A Chat with AnnaSophia Robb
By : Annie Vernick
Because of Winn-Dixie, based on the best-selling book by Kate DiCamillo, tells the story of Opal, a lonely girl who adopts a homeless dog she names Winn-Dixie (after the supermarket where she finds him). The two friends help each other in often surprising ways and bring together the people of their small Florida town. Read on as the star, AnnaSophia Robb, talks about the movie and her life. The movie opens February 18.
TFK: What’s the main message of Because of Winn-Dixie?
AnnaSophia: The movie is about friendship and how important friends are in life.
A scruffy pooch named Winn-Dixie helps heal the troubled relationship between Opal (Robb) and her father, the Preacher (Jeff Daniels).
TFK: Tell me about your character, Opal. Are you at all like her?
AnnaSophia: Opal is a neat kid who likes being around people and making new friends. She carries a lot of sadness in her heart, though, because her mother left her when she was very young. Opal and I are alike in that we both love our dogs and we both enjoy meeting new people.
TFK: What qualities of yours do you think won you the part?
AnnaSophia: I have sadness inside because my last dog died. So in the script, when I had to act sad and scared because Winn-Dixie was missing, I was able to pull from my experience.
TFK: What was it like to work with all those famous actors?
AnnaSophia: It was great! At first I was a little nervous. I didn’t know what to do or how to act. But when I met the actors, they were all really kind.
TFK: How about working with a dog?
AnnaSophia: There were two dogs, actually-and it was a blast! The two Picardy Shepherds that played Winn-Dixie were really friendly. You could pet them, cuddle with them, and play with them. I think the funniest thing that happened during filming was when one of the dogs was eating peanut butter at the character Gloria Dump’s house. The dog smacked his lips really loudly. It was hilarious.
TFK: Do you have a dog now?
AnnaSophia: I have a puppy named Bella. She’s a maltese-poodle mix and weighs about eight pounds. She’s sweet and adorable, and also pretty hyper. I love her so much.
Opal gives Winn-Dixie a much-needed bath.
TFK: As Opal in Because of Winn-Dixie and as Samantha in the 2004 TV movie Samantha: An American Girl Holiday, you played good girls. This summer, we’ll see you as naughty Violet in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. What was it like playing a naughty character for a change?
AnnaSophia: I like trying different parts, including the bad girl role. Violet is very competitive and rude, and she always chews gum loudly with her mouth open. It was a lot of fun playing her.
TFK: What do you like and dislike about acting?
AnnaSophia: I like the constant change in acting; it’s never the same. And I’m always meeting new people, which I love. But I can’t always bring my family with me, and sometimes I miss them.
TFK: How do you keep up with your schoolwork when you’re so busy acting?
AnnaSophia: My parents and I make school a priority. I have a tutor, and I have to get all my schoolwork done if I want to act.
TFK: What do you do in your free time?
AnnaSophia: I swim, dance, play with my dog, and hang out with my cousin and friends.
TFK: What do you want to do long-term?
AnnaSophia: I love acting! I’d like to do a lot more movies, and if it turns out to be something I can do for the rest of my life, then that’s the way I’ll go. If things change, then I’ll go in a different direction. But for now, anyway, I’m going to stay with acting.
TFK: What advice would you give to aspiring actors?
AnnaSophia: First, don’t give up. Second, make the part your own. And third, don’t let criticism get you down. Criticism is actually helpful in acting. If you say a line and someone tells you you’re over the top, then you know to bring it down, and you can get better.