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'M3GAN' actress Amie Donald opens up about playing a killer doll, honing that TikTok dance & more
Meet the child actress who brought M3GAN to life.
If you had the thought while watching M3GAN, "Gee, that doll really moves like a human," join the club. It's one of the big reasons why the whole premise of the film works so well because just the idea of a robot best friend able to mimic human behavior that well is horrifying. And while the technology in the film may be in our near future, we're not quite there yet in real life.
Which is why M3GAN director Gerard Johnstone crafted M3GAN the robot through a mix of VFX, a life-sized physical prop, the voice of Jenna Davis and the physical movement of child actor, Amie Donald. The result is spine-chilling, and often hilarious.
For the release of M3GAN on Blu-ray on March 21, SYFY WIRE got on a Zoom with Amie Donald to get some stories about the behind the scenes of being M3GAN, choreographing her TikTok worthy dance moves and her upcoming role in Sweet Tooth Season 2.
Amie, you are an award-winning dancer in your home country of New Zealand. When you auditioned for M3GAN, did they want you for your dancing or acting skills?
In the audition, they had a bit of both in there because even though in the movie I don't say the lines, I still had to say them on the day. So I had to learn the lines. In the audition, I did have to move around like a robot. In one of the auditions, they got me to just play around and do a dance, which was quite fun. I guess that's kind of the thing that they were leaning towards, the dancing side.
Once you were cast, did Gerard ask for your input in creating any of the dances in the film?
Well, it was very fun because the dance was never in the script, which was so surprising. But it's one of the biggest things in the movie. Gerard asked my dance teacher if she could choreograph it with me. We went to the dance studio and we were gathering ideas of what we could do. We came up with a couple of different styles of what M3GAN could look like. Then, we sent it to Gerard and then he picked his favorite one. It was really fun working with my dance teacher and making up the dance was amazing.
M3GAN, in the film, is on the cutting edge of contemporary dance, so did you look at any specific resources to inspire her movements?
We watched one movie that one of my movement coaches, Luke Hawker, was in. He was in Iron Mother as the robot. It was really fun to watch how he moved in that. And then me and my dance teacher, Kylie, we took inspiration from what robots look like. But we also did a whole bunch of contemporary dancing, because that's how it looks in the movie.
From your point of view in playing M3GAN, it must have felt like you were in this serious drama about best friends. Or, did it always feel like a horror film to you?
It did feel like I was doing a best friend's movie. [Laughs.] I don't think one time I was scared filming this because they were really nice and they'd always take me to the side before they'd put me on set. They'd show me everything that we were doing, like with the fake blood that was really sticky. They showed us just everything before I got there, so I was not freaked out at all.
Do you have a favorite moment during production?
I really liked the woods scene when M3GAN was running on all fours because that was actually the very first scene that we shot on set. On the first day, that's what we got into. And it was fun because I got to work with all the stunt people. It was amazing because we were in the forest and they had smoke and fog.
Was there anything you learned from Gerard or working on set that you've taken with you?
I've learned from M3GAN that you always have to be listening no matter what because every little detail is very important. You have to take in everything that anyone says to you, even if it's just the way of the angle that you're looking, or if it's a big correction. But you do have to listen to everything and take it into consideration.
Did your parents allow you to see the finished film?
Yeah, I got to watch the movie. I watched it with my family the first time and I was very excited to see it. I thought it was so amazing. They did very well with pairing my body acting with the robot and with Jenna Davis' voice. I think they couldn't get it any better with the voice. She's amazing at that. And they just pieced it together so well.
Next you are playing one of the hybrid kids in Sweet Tooth Season 2. You play Maya Monkey, another physical role. How was that experience?
I really enjoyed being in Sweet Tooth because it's something different. It's new. I liked that I get to incorporate being half human with half animal. It's sort of what we did with M3GAN, but that was half human / half robot. I like having fun on set. And because my character is a very cheeky, funny, little girl, I think it's just so fun that I get to play an animal.
Any hopes of returning for a M3GAN sequel?
Yeah, I'm hoping that I do get into M3GAN 2. That would be so awesome, but if I don't, that's okay. But I'm really hoping I do.