Here is the next post in our “Tomorrowland” series. This time Gayle chats with Audrey Hepburn look-a-like Raffey Cassidy who plays the part of Athena. Make sure to also check out Gayle’s interviews with George Clooney and Britt Robertson. Tomorrow we will post the last update in the series which will be Part 2 of Gayle’s interview with George Clooney.
Written by Gayle Turner
“I’d say the future isn’t a place we’re going. It’s something we’re making, so it can be anything that they want it to be.” –Raffey Cassidy
If for some reason you haven’t heard of Raffey Cassidy, who plays Athena in Disney’s box office hit Tomorrowland, then get ready because this young lady is not just portraying the future-she is the future. Bright and giggly with all the charm one would expect but the poise and insight that usually only comes with people who have lived lifetimes and more. To meet Miss Cassidy and talk to her in person lets you know that the world, and the future are indeed in great hands.
Several weeks ago I had the chance to sit down and talk to her about life, her family and what it was like to star alongside the likes of George Clooney, Hugh Laurie and Britt Robertson in the retro-futuristic fun adventure Tomorrowland, the must-see film of the summer and a movie that will cause every family to come away believing that we do have the power to affect the future.
Twelve-year old Raffey, who found her way to acting quite accidently, is a pupil at Moorside High School in Swinton and has been acting since she was seven. She has co-starred in the hit TV show Mr. Selfridge alongside Jeremy Piven and as the young Snow White opposite Charlize Theron, Kristen Stewart and Chris Hemsworth in Snow White and the Huntsman. Up next after Disney’s Tomorrowland, you will be able to see her as the title character in new film Molly Moon: The Incredible Hypnotist with Emily Watson and Dominic Monaghan. To give you an insight as to her talents, Raffey was the youngest-ever actor to be featured in Screen’s International Stars of Tomorrow. She can do serious acting and comedy. She does a brilliant Southern accent, which is remarkable for a 12-year-old, especially one from Great Britain, and she can do a great imitation of Beyoncé. Not bad for someone who is only twelve years old and yet she is as humble, unassuming and genuine as they come.
So how did it all start for this amazing young lady from England?
“‘My brother went into an audition. I was sitting outside and they said, ‘We need a little girl, can we see you?’ And then they kind of asked me if I wanted to have a go at that. So I had a go of it and then it started from there. It’s really good when you’re on set – you learn more than you would at school as your tutor is one-to-one, but sometimes you miss going to school. I want to carry on being an actor, but I want to do gymnastics and dancing as well.”
And just how did she find her way from there to Tomorrowland?
“I just went up for an audition, but it was a self-tape at home and then I went to London to do another screen test. From there I went to America to do another screen test and then I found out that I got the part.”
Although her very first scene to shoot was the 1964 World’s Fair and watching young Frank Walker, actor Thomas Robinson, get off to the bus, we talked about what her favorite scene to film was.
“My favorite scene to shoot was probably the Blast from the Past sequence. I really liked that because it was a lot of action in it. I trained for two months in gymnastics and martial arts, and then I went to Canada and did another month of martial arts and a bit of gymnastics. And then I did even more training throughout the many months of filming doing another couple of days every week or so throughout the shoot.”
George Clooney, who plays disillusioned dreamer Frank Walker, had already shared in part about the truck driving sequences in the film but what was her take on actually learning to drive and work with someone like Clooney.
“It was so fun because they actually taught me how to drive. There was a scene where I had to like go down a ramp and then stop. I think really I started to get a little too confident, and I got too close. Um, Britt just went ‘STOP’, because it got so close. As for George, Um, well I’d seen the Descendants and I really, really liked it. And George is so, just so wonderful and funny. I learned so much from him. And he’s so professional but really fun at the same time.”
What was it like when Raffey first saw the entire movie for the first time and what traits does she feel she shares with her character Athena?
“I was just so shocked. It was like “WOW’. They did such a good job of how well they put it together and there was never a scene when I was thinking ‘Wow, this was dragging on a bit.’ By the end of the film, it was like it can’t be over yet. Well, if I had to choose something on what Athena and I share it would probably be optimism, because I think that I feel that I’m quite optimistic and always look on the bright side of a bad situation.”
Because of her age, Cassidy is indeed the future but was there ever a point during the filming that made her think that this is what the future’s going to be, or aspects of it and if there was one thing from the future that she could use right now, what would it be?
“There was so much technology in the actual Tomorrowland and I think that that’s how it’s going to be in, I don’t know, 60 years time or something. So, I think that will be what the future is but I’d really like to have the jetpacks though right now.”
Raffey shared what it was like to prepare to take on the persona of a robot and what the hardest scene for her to film was.
“Well Athena has so many different qualities. She’s optimistic. She’s intelligent. She’s wise, and I just kind of put all of those together, and I always had an image in my head for a scene so it was never just go in cold. I always had an image that would just help me and I’d always be able to think of it to get me through this. My hardest scene would probably be my end scene in the movie. There were a lot of lines, but once I’d learned them, it just flowed. George had a lot of eye contact with me, so it’s so easy to perform and it would have been hard if George wasn’t so good. But in the end, it was easy because he is just so professional and kept eye contact the whole time.”
It is so hard to keep in mind that this poised, confident young lady is still only twelve years old. So did playing such an optimistic character in turn make Raffey even more optimistic?
“Yes, for sure I am even more optimistic than I already was. Even talking about it now makes me think about the future now and how optimistic we can all be and how we can make it what we want. I definitely think it gave me personally more of a voice to want to stand up and try and make a change. It makes you think maybe I can make a difference in the world.”
What keeps Cassidy so grounded when working on such an enormous project such as Tomorrowland and what is her favorite part of the world of filmmaking?
“I have three brothers and one sister and all of them act. My whole family travels with me because we’re all so close and we’re just one big family together and it’s strange if one of us is away, so we all just travel together wherever we go. When they all first saw the film they really liked it because they didn’t know anything. They went to Canada while I filmed it, but they hadn’t a clue what, what I was doing each day, so when they saw it, they were like ‘Wow, that’s so cool.’ And sometimes they’d come to sit in and watch, and they would remember seeing me in that scene, but they just didn’t know where it fit in. At the moment I’m so grateful for what I’ve had the chance to do and everything, and maybe I’ll carry on doing this. At the moment, I want to go into it. I might change my mind, but for now I love it. My favorite part of being a part of this, or any project is how close the set becomes, like the cast and crew, everybody, becomes so close. It’s like a family. Everybody helps each other out. The first day when you walk onto the set you’re struck by the fact that everybody’s doing such different jobs and yet it’s one whole thing making one whole thing, but everybody’s doing such different jobs and it just all comes together in the end. I think that was cool. “
What’s the one message Raffey Cassidy took away from Tomorrowland and hopes others, especially young people take away from the movie?
“I’d say the future isn’t a place we’re going. It’s something we’re making, so it can be anything that they want it to be. I hope I’m a dreamer I mean, yeah, I hope so.”
If Raffey Cassidy is any example of what is to come in the future, and what dreamers can do, nothing is impossible. Thank you Raffey, for showing us all how to dream and how to believe.
Want to learn more about Tomorrowland?
Visit the interactive Take Me To Tomorrowland Site
Like TOMORROWLAND Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/DisneyTomorrowland
Follow Disney Pictures on Twitter: https://twitter.com/DisneyPictures
Visit the official TOMORROWLAND website: www.Disney.com/Tomorrowland
Don’t forget to follow #TomorrowlandEvent to stay find out all the latest
“What if there was a place, a secret place where nothing was impossible? A miraculous place where you could actually change the world- wanna go?”
I have been invited by Disney to cover the Tomorrowland Event. All expenses have been paid for by Disney but all opinions my own.
Gayle is a lifelong educator by day and avid freelance writer by night Mom to 5, Grammy to 4 she is blessed to share her life with amazing family and friends who encourage her to chase her dreams no matter where they may lead. When not in the classroom, she can be found following her son as he dances his way through life, or working with young performers in free nationally recognized after school children’s theater program that she founded 13 years ago.
Other posts by this author:
Disneyland’s Diamond Celebration is Just Around the Corner
Tomorrowland Event Awaits MouseQuester Gayle
Disney VoluntEARS Celebrate the Teaching Garden’s First Harvest
Behind the Scenes of Disney/Pixar’s “Lava”
Behind the Scenes of Disney/Pixar’s “Inside Out”
Movie Review – “McFarland, USA”