for the vibrant and charming actress.
We caught up with Jessica after school and talked to her about what inspired her to be an actress, what makes her character Rebecca so freaky and, of course, what it was like to kiss her handsome co-star Chris Massoglia. Read what she had to say below and check out The Vampire's Assistant in theaters on October 23!
JSYK: When did you know that you wanted to be an actress?
Jessica Carlson: I saw Peter Pan on Broadway when I was really little. It was when that woman played Peter and Tinkerbell sprinkled the fairy dust, and I was so ... I still have the fairy dust. I just wanted to get up there and be with them. I started doing improv classes locally in first grade and things just kept building up. I really wanted to start auditioning, so my parents let me start when I was 11 or 12, when they thought I had enough of a sense of self and I was comfortable with who I was. And then I just kept going and doing commercials and off Broadway and then The Vampire's Assistant!
JSYK: How did you get the role of Rebecca?
Jessica: I first met the casting director in New York. I auditioned for him and then I got a call back and auditioned for him and Paul Weitz, the director. When I first met Paul, was shaking his hand and then I kicked over a water bottle. Luckily it was capped, but I was still shaking his hand! I had all these awkward instances, but I guess they helped because I got the role.
JSYK: Had you read the books before you got the part?
Jessica: I had, actually. They're really cool, really adventurous and a little gory. I was more into 'Little House on the Prairie' before, but now I really like the books.
JSYK: Your character was written specifically for the movie, right?
In the book, her name is Debbie, but they changed it. I'm not really sure why, but it just works better with the movie. My character's name is Rebecca and she's this really adventurous, old character -- with a little twist. I don't want to say, even though it's been in the trailers and commercials on TV, but she's really cool. I think she's a great role model, too, for girls.
JSYK: What makes Rebecca a "freak"?
Jessica: Well, in the movie, she's not a freak in the circus -- she works for the circus of freaks and ... she has a monkey tail! Ah! That's the first time I've ever admitted it! It was really cool because I would have this special robotic belt on that would move my skirt a certain way, but a lot of the time I didn't have it on. I just had to feel it and move my body how I thought the tail would make me move. It was so much fun.
JSYK: You play Darren's love interest in the film. Is there an on-screen kiss?
Jessica: Yes, there is. It was our first day on set and we had this kiss scene! It was kind of like, "Oh hi, I'm Jessica," and "Hi, I'm Chris." I thought we were going to rehearse it -- I thought movie kisses were this thing or that angle -- but no, he just wanted us to do it on the first take. There were like 100 people there, kids lying on blankets watching – we were in a little neighborhood cul-de-sac – and there were tons of people watching, and we had to do it like 20 times! We were both popping mints and gum and it was really fun. My lips got a little sore, I've got to admit!
JSYK: So what's up next for you?
Jessica: I've been doing a lot of publicity for the movie. I'm in some talks right now, so you'll have to stay tuned, but I'm really excited for this movie to come out. I think it's going to be really cool.
Read Our Exclusive Interview With Chris Massoglia!