"She just had a very sweet, innocent, demure personality," says LaRue. "She was beloved by millions of people."
In the movie A Dream Is a Wish Your Heart Makes: The Annette Funicello Story, LaRue plays a younger version of Funicello, who was once known as "the queen of teen." LaRue called the project "a magical experience" because of Funicello's presence on set, as well as her family's.
"They were all very forthcoming about their stories about her," says LaRue.
LaRue tells ET that when she hearing of Annette Funicello's passing brought on a myriad of emotions. LaRue was at the same time both devastated and relieved by the news, as it meant the end of Funicello's suffering.
"What was hard to watch was this beautiful, vital icon be so frustrated that she was trapped in this body that would not work," LaRue says.
Funicello died on Monday following a 25-year battle with Multiple Sclerosis. She was 70 years old.