Kaitlyn Dever may be best known for her role in TV series Last Man Standing, but she has some very exciting film projects on the horizon.
With both Spectacular Now and Short Term 12 doing well on the festival circuit, Dever is an acting talent that we should all be watching out for over the next twelve months.
We caught up with her to chat about returning to season three of Last Man Standing as well as the film roles that she has coming up.
- Last Man Standing is heading back to TV screens for a third series so what can we expect from the new season?
There is a lot of new stuff with Eve coming up; she is in high school, and she is just in the process of figuring out what she wants to do. None of the cast really knows what the cast is coming up next until it is time to shoot our next episode; we find out what our next episode is about right before we go to a table read. It is a fast-moving process.
We have just started shooting season three, and we are on episode two at the moment. Things are going great so far. It’s great to know that this family is going to be back on TV and there are a lot of good and funny episodes coming up, as always.
- TV is a very fast paced medium, as you say, and you don’t know what is around the corner for your character, so do you like working that way?
I do; I do. I have done other TV stuff before, and it is a lot like Last Man Standing where it is a mystery for you to.
When you are at home and watching a TV show that you love you always have to wait until the next episode - I am now finding that when you are working on the TV show, it is the exact same thing. You have to wait, and you have to go through almost the same amount of suspension before you find out what is going on with your character.
There is always something new with Eve coming along and I don’t know about it until just before we start shooting the episode.
- You have got a whole host of movie projects on the horizon, and Spectacular Now is just one of them. So can you tell me a little about the film?
Spectacular Now is an older coming of age movie - there are a lot of coming of age stories, but this one is a bit of different. There are a lot of coming of age stories, and they are for 14-16 year olds but this one is about an older guy, and he is a senior in high school.
He is trying to figure out what he wants to do with this life, but he really wants to live in the now and live in the moment.
Then he meets this girl, played by Shailene Woodley, and she is the complete opposite; she is by the book and wants to go to college. The pair falls in love; so it is really a love story.
I am the nerdy and overbearing friend of Shailene’s character. My character is really annoying, but the script was just so good. I saw the director James Ponsoldt the other day; he came to watch Short Term 12.
- You take on the role of Krystal in the film so what was it about the script and this character that drew you to the project?
It was such a great movie, and the script was just so good; I just immediately wanted to do it. This was a more comedic role, and I felt that the character was the comic relief in the movie. I just loved how she is annoying and very bossy - she was a really fun character.
- The movie is based upon the novel of the same name by Tim Tharp so were you familiar with the book before the film? And how useful was the novel as you were developing this character?
I didn’t read the novel, actually. I had heard about it, but I didn’t read it. I believe my character was a little different in the book, that is what I was told.
But I read the script a lot; before I do a film, I like to read the script a lot and get familiar with it and get really familiar with the story and the characters. I am always keen to know about my character’s story and the story of the other characters surrounding my character.
- The movie premiered at Sundance and has been doing really well on the festival circuit, so how have you found the reaction to the film so far?
It has been great, oh my gosh. It has just been so awesome. It has been really cool to be in a movie that is getting such great reactions.
When I went to Sundance, which was the first time I had been to Sundance, and it was just a great experience. It was great being there with the cast - it was such a good time.
- Short Term 2 is another of your projects that has been doing really well on the festival circuit, so can you tell me a little about that?
Short Term 12 is about this foster-care facility and follows Brie Larson’s character, Grace. She is a foster-care worker at this facility and has been helping out kids for some time.
When I come in, I am the new girl coming to this facility; I have been abused by my father and have had a very hard life. She is very depressed, and she has got all of these emotions.
When Grace meets me, I remind her of her childhood; the whole movie is about Grace trying to cope with that. She is now remembering so much about her childhood that was so awful - it is very similar to what my character is going through.
Furthermore, she is trying to deal with the fact that her dad is getting out of jail - he is a father who abused her. My character is very complex, and it was great to be able to do all the emotional stuff.
We won the South By Southwest Grand Jury Prize, and I am very happy and excited for the film as I think that this is just the beginning for this film.
- This is quite dark and tackles some interesting subjects, unlike anything that you have done before, so what drew you to this? And how are we going to see your character develop throughout the film?
I wanted to do it because I read the script and immediately thought ‘man, this really affected me and this really is something that not a lot of people read about’. Also you don’t read a script like this often, and I was just like ‘this was so good’.
It was so great, and I fell in love with it immediately. Like you were saying there was a part of this character that was so cool, and I wanted to be her so bad because I have never played a character like this before. There is a lot of emotional stuff going into to; throughout the movie, my character has all kinds of emotions.
At first, it was hard trying to figure out what goes on at these facilities as I tried to figure out her back story. So I just read the script repeatedly - that was part of my research.
But before we started shooting director Destin Cretton had us meet up with this guy who works at a foster-care facility; Destin use to work at a foster-care facility as well.
This guy would tell us stories, and that was very helpful for me as I got into character.
The entire movie and the whole shoot was about my character having heavy internal stuff going on but outside she was angry, and she didn’t want to be at this facility. She is also angry because she has to live this life, and she is angry that she has to be mature.
But then I liked to give some relief so that it is not so depressing; so there are little moments where I am sarcastic or little moments where I am touched and happy.
So there are little moments throughout the film that are a break from the depressing character of Jaden (laughs). It was such an amazing experience; it really was unbelievable.
- You have mentioned Destin Cretton already, and he wrote and directed the film, so how did you find working with him? And what kind of director is he?
He is a great character (laughs). I met with him at the audition, and my mind goes to ‘man, he turns up at the audition. He really cares about this'.
Sometimes the directors don’t come into the call back or even a third meeting; he was there from the start. So that was something that I noticed when I first started going after this role.
He is such a humble, sweet and nice guy, and he kept saying ‘I feel so lucky to have got the cast that I have for this film’. And I was like ‘I think it is the other way around. The whole cast is lucky to be a part of this film’.
It was such an honour and a privilege to be on board. He really is amazing, and he was just so thankful for everything. He felt like my older brother when I was working with him on set as he would just come up to me and just talk.
I felt totally open and free to do whatever I wanted with the character, and we could just talk about it; that is what I loved most about working with Dustin on set.
He let all of us find the character in the way that we wanted to and then if I wanted to ask him a question I felt totally comfortable asking him anything. It is really important to have a big brother figure as a director, it is awesome. There was a really good feeling on set, and he is just an amazing guy.
- You have had success on both the big and small screen so are you going to continue to move between the two mediums or is film what you are concentrating on?
I like doing television and film. However, I do feel that later on I will probably want to do film. I have been very lucky to get the chance to do both over the last couple of years.
Being on the show has helped me show people that I can be on a sitcom or a comedy, and then I can be in Short Term 12 as well. It is great that I get to show that I can tackle those emotions, and I can be those completely different characters.
I feel very lucky that I have been able to do television and film, but I think that later on I will want to stick to film.
- Finally, what is coming up for you?
This summer I have shot a film called Laggies, which is directed by Lynn Shelton, and it stars Keira Knightley and Chloe Moretz. It is another movie about finding out who you are and what you want to do with your life.
Keira Knightley plays Megan, and she is trying to figure out what she wants to do; she is a twenty eight-year-old girl, and all her friends are getting married and getting jobs, and she hasn’t gone anywhere or done anything.
Her boyfriend has just proposed to her, and she is finding it a lot to handle. So she tells her now fiancé that she is going to on a retreat and try to figure out what she wants to do. Instead, she goes to hang out with four teenagers throughout the whole movie.
I am one of the teenagers, and I play Chloe Moretz’s best friend. My character is the party girl who likes to live in the moment. Again, she is the comic relief of the film. I shot that in Seattle, about two months ago.
I finished a film called Grass Stains about three weeks ago; we shot that in North Carolina. The movie is centred about me and Tye Sheridan’s character. It was really cool to get to work on this film because it was my first lead on this movie. Secondly, it was also a great experience. It is about Tye Sheridan’s character discovering his first love.
But then he gets involved in this innocent prank with his two best friends that results in death of my character’s brother. It was totally not his fault, but he hasn’t told my character about it. So this movie is about him dealing with the guilt of not telling me that he had something to do with my brother’s death.
Then it is about to me trying to force myself into the relationship with Tye Sheridan’s character and try to forget about my brother’s death. So it is a very special film.
I am excited for both Laggies and Grass Stains to come out. Then I am back on the show. I just feel overly blessed, and I am very excited about the stuff that I have coming up.