Lacey Chabert: Connection Is The Point of Creation
By Jarett Wieselman
Lacey Chabert's job has required a lot of aerial adventures over the years and now she's playing a passenger (on the flight from hell) in her new movie, Non-Stop. Chabert plays the awesomely-named Amy Nightingale in LMN's latest offering, which chronicles one recently-jilted woman's terrifying transatlantic flight -- we're talking mile-high horrors, scary stewards and a mid-air robbery that she must solve before touching down.
ETonline recently broke bread with the effervescent Chabert and talked all about her latest project, the hurdles involved in transitioning from child star to working adult actress and the enduring legacy of Mean Girls, which gets quoted to her on the daily.
ETonline: What attracted you to Non-Stop?
Lacey Chabert: I liked that it was more of a psychological thriller than a horror film. I thought it was interesting that she's vulnerable in this situation because of what's going on in her life and feels lost. She's just trying to keep her head above water. There's a lot of mysterious things about her the audience doesn't know, and the goal was for the audience to be confused as they experience everything through Amy's eyes because she's just as confused about what's happening to her.
ETonline: I love that the plane is filled with every type of person you pray is not on your flight: the nasty flight attendant, the chatty seatmate, the oversharer ... in your life, are you a good flier?
Chabert: I wish I had kept count, but I would bet I've flown 10,000 times for my job, and for the most part I have good stories. I have the routine down -- headphones, blanket, magazines, iPod. But I'm pretty friendly; I usually talk to the person next to me.
ETonline: What's your worst travel experience?
Chabert: I was traveling to Barcelona to do a film and they lost my luggage. After 7 days of being in this country and working without any of my stuff, I finally asked [production] to take me to the airport's lost baggage room because I knew I could find it. We walk in and there are like 5,000 suitcases. But I could see this tiny sliver of my colorful luggage and I started crying. "My bags!!!!" I was just so happy to have my stuff back.
ETonline: There are a lot of red flags before Amy's plane takes off -- I mean, a little girl says to her "this plane is going to crash." Would you have stayed on the plane?
Chabert: No way! I'm a big believer in things happen for a reason. If I hit traffic on the way to the airport and miss my flight, I'm calm about it because there was a reason I wasn't supposed to be on that plane. And then I panic and try to find the next flight. But if red flags are going up, I definitely don't get on the plane.
ETonline: Amy also engages in a little mile-high makeout with a fellow passenger. What's your feeling about Mile High Club members?
Chabert: Oh my gosh, it's awful! It's horrifying and embarrassing. I would never make out with someone in the back of a plane ... no matter how cute they are.
ETonline: What is it you look for in a character when reading a script?
Chabert: I love playing women who are written in an intelligent way but also have realistic problems and are flawed in a good way. For Amy, she'd chosen work over love and, as a result, can't get over that relationship. She's really still suffering from that, which makes her more susceptible to everything going on around her.
ETonline: In your next movie, Color of Rain, you play a widow with two children. It took me a moment to reconicle the fact that you're now playing mother roles...
Chabert: Trust me, it was weird for me too [laughs]. I'm a mother to Chihuahuas and that's it. But I'm from Mississippi and a lot of my friends got married after high school and have two or three children. That's something I want in my life ... on a different timetable, but I could absolutely have a teenager if I got pregnant after high school. It was interesting to play a mother because I felt so protective of those kids on set, maybe because I was the kid on set once.
ETonline: How consciously do you look at roles in terms of professional maturation, and showing Hollywood that you can, for example, play a mother now?
Chabert: For me, having been in this business for so long, I've gone through so many seasons professionally. Going from a child actor to an adult actor is challenging, you constantly have to remind people of who you are today. Transitioning to playing more womanly roles is part of the natural process, as it would be in my real life. I don't put too much thought into it, it all unfolds in the time it should.
ETonline: Obviously any actor would give their arm to have successes like Party of Five or Mean Girls, but does their enduring popularity become a double-edged sword?
Chabert: Yes, I think when something is as popular as Party of Five or as well-received as Mean Girls, which I'm grateful to have been a part of every single day, I have to remind people that I'm not [Claudia or Gretchen] in real life. I'm always searching for versatility and the opportunity to dig into something about myself that I haven't yet explored.
ETonline: Is it strange that the 10th Anniversary of Mean Girls is coming up next year?
Chabert: I cannot believe that. I turned 21 while making that movie; we were filming in the mall and they stopped filming to all sing me happy birthday. It was so sweet, but I'm such a shy person that I wanted to crawl into a corner and hide [laughs]. It's such a good memory. That's a movie that will live with me for a long time.
ETonline: When first reading that script did you recognize the specialness or is that something that only comes from the reception?
Chabert: It's a little bit of both. That was just an audition like any other. I thought the script was so funny, and knew it was special because Tina Fey wrote it, but I can't say that I expected it to be received in the way it was or that 10 years later I would get Tweets about it every single day. People stop me on the street on a daily basis to quote lines or compliment the project. People think it's something I'd get sick of, but the whole point of creating is to connect with people and give them something to relate to and care about. It's a joy.
ETonline: Do I even need to ask which quote gets repeated to you the most?
Chabert: Probably not [laughs] -- "That's so fetch."