HFPA in Conversation: Kaitlyn Dever on Playing a Real-Life Hero

by Kirpi Uimonen Ballesteros September 30, 2020
Actress Kaitlyn Dever, Golden Globe nominee

armando gallo/hfpa

Kaitlyn Dever received her first Golden Globe nomination last year for her role on Netflix’s limited series Unbelievable. She can now be seen as nurse Sharynn Tarrows in director Jay Roach's film Coastal Elites, on HBO (she will soon in the anthology series Monsterland, on hulu). “I was just so grateful that director Jay Roach was allowing me to bring this character to life. We're hearing about this on the news, but I think there are other ways we can get people to sort of understand how tragic this virus is, and how all of these nurses around the world develop a real personal relationship with these patients”, Dever told HFPA journalist Jenny Cooney.

When Dever was preparing for the role she talked with her cousin who is a nurse. “I got some insight from her. But then also, Jay was talking to me a lot about the research he had done. And Paul Rudnick wrote it so well and specifically that I didn’t have to do a whole lot in order to play the character well. It was easy for me to dive into the emotion of it, because the text I was reading was so sad and horrible and what these nurses are going through every day. They are our real-life heroes.”

Arizona-born Dever always wanted to be an actor.“I was always performing at home. I was constantly trying to make my family laugh. I was putting on plays with my little sister and I was singing. Then I started realizing that I’d have to go to acting classes. I thought that you would just be able to do acting and just be on Disney Channel. But I learned very quickly that is not the case. And I begged and begged and begged my parents and they finally put me in these acting classes.” At the time she was nine and living in Texas. “I remember my first acting class being the most fun I had ever had in my life and I remember coming home that day being “oh my god, I figured out what I want to do for the rest of my life”. I still think that it hasn’t really changed. I don’t see myself doing really anything else with my life, it’s been so fulfilling to me from the very beginning.”

Listen to the podcast and hear why she moved to Texas with her family; how her father influenced her creative career; what kind of hobbies she had as a kid; why she liked doing commercials; what was her first job in Los Angeles; why she was nervous about having guest star roles; why acting on Justified was her best experience; why she was excited to work with Cameron Diaz in Bad Teacher; what has kept her grounded; how was it working with Clint Eastwood in J. Edgar; how she describes working with Brie Larson in Short Term 12; how she was able to attend high school while working on Last Man Standing; why working on Booksmart was like summer camp; how was it filming Unbelievable right after Booksmart; what kind of challenges she faced while filming Coastal Elites at her parents' guest house; what is going on with her music career; and what she is doing next.