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The Clay County Advocate - Press-Flora, IL
  • Taylor Schilling follows her path to star in 'Lucky One'

  • In the film, Schilling plays Beth Clayton, a single mom who runs a dog kennel in North Carolina. One day, Logan Thibault (Efron) shows up at her door. He’s been searching for her ever since he found her photograph during one of his tours in Iraq with the Marines.

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  • First things first. Taylor Schilling is no relation to former Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling.
    “I wish I had a nickel every time somebody asked me that,” says the former Massachusetts resident. “I have to come up with a better answer than no.”
    A reporter’s suggestion that she claims to be his love child is met with laughs. Taylor Schilling laughs easily and possesses a self-deprecating sense humor as well.
    The actress was in Boston earlier this month to promote “The Lucky One,” the film in which she stars with Zac Efron and Blythe Danner. Based on the Nicholas Sparks bestseller, the movie opens Friday, April 20.
    In the film, Schilling plays Beth Clayton, a single mom who runs a dog kennel in North Carolina. One day, Logan Thibault (Efron) shows up at her door. He’s been searching for her ever since he found her photograph during one of his tours in Iraq with the Marines.
    Logan credits the photo with keeping him alive. He just has no idea who the woman in the photo is and who the photo belongs to. A trip to North Carolina solves the first mystery. You’ll have to see the movie (or read the book) to solve the second.
    The part marks the first starring role in a studio film for Schilling, 27, whose previous movie credits include “Atlas Shrugged: Part I” and “Dark Matter.” She made her film debut in the latter film while still a college student.
    “I think I have the distinction of being in one of the only Meryl Streep movies that no one has ever seen,” Schilling quips, referring to “Dark Matter.”
    After graduating from Fordham University in 2006 and attending the graduate acting program at New York University’s Tisch School for the Arts, Schilling juggled babysitting with auditioning for four months before landing the lead role of Nurse Veronica Callahan on the NBC drama “Mercy.” For a few degrees of separation, Callahan happens to be an Iraq War veteran.
    Schilling, who now resides in New York, garnered the plum role in “The Lucky One” shortly after “Mercy” was cancelled.
    “It was a pretty classical trajectory to get the part,” says Schilling, who’s dressed casually in a yellow blouse and black slacks for the interview. “The casting director from Warner Bros. had known me from auditioning for another film. She had me meet with the producer of this movie, and a couple of months later, I read for Scott Hicks, this film’s incredible director. They liked me. I did two screen tests with Zac Efron, and I found out a few weeks later that I got the job. It was so exciting.”
    Schilling says she “really connected to Beth from the first read of the script. I just wanted to honor her experience as a single, working mother and the experiences of people who have family members serving overseas. I know that’s an experience that people are living today so I wanted to honor that to the best of my ability.”
    Page 2 of 2 - Beth does have her demons, however. For example, in one scene, she goes ballistic on a garden and destroys a big flower pot. Asked how many takes were required for this scene, Schilling says, “That’s why Scott Hicks is so masterful because he always managed to get us into the right zone. We only did more than a couple takes. So I think I only broke three or four flower pots.”
    Schilling says working with Efron, of “High School Musical” fame, was also a pleasure. “He’s wonderful,” she says. “I knew nothing about Zac when I met him at our screen test. He is one the most down-to-earth, genuine, kind people I know. He made me feel so comfortable working on a project of this magnitude. I can’t say enough good things about him.”
    And, no, they’re not an item, she says.
    The shoot had an added bonus for Schilling. A dog lover, she got to work with — and play with — a lot of dogs on the set. “They were unbelievably well trained,” she says. “They could probably make you breakfast if you gave them the correct hand signal.”
    The path to acting with heartthrobs and canines begins in Boston for Schilling. Her first role? She played Wendy in “Peter Pan” at the tender age of 5. “It was an earth-shattering performance,” says Schilling with a laugh. She adds there were several other Wendys in this preschool production.
    More thespian success followed. “When I was 11 at Wayland Middle School, I again brought down the house as Tzeitel in ‘Fiddler on the Roof.’” says Schilling. More laughs.
    But Schilling did discover she had a hankering for acting. The self-described quiet kid got a chance to be not so quiet. “I remember going to the audition and dancing around... and I really loved it,” she says. “I never felt that way before. I just sort of knew that this was what I was supposed to do. It’s bizarre. I’ve never been that clear about anything else in my life.”
    In her next film, Schilling plays Ben Affleck’s wife in “Argo,” a drama set to be released Oct. 12.
    Who knows? Maybe as more movies and recognition come this actress’ way, reporters will ask Curt Schilling if he’s related to Taylor.
     
     
     

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