For most aspiring young actresses, that first glimpse of success comes in the form of some sort of low-budget horror flick where the only job requirement is the ability to scream a piercing scream. But not Colleen Foy. For her feature film debut, she’s starring opposite Daniel Day-Lewis and working under the tutelage of director Paul Thomas Anderson in There Will be Blood. While many still believe that it takes a hustler to make it in Hollywood, Foy is proving that a little good nature can go a long way.
Jennifer Wood (MM): There are very few actresses—particularly 25-year-old actresses—who can claim a feature film debut opposite an actor like Daniel Day-Lewis in a movie directed by Paul Thomas Anderson. The film is already sweeping awards season—a handful of Oscar nominations certainly can’t be far behind. How does it feel to be the envy of so many aspiring actresses?
Colleen Foy (CF): I am grateful and honored and humbled. I know how lucky I am to be a part of such a wonderful film. Almost every day I go online and watch the trailers—I still get goosebumps and giggle fits because I am so excited by the film and thrilled to be a part of it.
MM: How did you get involved with the project?
CF: I first heard about the movie seven months after I moved to LA from Wisconsin. My friend called and told me that there was a role I was “perfect for,” so I wrote a letter and sent it with my headshot and resume to Paramount Studios. I didn’t have an agent to submit me for TV and film roles. I remember hugging the envelope before I popped it in the mailbox—hoping my good nature would stay with it and they would see something special in me. Months later I was called to the Paramount lot to audition.
MM: How did you prepare for the film? Did knowing the caliber of moviemakers you’d be working with affect the way that you prepared for the project?
CF: I read OIL! to prepare for the film—I didn’t have a script. The movie was a bit shrouded in secrecy because the project was so highly anticipated. I watched the entire PTA library—his films, his music videos, I read every article about him I could get my hands on. I think he is amazing. And I devoured Daniel’s work and read everything I could about him. When I finished my reading and watching, I was thoroughly intimidated. I cried on my flight from LA to Texas, I was so nervous to work with these men.
MM: What’s the most important lesson you learned about acting from Daniel Day-Lewis?
CF: I didn’t get to observe Daniel acting or preparing. His abilities are almost other-worldly. He didn’t have to, but he took a moment to meet me and welcome me to the set. He was so kind and unaffected and it meant so much to me. Everyone knows that Daniel is an acting legend, but experiencing the heart of a legend is what I remember most.
MM: What did this project teach you about the actor-director collaboration from Paul Thomas Anderson?
CF: Paul is a dream! Each moment that we filmed was clearly set up and when the camera started rolling, we could just play. He didn’t demand anything, he let things happen organically. It was a breeze working with someone who has such a strong vision of what he wants.
MM: What’s your most memorable moment from the set of There Will Be Blood?
CF: When I was leaving the set in Texas, I was so crushed because it was over. I was dreading going back to my waitressing job. Daniel came out of nowhere and told me he liked my haircut (my hair was cut super short for the film) and I was so touched! It was the cherry on top of the most amazing sundae I’ve ever had. Each moment involved with the film was wonderful.