Britt Robertson is the kind of actress that stands out in a crowd. Case in point, her role as Kristen in this week’s Delivery Man, in which she plays one of 533 brothers and sisters that, thanks to a mix up at a fertility clinic 20 years ago, all share the same biological father in Vince Vaughn’s David Wozniak, a well-meaning slacker who isn’t quite sure whether or not he wants to have his identity revealed to his newly-discovered family.
In theaters today, Delivery Man is writer/director Ken Scott’s remake of his own 2011 French-Canadian film, Starbuck and also stars Chris Pratt and Cobie Smulders.
ComingSoon.net sat down with Robertson to talk about her role in the comedy drama and about her future plans, which next take her to Brad Bird’s Tomorrowland. Check out the interview below and, at the bottom of this page, view a clip of her performance as Kristen.
CS: How did “Delivery Man” come your way?
Britt Robertson: I was sent the audition and had just finished a show called “Secret Circle.” I was sort of looking for a movie that would be, you know — I just wanted to dig my teeth into something awesome. My agent sent me this and said, “I think it would be really cool. Vince Vaughn is doing it. It’s a really sweet, heartwarming movie. Just put yourself on tape.” I ended up putting myself on tape ten times. They would send me notes and I had different direction. Finally, she called me and was like, “You got the part!” It was the coolest thing in the world. I got to go to New York and work with Vince Vaughn and Ken Scott and be part of this crazy ensemble awesome movie with a bunch of people my age. It was a really fun time.
CS: Did you check out Scott’s original film, “Starbuck,” or did you make a purpose of avoiding it?
Robertson: No, no, no. When I was auditioning, I was so tempted to see the original, thinking, “All right. I should know what I’m getting myself into here.” After I got the part, they asked me not to. They said it was probably best if I didn’t see it because it’s pretty true to what they were trying to do with the American version. It’s pretty close to home in the sense that Ken was even using some of the shots that he did in the French-Canadian version. They wanted me to have a bigger range and not get distracted by how Kristen, who I play, was in the original version. They didn’t want me to mimic what she was doing. So I didn’t see it until after I filmed all my scenes. I watched it and it was awesome. I had more of an appreciation for Ken and for Andre [Rouleau], our producer. I was like, “Oh my god! You guys make such cute movies!”
CS: Did the fact that Ken had already sort of done this one time inspire a lot of confidence?
Robertson: Oh, yeah. That sort of gave everyone confidence. We knew that Ken would do a great job and make a great movie and bring such life and emotion and just heart to a movie like this. Especially with having someone like Vince as the lead, it just makes it so easy to have confidence in a film like this.
CS: Your character sort of falls on the darker side of things as far as family is concerned.
Robertson: Yeah, he had all these success stories about his children who he had fathered via sperm donation and then he meets me and realizes for the first time that he has sort of messed people up and could be responsible for a child who is fatherless or who has had a bad life or gone down the wrong path. I think what my character contributes to that story is just what makes him realize that these are real people and he develops a real emotional connection to them. No one can tell him that he can’t be a part of those people’s lives because he feels such an innate compassion for them. That was the real necessity for my role, to communicate that to the audience.
CS: Your character sort of is discovered more and more by Vince Vaughn’s character as the film goes on. Was there anything in Kristen’s history that you wanted to add to the role?
Robertson: I thought that it was important for the hospital scene for there to be an element of manipulation. This girl is clearly an addict or is just in a really hard place in her life. I think the audience needed to see that there was a part of her that could go two ways. One of them is a really bad road. He represents this sort of light road. This tunnel that she could go down and find a better life. He sort of inspires that. I didn’t want it to be one of those things where she’s just like, “Oh, I’ve overdosed on heroin, but let’s skip over that and live happily ever after.” I think there had to be a part of the audience thinking, when she’s supposed to be at Bloomingdales, that she’s not going to show. She’s probably doing drugs in her apartment right now. I wanted to play that as real and show what drugs or the lack of a father have done and how it has affected to her.
CS: What would you say was the biggest thing that you learned on this set?
Robertson: The biggest thing I learned is just how to stay fresh. Vince, as an actor, is one of those actors who comes on set and, as soon as he steps foot on set, wants the cameras to be rolling. He wants his freshest self to be captivated. I saw that in the first scene with him and realized that’s how he works. He doesn’t like to rehearse. He doesn’t even want to know the blocking. He just wants to be able to go on and just go for it. I thought that was really cool. I sort of took that and developed my own version of it for future projects. That’s sort of how I am now. I don’t love rehearsing. I just want to go on and shoot it. If you’re prepared and you know your stuff and have an idea of what you’re about to do, don’t even bother with the rehearsal. Just go for it.
CS: A big part of “Delivery Man” is the interaction between a very large group of characters. How much of that is scripted?
Robertson: Some of it was scripted, but a lot of it was just Ken. He would say, “You three! Come here and just play soccer and have a good time.” He would see the bonds that were being built around the set and who was getting along with who. He would take little snapshots of people in their lives and their environments, just having a good time. He would see the love and find a way to capture it. A lot of us became good friends. Adam [Chanler-Berat], who plays Viggo, is a really cool guy and we would just chat for hours. There were a few times when Ken would just grab a camera and say, “Let’s just get them talking.” A lot of it was just inspired by day to day situations. He still knew those were the things he wanted, so in that sense it was scripted as well.
CS: This is his first english language film. Can you talk about his process as a director?
Robertson: He’s so good. I’ve had a lot of experience working with writer-directors and I actually prefer it. They know how they want things to sound and they know how hey want things to look. They have a certain interpretation of their material and working with them is really easy because they give you a general structure for a scene, but then they just let you go. They want to see the nuances that you bring to light. That was my experience with Ken. He really let me play and go for it and bring a lot of things that he didn’t necessarily expect or have planned for the scenes. He gave me so many different opportunities while still being able to jump in and go, “Okay, this is a pivotal part of the story so we have to really hit that home.” He just has a really good idea of the general arc of the story and is able to find that in every scene.
CS: Do you know where you want to aim your career? Do you have a dream role?
Robertson: I’m doing it right now.
Robertson: Yeah, honestly. “Tomorrowland” is very much the dream role for me. I’ve always wanted to do a movie like this. Movies like this aren’t made anymore and it’s so cool that I get to be a part of it. I get to do something new and crazy every day and my character goes through so many different things. I get to do all of it. It’s awesome.
CS: Are you someone who enjoys down to earth character or do you like wild, bigger than life roles?
Robertson: I like the wild characters. I like the idea of being a character actor without being a character actor. I’ve been working with Kathryn Hahn in “Tomorrowland.” I was talking with her the other day and she was saying, “People consider me to be a character actor” and she is. She has these roles in movies and you think, “I remember you from that and that!” She has so much freedom to do whatever you want. When you’re not the lead, you don’t have as many restrictions. I like the idea that you can have these fun, random choices in movies. I think it would be amazing to be a character actor and still be a lead now and then in movies. I don’t know. It’s definitely project-dependent. I like down to Earth characters, but I also like being able to get outside my box of knowledge.
(Photo Credit: Getty Images)