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Morgan York, Actress: Profile Interview Series Vol. #11

Morgan York, Actress
by Jason Whyte

Morgan York is a talented young newcomer who is making an impression with critics and audiences alike. The oldest of three children, Morgan Elizabeth York first appeared in a commercial at 18 months old, but did not begin to fully get into the business until the age of nine.


With only “Cheaper by The Dozen” and “The Pacifier” plus numerous television appearances under her belt, Morgan’s current resume may not be as long as somebody like Dakota Fanning but hey, she’s only 12 and in the biz for a few years, and the purpose of this slowly-building profile interview series is to showcase up and coming talent. Morgan York easily fits the bill as a hard-working and talented young performer who has a bright future ahead of her.

I had the opportunity to talk with Morgan from her home in Sherman Oaks, California a few weeks ago; she is now in Toronto to film a sequel to Cheaper By The Dozen reprising her role as Kim Baker.

Jason Whyte: Do you have a favourite movie of all time?
Morgan York: Well, I am obsessed with the Harry Potter books and movies…my favourite is Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, the latest one that came out.

JW: How did you feel that that one compared to the other ones?
MY: It’s my favourite book in the series. I like the story and I think the acting and a lot of the visuals looked better. I liked the other ones too, but that one was the best.

JW: How badly do you want to be in a Harry Potter movie?
MY: OH YEAH. (laughs)

JW: Have you seen any good films lately?
MY: Not many lately. I did like The Incredibles last year. [And] for some reason I really like adaptations from books into movies, so I really liked the Lemony Snicket movie.

JW: How about TV? Is there anything that you are watching right now?
MY: I kind of like to watch The Disney Channel a lot when I’m bored. We have two Disney channels so if there’s something I just don’t really like, or a rerun on, I’ll just flip it over. (laughs)

JW: How about music?
MY: I don’t really have a certain “type” of music that I like, although some of my favourite songs are by Hilary Duff and Aly & AJ.

JW: I understand that you’re into writing…have you been following any good books lately?
MY: Well right now I’m reading the series The Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants and that’s a really, really good book. And I’ve also made this Harry Potter website where I posted about my fav

ourite character Hermione, and I’ve written a bunch of stories from her point of view. It’s not anything public, just something that I did on my free time.

JW: In your own words, how did you get your start in this business?
MY: Well, I did one commercial when I was a baby but that was kind of a fluke. The real way it began was working with an agent when I was nine. I had been asking my parents if I could act for a long time because my sister Wendy and I would always act out movies while we watched them. And so, I wanted to be an actor and when I was nine years old, they finally said yes. We had connections to this really important casting director, and we asked her if I could audition for an agency, and she set that up for me. I auditioned and they said that I was good so they let…(beat, clears throat) they “let me in.”

JW: (laughs) What was the first job that you remember doing?
MY: Well I’ve seen the ear thermometer commercial I did when I was a baby on tape (laughs). Easy. The first job I remember was a short film called “The Vest” where I was an extra; you could hardly see me but…(laughs) I’m doing it.

JW: How would you say you personally prepare for each role?
MY: I like to explore the basis of each character and how they would act. When I played Lulu in The Pacifier, her dad just died but she tries to keep the whole family together by being cheerful. So, she’s kind of cheerful but she still has tragedy in her life.

In acting, I really like improvisation. It’s really fun, because whenever you think that maybe a line could be put HERE in a movie, add it on while doing the scene and see if the director likes it or not.

JW: What’s your favourite improvisation game?
MY: I like “Evil Twin”, have you ever heard of that one?

JW: Remind me. (laughs)
MY: It’s really fun…it’s a game where there’s four people, and the first two people -- there can be a boy or a girl – usually have to improv a birthday or a honeymoon or whatever. The first boy and girl are going on a date, and the other two play their evil twins. They go on their date, and at one point we yell “Freeze!” and, for example, one of the girls switches with the other girl and becomes their evil twin and do evil things to the other guy. Same thing happens with the guys as well, a role reversal. It all turns out to be a disaster. (laughs)

JW: Have you seen “Whose Line Is It Anyway?”
MY: I’ve seen it once. That looks really fun to do.

JW: How did you react when you started getting feedback from critics or fans from your work? When “The Pacifier” came out, many thought that your work was the best thing in the movie.
MY: When I started reading reviews of that on the internet, I was really excited and thought that it was really cool that people liked what I did. Some critics probably didn’t think I was good, but I was really glad at the whole outcome and how everybody liked it. I didn’t expect it to do very well either; people probably thought “Oh, my gosh! Vin Diesel’s doing comedy! That’s going to be so bad” but at least a lot of people got to see it.

JW: I hear that you are just about to leave to do a sequel to Cheaper By The Dozen.
MY: Yep!

JW: What can you tell me about it?
MY: It’s kind of weird to return to Kim, because when I filmed the first one I was 10 playing 8, and now I’m 12 playing 9. But luckily, my character acts older than my age so that’s easier…because she’s really smart. But anyway; I haven’t read all of the script yet, but our family all goes on vacation to a cabin by a lake and they have a rivalry with another family. This family has about 8 or 10 kids, and their parents get into a rivalry with our parents. The kids like each other, however. Sarah Baker’s character, the sporty tomboyish troublemaker, gets a love interest, so that’s a big surprise…(beat) oh well, not for you now because I told you…(laughs)

JW: (laughs) Oh no, well I’m spoiled! That’s okay.
MY: And the opposite dad is played by Eugene Levy who I like, and the oldest daughter is now married to some other guy and pregnant.

JW: A lot of info. And another spoiler!
MY: Well I don’t know what else is going to happen, but at least I didn’t tell you the climax! (giggle)

JW: Now you’re doing this movie with Adam Shankman, who you worked with on The Pacifier
MY: Yeah! That was kind of a surprise. I was at the premiere of The Pacifier and Adam came up to me at one point and said, “Guess what my next movie is?” and I asked him what it was, and he told me he was going to do the sequel and I was really surprised. Shawn Levy, who did the first one, is really busy right now with The Pink Panther remake. I did visit the set of Pink Panther in New York and that was cool. I saw Steve Martin do a really funny scene and I got to see him and Shawn again.

JW: How difficult was it for you to act with a large group of people like in Cheaper By The Dozen where some scenes had all of you in one small room. That must have been a difficult task.
MY: It wasn’t that bad, they made it easier because my co-actors were my friends and we could talk to each other in-between takes. There was a scene or two that was a bit chaotic but really not as bad to film as it seems.

JW: I guess I’m just looking at it from a director’s perspective, that he has this one shot with a dozen kids in it and how he has to get each one to--
MY: I don’t know WHAT’S going to happen when we have twenty kids from both families. The thing is, I’m more worried about how FULL the school trailer is going to be. (Laughs) I don’t think most of us will have to do as much school because we’re filming in the summer.

JW: What is it like for you to do on-set schooling? Which do you like better?
MY: It’s kind of easier AND harder in a way, because the teacher has all of the attention focused on you and you can’t pretend to listen but not really listen, because she has all of her attention right at you. Normally, the teacher is talking to the entire class and they might not be looking at you at the moment…but here, the teacher is teaching your work, they’re talking directly to YOU. You have to be really patient the entire time so they don’t snap your fingers and go “Hello, hello? I’m talking here!” (laughs)

JW: (laughs) It must be really difficult to balance your acting along with your school and other activities.
MY: It’s a little hard, because it’s my first year of middle school right now and it’s like, really tough. There’s this one teacher that piles on project after project and (sighs) it’s kind of overwhelming.

JW: What do you do to relax, or to have fun?
MY: Sometimes I draw or I paint when I have time. Or, right before I called you for the interview, I was playing a computer game called The Sims 2. Lately, our pool at our house has been really warm, so we’ve been swimming as well. And I also like to read, write and play basketball. I’m also kind of interested in playing guitar as well. My friend plays an acoustic and I would like to try it out. It seems interesting.

JW: Where do you see yourself in the future? Do you wish to continue acting or do you have any other interests?
MY: I’m sure that I might be acting in a few years, but I am also thinking about becoming a writer. I was thinking about doing what Steve Martin does; do some movies as well as some novels. For me, writing books is a bit more enjoyable; I have done some screenwriting but have never finished one; I once rewrote the entire first Harry Potter movie. I find books are a bit more interesting.

JW: Are you recognized in public or at school?
MY: At school, I’m recognized a lot. Either they recognize me from The Pacifier or some of them spread rumours saying “That’s the girl from a movie! Oh there’s been a girl from our school in a movie,” and it gets around to everybody and they recognize me. And then they’ll usually come up to me and ask. And sometimes even for an autograph.

JW: AT school? They ask you for autographs there?
MY: Yeah. It happens a lot at school because they are my age, of course, and they’ll have seen my movies. As for public, we were in a restaurant and these kids were pointing and whispering at me. Their mom eventually came over and asked me if I was in Cheaper By The Dozen.

JW: Is there any place in the world that you would love to travel to, perhaps even make a movie there?
MY: Yeah. I used to live in New York City, and I can’t live there right now because my parents are divorced and one can’t move there because….okay, it’s kind of complicated because sometimes we’re at my mom’s house and sometimes we’re at our dad’s house and it would be really complicated if one parent moved to New York because you wouldn’t get to be with one parent for a long time.

But anyway. Yeah, I would really love to film in New York to get back there for a while and not have to move there and complicate my life more. It’s really fun to shoot a movie there because I would get to spend some spare time there and hang out with all of my friends from 1st grade and things like that.

JW: Are there any actors or filmmakers that you haven’t worked with yet and would like to?
MY: Yeah, I would love to work with Aly & AJ; they do music but also acting as well. And since I was four I’ve wanted to meet Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen. They are the first people I’ve ever wanted to meet and they’re almost the only ones I’ve never met. (laughs) Other than that, maybe Reese Witherspoon, oh and Emma Watson, because she plays Hermione in Harry Potter, of course.

JW: Have you ever auditioned for any role in a Harry Potter movie? Sounds like you should.
MY: I haven’t since I wasn’t a fan until the first movie came out, but I remember thinking “MAN! I wish I liked it before so I could audition for Hermione, because Emma was about 11 when she did it and, unfortunately, I was 8, so that wouldn’t have worked out. (laughs)

JW: Are there any other types of movies that you would like to do in the future?
MY: Yeah! I would LOVE to do voice work for an animated movie; I’ve never done that before. I think it would be really fun because when I was little I liked cartoons better than live action films…and I like live action better now, but I would love to do a voice for an animated film or show.

JW: What is the best comment that anybody has said about your work?
MY: I have some really good advice from Bonnie Hunt who played my mom in Cheaper By The Dozen while working on that movie…”It’s really good that you’re good at acting and you’re funny, but you have to always remember to be kind no matter how famous you get.”

JW: Now a question about your official website, morganyork.com, which is basically your portal to the online world, and the site administrator Callie I’m friends with--
MY: Yeah, so am I. (laughs)

JW: Do you have any future plans for involvement with the site? It’s good now, but would you want to add any of your own personal stuff in the future?
MY: Maybe Callie could put a link to the other site that has my short stories on it. (Note: At the time of publish, Callie has published a mirror link to her site to protect Morgan’s email address.)

JW: Do you have any tips for up and coming actors who are trying to get into the business?
MY: If they’re upset because they haven’t gotten any roles yet, they have to be patient and they have to keep working at it and maybe they’ll get a call-back and hopefully the part. If they do get a part, they have to remember what Bonnie Hunt once told me to always be kind and take advice from the kind actors, and not from the ones that are always late and never nice to people on set, and acting like they own the world and stuff.

JW: The big final question; out of everything that you have done, what do you love the most about acting?
MY: It’s a lot of fun pretending to be someone else, and I have a lot of fun doing it. There’s never really a moment when I’m acting that I’m not happy, like maybe if I’m feeling sad or something, if I get on the set I get happier, you know? The best thing is all the fun you have on set and the friends you make from it.

-- Special thanks to Mark York and Callie Rose Tresser of morganyork.com for arranging this interview. This is an entry into a series where an actor, be it little known, overlooked or up-and-coming is profiled for our website. Comments about the series and this article are encouraged and can be sent to Jason HERE. (Click to send an email.)


link directly to this feature at http://www.efilmcritic.com/feature.php?feature=1532
originally posted: 06/26/05 17:06:13
last updated: 08/31/05 03:21:23
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