AnnaSophia Robb is the Girl Next Door in ‘Way, Way Back’
AnnaSophia Robb as Susanna in "THE WAY WAY BACK." ©20th Century Fox. CR: Claire Folger

AnnaSophia Robb as Susanna in “THE WAY WAY BACK.” ©20th Century Fox. CR: Claire Folger


Front Row Features

HOLLYWOOD—AnnaSophia Robb is getting used to her fashion icon status now that she is playing a younger version of fashion-conscious Carrie Bradshaw on the CW series “The Carrie Diaries.” Her words of advice to would-be fashionistas: “You have to have a seamstress or a tailor because nothing fits until they fit it to your body.”

The 19-year-old blond beauty is looking the epitome of summer sleek for an interview, dressed in a blue and white polka-dot dress accented with an orange jacket decorated with little flowers. Though the TV series, in which she stars as a transplanted New York high school girl, keeps her busy these days, she still hopes to keep her movie career active.

A Denver native, Robb began her career nearly a decade ago, having started out doing commercials. Her first starring role was in the TV movie “Samantha: An American Girl Holiday,” a role in which her hair was dyed brown. She subsequently had a breakout, starring role in the feature film “Because of Winn-Dixie.” Other family-friendly films followed including “The Bridge to Terabithia,” “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory,” the remake of “Race to Witch Mountain” and “Soul Surfer.”

She now stars in the quirky coming-of-age comedy “The Way, Way Back,” in which she plays Susanna, the brainy but bored daughter of an alcoholic mom who befriends a young outcast neighbor boy (played by 17-year-old Liam James) in their beach community.

Robb was able to make the film just before starting her series, so it was much on her mind while she was filming near Boston. Thankfully, she got a lot of advice from her co-star Allison Janney, a TV series veteran who plays her loud, frequently soused mother, in the dramedy.

Q: (Directors/writers) Jim Rash and Nat Faxon said you seem mature beyond your age so you were perfect for this character. Would you agree with that?

Robb: (She chuckles.) I feel old. I do old things, I guess. I like to sleep a lot and I like to go out to dinner early. Liam and I had a great time together and I think I just was really drawn to this character. The film is so well written. The first thing you see on a film is the script, and it was so complete. I’ve never enjoyed reading something so much and being able to watch it be put together and speaking with Nat (Faxon) and Jim (Rash). I remember reading it and just being on fire and just adoring them and how smart and witty and driven and what nice guys they are. Then, filming and watching all these amazing actors put their heart and soul in it and using their talent and having a blast. I think the fun we had on the film really transfers onto the screen.

Q: How did this film work with your shooting schedule on “The Carrie Diaries”. Did you shoot it during you break?

Robb: It happened right before. I did “The Way, Way Back” and then a couple of weekends I went to New York. It was really wonderful. Allison (Janney) was obviously in “West Wing” so she was telling me about TV and how intense it is and sharing her experiences. That really meant a lot to me because I’d never done TV before and a lot of the crew was from New York so I got a little bit of a warm up. Then, doing a project I was really excited about and something completely different was a huge blessing for me. So I went from that to “The Carrie Diaries.”

Q: What drives you to act?

Robb: I started at around nine or ten. I think it was one of those things that I wanted to do when I was younger but I really didn’t know why I wanted to do it. My career slowly progressed. Working with really talented people made we want to continue telling stories.

Q: Does working with Nat and Jim, who are also actors, have an effect on your performance?

Robb: Yeah, I thought so. What’s so wonderful about Nat and Jim is that they’re really having fun. They’re not stressing about the work. They know they’re going to get it and have the right people to do it. I remember Allison’s entry scene. Jim and Allison are very close. They’ve been friends for a while and Allison is so wonderful and has so much energy. She would try it differently every single take and Jim would say one little thing and she’d try it that way. Just to be able to have that safety and encouragement to try things is different lights, different shapes was fun to watch and be a part of.

Q: Are you going to college this year?

Robb: I’m deferring for another year but it’s OK. College isn’t going anywhere. I have an idea of what I’ll study—not science and not math! Everything else I’m interested in.

Q: Your character and Liam’s character are coping with their parents’ divorce and other pressures of people your age. Do you have any advice for getting through your teens?

Robb: I think this story is very poignant for the awkward age Duncan (James’ character) is, and I think the caption on the poster (“We’ve all been there”) captures that angst quite well. We’ve all felt isolated and disconnected and have wondered where we are in life. For Duncan to have an unexpected mentor like Sam Rockwell’s (Owen) to just reach out and get involved (is great). I think my character, Susanna, is going through a transition too.

Q: Have you felt that kind of isolation in your life?

Robb: Yeah. I think it happens to everyone at different points. For me, after high school, working and then coming home and being like “oh my gosh, none of my friends are home yet” and feeling a sense of home without any of my friends with everything being different is something I can relate. What is this new place; everything has changed? So it’s getting through that, but you can’t do it alone.

Q: How are you holding up with pressure of starring in a TV series?

Robb: It was rough and a learning process but I really love everyone I work with, the crew, and I’m very excited for season two. I can’t wait to get back. I think we’re going to have a lot of fun. I like working hard. Otherwise, I get bored. On “The Way, Way Back” set I got lonely because I wasn’t in the whole thing. I would come early and hang out at the house to just be with everybody.

Q: Do you have hobbies that keep you busy when you’re not working?

Robb: You know when you’re really busy it’s easy to put your hobbies aside and think you always have to be going work. So it’s really important to find those hobbies and make time for them. That’s what I’m going to work on. There are certainly things I love to do. When I’m home I love to go on hikes and hang out with my friends. In New York, I love just walking around the city and going to plays and shows and concerts. Food is a hobby (and) museums. I love New York.

Q: Who is your outfit by?

Robb: Kate Spade and Miss Wu. I don’t know who (designed) my earrings. I thought I’d punk it up a little bit today.

Q: You must be getting into a lot more fashion now.

Robb: I’m starting to.