With ‘The Fabelmans,’ Julia Butters Reaches New Hollywood Heights

She has not yet graduated from high school, but is 13 years old Julia butter is already building the dream career of every actor. At the age of 10 she stole scenes from opposite Leonardo DiCaprio in Quentin Tarantino‘s Once upon a time… in Hollywood. It was on this set that Butters first met Steven Spielberg, who cast her as a stand-in for his eldest sister in his memoir film, The Fablemans.

“I saw Steven walking around the valet [at Universal Studios]. I waved at him through the window, he waved at me and I freaked out,” says Butters vanity fair during a recent zoom. “That was my only interaction with Steven Spielberg, and I was like, ‘Oh my god, that’s the closest I’ll ever get to him.'”

Her prediction didn’t age well. Just a few years later, Spielberg and Tony Kuschner‘s script, emblazoned with the Amblin Entertainment logo, got in her way. “I was so excited,” says Butters. “I remember just saying, ‘Don’t screw it up. You have to do your best. You have to do your best. We have to make it worth it.” And it was worth it.”

After securing the role of Reggie, inspired by Spielberg’s real life sister Anna, Butters only had one question: “Is there a monkey in this movie?” The actor had been watching Spielberg, a 2017 HBO documentary about the legendary filmmaker, recounting the time his mother spontaneously brought home a pet monkey. “I had this joke on set that got me into doing the movie,” she says. “That was the deal – if there was a monkey, I’d work on it.” And what was it like sharing the screen with an orangutan? Butters says, “Crystal did it such an incredible actress.”

Spielberg’s love for his sister is evident throughout the fabelmans, shown through details and observations too specific to be invented — from her likening the family’s move to Northern California to “skydiving into the land of the giant sequoia” to when “Sammy” plans to start making films with roles to do for girls. Though often on the sidelines, Reggie’s protective instincts toward her mother, Mitzi (played by Michelle Williams), breaks through. During a camping trip, she protects her drunk mother, who is dancing by the fire in a transparent nightgown, from prying eyes. And after learning of her parents’ split, she realizes it must be difficult for her mother “to be loved by someone who adores her” the way her father does.

“She feels obligated to be the mother of the family while her mother plays and dances and has fun and lives life,” Butters tells me of Reggie. “There’s something about her mother – this innocence, it’s like a breath of fresh air. She feels youthful and young and happy. She just gives off such a glow. Reggie really wants to protect that and keep the fire burning.”

Butters, who plays Reggie from the ages of 13 to 16, has adapted to her on screen in a similar way fabelmans Family – Williams as free-spirited mother Mitzi, Paul Dano as father Arnold, fellow sisters Natalie (Keeley Karsten) and Lisa (Sophia Copera), and Gabriel Labelle, who plays the Spielberg-inspired character Sammy. “We’ve all created a safe space where you can say what’s on your mind when you’re scared, sad, or happy,” says Butters. “And I think that was really important with such an intense set,” she added of her younger co-stars, “we were all delighted that we were able to make our dreams come true by working with Steven.”

When I asked Butters if she was afraid of meeting the real Anne, who would continue as co-writer and producer after the stint portrayed in the film Big, With tom hanks, she stops. “Everything makes me nervous, so that’s a weird question.” Butters, who played a child with OCD on the ABC sitcom american housewife, says she is struggling with her own fears, which had their own appearance on the set The Fabelmans.

One day, a scene of Reggie and Sammy joking quickly while washing dishes was set in front of Butters, who was in the middle of her schoolwork, just 30 minutes before it was due to be filmed. “I had trouble getting it out on set,” she recalls. “I got super anxious because I was on a Steven Spielberg set and I really wanted to do my best. Of course, when I didn’t get it, I was frustrated with myself. And I beat myself until I trembled.”

https://www.vanityfair.com/hollywood/2022/11/with-the-fabelmans-julia-butters-reaches-new-hollywood-heights With ‘The Fabelmans,’ Julia Butters Reaches New Hollywood Heights

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