She was born in America, raised in New Zealand and Ireland, and now she is making a name for herself in Hollywood. Florence Hartigan’s life and career have been as varied as they are exciting, and we took the opportunity to do a short interview.
We wanted to get a snapshot of who she is, where she’s risen from, and where she’s headed.
Q: You were born in Ithaca, NY and then grew up between Ireland and New Zealand. How would you say your growing up has influenced your perspective and views on life?
A: Well I am the child of immigrant parents, who themselves were the children of immigrant parents. Actually, on my mother’s side each generation has moved to a new country at least since my great grandfather, who grew up in Hungary.
I think the immigrant experience lends itself to a feeling of otherness, and a feeling of having to closely observe and imitate, to fit in.
I think it lent itself to a feeling of introspection – questioning where you fit in in the world.
Those are habits that I developed at a young age, and which also happen to be pretty helpful if you are an actor!
In terms of my views on life – I think I maybe view the world in a pretty global sense. New Zealand still feels emotionally like my home. I have lived in LA quite a while now and I love it here though. My family is mostly in England, Ireland and Switzerland.
Home feels like where my family and friends are – and that’s lots of places. We’re kind of spread out!
Q: You started acting at a young age, studied it at University, and now you are the lead in a film produced by big names like Ridley Scott of Alien, Wes Ball of The Maze Runner, and Mark Canton of 300.
Can you tell a little about your journey and how you’ve navigated the sometimes confusing and competitive acting world?
A: I think in LA it is a very different beast than anywhere else. It’s the Olympics of acting out here. This is where the best of the best come to strut their stuff.
For me it’s all been about keeping my chin up in the face of all that, working hard and being ready for the opportunities.
In terms of this project I was lucky enough to be involved right from the beginning of the project- TS Nowlin (who wrote Maze Runner and also our film, Phoenix Forgotten) asked if I could be part of a test shoot he and Justin Barber (our director) were doing for an alien project they were pitching to Scott Free.
I had worked with them before on a couple of projects. Luckily, when the film was greenlit I was given the opportunity to audition and won the role. It was super exciting!
It is really unusual and nice to be involved with a project from ‘whoa’ to ‘go’ like I was on this one.
Q: What do you look for most when trying out for a new role or reading over a script? What catches your eye?
A: I think in a good script for me there’s always that one line, the one that hits you on a gut level and you can’t wait to say it. I look for stuff like that in scripts, something I connect to on a tingly, visceral level. Or else it’s just a character that I think will be super fun to play!
Q: On the subject of Indie Movies and films, what do you enjoy most about independent filmmaking? How has it shaped your views on film?
A: I love the camaraderie that comes with Indie films. Everyone is working together to make the absolute most out of finite resources and there’s a certain kind of energy that comes along with that that’s really fun.
Figuring out how to make that budget stretch breeds ingenuity – and I think leads to some awesome happy accidents.
Often times you’re also working with people at the beginning of their careers, and/or people for whom the project is a passion project, so there’s an enthusiasm that’s inherent. I’ve also had a wonderful time on the bigger sets I’ve worked on.
As a total film nerd it feels like actual magic to be in a studio working on a big production – it’s just a different experience. On the flip side, I think more money comes with more people to please, so there is freedom in working on a smaller picture in that way.
I like both for different reasons, and have favorites from both ends of the spectrum. In the end it just matters that it’s a good story told well. You can do that with 50 million dollars or with 50 dollars (If you’re owed a lot of favors!).
Q: I had noticed that you are a bit of a musician as well, how did you develop your talent as a songwriter and performer? Did that come along with your interest in acting?
A: My mother was a violin teacher when I was growing up, and I literally came out of the womb listening to Bach. So music was always a part of my life.
I wasn’t into violin, like, at all.
I have always loved to sing, so my folks channelled me into that. I studied classical singing for years and did musical theater, and picked up the guitar and started writing songs as a teen.
I started singing with Jazz bands and did that for a while, and then started a Belle and Sebastian-esque band called Harry in college.
We accidentally got on TV in an idol-esque competition for songwriters called TV2 Songstar, and ended up winning second place. At that point I started taking it a little more seriously.
I write and perform around LA, as well as write the odd song for film and TV shows and commercials. It’s always been something I do on the sidelines of my acting stuff – I like it because I can make music whenever I want, I don’t have to wait to be cast in it!
I also until recently was in a musical improv group – we’d do off-the-cuff songs and hip hop based on audience suggestions and performed at UCB, and Nerdist, etc. – I love that stuff.
Q: To cap it off, what are you currently working on right now? What can we look forward to in the future from you?
A: I have a film coming out pretty soon called Malevolent, which is an animated horror movie that stars William Shatner, Ray Wise, and Morena Baccarin – it’s a kind of sci-fi/slasher movie and I play a drugged out valley girl, which was the most fun ever.
Florence Hartigan is talented, up and coming, and landing roles with some big names in Hollywood! We were glad we could interview her, and we’re excited to see her career keep moving up!
Here’s the trailer for Malevolent as well: