Mia Isaac is making waves this summer with two must-see films – Who What Wear | Candle Made Easy

Let’s start with your first project, do not let me go. Can you tell me about your first impression when you read the script for this film?

I found out [the ending] before actually reading the script because I did a director’s callback with Hannah [Marks], and she had thought I had already read the script, based on my original self-tape. When I told her I wasn’t, she said, “Oh, well, spoiler alert!” So I had a little warning and thought that would prepare me a bit, but when I actually read it, I broke still in tears. I couldn’t believe it even though I knew it was going to happen. But I fell in love with her straight away and I really wanted to be there.

Can you tell me about working with director Hannah Marks on this project?

Hannah was the first director I’ve ever worked with, so I didn’t compare to her, and now that I’ve done other things, I didn’t realize at the time how lucky I was to work with her because she is really so attentive and she really took care of me. That was my first thing, I didn’t really know what I was doing and I was nervous and I was scared. She really made me feel comfortable and safe. At the time I might have taken that for granted a bit and I didn’t realize how much she juggled and how special it was that she was taking the time to be with me and discuss things. There was one day I had to do this kissing scene and that was basically my first kiss so I was so nervous. It was my first kiss and also my first kiss on camera and there were so many people in the room and I was so nervous and she obviously had to do a lot of juggling because she’s trying to direct a movie but she did made the time to sit with me and say, “Are you okay?” and talk about it so I wasn’t so nervous. Just little things like that, she really made me feel comfortable and safe.

do not let me go is anchored by a special father-daughter relationship, so the on-screen chemistry between you and John Cho is a really important aspect of this film. Did you and Cho spend time together before filming to build that relationship?

Not before filming. I came to New Zealand… Well, I came out of quarantine in New Zealand about a week before we started filming, so I didn’t have that much time to go to begin with. I think we liked two rehearsals before we started filming, but I don’t think we really needed to prepare because we were just starting out and it felt natural and we got into it very easily. We shot all the stuff at our house first, which felt really good because it established that “this is our house and you’re my dad” dynamic. One of the first scenes we shot was this fight in the kitchen and I think that really set the tone for how things were going to be between us. And we got to know each other during the shoot. We played games and listened to music and hung out on the weekends and he really felt like my dad during that time.

Have you stayed close since then?

Yes, of couse. I just texted him for Father’s Day. It was funny because I was in New Zealand with my mum – all my family couldn’t come because of the quarantine – and I’m very close to my dad and it felt weird like John was almost filling that space. He gave me advice, and my father always did. It was weird at Tribeca [Film Festival]. My dad and John were meeting for the first time and I was so worried they wouldn’t get along but they really hit it off which I’m glad.

This is a coming of age story for Wally, and you were a similar age to her when you filmed this project. How could you identify with her or learn from her?

I had so much to do with her. It almost felt like I was playing a version of myself just because we’re the same age and have been through a lot of the same things. She goes through all this boy stuff and it was fun playing that. And wearing her clothes, like the dress clothes, and [be] In her room she felt very close to me. … [This] is something Hannah made sure of. There’s a lot of her character that resembles me, and we created that after I booked the role. Wally has a lizard and it wasn’t in the original script but when I was doing my chemistry class we were on zoom and Hannah saw my cage with my lizard in the background and she was like, ‘Oh you have a lizard! That would be cool if Wally had a lizard.” Wally has a scar on her eyebrow and that’s something that comes up in a scene and so many other little things. When I was quarantined in New Zealand, the production sent art supplies and I made paintings and drawings for them to put up in Wally’s room. So it felt like there was so much of me in Wally.

What’s your lizard’s name?

My lizard’s name is Khaleesi.

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