Abigail Breslin has been in front of cameras since she was three years old and made her first commercial for a toy company. The eleven-year-old star who plays the feisty loner Nim in the adventure comedy film Nim’s Island has also played Mel Gibson’s daughter in Signs, Kate Hudson’s niece in Raising Helen and Toni Collette and Steve Carell’s daughter in the Oscar-nominated film Little Miss Sunshine. Nim’s Island is the story of two women from opposite ends of the world who must find strength in one another to save themselves and the island. Jodie Foster plays children’s author Alexandra Rover, who writes books about a world adventurer named Alex Rover. Abigail Breslin plays Nim, an independent girl living on an uncharted island with only her father, a marine biologist, and a host of native animals for company. When her father goes missing at sea, she emails her favorite author and asks for the help of Alex Rover. However Alexandra Rover is a recluse who hasn’t left her San Francisco apartment in years, so she nervously embarks on a journey to save her biggest fan and teams up with Nim to then save her island from other unwelcome visitors.
How did you feel being transported into this adventure after growing up in New York City?
I thought that I was a really good swimmer, until I got there, and they told me to do all this stuff, and I couldn’t do it! The stunt crew were really nice, and I started to respect them because they work so hard, and do so much, but there was a pool at the studio and they would take me there and we’d practice doing all this stuff.
What was the scariest part for you?
Well, there was this one scene in the water where I rescue Jodie and they put this black tent over the water, with a metal bar and these huge tires, and that was kind of scary. And they took down the bar, but once it was over I felt a lot better.
What are some other things that you had never done before that you got to do and learn on this movie?
Well, I got to ride on a sea lion which was really fun! That was probably the funniest thing I got to do! And I learned that sea lions don’t like their whiskers, their face, or their head touched.
What about the zip lining from tree to tree?
It was really fun! It was a little bit scary because it was really high up, and I’m a little bit afraid of heights, but it was still really fun!
So how’d you overcome your fear?
Here’s the thing, when you do it, you have to look straight ahead, and you can’t look down. But the thing was the camera was straight ahead and I didn’t want to hit it but I never did!
Do you have animals in real life?
Yes, I have two dogs, two cats, and a turtle. And one of my cats is named Blue Reed, and he’s in our room over and he’s so cute! And we named him Blue Reed because he’s a Blue Siberian, and my brother likes Lou Reed, so that’s why we named him that. And then other cat’s name is Amy, and she’s really cute. And then my dogs’ names are Curtis and Stormy, and my turtle’s name is Manny.
If you could reach out to a hero like you did in a movie, who would it be? Who is your hero?
I guess my family are my heroes. And they live in the same house as me so it’s not hard to reach out to them!
What are your favorite authors? What books mean a lot to you?
My favorite book is Anne of Green Gables, and that was a really good book.
What was it like to work with Jodie Foster?
She was really, really nice. She was a lot of fun and helped me a lot.
One of the things that is said in the film is “Courage is something you fight for everyday.” Is there something you fight for, or are you courageous?
Well, I’m definitely not as brave as Nim, but I guess doing anything that you’re scared of takes courage to finally do. I think Nim was courageous but I wasn’t as much.
How do your friends react now you have become so well-known after Little Miss Sunshine?
You know, I don’t think they saw the movie. They didn’t really care that much. We don’t really talk about it. I’m home-schooled, but even when I talk to my friends on the phone, I’m like, “Oh, I’m doing a movie,” and they’re like, “That’s great Abbie, anyways…” So they don’t really care that much!
What was it about Nim that made you want to do this?
I just thought she was really brave, and she took care of her island, and she does so much, you know, and even though she’s scared, she still protects her island. I just thought she was really cool.
How good would you be if you were stuck alone somewhere?
I wouldn’t be really good; I can’t find my shoes half the time. I’m like, “Mom! Where are my sneakers?”
How was it working in Australia for you?
I really liked Australia. It was actually winter when we got there and we were expecting it to be warm, but it was actually a little bit chilly. But not too bad, and it was really fun! And everybody was really nice there.
Is it true Gerard snuck up on you and pretended to be an animal on the island?
Oh, we were all staying in treehouses on the island and walking upstairs and he was in his tree house, so when you’re walking up there are a bunch of steps and bushes. So we were walking up and we heard this noise and we were like, “Oh my gosh, Oh my gosh!” And we screamed and put up a flashlight and it was Gerard! And he started cracking up. He thought it was really funny!
What do you like to do when you’re not acting?
I like shopping. I like to read. I like swimming. There’s a place called “Color me Mine” and it’s really fun because you decorate your own ceramics and give them to people as gifts. I like to go to the movies too!
How did you feel like working with lizards? Were you afraid of them?
I wasn’t! I liked them, but the first time I had one on my shoulder I was a little scared. And during camera tests, it would always kind of plant itself on me, and then they would ask if I could stand up straighter, and make me turn around while it dug its claws in! But I started to get less afraid and liked them a lot by the end.
I’m afraid of spiders so that would have been a different story!
So do you want to be an actress when you grow up?
I either want to be an actress or a veterinarian.
Were all the animals you worked with real?
Some seals were animatronics, so they worked by remote controls, but they really looked like they were really moving their head and everything. But they are oily, you know, when you touch them they’re really oily. And they had the stuffed sea lions and the animatronics sea lions on the beach. So the animatronics is there, and they use oil, and there’s this one scene where I’m lying down on top of them, and one of them was real, and one was fake. But I got up, and my whole and my whole back were covered in oil!
What was one of your favorite scenes?
When I got to dance with a seal lion. That was really fun. We practiced it a little bit, but they showed me the moves to do, and it was really fun!
How was the mountain climbing aspect?
That was fun. Part of it was done by my stunt double, Holly, but I did part of it too on a rock wall.
Was it really your first time in the ocean on this film?
Yep, the first ocean I have ever been in was in Australia. I did like it but I gulped a lot of salt water. I also got to snorkel on the Great Barrier Reef, so that was really cool.
Do you have any other projects coming up?
I have a movie coming out called Kit Kittridge: An American Girl, and I’m doing a movie with Cameron Diaz right now called My Sister’s Keeper. Cameron Diaz is really nice.
Do you enjoy doing schoolwork?
I like school, but I don’t like math. My favorite subjects are art and reading. I’m making a sock monkey right now.
What kind of music do you listen to?
I like the Jonas Brothers, I like Hannah Montana and I just started liking Jack Johnson. I think he’s really good.
Are there parts about acting you don’t like?
I don’t like doing crying scenes because I don’t like to be sad.
What stunts did you get to do yourself in this film?
I got to rock climb, ride on a sea lion, running, zip line, swimming – so a lot!
Are you more confident after this film?
Exactly! I’m not afraid of heights anymore! I could go out on a balcony and only be a little bit scared.