EXCLUSIVE: Alysia Joy Powell Talks The Sitter
The actress stars opposite Jonah Hill in this new comedy from David Gordon Green, in theaters this Friday, December 9th
Jonah Hill's big break came with a very short scene in The 40 Year Old Virgin opposite Catherine Keener, where he tries to unsuccessfully buy a pair of silver disco boots from an Ebay Only store. That moment is still remembered when people talk about the movie to this day, and it launched the comedic actor's career. With each succeeding lead role he takes, Jonah has made sure to fill those one-off scenes, like the one he once starred in himself, with the best untapped talent that he can find. And this Friday's The Sitter is no different.
Alysia Joy Powell only has one scene in the movie, but she easily steals it from under Jonah Hill and almost walks away with the entire movie. It's a star-making turn that will surely push the actress, who has been in the business for more than fifteen years, to bigger and better things.
We recently caught up with Alysia, who, in The Sitter, engages in a verbal brawl with Jonah Hill after discovering him in the underwear section of a kid's store with a little girl (Landry Bender) who claims that he might just be a child molester. We chatted with Powell about the scene, going toe-to-toe with Jonah, and working with David Gordon Green.
Here is our conversation.
Can you tell me a little bit about your character in The Sitter? I have not gotten to see the movie yet!
Alysia Joy Powell: I am playing Susie. From Kid's World. She thinks Jonah Hill's character is a child molester. She wants to see what is going on, as he's hanging out with this little girl in the underwear section of this children's store. You can see my part in one of the trailers, but there are only about eight different trailers. (Laughs) I do have a trailer out there for the movie.
This interaction between you and Jonah is pretty awkward and out there. How would you describe the energy between the two of you on set?
Alysia Joy Powell: This was so amazing. Our chemistry was great. David Gordon Green, who is the director...I don't know if you've seen is other movies...But he is a genius at improv. He loves to have his actors improv. There was an amazing script, but he let it fly. He let us go for it. It was a whole lot of fun.
David is a weird guy. He likes to set up jokes that maybe he will only ever catch in these various scenes, hidden in the background. Can we expect some of that tomfoolery in this movie?
Alysia Joy Powell: Um...No! (Laughs) I don't think he had time to do that, because he seemed very enchanted with what was going on between me and Jonah. Both he and the cast was busting up during every take. One time, it was really late in the evening, and he had called cut. I turned around to see David standing at the monitor. His face was beat red. He was like, "Oh, my gosh!" We had an amazing time on this one. It was a lot of fun. The funny part of it is, they wrote a script that had a lot of cursing. I had to get an acting coach to learn how to curse that many bad words in a row. (Laughs) At one point, David told me, "Go a head and take one of those words out." I said, "Thank you very much." The funny thing about that is, the way they edited it, they took out all of the cursing. Now I'm not cursing in it.
You had to get a cursing coach? I take it that's something you don't do very often in your everyday life?
Alysia Joy Powell: No, not the big words. (Laughs) Not the big ones, mmm-mmm! I have never said five curse words in a row. That's a little too much for me. Maybe two or three, but five in a row? (Laughs) I had to get clearance from my pastor. He told me, "You better go do this movie!"
I think he was right. This looks like it's going to be a big hit. David Gordon Green has made so many movies in such a short time span, did he just whip you guys through production? This had to move incredibly fast...
Alysia Joy Powell: It really did. We went at it, and we made sure we got it done quickly. David has an amazing work ethic, and an amazing crew. He knows what he wants. We ran through it a couple of times scripted, and then he let it fly. It turned out so good.
Were you a fan of the two baby sitter movies they based this on? Adventures in Babysitting and Don't Tell Mom the Babysitter's Dead?
Alysia Joy Powell: I have seen those. I grew up with those. I wasn't aware that they'd based the movie on that. This movie is not to be touched. It needs to be put in its own category. What Jonah Hill's character goes through in a day is crazy. I saw some of the outtakes at the cast party. You guys better hold onto your seat and make sure you go to the bathroom before you watch it.
Do we get to see those outtakes during the credit sequence? Or is that something we're going to have to wait to see on the DVD?
Alysia Joy Powell: I'm not sure, because we have not had our premiere yet. Our premiere is tomorrow. I will be seeing it for the first time there. The outtakes are so good...They can't leave them out! They just can't!
Are you in the outtakes a bunch, or were you able to hold it together going up against Jonah?
Alysia Joy Powell: I am always a professional, but I have to confess, we went at it. And sometime....We really went at it! We went back and forth. I followed his lead. I was like, "Oh, okay! You want to go there?" I was right there with him. We played together very nicely.
What about this young girl that is in these scenes with you? How was it working with someone who hasn't done much in the way of improvising in a film?
Alysia Joy Powell: Oh, Landry Bender! She is quite a handful. She can hold her own against all of the adults. She is adorable, and her mom was just great at everything. This girl never got tired. She wasn't cranky. She was a little professional, and she can hang with the best of them. All three of those kids were great. They say never work with kids and animals. But the kids really hold their own in this movie.
Jonah Hill...Is he a kid or an animal?
Alysia Joy Powell: He's a little bit of both. It depends on what time you catch him (laughs)!
Were you a big fan of David Gordon Green before embarking on this journey? Was that the force that drove you to your pastor for permission?
Alysia Joy Powell: The only thing I'd seen at the time we shot was his HBO show, and then I did see Pineapple Express. I wasn't a fan of his work. I was a fan of his because I interacted with him at the audition. And we had instant chemistry. The casting director went through the script at first, and then David Gordon Green stepped in. He said, "Okay! I need you to do this, this, and this. I want you to go for it!" So I went for it. We had a lot of fun. I knew he was that type of director. He likes improv, and I'm good off the cuff. And I'm good scripted. He really made it fun. We had a ball. He made the whole thing a dream, because he wanted to work hard. He believed in me so much. I've been around for a minute. I've been in this business for fifteen years professionally. My father was an actor before me. I have been doing this my entire life. When you're good, you always ask, "When is my time going to come?" You know? This guy took a big chance on me, and it's been good. I can't wait to see how this movie does. They've put a lot of promotion behind it, and it looks like it's taking off. I've gotten so much feedback on it. Just from the trailer. Everyone has been saying they need to see it, because it looks hilarious. I am looking forward to seeing what happens.