Kerris Dorsey is a 16-year-old actress and singer and is known for her role as Paige Whedon from the popular TV show Brothers & Sisters as well as Brad Pitt’s daughter in Moneyball. Her most recent role is as Emily Cooper, the older sister to Alexander in Disney’s family action film Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day. Her character is an inspiring actress and her tireless dedication, mixed with the very bad day “curse,” has her souring high over her audience.
I sat down with Kerris for an interview and she assured me that she is a normal teenager with normal friends who text her pictures of posters she is on saying, “hey, you’re on a poster!” The energetic actress and I sat and talked about her musical talents as well as starring with some of the biggest names in Hollywood!
TIM: What did you think of the final film?
KD: I love it! We all had such good memories filming it; it’s always so good to watch it and relive everything. I’m really proud of it.
Are you critical of yourself?
I can be. I compare it to listening to a recording of your voice, and you think, ‘Do I really sound like that?’ or I watch myself and ask, ‘Do I really make that face?’ I always think back to the moment. I know I did a better take than that. But, I’ve gotten better at stepping back and being happy with the final product [LAUGHS].
What was the audition process for the film?
I love that book, so when I found out they were making the movie, I knew that I needed to be a part of the project. I was nervous when I went in to meet with Miguel Arteta, the director. But after meeting him, I wanted it even more if that was possible. Because meeting him, interacting with him, you see how passionate he is as a person and as a director.
You sang and performed in Moneyball and has a song in the ending credits of Alexander. Are you musically-trained?
I started playing piano when I was pretty young. My mom put me in piano lesions so that I could learn how to read music. Learning to play an instrument is such a good skill to have. And then when I was around eight, I started playing guitar, and that’s sort of when I started writing music. So, yeah, it sort of started with learning to play instruments because I love music. I think it’s a good way to be connected to that world, and then the songwriting sort of followed as I learned the few basic chords. That’s when I realized how cool it was to write alongside musical chords.
How did you come to write and sing the ending credit song Best Worst Day Ever for Alexander?
Miguel, the director, called me and asked if I wanted to write a song for the movie in some capacity. He said ‘you don’t have to do it if you don’t want to,’ and really, was I’m going to turn him down? I was super excited at the prospect of doing that, and he said, ‘you can do it in any capacity you want. You can write it by yourself; you can be a co-writer with your sister.’ That’s when I approached my sister Justine about writing a song for Alexander with me.
We had a short amount of time to work on it. We wrote it and luckily it came together because sometimes those things don’t come together. But it was really fun. It was our first song that we wrote together as sisters. We live in the same house as each other; it was a really special experience. And then hearing in the end of the movie was really fun, as well.
How was it working with Brad Pitt?
It’s so surreal because he’s Brad Pitt, and I think, probably the biggest star out there. So it was a little nerve-wracking; I wasn’t sure how the process would be, and then I met him! He was such a nice, genuine guy, and it was really great to get to know him as on a personal level and have him be my dad for a little bit of time. It was great. I really cherish that experience.
Have you ever had a very bad day?
Oh yes! I mean, anything can go wrong in a day, just on a day-to-day basis, and then on top of it, when you have to go on an audition or something, then anything can happen! I was on set for a movie, and it was the first day, literally the first day. I’d just met everyone- maybe the first scene we were doing, and I gestured (swings out her arm) and wound up knocking over the orange juice pitcher that was right next to me. I knocked it over, spilt all of the juice. And the actor who I was working with was just like… ‘so awesome to meet you!’ I’m a klutz, so I’m sure I made an impression but hopefully I redeemed myself. I have to remind myself, DO NOT knock anything over, nothing is going down in, in my vicinity, [LAUGHS]!
Did you do your own stunt in the Peter Pan flying scene of Alexander?
I did! I had a stunt double who was awesome, and I worked with the set coordinator, Garret. I did go up in a harness, where I flew and fell, and failed, but it was so much fun. It’s always been a dream of mine to play Peter Pan and be in a harness. I’ve grown up seeing different Peter Pan productions, and I especially love the Cathy Rigby version. I had a DVD of it that would play on a loop until I think it broke.
What was it like working with Steve Carrel and Jennifer Garner?
Well, I love them so much. They were like family. It’s funny because, I feel like everybody in interviews is gonna think, ‘sure, you were a family,’ But, we were a family. I think we genuinely mean it. Ed, Dylan, and I are so close. I truly enjoyed working with and Steve and Jen and we all had a really good time filming. I’m such a huge fan of Steve and Jen in their own right of The Office, and actually anything he’s done, and as well, with Jen. I love Alias. She’s one of my role models for, a kick butt, action heroine.
You’ve been in some pretty big roles. Has that changed your life?
My life is really fun. I like my life a lot. I get to meet some really great people and learn about the business. I’ve grown up on sets, which I think is a cool place to figure yourself out and figure the world out. I’ve had so many great experiences like you said, Brothers and Sisters and this movie, and I’ve been really lucky.
What’s on your bucket list?
I’d love to do an action movie. I did gymnastics for a really long time and was very seriously into that. I’m into the idea of doing an action movie or a period piece. I know those are so different. Maybe an action period piece, wearing a corset and fighting crimes or something.
What advice do you have for young girls who are considering getting into acting?
There are a lot of things that you can say to perspective actors, but I would say one is technical, but work on your craft and what you love. Take classes, read and watch movies. It’s a great way to do homework being able watch movies and pick influences that you like and actors that you look up to, see what they’ve done in their career that you want to maybe emulate or aspire to. And then if you really love it, just don’t let people who say no and let you down. You just keep pursuing it, and it’s part of the process.
Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day is in theaters now and is rated PG.
* Tee attended the junket/interview for editorial purposes.