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Only a Little Bit of Stage Fright

July 19, 1998|David Gritten

LONDON — Hatty Jones, a 10-year-old English girl with a round, expressive face and big brown eyes, stars as Madeline, the smallest of the "12 little girls in two straight lines." She had virtually no experience before landing this major role, but attends a drama school, the Arts Academy and lives in Muswell Hill, north London. She joined The Times and her co-star, Frances McDormand, for dessert and a three-way conversation.

Question: You went to New York for the premiere. What did you think of it?

Hatty: Umm, it's much taller than London. It's like a giraffe.

Q: Was it a good time, making the film, or hard work?

Hatty: Hard work, but fun. Hard because you couldn't really mess about too much.

McDormand: It was hard when the other girls went home and you had to hang out on set and keep working.

Hatty: Often I had to do close-ups, which was fair because I was Madeline, but the others would be playing.

McDormand: Yeah, having fun!

Q: Were your parents with you in Paris?

Hatty: Mum and Dad were with me most of the time, but my grandparents came out for three weeks. One night I stayed with Pilar, one of the other girls in the film.

McDormand: A sleepover!

Q: How long have you been at drama school?

Hatty: About a year. I did a school play before I did the film, that's all. The film was so different; there's a lot more people working on it.

Q: Does all this make you want to be an actress?

Hatty: Yes, I think so. Not all the time, but maybe as a child, then do something else later.

McDormand: I remember when we first met, you said you wanted to be a producer. I thought that was really smart. Act a little bit, be a producer later.

Q: Of the scenes in that film, which was hardest?

Hatty: One at the end was hard. A lot of lines to learn, a lot of thinking. And when I was being pulled out of the river Seine, it was raining. I had a wet suit on, but it was wet and cold.

McDormand: But the fun part was the water tank at the end of the shoot for close-ups. It was like a big warm swimming pool. The minute I got through work, I jumped in, in my habit. Everyone got to jump in. My son, Pedro, still talks about it.

Q: Were you nervous?

Hatty: I was a bit scared of acting in front of the crew, and I thought maybe they'd change their mind and send me back to London and choose an American girl.

Q: Are you back at school now?

Hatty: Yes, I got off school early today. My school friends tease me about this. They say, "Hatty, you've changed, you're horrible now."

Q: Was Frances helpful?

Hatty: She was!

Q: You don't have to say that.

Hatty (to McDormand): I wasn't scared of you, but I was scared of acting in front of you.

McDormand: Why?

Hatty: Because you'd won an Oscar!

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