I recently got the chance to talk to Jamie LaBarber about her role in ‘J. Edgar’. Here, Jamie talks about how she got involved in the project and what it was like working with Clint Eastwood and the rest of the cast and crew on-set…
Hey Jamie. Thanks for taking the time out to talk to me about your new film, ‘J. Edgar’.
What’s the general plotline surrounding the film?
The movie is about J. Edgar Hoover who was the founder of the FBI and it goes through his life and shows his rise to power and his close relationship with his second-in-command, Clyde Tolson. It uses a lot of flashbacks.
Tell us a bit about the character you play in the film…
In ‘J. Edgar’ I play a teenaged Ginger Rogers who was a famous dancer. In my scene, my mother Lela and I, along with Anita Colby and Clyde Tolson, are at a table in a nightclub with J.Edgar and he’s telling us about the Lindbergh baby kidnapping. It comes out that J. Edgar is very uncomfortable around women when my mother asks him to dance and he gets very flustered and leaves with Clyde Tolson.
How did you get involved in the project in the first place?
My agent set up an audition at Warner Brothers where they were looking for a Ginger Rogers look-alike. I showed up with curly hair and during the audition I was told to react to lines between J. Edgar and my Mom, Lela.
Did you have to do any research into the history of Hoover?
Yes, I researched who J. Edgar was and who my character was along with the others in the scene were so I could figure out how they all might interact and how I’d react to dialog during the scene.
The film was directed by legendary film actor and director Clint Eastwood. What was it like working with him as a director on-set? Must have been incredible!
Yes, it was incredible! It was a very comfortable and positive atmosphere and Clint Eastwood was very nice and laid back. He came up to the nightclub table where the scene was being shot and reassured me saying: “You’re doing a great job” – he reassured the other actors too. He was very calm and everyone smiled and seemed relaxed even though they were being serious about what they were doing.
The film stars Leonardo DiCaprio, Armie Hammer, Naomi Watts and Dame Judi Dench – what was it like working with the cast and crew on-set? Any good anecdotes?
It was great! I was on set with Leonardo DiCaprio, Armie Hammer, Lea Thompson, Amanda Schull and Michael Gladis. They were all really nice and funny. In between takes we all talked at the table and Armie Hammer began making jokes – he’s very funny and outgoing. Lea Thompson played my Mom Lela and was a little like my ‘set Mom’, guiding and mentoring me. Amanda Schull was very nice and gave me pointers on taking photos. Michael Gladis shared a lot of helpful information about his career path. Leonardo DiCaprio stayed in character most of the time and also joked and talked but not as much as the rest because I think he was trying to stay focused on his character. Between takes he’d go to a quiet area and say his lines or sit quietly.
The crew was all very helpful – the costume people helped me with the delicate dress I wore and the hair and make-up people did an amazing job of fixing my wig and applying flawless make-up. Everybody on the set – the AD and the AAD’s and the camera and light and prop people – they were all nice.
I have a big head – I mean my head size is big – haha—and I had to make a special trip to a famous Hollywood wig maker who searched and searched for the right wig and finally found one that fit – it was the last wig in the last storage bin.
Clint Eastwood seemed like a very normal, regular person and it was cool because he ate lunch with all of us who worked on the set. After we finished shooting the scene, he agreed to have his picture taken with us and then we started talking about raising teenage kids and he and my Mom were on the same page. It was so amazingly normal!
Let’s talk a bit about you Jamie. What made you want to get into the industry in the first place?
Entertainment always interested me and I loved dance recitals and musical theatre performances but I never thought I could possibly be a television or film actress because it seemed out of reach for me. It began to materialize when I was approached by an acting studio coach one day at the mall. After that things fell into place and I took classes, found an agent and began to audition.
What advice would you give to anyone wanting to get into the industry?
Acting must be something you LOVE to do because it’s a big time commitment and a lot of work taking class and auditioning for roles you don’t get. You have to be dedicated and very sure of yourself because you’ll hear things you don’t want to hear but you have to keep going and practice all the time and never give up. Success doesn’t happen overnight and you have to be willing to work hard for a very long time.
What is currently on your I-Pod right now?
A wide variety of music. I have a lot of pop country and some hip hop like Eminem and Lil Wayne as well as dubstep and reggae. I like a lot of different styles and sounds.
If you were stranded on a desert island, which three things could you not live without?
A boat! Haha
- Smart phone so I could talk to people, listen to music, go on Facebook, go to the Internet, and have navigation.
- Tom Hanks because he figured out how to survive on a deserted island in the movie ‘Castaway’.
- A toothbrush – there’s nothing else like a toothbrush!
What’s coming up for you in 2012?
High school graduation and then college; my dancing job with Disney; toning up; turning 18; more acting classes; new friends and people I meet; and hopefully lots of auditions and another great acting role!
Thanks for the interview!