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Dolittle Interview With Teens Harry Collette and Carmel Laniado

Two British teens get the roles of a lifetime working with Robert Downey Jr.

Jan 13, 2020

Teens Harry Collette and Carmel Laniado auditioned a lot and finally landed key roles in the new Dolittle film co-starring with Robert Downey Jr. in his first big post-Avengers/Iron Man role as a vet who can talk to animals. Harry plays Stubbins, the son of a hunter who loves animals and wants to be Dr. Dolittle’s apprentice. Carmel plays posh Lady Rose, lady-in-waiting to young Queen Victoria.

Carmel as Lady Rose with Harry as StubbinsCarmel as Lady Rose with Harry as StubbinsCourtesy of Universal Pictures

When the queen becomes deathly ill, it is up to Dolittle and company to travel to a far-away island to secure a cure in the form of the juice of a rare fruit. Baddies in the palace of course try to stop them.

Dolittle Movie Trailer

 

 

Let’s hear from Harry and Carmel on their movie adventures!

Q: So, you two, how did this project come your way? I’ve heard you beat out thousands of guys.

  • Harry: I went for a few auditions in London. I didn’t really think much of it. I just went for it and just did my best. Then I got a phone call from Mum saying ‘They want you in Atlanta to do a screen test’ which was amazing. I went to Robert Downey Jr.’s house. He had his own little dance studio and we did it in there which was really cool and we got a phone call a couple of weeks later saying that I got the part. It was quite a long process but it was great news at the end of it.
  • Carmel: Dolittle was the very first thing so I’d never done anything beforehand but I’ve always loved acting from a really, really young age and I always took acting classes as well. You have to audition forever for it but because it was my first audition, I didn’t have any high expectations. I just thought, ‘You know what? I’m just going to go for it’ because I didn’t know what to expect. I had no idea that it was a Universal project. I had no idea that it was with Robert Downey Jr. until the very end of it. So, I just gave it a go.

Harry (Stubbins) working with Robert Downey Jr.Harry (Stubbins) working with Robert Downey Jr.Courtesy of Universal Pictures

Q: Tell us about meeting and working with Robert Downey Jr.

  • Harry: I met him the day before the screen test in Atlanta. He wanted to meet me before to just get the nerves out of the way because he’s Robert Downey Jr. I got there and, to be honest, I felt nervous at the start but he was so nice and I was so comfortable around him that it makes you feel like you are talking to a friend rather than you’re talking to Robert Downey Jr. which is really nice because it didn’t make me feel nervous when I was going in for the screen test. And, yeah, throughout the shoot he’s a lovely person and very supportive, and gave me loads of advice.

Q: What was the best advice he gave to you?

  • Harry: I think just always be yourself. Don’t let anyone really bring you down. Keep your feet on the ground.
  • Carmel: It was so great. He is so down-to-earth but can be so charismatic as well. We met at the screen test actually and I was completely star-struck when I met him but because he’s so nice and because he’s so understanding, it really wasn’t a problem at all.

Harry with bear, gorilla and ostrich....oh my!Harry with bear, gorilla and ostrich....oh my!Courtesy of Universal Pictures

Q: Harry, you have a big part in the film. What was it like working with CGI animals where a lot of it is your imagination?

  • Harry: I thought it was going to be easy because that’s what acting is all about, right? Imagining things that aren’t really happening. But I think there’s so much more to take into consideration when you’re working with imaginary animals because you’ve got to think of the weight, the height, the way they move so I thought it was going to be easy but it is actually quite challenging to work with that sort of area. But, it was really fun to do all of that and I really think I’ve learned a lot from all of the visual things.

Q: Carmel, tell us about your character. You play Lady Rose and you are an attendant to the queen. You have such beautiful elocution. You just seemed royal.

  • Carmel: (They said) Poised.

Harry and Carmel with Robert and cast at premiereHarry and Carmel with Robert and cast at premiereCourtesy of Alex J. Berliner

Q: Are you just naturally gifted that way or did you take some classes on how to move and speak?

  • Carmel: I did a lot of preparation to get into the role because I think that’s absolutely necessary to be able to do it to the best of your ability. I watched all sorts of documentaries and films to be able to see exactly how they (royals) talk and walk and eat. Also I went with my mum to Kensington Palace which is so cool because I got to actually see what it was like living in a palace like that. I remember we walked into Victoria’s playroom and I was so taken aback because, obviously, it’s so different to any playroom now. I remember I saw all of her doll houses. I saw her dolls and everything. I thought ‘Wow, Lady Rose must have spent a lot of time in these rooms’ so yeah, that was a really great experience.

Lady Rose (Carmel) helps solve the mystery of the Queen's illnessLady Rose (Carmel) helps solve the mystery of the Queen's illnessCourtesy of Universal Pictures

Q: Cool! Are both of you animal people? Do you have pets?

  • Harry: I don’t have any pets right now but I want a dog. (Mom says no). I feel like it would be cool to talk to animals. I think that would be really good.
  • Carmel: No, unfortunately, I don’t have any pets which is annoying. I’d love to have a pet but I love animals really. I think they are great. They don’t ever judge you because they can’t understand you. They just are always there for you when you need them.

Both Stubbins (Harry) and Lady Rose (Carmel) love animalsBoth Stubbins (Harry) and Lady Rose (Carmel) love animalsCourtesy of Universal Pictures

Q: What question would you like to ask an animal?  

  • Harry: Good question. I’d have to say it’s nice to get their opinion, what they’d like to do, what they are feeling. If they want to go to that side of the part and I ask ‘Do you want to go to that side of the park? ‘Yeah. Yeah.’  So I think give them like a choice.
  • Carmel: I’d like to be able to talk to dogs. You have a lot of dogs as pets and ask them, I guess ‘What’s it like being a dog…honestly’.

Q: Harry, did you feel like an apprentice just being on set and watching? You’ve done a lot of plays and Dunkirk but this is a big showcase for you.

  • Harry: Yeah. I think like Stubbins learns from Dolittle on the way, I think that’s the sort of process that I went through shooting with Robert. You learn a lot from him just looking at him and seeing what he does which is the same as when Dolittle is talking to the animals and Stubbins is learning from that. It sort of links on set with me and Robert. I learned a lot.

Harry on set working with Antonio BanderasHarry on set working with Antonio BanderasCourtesy of Universal Pictures

Q: Carmel, tell us a bit about yourself.

  • Carmel: I was actually born in Israel but I’ve lived in the states practically my whole life but yeah, I’m a British actress. I’ve worked professionally now for two to three years since we first started filming Dolittle but I’ve always loved to act from a really young age. My mum and my parents would always take me to musicals ad theater shows and I just had that natural attraction to it.

Carmel at the premiereCarmel at the premiereCourtesy of Alex J. Berliner

Q: Harry, there is a scene where you and Dolittle are talking animal talk and there is a bunch of different voices you have to use. Did that crack you up on set?

  • Harry: Yeah and it was pretty awkward because it was silent in the studio and you’re making these sounds that don’t really sound good at all. There was this bit in the movie and it was me trying to imitate a polar bear roar and I’m on the side of the boat going ‘Roar, roar’ and that was quite awkward and embarrassing but it was alright because now I’ve seen the final product, it doesn’t look so bad. I’m making these bird noises and things like that. I was actually learning the sounds the animals make. They were telling me how to speak animal on set. That polar bear roar was improvised but the other stuff like the monkey and the peacock was completely (real).

Q: How long ago did you shoot this and how long did it take to do?

  • Harry: We shot the first time round a couple of years ago and obviously I’m getting older. It must have been painful for the visual effects people. I think one reason it was so long was the visual effects and the animals because there are so many effects in this movie. Without that it wouldn’t be seeable so I think it’s worth waiting for. It took so long because so much time and effort when into the CG and a lot of new ideas came in as well to make the film better.

Stubbins (Harry) quickly befriends the animalsStubbins (Harry) quickly befriends the animalsCourtesy of Universal Pictures

Q: Carmel, did you have to come back and do re-shoots?

  • Carmel: We did a couple of re-shoots. I actually didn’t have that many re-shoots to do which is nice. Only, I think, three days of re-shoots.

Q: Harry, how long ago did you see the final cut of the film?

  • Harry: I saw it about a month ago and it was a great experience. I took my 96-year-old great Nan to go see it with me and she normally falls asleep in movies and she didn’t fall asleep in this one which was great. It shows that it’s hopefully good.

Harry and CarmelHarry and CarmelCourtesy of Twitter

Q: What did she tell you afterwards?

  • Harry: It was so good and I’m really proud of you. ‘Are you just saying that?’ ‘No, I actually really enjoyed it’. It’s good to hear that and I’ve got a 9-year-old sister and she said that even if I wasn’t in it, she’d still enjoy the movie which is really great and it’s nice to get all this feedback. That’s sort of my reward I get from it is the feedback I get from other people. That’s really nice.

Q: Carmel, who was your role model growing up?

  • Carmel: I think Helena Bonham Carter. She’s absolutely beautiful. She’s such a great actress. She’s so dedicated to her craft. With every character she plays, I’d always be so taken aback because she is so good at it. I actually met her one time, not for filming or anything. We both went to an Adele concert and she just happened to be sitting right next to me which was insane. I couldn’t believe it. My favorite singer and my favorite actress together in one room. How good could this get?

Q: Amazing! So what do both of you have coming up now?

  • Harry: I have my exams for school. They’re coming up.

Dolittle, Stubbins (Harry) and the animals on their questDolittle, Stubbins (Harry) and the animals on their questCourtesy of Universal Pictures

Q: That’s scarier than premieres.

  • Harry: Yeah. It is. But I really hope that opportunities will (come along) because this is what I do. This is what I love. I’m hoping to carry on acting in things. I’m 15 but actually 16 when the movie comes out on January 17th.

Q: So it will be on your birthday?

  • Harry: Yeah. Very cool.

Harry at the premiereHarry at the premiereCourtesy of Alex J. Berliner

Q: How much more school do you have?

  • Harry: I’ve got about five months left and then I can either go and get a job or go to college or university. I guess I’m going to see what happens.
  • Carmel: Yeah, he’s a year older than me so (no worries about final exams now). I’m in school right now and my school is really supportive of me doing this which is so great. I like to be able to balance education and acting because I think education is just as important. It’s not something that I should throw away.

Q: What will you do when you finish doing press for this? Do you have a new project?

  • Carmel: I have something actually that I can’t really say too much about. But I’d like to be able to do school as well and I’d like to be able to do more auditions, to do more different parts.

 

See Harry and Carmel in Dolittle in theaters Friday, January 17th

Let’s Hear From You!

How would you feel trying out for a movie opposite Robert Downey Jr.? Do you think you could be an actor or what career are you now thinking about having some day? Do you wish you could talk to animals? What would you ask them?

By: Lynn Barker