Danny Torrance may be all grown up in Doctor Sleep, but he revisits the world of The Shining with another young soul when the film opens on November 8. Newcomer Kyliegh Curran shines in the role of Abra, a child who shares Danny’s gifts and must battle evil alongside him in the sequel to Stephen King’s novel. The actress shared memories of her audition and explored the dual nature of her character in a recent interview with Screen Rant.
Amazing job on this movie. First, I have to ask, were you fan of the original Shining?
Kyliegh Curran: I had heard of it, but I hadn't read it before the callback.
Talk to me about the audition process, because it's a pretty coveted role.
Kyliegh Curran: It was very long and very confusing, definitely. Because I did not expect getting a callback. I was fresh out of summer camp when I got the first audition. It was super long, and I had to rush to get it done. I did not like what I sent in, but a month later, I got a call back. I did not know why.
But I spent two days with my acting coach – working on the character, working on Abra and Dan’s connection – and I sent it in, and I felt much better about it. I hoped and hoped that I’d book it or get another call back, and a week later, the director called my mom and said, “Hey, we'd love Kyliegh to come in and read with Mr. Ewan.”
Oh, my goodness. I was so nervous. I was shaking and twitching all over the place. But I read the lines, and I was sure that I knew the character. I went in, and I did my best. I booked it!
And you did a great job when you did. When you were doing stuff at the Overlook Hotel, obviously some of that stuff was taken from Stanley Kubrick's original designs. Did you guys have any weird experiences on set?
Kyliegh Curran: Not really. It was a really positive vibe on set.
Completely opposite from the movie.
Kyliegh Curran: Yeah, exactly! We were all walking around, exploring, going, “Wow, look at that.”
What is Abra’s favorite power to you?
Kyliegh Curran: Well, I think maybe moving things with their mind, or – yeah, telekinesis and telepathy. I'm sure sometimes it bothers her, because she doesn't want to always know what people are thinking, but telekinesis and telepathy.
She also has this confidence about her. Can you talk to me about balancing that with figuring out what her power is?
Kyliegh Curran: She's always seen it as kind of a magic trick. She doesn't quite understand it, but once she meets Dan, he's kind of her mentor and tells her and teaches her about the Shining.
[Mike Flanagan] has been building up to this project for such a long time. Can you talk to me about the collaboration process with him?
Kyliegh Curran: Oh, he's amazing. He's such a talented director. I mean, it was so much fun working with him. He gives us so much creative freedom, and I really appreciated that.
Do you believe in spirits at all?
Kyliegh Curran: I'm not sure. I'm sure there are energies that humans don't understand, but you never know.
Working with Ewan and Rebecca, was there any advice they may have given you on set?
Kyliegh Curran: Watching them was a lot of guidance for me. Because, one, I'm new to this and didn't really know how to act on set. It was a lot of fun and sometimes overwhelming, and watching them really was a comfort to me.
Do you see yourself at all in the character of Abra, and is there anything you can take away from that character that you can use in your life?
Kyliegh Curran: I think our personalities are very similar. But when it comes to planning, I would be way more cautious. I’d take two months to build a giant army, and then go after The True Knot. She's way more brave than I am.
You channel Ewan in a scene, and I love that scene. Can you talk to me about capturing Dan and how that worked out?
Kyliegh Curran: Well, during the call back, they wanted me to watch Mr. Ewan and how he played that scene. So, I watched him and that helped a lot. Every time he'd work, I’d just keep watching him; see how he moved, how he acted. And then I just channeled that.
There's also a little bit of a dark shine to Abra. Just a little bit. But can you talk to me about that?
Kyliegh Curran: Yeah. It was a lot of fun playing with Abra's negative energy, because she has so much suppressed anger. And there's this hole in her heart, because she's quite distance from her parents. They don't really understand her. So, whenever something horrible happens, all that negative energy just comes spouting out.
You are amazing. You're amazing in this real; congratulations on the film.
- Doctor Sleep (2019) release date: Nov 08, 2019