It was one year ago, at the 2018 Sundance Film Festival, that Elsie Fisher broke out with her lead turn in coming-of-age dramedy Eighth Grade as Kayla, an anxious teen navigating social media and her last year of middle school. By that point she had been working in the industry for nearly a decade, voicing Agnes in the Despicable Me franchise and starring in a handful of indies. Since its premiere, the Bo Burnham-directed movie has been earning major awards recognition, including two Spirit Award nominations and a Golden Globe nom for Fisher. Next, the 15-year-old will be recognized at the Santa Barbara Film Festival with the Virtuosos Award, an honor she’ll receive alongside industry vets like Sam Elliott and Richard E. Grant.
The Thousand Oaks, California, native has plenty of projects lined up: You’ll hear her voice as Parker Needler in MGM’s Addams Family animated movie, also featuring Oscar Isaac and Charlize Theron. And she’s attached to star in The Shaggs, a musical comedy about the girl group that made a name for itself by being notoriously terrible.
Even with a packed dance card, Fisher admits, “I’m just kind of winging it for now.” Down the line, she has her eye on possibly stepping behind the camera, but she’s currently just trying to navigate the demands of awards season, including a conversation with THR ahead of the Santa Barbara fete. Of her whirlwind year, says Fisher, “The world just seems so much bigger now.”
What was your favorite moment from the Globes ceremony?
When Olivia Colman won, I was very happy. That was a pretty cool person to lose to, I have got to say.
After you tweeted out support for Rami Malek’s win for Bohemian Rhapsody, Twitter users had harsh responses. How did you decide on your response?
I just wanted to act civil because I feel like people ignore when there is controversy over something they tweet. It was a situation that I wasn’t really informed on, and now I am. And I still want to support the actors because I believe that they did such a wonderful job in the movie. And even though I didn’t really do anything wrong this time, I still want to use my social platform as an example for other people and how they should respond to stuff because I don’t see a lot of people acting kind on the internet.
What are you doing to relax during awards season?
Um, crying in the shower mostly. (Laughs.) I have a lot of artistic outlets. I like to draw a lot. I have started writing a little more — just little scripts and stuff because I like movies and I would like to make one one day. I also play an obscene amount of video games, like an unhealthy amount.
Do you have a favorite right now?
There is this indie game on the Nintendo Switch called Wandersong, and the main mechanism of the game is that your character is a bard and you sing to fight enemies. But you don’t really fight them. It is more pacifistic.
What was your favorite audience reaction to Eighth Grade?
Any response from teenagers who see the film. Just like anyone else, they have so many reactions, but it makes me feel really warm inside to see people in my demographic feeling better about themselves because of the film and relating to it. Or discovering that they have anxiety and now they can deal with it a little bit better, because that is what I did when I made the film and it is what I wish I had when I was in eighth grade.
Is there a genre you really want to tackle in a future role?
Really, just anything. That is a broad answer, but if you asked me a year ago if I wanted to play a 13-year-old with anxiety or told me that that was going to be my favorite role ever, I would have said, “You are insane.”
Would you consider doing a superhero or blockbuster movie?
I think so. Those seem like really fun projects to work on. While I would rather take on more characters that have depth to them, I definitely would not mind playing a superhero. Or even a bystander who gets snatched by Thanos.
This story first appeared in the Jan. 30 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.