Ava Cantrell boasts a remarkable and enduring career in the entertainment industry. Commencing as a young talent, she left an indelible mark on the Paramount lot with a recurring role in Nickelodeon’s “Haunted Hathaway’s.” Her journey continued at Warner Brothers, where she embodied the teen version of antagonist Diana in “Lights Out” under the direction of acclaimed filmmaker David Sandberg, best known for his work on “Shazam.”
Moving forward, Ava embraced a recurring role on “Young Sheldon,” sharing captivating scenes with the talented Jason Alexander. The breadth of her work extends across various mediums, from short films to music videos. Notably, Ava has not only graced big-budget productions but has also taken pride in immersing herself in passion projects like “One Under the Sun” and the critically acclaimed “Twenty-Two,” earning her multiple Best Actress awards spanning over many years and projects.
A testament to her versatility and undeniable talent, Ava’s journey led her to the captivating teen thriller, “Abigail,” poised to become a cult classic. In this film, Ava delivers a flawless performance, garnering praise from reviewers and earning her the title of the new “it girl,” as proclaimed on the CBS Los Angeles morning show. After witnessing her compelling portrayal in “Abigail,” it becomes evident why she is receiving such acclaim.
Today, we have the privilege of sitting down with Ava to delve into her experiences with “Abigail” and uncover the essence of what makes her such a captivating and celebrated talent in the industry.
What drew you to this role?
I love the movie twisted a third of the way through, then smacks you with a surprise ending. Any time I don’t see something coming in a story I’m in! The role of Abigial seemed like such a great challenge to take on with her, being so different from me or anyone else I know. I knew I’d have to dive in completely to form intention for all her interactions. Abigail is always working on an angle or manipulation in all her relationships, it was such a fun way to approach her character. Plus, she is the lead, in almost every scene, I really wanted that opportunity.
Are you a fan of the 70’s?
70’s rock has always been a huge part of my music lexicon. My parents both grew up between the 70’s and 80’s so the influence was so strong growing up. I love the vibe and am a huge fan of the era. Tren, who plays Lucas, and I got to go wardrobe shopping in several vintage stores in Los Angeles during preproduction. It was a blast, and I loved all the outfits I got to wear during shooting. I got to keep all of it which is amazing!
How do feel about being the lead of a major feature film?
It was fantastic! I’ve spent my career playing co-star and guest-star roles on TV and in movies. I’ve loved all of those experiences, but you spend the majority of your day waiting for five to ten minutes of acting time. Abigail was completely different. I was working in some way every hour of the day. I was completely immersed in the role, the atmosphere, and the frantic nature of movie production. It was thrilling! I think I was nervous.
You are getting rave reviews for your role in Abigail, how does that make you feel?
You never know how your performance is going to carry over to the screen as an actor. You’ll worry about what you did, how it will be edited, will the sound be good, the visuals? Seeing positive reviews continue to pop up feel so good. I thought I brought something interesting to the character and that I made her real as well as dynamic, but you never know until all comes together. When I saw it finished for the first time, I was so happy. All my cast mates had fantastic performances, the movie looks studio quality, with great sound and music and scoring. I’m so proud of this film and so blessed to be a part of its success.
Are you a fan of slasher films?
I am a fan. Some of my favorites are American Psycho, Scream, and Nightcrawler. I do lean more toward a great performance from characters rather than the violence and blood being the draw. Its probably why I want to play this role so badly.
You had some fight scenes in Abigal, what did you do to prepare?
We had a great stunt coordinator named Chuck McCarns. He was really into working with us for the fights to be realistic. He wanted them to be how teens in the 70’s would have fought. These kids didn’t grow up watching Marvel movies or learning Karate. So, we worked on making it look like a school yard brawl that would have actually taken place. I loved it and when I got home from filming, I started taking Muay Thai classes. I’ve been doing it for almost a year and half. I’ve even competed so I’m ready for more action scenes!
You have been in the industry since a young age, do you enjoy it better as an adult or kid actor?
I think its going to be way more fun as an adult. When you’re a kid its exciting to show up and see how everything is made. Its so cool to be a part of something that is going to be on TV or in the theaters, but they still make you go to school on set! Lol. Getting to be involved and working on such a creative project as film making as an adult can be is a gift. Hopefully acting opportunities will continue to come my way.
What is next?
Next, I’m working on a zombie survival movie that will shoot in San Francisco. The character I play will come with physical challenges for me as well as mental. Could you imagine being on your own in the middle of an apocalypse trying to get to your family while trying not to get eaten or turned into an infected zombie? The physical and mental toll would be tremendous. In Abigail I am the anti-hero, and in my next movie, I am actually a hero. It’s going to be an exciting ride! I am excited to switch it up a bit as well as add way more action and fight scenes.