At a mere 14, Hallie Eisenberg is already a spokesperson for Pepsi, a veteran actress and an A student, yet, as she confessed to Paul Fischer in this exclusive interview, the only female star of the new kids’ film How to Eat Fried Worms, wants to be a doctor when she grows up.
Question: Were you familiar with the book, How to Eat Fried Worms, before you took this on. It is a pretty iconic book, right?
Eisenberg: No, actually. I haven’t read the book.
Question: So what was the attraction of this particular film?
Eisenberg: I just loved the script. I thought that it sounded like a really fun movie.
Question: Was this a character that you could identify with?
Eisenberg: Yes, I really liked the character a lot, because she was a lot different from the other ones. She is kind of like the conscience of the movie, you know. She tells Billy, “Win it true, and just go for it”.
Question: She is also the outsider. Do you identify with that aspect of the character? Do you feel like being an actress and so on, have you ever felt that you’re a bit of an outsider yourself?
Eisenberg: Not myself, actually – I have a good group of friends.
Question: Why did you want to be an actress?
Eisenberg: Well actually, I started when I was very young. I became an actress because my brother was in the business, and it just looked like they had a lot of fun – it was like that to me, so I wanted to try it out myself, and I had a great time as well.
Question: You have done a lot of modelling work, and a lot of commercials, right?
Eisenberg: I did commercials for the Pepsi commercials …
Question: What is different for you between doing commercials and doing regular acting?
Eisenberg: Well, with commercials you are filming for about four or five days, and then that is pretty much it, and with movies it is more you get to know everyone a little better because you are with them for at least a month, sometimes.
Question: What did the Pepsi commercial do for you? I mean, it was a pretty high profile campaign, yes?
Eisenberg: Yes, the Pepsi commercials are really what started people recognising me from things – people mostly recognised me from that.
Question: How hard is it for you to compete with kids your own age, who also, obviously want to be successful as actresses?
Eisenberg: Oh, I don’t think of it like that at all. I think whatever I do is, you know … that is what I do, and whatever someone else does, that is what they do. It is really more like a hobby.
Question: Really, so you don’t find yourself a competitive person?
Eisenberg: No – not with this?
Question: Really, so …
Eisenberg: [Other things I do?]
Question: What things are you competitive in actually?
Eisenberg: Horseback riding, actually.
Question: Horseback riding.
Eisenberg: Yes, I am a big horseback rider and I compete a lot.
Question: How many prizes have you won?
Eisenberg: I am not sure. I have been riding for about three years now – a little over three years. I have a horse and I ride pretty much every day, so that is a huge part of my life.
Question: You live in New Jersey – is that right?
Question: So where do you keep your horse? …
Eisenberg: Oh, on our property. We keep him at a local farm nearby – it is like five minutes away from the house.
Question: When you look at your life five/ten years from now, do you see yourself more in the athletics field or in the drama field?
Eisenberg: I want to go to medical school, and become a doctor.
Question: Ah so how certain are you that you’re going to give the acting away?
Question: How certain are you that you are going to give the acting away?
Eisenberg: I think I would always like to continue with it, but not on such a scale.
Question: Why medicine?
Eisenberg: Well actually, it is because of acting. I did a couple of acting jobs where I played a girl who had cancer, and the doctors who were on the set to make sure that everything was how it actually happened in real life … when they were there I would talk to them a lot about what the girl had, and certain kinds of things that went on in the hospital, and it really kind of just interested me. So it just seemed like something that I wanted to do.
Question: Now, when you do a movie like “How to Eat Fried Worms”, and you are about the only girl on the set, and she is the only girl in that group do you have a lot in common with the other boys on the movie?
Eisenberg: Yes. Actually at home, most of my friends are boys, so I had a great time. At first … the first couple of days we were just trying to get to know each other really good, but by the third or fourth day, we were all really great friends.
Question: How much influence do they have on the choices that you make as an actor?
Eisenberg: They’re a huge influence. It always comes down to pretty much being my decision, but they really helped me through this whole process, because, especially being a child, it is great to have your parents, and mine are very supportive.
Question: Are there any other child actors whose careers you kind of model after, or any other actors that you want to emulate, or whose careers you want to emulate.
Eisenberg: I mean, not really in that respect. My brother is an actor, and I really respect the kind of projects that he does, and so it is good to have him in my life, because he is a big influence on me as a person and as an actor.
Question: Do you go to a private school or a public school?
Eisenberg: Public school.
Question: How do your friends feel about your acting?
Eisenberg: They don’t really mind it … it is nothing to them, and pretty much, I have known all these kids from kindergarten, so they’re used to it by now, and all my friends think nothing of it.
Question: Have you done any other movies since finishing Fried Worms?
Eisenberg: No – this was it, for now.
Question: Are you looking at any other projects?
Eisenberg: Not right now really.
Question: What are your favourite subjects at school?
Eisenberg: I really like English and History, because I love to write.
Question: What sort of stuff do you write?
Eisenberg: Everything really – I love writing. I like poetry a lot.
Question: Do you do well at school? Are you an A-student?
Question: Are you nervous about going into high school?
Eisenberg: Well actually, I got kind of lucky, because my school system, since it is very crowded, the high school – the 9th grade is still in the Junior High building, so yes I can start high school, but in a comfortable … in a familiar place. I move up to the actual high school building next year.
Question: So you are not nervous about any of that?
Question: What do your parents do?
Eisenberg: My dad is a teacher at Albany University … actually my parents started their own business, which helps implement theatre art as well as other art education in public schools.
Question: Is this only in the New York area, or throughout the country.
Eisenberg: Throughout the country, they are hoping – it is kind of new….
Question: Do you think you will every write screenplays? Have you thought about doing something like that?
Eisenberg: Yes, actually. I write some screenplays – actually I wrote one with my friend – but, just a little thing.
Question: You never know … maybe it will turn up at Sundance one day?
Eisenberg: That would be awesome.