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Kaitlyn Dever interview

Short Term 12 is finally getting a DVD and Blu-ray release in the UK on March 10th. Written and directed by Destin Cretton, this brilliant drama has gained widespread acclaim and critical praise for its unflinching subject matter.

The film focuses on Grace (Brie Larson – 21 Jump Street), a twenty-something supervisor at a foster-care facility for at-risk teenagers. Passionate and tough, Grace is a formidable caretaker of the kids in her charge, and in love with her long-term boyfriend and co-worker, Mason (John Gallagher Jr – The Newsroom). But Grace’s own difficult past, and the surprising future that suddenly presents itself, throw her into unforeseen confusion. This is made all the sharper with the arrival of a new intake at the facility; a gifted but troubled teenage girl with whom Grace has a charged connection (Kaitlyn Dever – Justified).

Kaitlyn has appeared in numerous projects including J. Edgar, The Spectacular Now and Modern Family. Her outstanding performance in Short Term 12 has rightfully placed her on the radar but it was her affecting supporting role in TV’s Justified that first took our attention.

To celebrate the release of Short Term 12, EF’s Jason caught up with Kaitlyn Dever to ask her about her involvement in the film, her time on Justified and her future projects.

Kaitlyn Dever

Hi Kaitlyn, congratulations on Short Term 12. It’s a wonderfully absorbing drama and your performance was amazing. Can you tell us how you got involved with the project?

Hi! Thank you so much. I am more than grateful to be a part something so life changing and beautiful. I first got involved with it by my agent just sending me out on an audition. My agent sent me the script, I read it and I wanted to be part of it right way. The script was incredible.

You instantly get drawn into Jayden’s story – what kind of preparation did you have to do to tackle such a complex role?

Prep for Jayden was pretty simple because Destin had the characters laid out so nicely on the page that there was so much to work with already. I read the script so many times, so that I could know Jayden as if I was becoming her and becoming another person. Just imagining her life and what was written about her is just awful enough to create the character.

Was there any apprehension in taking on a character who’s undergone so much personal suffering?

No. I wanted to make it known that people have true struggles like this one. I mean, I hadn’t known much about foster care before reading this script. Once I read the script it changed the way I think about things …in a good way 😉

Kaitlyn Dever

Your chemistry with Brie Larson is a particular high point. How was it working with her?

Well, can I just say how proud I am of her for winning a Gotham Award for best actress…so PROUD.

But on another note, working with her was the greatest thing ever. She is SO cool, down-to-earth, friendly, and so professional in the workplace. I love her very much and hope so much success for her because she is so talented.

You’ve had a diversified and challenging career thus far – how hard is it for a young actress today to find the right roles?

It’s very hard to come by good roles, because most can be typical teen type roles. But I have been extremely fortunate to have gotten the roles that I have gotten.

With the critical success of Short Term 12, are you concerned about the increase in your public profile now that more people are being introduced to your work?

No not at all, I think that is what’s included in being an actress. I’m happy to be doing it.

Who or what inspired you to pursue acting?

Nothing inspired me really. I always wanted to do it…the inspiration started really early.

You’re one of the hardest working young actresses in Hollywood. What do you look for in an acting role?

Good quality. I love doing different roles, and not the same ones all the time. I like to switch it up 🙂

Kaitlyn Dever

Your time on Justified marked one of the finest seasons of television we’ve ever seen and you had a big part to play in that success. What are your memories of working on the show as Loretta McCready?

Thank you! Amazing memories from that show. I learned so much. Everyone was the coolest, and getting to shoot most of my scenes with Margo Martindale was such a privilege.

Can we expect Loretta to make a guest appearance in future episodes? Would you like to return to the show? 

I’m not sure but that would be amazing!!!

With Short Term 12 and The Spectacular Now both massive festival hits, what has been your experience of the film festival circuit and independent film?

This year was my first time doing the festival circuit, and it is so fun! I feel so lucky to be in two critically acclaimed movies at the same time. My experience so far with independent films has been awesome. There is a sense of teamwork on set and everyone seems to be working toward a common goal of making great art. It’s really cool!

Both Short Term 12 & The Spectacular Now were big hits at last year’s London Film Festival. Have you ever been to London before?

NO! But I want to go soooo bad! Hopefully soon 🙂

Can you tell us about your upcoming projects?

I have two films that should be coming out soon. One is called Grass Stains and the other is called Laggies. They were so much fun and I am very happy with characters I got to play. I also have two other exciting things that I can’t talk about yet, but it’s all very exciting 🙂

Short Term 12 is out on DVD and Blu-ray on March 10th

(B/W picture copyright Marc Cartwright)

Jason Palmer
Jason Palmer
Jason is a film contributor for Entertainment Focus (EF) bringing you the latest news and reviews from the movie world.

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