The family drama Wonder centers on an extraordinary young boy, but his entire family are central to the story.
Auggie (Jacob Tremblay) has a rare genetic condition that left his face scarred. He goes to middle school for the first time in fifth grade, while his sister Via (Izabela Vidovic) goes to school in the city and discovers acting.
Julia Roberts and Owen Wilson play Auggie and Via’s parents. Vidovic spoke with Monsters and Critics by phone this week about her role in Wonder, upcoming role on iZombie and the horror movie she’s producing, Severed Silence. Wonder is in theaters Friday.
M&C: Is Via feeling guilt that she missed this gene her brother has?
Izabela Vidovic: I wouldn’t say that Via feels guilt. I think that she realizes in the story more so that she could’ve had that and so that’s why she has so much sympathy for her brother, because she knows that it could’ve been her. But I don’t think it’s guilt, no.
M&C: Are you a drama nerd like Via becomes?
IV: I am. I do really love film and television and theater. I have to say that I’m a little more knowledgable on the film and TV side but I’m getting there with theater.
M&C: What was it like doing Our Town in the movie?
IV: That was very surreal I have to say. It was special because I was acting within acting almost. I was playing Emily as Via so there was a lot going on there. I had a big thought process because it was her first time where she got to come into her own and shine.
M&C: Have you ever done Our Town before?
IV: No, I have not but what was really sort of trippy was I think less than a month before I received the audition for Wonder, I saw Our Town for the first time at my school. Then even a month later I got the audition for Wonder and I had to do the monologue from Our Town. I thought that was interesting.
M&C: What else was part of your audition for Wonder?
IV: It was several scenes and we switched them out. There was a scene with Justin and a scene with Auggie. There were a couple different ones.
M&C: Is Wonder your first kiss scene?
IV: No, it’s not. I had my first kiss on set actually on About A Boy.
M&C: Was the grandma scene really emotional?
IV: It was because her relationship with her grandmother is really special and she found what she couldn’t find in her mom through her grandma. So I think it’s just an emotional flashback. It’s really sentimental. It’s a sad reminiscence but I think it’s a good scene.
M&C: How many takes did you do feeding the dog at the dinner table?
IV: A lot of takes I have to say. It was hit or miss. Sometimes Brigitte would want the meat and sometimes she wouldn’t. It was a push and pull but we got it.
M&C: How did you approach narrating the Via section of the film?
IV: Really, it’s just Via telling her point of view on the whole matter and it’s her explaining how she feels about being the older sister to a boy who needs more attention because of the challenges he faces. Approaching that, I think it was really just understanding where she was coming from.
M&C: Had you read the book?
IV: I was reading the book during my audition process actually so yes. Of course, I have read the book twice.
M&C: What were some really helpful things about Via that you got from the book?
IV: The great thing about a book is that you get all of the characters’ insight and thought process. You really get to understand them completely and so it really helped me embody her character because I understood exactly what she was going through, exactly what she was thinking, all of her feelings through Raquel [Palacio]’s eyes because Raquel created Via. That was immensely helpful for me as an actress.
M&C: How long were Owen and Jacob fighting with lightsabers over your head?
IV: I don’t remember exactly how long. It was maybe several takes. That was fun though because I was sitting underneath it. If you really pay attention, you can see that I was reading War and Peace which makes it even funnier because I’m trying to read War and Peace and my dad and brother are lightsaber fighting.
M&C: How did director Stephen Chbosky work with you and the other actors?
IV: Stephen was incredible. He made it a really comfortable and pleasant environment for everybody. So coming to set was just so much fun every day. I couldn’t wait. He had a very personal relationship with every one of the actors. He really wanted to cultivate our performances and get the best out of us and at at the same time make it a really joyous experience. It was very special working with him.
M&C: Did you become a family with Jacob, Owen and Julia?
IV: I can’t say we became a family but we became very close during the shooting. I think we had a natural chemistry, all four of us as a family which is not always easy to find.
M&C: What projects are you producing?
IV: I am currently producing a project through my production company, Almost Normal Productions. It’s a horror film titled Severed Silence. It is about a family that struggles to keep a deadly curse from wiping out their entire bloodline.
M&C: Are you a big horror fan?
IV: I’m a huge horror fan.
M&C: What are some of your favorites?
IV: I have to say, it was the first horror film I saw and although it’s not very scary, I absolutely love it, The Lost Boys. I think it’s a classic. I also love The Shining. That’s a classic. Recently too, I loved It Follows. Get Out was incredible. The Blackcoat’s Daughter was really amazing. These are some recent ones I’ve seen. Scream is also an all time favorite.
M&C: Did you want to make a horror movie just so you could be in one?
IV: Yes, I’m very excited to both work behind the scenes on this one and to be in it. I get to play a really cool character. I get to play a ghost. We’re currently running an Indiegogo campaign for Severed Silence just to raise the start funds and to connect with our audiences, introduce them to Severed Silence through the campaign.
M&C: Is your mom your partner in Almost Normal?
IV: Yes, my mom and her writing/producing partner both founded the production company in 2010 and I joined on the team earlier this year as a producer. So I’m very excited about that. They both wrote the project and are directing and I’m producing it with them.
M&C: Has your family been involved with your career as you’ve grown up?
IV: Yes, my family is so, so supportive. I have a wonderful support system at home. They’ve been involved in every aspect of my career, especially because my mom is also a filmmaker and actress herself, she’s really been my mentor through everything. I’m very fortunate for that, I feel.
M&C: What is it like working intimately with her on a film?
IV: It feels like a very natural transition working with her as a director or what not because she’s always been my acting coach and she’s always been the one guiding me in my career and in my craft. So working with her on set feels just as it always has since I was eight working on scenes with her.
M&C: What was your experience on Supergirl playing young Kara?
IV: That was so much fun. I got to do all kinds of crazy things that Supergirl does, all the powers, flying and heat vision and super speed. I was very excited to play a role that is so empowering to women. It was a lot of fun to delve into that and to watch Melissa and try and mimic some of the things that she does on the show as well.
M&C: What else can we look forward to seeing you in coming up?
IV: I actually haven’t announced it yet so you are the first one to hear. I will be on iZombie. They are introducing me as a new character so I’m very much looking forward to that and I’m currently filming that in Vancouver.
M&C: What can you tell us about your character on iZombie?
IV: Well, my character’s name is Isobel and I unfortunately can’t really reveal too much because it’s going to ruin the whole storyline. It’s a tricky character, however I’m very excited to be a part of it. I did work with the creator, Rob Thomas, on a pilot a few years ago so this is fun to be working again with him and Dan Etheridge as well.
M&C: What is Isobel’s relationship with Liv?
IV: You’re going to see her with Rose and with Ravi a lot but I can’t say to what capacity.
M&C: How did you get into acting at such a young age?
IV: It’s a funny story because I didn’t plan on it. It wasn’t something that my mom had put my into or that we had planned on. I started off as a singer. I always loved performing. We went to an Easter party, maybe I was seven years old.
We were with our friends and I was on the table singing and dancing and having a good time. One of our good friends was a singing coach and he saw me. He was like, “She has to go see my friends as an agent.”
My mom was a little reluctant and weary because we hadn’t thought that that’s the direction I was going to go in, but we went in and we met with them. It was all sort of history from there.
M&C: When did you know this was something you wanted to continue?
IV: As soon as I started. It was as if it was just something that I was meant to be doing. I’ve loved movies for as long as I can remember. I’ve loved the whole craft so it was a very natural process.
M&C: Is this your career and what you want to do forever
IV: Yes, 100%. I do want to act and be a filmmaker and a performer. It’s definitely my passion.
M&C: Do you go to regular high school?
IV: No, I don’t. I currently home school.
M&C: Do you have any plans or interest in college?
IV: I do. I would love to go to college for cinema study and filmmaking. I’m looking at a few colleges in L.A. so I’ll stay local.
Wonder is in theaters November 17.