By: Haley Bosselman By: Haley Bosselman | October 22, 2021 | Feature Television
Stefanie Scott is no stranger to incorporating movement into her art. The 24-year-old actor grew up dancing, but gearing up for her role in Peacock’s Girl in the Woods required training for a new physical skill: knife fighting.
“My character has a retractable blade in her bionic arm,” Scott explains to L.A. Confidential. “I’d never worked with knives before, so learning how to work with those, how to react if somebody is coming at you with a knife, what to do, stuff like that. It was awesome.”
Scott stars as Carrie, a girl who escapes from her mysterious, cult-like colony that lives hidden behind a secret door in the woods and guards the world against monsters. While she herself tries to stay alive in the once sleepy, small town of West Pine, Carrie must embrace her duty as a monster killer when unthinkable horrors from her past hunt her down.
Girl in the Woods adds to Scott’s resume already saturated with dramatic roles. She starred in Insidious: Chapter 3 and, more recently, Lifetime’s Girl in the Basement and appeared in Beautiful Boy, At First Light, Mary and Small Town Crime. Next year on Shudder, movie-goers will be able to catch her alongside Isabelle Fuhrman and Rory Culkin in The Last Thing Mary Saw, an independent horror-feature that debuted at the 2021 Fantasia Film Festival.
Before Scott planted her feet in the overlapping worlds of horror, drama and fantasy, she grew up doing performing arts. Born in Illinois, Scott was raised in Florida and started auditioning for theater around 10 years old. She recalls always loving musicals and going to shows whenever possible with her grandma: Sound of Music, Annie, Anastasia.
“I would just sing all the songs constantly,” she says. “I was just always pretending I was in movies when I was a kid. I would sit in front of a mirror when I was six years old and pretend I was making a commercial.”
“I don’t know why, it’s so stupid,” she laughs. “I just loved acting. I just thought it was fun and creative. I’m lucky that I still get to do that and that gets to be my job.”
With Girl in the Woods, Scott learned what it truly means to be grounded and present.
“There’s definitely an element of letting go. There’s some really explosive scenes where there’s a lot of attacking. That can be intimidating to do in front of a lot of people,” she explains. “That feeling of letting go and seeing what happens and not really being scared about it.”
During the summer just outside Portland, Oreg., Scott and the Girl in the Woods team filmed for eight weeks. She came onto set with two weeks of training with a stunt trainer.
“I was so excited when I saw the role of Carrie. She’s very strong and has to be ready to attack at any moment, and just the way she walks was really interesting to figure out,” Scott says. “I had to be… very strong in my stance and move with intention.”
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“I’m a very meditative person, so I usually just meditate a lot,” she adds, diving into her acting process. “At the end of the day, it’s a mindset and just being as present and in the moment as possible. The emotion totally just comes through, and then it makes it easy to turn off. For me, I’ll maybe just hang by myself if it’s an emotional day. It’s kind of nice to go back and forth from it as well. You don’t want to get too hooked trying to feel a certain way because then it’s totally forced and fake.”
While Scott assures Girl in the Woods has incredible scare, horror and gore elements, she describes the Peacock series as a genre-bending, quirky, funny adventure show.
“It also touches a lot on environmentalism and LGBTQ-plus [storytelling] and a lot of different aspects that I feel are very current in today’s day and age, topic-wise, but in the show they’re really brought about in an organic way,” Scott says.
As Scott ventures into new projects, she has her sights set on doing more comedy. In addition to working on more uplifting shows like Disney’s A.N.T. Farm and the 2015 movie Jem and the Holograms, she starred in (and served as an associate producer) Good Girls Get High. A fan herself of offbeat comedies, she says the 2018 film was the most fun she’s had on a project. It’s also how she met one of her best friends.
“I definitely think comedy is much needed in the world,” Scott says. “It makes me wonder: I think if people laughed a bit more, what would happen?”
See also: Momona Tamada on the Honor of Playing Claudia Kishi
Photography by: Brett Erickson