Lou Lou Safran: ‘‘Annabelle: Creation will leave you white-knuckled’’

Interview by Jasmine Perrier
Photo by Igor Drozdowski

When the doll was on the set we would very gently make fun of her

At 11 Lou Lou Safran is a young rookie of the American film industry inspired by the old Hollywood classics who wants ‘‘to live an inspired, useful and inspiring life and to make good art.’’ Born to a singer-songwriter mother a a film producer father, Lou Lou has been taken to movie sets, theater, opera houses and festivals all over the world from an early age. ‘‘Our house is always full of creative people and movie makers’’ she mentions. ‘‘When you are on the set watching what it takes to make a movie, it is difficult not to fall under the spell.’’ Appeared for the first time in The Choice based on Nicholas Sparks’s novel, she will be one of the six orphan girls in Annabelle:Creation coming this week in theaters!

Do you remember the very specific moment you realized you wanted to be a professional actress?

I very much do. I got the bug for good when I was in my Mom’s music video ‘‘Big Wave’’ when I was four. We were shooting in the middle of the Mojave desert and I was fascinated by the set and everything that was going on. I knew then that this acting thing was for me.

What is the hardest challenge to face when you end up in the industry at a very young age?

Auditioning can be a grueling process, waiting for your turn to do a reading and then waiting to hear if you got the part. I try not to stress about that too much. I do the best reading I can and then try not to think about it until I hear the answer from the casting director.

Balancing schoolwork with acting and the rest of everyday life can be a challenge too. Luckily my parents help me with that, because if it was up to me I would never do homework and I’d be on the set all day.

If you play a big part you sometimes need to be on the set for hours every day and often there are night shoots as well. Child actors also get a set teacher to make sure they do their homework and do not work too many hours in a row.

What helps you to keep moving forward every day, especially when times are tough? 

Whenever I am alone, upset, sad, I always play or listen to music. It’s usually Arctic Monkeys or The Last Shadow Puppets, but I love to explore new sounds and discover new bands. My Mom and my uncle Mick have a band and are always showing me new and old bands and my Dad loves playing me his favorites too. I am obsessed with music, I have to have it on even when I’m brushing me teeth, I love going to concerts, I love playing the piano and ukulele and when I get together with my best friends Audrey and Annabelle we make up our own songs.

My motto is the chorus in the song ‘‘For Lou Lou’’ that my Mom wrote for me when I was little. We sing on it together and it makes me happy whenever I hear it.

Promise me you won’t let the world change you, you are the love and always will be. Let your spirit guide you and forever stay free

I am generally crazy about great song lyrics and they really get to me. Everything Alex Turner writes is pure poetry and I can’t get enough of it.  Just off the top of my head:

I etched the face of a stopwatch on the back of a raindrop and made the swap for the sand in an hourglass (Piledriver Waltz)

You can be proud to say that your first movie was The Choice, based on the brilliant novel by Nicholas Sparks. What did you keep in mind from this experience alongside such a great cast?

I was super lucky to play my very first role in The Choice. My first scene was alongside the great Tom Wilkinson who played my grandpa, and Ben Walker and Teresa Palmer were my movie parents. Director Ross Katz was incredible to work with as well and I quickly realized that a great director and cast make your job much easier.

This week you will be seen in Annabelle: Creation that will reveal how the freaky doll came to be the evil monster that we now know. What will the movie have in store for us?

Let me just say that it will leave you white-knuckled. You will be clenching your armrests until your fingers go numb… It’s that scary and full of suspense. It’s the story of Annabelle the beautiful doll made as a dream present for a little girl. I am one of the six orphan children who arrive at a creepy old farmhouse in the middle of nowhere that is to be their new orphanage. We quickly sense that something very bad has happened here and that the house hides an evil presence. And when we find a weird old doll locked up in a dusty closet things quickly start going terribly horribly wrong.

Was the atmosphere on set as scary as the story of the film?

David Sandberg is another phenomenal director so the atmosphere on the set was always great and very exciting. We were filming a super scary movie, so of course the mood and the surroundings could definitely be eerie. But everybody was so lovely to work with so we actually had the best time. In between the scary scenes you could always hear giggles coming from our trailers and we loved playing and hanging out together. Even when the Annabelle doll was on the set we would very gently make fun of her. But she is.. you know… rather scary with a reputation to match. There are plenty of terrifying moments in the movie, we would often scream and run for real. Even knowing what was going to happen in a scene couldn’t stop us from having a real reaction. When you’ll watch Annabelle: Creation know that it was all real and we loved every moment.

Have you always been interested in playing in a horror movie?

Supernatural thrillers terrify and fascinate me at the same time. When I heard that there was a part for a girl my age in Annabelle: Creation I knew I had to try out for it!

What do you take away from your adventure in Annabelle: Creation?

All of us six orphan girls in the cast became great friends and we are still very close. Making this movie was a gift in many ways: the crew and the cast were a dream. Jennifer Spence who designed the set did such a beautiful job that every time we stepped onto it we were transported to the 1950s. Leah Butler, our costume designer, dressed us in incredible vintage clothes. We got to shoot on the Warner Bros lot which is an amazing place. Every day we worked on stages on which many of my favorite classic movies had been made.

What do you envision for the rest of your artistic journey? What about your personal plans?

I hope to become a better actress with every year. I want to hone my craft as much as possible and get to practice it on many movie sets. I need to get better at piano and plan to learn all the Eddie Vedder ukulele songs by the end of the year. I would like to improve on my Polish and French reading this year and learn Spanish too.

Once I’m back in Los Angeles and the school year begins I promised myself to devote more time to my three favorite organizations: Animal Tracks, Project Angel Food and A Sense of Home. If you would like to hear more about them please go to my website for more information. They are truly inspiring and effect the community in the most beautiful ways. I would like to become fully vegetarian. It’s still a challenge for me some days. And I would like to help our struggling planet: to help make people see that we need to act together, live less selfishly and make more responsible decisions in our every day lives.

While you’re following your path in acting you also pursue studying. Besides when you are in LA you go to Le Lycée Français and you are even fluent in French. What makes you so connected to the French culture?

I love the French people, language and culture! My first trip abroad was to my uncle Bill’s wedding in Bagnol when I was 5 months old. Both my parents lived in Paris at different times in their lives. We often travel to France and spend a part of every Summer in the South. It is such a beautiful country, I love the food and the French way of life.

On a lighter note can you tell us what’s your favorite part of Paris and France?

We lived in Paris for a month in the Spring a couple of years ago and I made my parents take me to Jardin des Tuileries every day. It has amazing playgrounds and you can never get enough of that beautiful park. I also love Place des Vosges and, well, it’s hard to choose, Paris is so beautiful! I have a sweet tooth so Ladurée on Champs-Élysées and Angelina are my absolutely favorites. The entire French Riviera is stunning, but St. Tropez is my favorite because of the gorgeous beaches, the beach clubs and the fun things to do in town. Megève is my favorite in the Winter.

We are coming to an end. Is there anything special you would like to add?

I would like to say a big hello to all your readers and to remind them to keep inspired daily and to always go for their dreams, no matter what they are. And if you ever need a ‘‘perk-up’’ just put on an Alex Turner song and rock on’!

Come say hi on my website, Instagram or Facebook.

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