CS Interview: Kara Hayward on Timely Drama To The Stars
ComingSoon.net got the opportunity to catch up with Moonrise Kingdom star Kara Hayward to discuss her leading role in the upcoming coming-of-age drama To The Stars, which is now available on Digital HD! Click here to rent or purchase To the Stars!
Written by Shannon Bradley-Colleary and directed by Martha Stephens (Land Ho!), the film is set in 1960s Oklahoma and sees withdrawn farmer’s daughter, Iris Deerborne (Hayward forging an intimate friendship with worldly but reckless new girl, Maggie Richmond, despite scrutiny from their small town.
In addition to Hayward and Liberato, the cast features Malin Åkerman (Billions), Shea Whigham (The Quarry), Tony Hale (Arrested Development), Lucas Jade Zumann (Sinister 2), Adelaide Clemens (Tommy), Madisen Beaty (Once Upon a Time in Hollywood) and Jordana Spiro (Ozark).
When looking at the entirety of the project, the 21-year-old star found that the entire story was the biggest inspiration for her to join the project, noting that though she reads many scripts, it’s “not often I can can sit down ad read a script that makes me tear up” and that she “just loved” the character they had in mind for her.
“Iris Deerborne is so complex and there was just so much that I was going to be able to show with her and her story and the scenes they had,” Hayward said. “I was really excited to jump in to talking with Martha Stephens, the director, as well and as soon as we spoke, she had me convinced that I had to be part of it. Part of why the movie felt so important to me was because it was so relevant to what’s going on today. I can only hope that the audience can see the same thing.”
Though she “hadn’t seen Martha’s previous work,” Hayward fell so in love with her experience working with the 36-year-old director and seeing her “genius” that she believes Stephens is “going to be one of the greatest up and coming directors.” Given her character’s deep ties with Liberato’s Maggie, she found it quite easy to build the chemistry with her 24-year-old co-star and even learned a few things from her.
“We had a lot of fun doing that, Liana and I hit it off almost immediately and it made it so much easier for us to portray that friendship when we had so much love and trust and respect for each other from the start,” Hayward warmly recalled. “After work, she brought her little grill and we would make dinner together or whenever we would be doing the scenes and she would just teach me new little tricks that I hadn’t learned. It was kind of like having an older sister.”
Hayward stars in the film alongside a star-studded ensemble cast, which she finds “incredible” getting to watch actors “do their thing” and that it was “so much fun” getting to be a part of a group that includes Jordana Spiro and Shea Whigham as her parents.
“They’re both such talented and smart and kind people that it was really nice to be able to forge a bond with them,” Hayward described. “Malin Åkerman and Tony Hale played Liana Liberato’s parents and I didn’t have as many scenes with them, but the few that I did they were both also so kind and easy to work with. Tony Hale actually gives a really interesting performance in this movie, particularly because it goes so against what he usually plays, where he’s known for shows like Veep and Arrested Development, where he plays these funny goofy characters. He takes such a turn in this that it’s really interesting. Getting to work with all of them was an honor.”
Though she found it to be challenging for her physical comfort, Hayward found that one of the biggest creative challenges that also contributed to helping her get into character was the time period attire required from the ’60s-set story, along with the vernacular required of the region.
“The midwestern accent was one challenge and the costumes,” Hayward noted. “Women in the 1960s and in Oklahoma did not dress comfortably, but that was also part of getting into character was having to find ways to express yourself despite this naturally repressive costuming.”
Hayward found that filming in the southern state helped her dive into the character and the story even further, mostly in being surrounded by the “Oklahoma accent” that assisted her in giving Iris Deerborne “that Oklahoma twang.”
“Plus traveling and finding new places is one of my favorite parts of the job, Martha has such a knack for helping with set design and bringing us to all these places,” Hayward said. “We found this one school gym that was all natural wood, like it would’ve been, I think the set decoration and locations are definitely essential to helping actors get into character.”
Along with Moonrise Kingdom, Hayward has appeared in other period pieces, most notably 2016’s acclaimed drama Paterson and finds that her interest in stepping back in time for these projects comes from finding stories that “really relate to the present day” and can “connect history to what’s going on now.”
“It’s so interesting the way people respond to something like that,” Hayward said. “We had showings at Sundance in 2019 where women came up to us crying after the movie, saying how they related so much to the struggle of growing up in 1960s Oklahoma and I thought that was so beautiful that we had people connect to it so much that they were moved to tears.”
Looking back on her theatrical debut, which is celebrating eight years next month since its debut in Cannes as well as general theatrical release, Hayward describes how she “loves how many people connect with Moonrise” and that it’s “still a film that people celebrate.”
“I still get messages all the time from people who say that they connected to the character or that this made a part of their life a little easier, and I hope that To The Stars does the same thing,” Hayward brightly noted. “I hope that it’s a movie that eight years from now, people are still saying ‘Wow, this made me feel so much better at this time of my life.’ I hope that it makes people forget about having to stay home too. I hope that with people staying home, I hope people realize now that art sometimes, like filmmaking, can be more important than ever because it will offer you a way to get out of your house for just a few minutes, even if just in your imagination. I hope it provides a nice distraction for everything that’s going in the world.”
To The Stars is now available on digital platforms!