Call Answered: Allison King: "Midnight Special," "Baby Driver," and "Thank You For Your Service"
Allison King, Photo Credit: Birdie Thompson, Hair: Matilde Campos, Makeup: Anton KhachaturianWhen you meet an actress like Allison King who loves dogs, goes hiking, and has worked with some of your favorite actors, there's nothing you can do, but get excited to interview her!
If you look at Allison King's resume, it's like a who's who of Hollywood, of whom she has already worked with: Jon Hamm, Jamie Foxx, Kevin Spacey, Amy Schumer, Kirsten Dunst, & Adam Driver. In this interview, we find out about all the projects she's worked on plus the one trip that changed her life!
Most recently, Allison was seen in Baby Driver, alongside Jon Hamm, Jamie Foxx, Kevin Spacey. This October she can be seen with Amy Schumer in Thank You For Your Service, based on the book of the same name, which follows the story of men who have come back after tours in Afghanistan with PTSD. The film concentrates on how the disease can affect the individuals and their families.
1. Who or what inspired you to become a performer? I had wanted to be an actor from a really early age. I wanted to be "Joan Wilder" in Romancing the Stone or "Mikey" in Goonies. When I was a kid though, my parents insisted I have a normal childhood so they quietly discouraged it. It wasn’t until much later, when I saw Bill Irwin do Fool Moon in San Francisco that that desire came back…and it came back strong. Right away I signed up for a part time conservatory at ACT in San Francisco and it started me on this path anew. Since then, I’m constantly inspired by the work of other actors. Frances McDormand and Nicole Kidman are my current obsessions.
Allison King2. As a kid you often put on plays and dance recitals for your parents. Now that you are professionally working, what does the kid in you think about where you are now? I kind of can’t believe it. The road upward in this business gets very daunting. There was a day about eight years ago where I had to release any expectation of success. I had been auditioning pretty regularly and I just could not book a job. I had to say to myself: "Even if I never have any outward success I’ll be happy just doing free theater in my community." And that was the truth. The process and the joy of the work is really the best part. Funny enough, that hasn’t changed since being a kid and putting on silly recitals in my front room.
3. Seeing whom you've starred alongside thus far, is like a who's who of Hollywood, Jon Hamm, Jamie Foxx, Kevin Spacey, Amy Schumer, Kirsten Dunst, & Adam Driver, just to name a few. What do you think is one lesson you learned from each of these heavy hitters? Yeah, meeting your idols is always a strange experience. You realize quickly that they’re just another creative artist trying to do their best work, and you hope they’re just another actor. Meaning: We actors have similar ways of working, of taking care of each other during a scene, whether it’s on stage or on set: we show up for each other in a way that is intimate and vulnerable and really magical. I think the thing to learn is they’re doing the same work we’re doing. Yes, they have higher salaries and other fun perks, but ultimately the work is the same. That scene you did in class feels the same as the scene you do on set with Big Name Star. You may get a lot more juice from them, but it’s still the same work.
Allison King, Photo Credit: Dana Patrick4. What can you tell us about your experience filming the recently released Baby Driver starring Jon Hamm, Jamie Foxx, Kevin Spacey? I had been talking to anyone who would listen about Shaun of the Dead for years. So when I got the audition for Baby Driver, I already knew the Edgar Wright canon and just wanted to work with him so badly. Then in the call back he was just about as nice as a sweet peach. Talk about meeting your idols! So yeah, it was really fun! I mean, Edgar is a genius and I knew I was in good hands. Then meeting Bill Pope was like a cherry on top and again, so nice and generous and down to earth. Then the actors. I mean, I almost have nothing to say because it was all like a dream…a beautiful dream that I’m still afraid I’ll wake up from.
5. This October you star along with Amy Schumer, in Thank You For Your Service, a film which follows the story of men who have come back after tours in Afghanistan with PTSD. How did you prepare for your role of "Linda Sanders," an overworked Veterans Affair Counselor? How do you feeling working on film with such a serious subject matter changed you? The movie is based on a book (of the same name) by David Finkel and is a follow up to his other book, The Good Soldiers. So, to prepare I read the books and I spoke to some vets I knew in my own personal life specifically about their experience at the VA and with their own counselors. Jason Hall’s script is so beautiful and stays close to what David Finkel wrote so I felt I had so much source material to get lost in. It was really lovely to have those touchstones. As for how it changed me, it’s hard to say, because I’ve always been concerned about the welfare of our veterans. It’s a shame on our country how we treat our vets. The sheer will and bravery these soldiers have shown deserves a lot more than they get. Especially with this administration and it’s unhinged tweets isolating an entire sector of that group. I mean, it’s a deep shame we all carry. We can pretend it’s not there but we need to face it and do something about it.
Allison King in "Midnight Special"6. In the sci-fi drama Midnight Special, you played "Hannah," a cult survivor who lived each day to the fullest. What I want to know is in this post-election world where it looks like doomsday could be any day, how do you, Allison, live each day to the fullest? Wow good question! I definitely have had to limit my exposure to media since November. I get my news from only a few trusted sources so that I can stay informed and the rest I kind of block out. I also take action when it’s necessary so that I feel a part of this great democracy. Then there are two things that keep me happy. The first is paying attention to my body. I think as a woman we’re taught from an early age to be polite and be nice even in situations where we feel we’re in danger. This creates a disconnect of self to body so we begin to not trust our instincts and ourselves. I believe our body always knows the truth and so I try to stay connected. That means drinking water, exercise and rest. It also means taking time out and re-reading my favorite books, or listening to music that pleases me.
Secondly, I try to cultivate joy. This goes back to the body and listening to what she needs. But it’s also checking my mindset and making sure I don’t focus only on the negative. As someone who’s dealt with depression, this is really important. My mind can get dark and I need to make sure to keep the blinds up and the windows open, you know? I have a quote on my refrigerator that I stole from my friend (fellow actress) Annie Cavalero: "Relax and Breathe: There are too many possible positive outcomes to be a pessimist." I love this and it’s a perfect reminder as I refill my water bottle.
Allison King7. How do you feel studying abroad in Paris shaped you as an actress? What is one thing you miss most about Paris? Paris was actually a huge turning point in my life, not just in acting. It was seismic and profound and hard and lonely and sad and romantic and wonderful. I had been a very young 19 going in and had a profound growing up experience there. I think the biggest lesson I walked away with was how limitless life could be. We grow up in our little kid lives, and our parents are like gods, and you play by the rules and do what you’re told, and we’re completely shaped by our limited experiences.
It was this amazing gift that I gave myself, to jump out of my mold and see what it was to be American, Woman, Student, Nanny from a completely different perspective. My family was just amazed that I had done this thing…I mean I had never even left California! I came home bigger and more fluid and compared to that, things weren’t as scary as they used to be. As for what I miss, I mean, I miss the night walks through the city, I miss the history, the trees in spring, sitting beside the Seine in the summer. And the metro: if only all cities had such an impressive transportation system!
8. Like you, I am a dog lover as well. If you could be any kind of dog, which one would you be? I mean, any dog would do! But I think a mutt. I feel like a mutt most days, the long shot, the scrappy one no one ever expected much of, the one you’re not sure about at first but who wins you over in the long run. That seems about right.
Allison King and her dog9. When you take your dog for walks on the beach, do you ever just sit and stare out into the ocean? If so, what do you think about when you are looking out over the great body of water? Honestly, I go very literal when I look at the ocean. I imagine all the life down there that you can’t see. I think of the forms of life we haven’t discovered yet. I think of how all those forms of life are interconnected and interdependent. I also like to think that this water may have touched the shores of Japan or China and India and Dubai and France. The water is all connected and it connects us all. I also like to think about how it’s always moving and never at rest. I love being near the water. It is wonderfully uplifting and grounding all at once.
10. I also love how you enjoy hiking with your dog. On "Call Me Adam" I have a section called One Percent Better, where through my own fitness commitment, I try to encourage people to improve their own life by one percent every day. What is something in your life that you want to improve by one percent better every day? What a nice question. I think…hmmm…I’d like to think I work on my own self-love every day. I hate that word: self-love, but there is no word for it that I’ve found. It comprises self acceptance, self understanding, self knowledge and self growth. I think when you’re not in the mainstream (ie, white, cis, straight male), there is this voice inside of you that is separate from your Self and you examine your Self from that external vantage and necessarily that Self is found wanting because it isn’t in line with the mainstream. I think recognizing that separation, healing it, and then discovering, without judgment, who you are and what you love is a radical act. I’m really jazzed about the new voices emerging from the "fringes" on shows like Transparent, Insecure, Masters of None. It feels so fresh and exciting and whole and creative. And I want to continue to find that voice in myself: what is the feminine without the whore/mother division. But it’s a constant journey of acceptance and love and striving for growth and then acceptance and love again. Sometimes all I want to do is take over the world and sometimes I want to eat Cheetos and watch Hulu. So there you have it.
Allison King, Photo Credit: Dana PatrickMore on Allison:
Born and raised in Los Angeles, Allison's passion for acting began at the young age of five. A natural performer, she would often put on plays and dance recitals for her mother and father. After noticing her talents, her mother put her into dance classes to further develop her skills. Allison went on to attend San Francisco State University, where she studied International Relations and French, as well as taking her first acting classes. After studying abroad in Paris for a year, Allison landed in New York City where she studied at The Esper Studio. After her stint on the East Coast, Allison returned to Los Angeles where she resides with her husband and their beloved dog Cassius. In her spare time, she loves to go on hikes with Cassius at parks and dog beaches.