Amanda Schull has returned to One Tree Hill as Katie Ryan
Most actresses make their big-screen debut 'acting', that was not the case with Amanda Schull who first graced the screen doing exactly what she had been doing her whole life; ballet dancing. Born in Hawaii, Schull landed the starring role of Jody Sawyer in Center Stage in 2000, where she played a dedicated ballet dancer. The film capitulated her into acting while still training with The San Fransisco Ballet School, where she remained until April of 2006. Since then Schull has played a variety of roles in films and television shows. Most recently, she starred as the memory and spirit of Robert Buckley's wife on the CW's One Tree Hill. In our interview, Schull discussed her role on the series and the challenges that went into playing a non-living character.
You have a background in ballet, how did you make the transition to acting?
Amanda-I enjoyed acting growing up, I did musical theater. I had a secret desire to be a television and movie actress but it wasn't something I admitted to myself that I wanted to do I guess. So I went to college and studied journalism and dance, and then after my sophomore year I went to the San Fransisco Ballet School and spent a year there. At the end of the year a casting director had been watching me in rehearsal while I was still in the school. I hadn't yet been given my contract and she spoke with the company and they handed a script to me and I worked on the script that night and the next day I auditioned for the role of Jody in Center Stage, and booked the part and got the contract with the company right around the same week. So I went to go film center stage, came back, and danced for a number of years. And after seven years with the company I felt it was time for me to pursue something else so that's how I made the transition. I still had the same agents, he and I kept in contact during that time and I came down here [Los Angeles] and decided to try my luck.
You said you studied Journalism, is that what you would have pursued if it weren't for acting?
Amanda-Yes I think so. I've actually been published a couple of times in a couple of magazines and a newspaper, so it was something I was actively purposing. But it was more the broadcast journalism part. I think I always wanted to be in front of the cameras I just didn't acknowledge it. (laughs)
On your first appearance on One Tree Hill, you played a ghost, what was that whole experience like for you to play a role of someone who wasn't alive?
Amanda-It was wonderful you know when I booked the part they didn't tell me that I was a ghost. They didn't even tell me what Sara exact relationship with Clay was. The sides that were given for the audition were very ambiguous. I had to sort of read between the lines and make up my own story because it was obvious that they knew each other, but I didn't think that it was something that was sort of explained. I thought it was more substantial than a one night stand so I sort of went with that. I made it past the casting directors and was in front of Mark Schwahn and Joe Davola and I read through the first time and Mark kind of had this twinkle in his eye and said they were. He didn't say ex-wife, he just said they were married and I was like oh that sort of changes things. And so when I went to North Carolina I thought that they were ex-husband and wife, that they had broken up and he was still harboring a fling for her, and that she was begging him to move on because she had moved on emotionally.
Rob called to introduce himself on the phone to me and he said on the message 'hey this is your widower Rob, blah, blah,' and I was like what? What is he talking about? (Laughs) then when I talked to him he said 'oh you're dead' and I said 'what?'. Then Mark called just to chat with me and to welcome me and discuss the script, and said so Rob told me that he opened his mouth and let you in on the secret but you really didn't need to know.. I wasn't going to tell you yet. They wanted her to play very realistically they didn't want her to be sort of creepy. They wanted it to have a very grounded, sort of they're having an actual conversation he's not out of his mind kind of thing.
It did end up being very realistic, at first, it was difficult to tell whether she was alive or dead.
Amanda-That was a very specific intention that we had. We wanted to make sure that we weren't just making it cheesy, that it was sort of a realistic thing. You know when you sit around and you think you're making big decisions or you have a difficult time with your life, what would my grandmother, what would my grandfather council me on this. And so you know it's somebody's opinion that you really trust that you can't have a conversation with, that was more what we wanted to do with her.
What was the most challenging moment for you playing Sara?
Amanda-There were a few moments. The first time we filmed it was really challenging just to remember that I wasn't real because she's consoling him in a lot of scenes and I kept touching him, they were like 'no stop stop' because we weren't supposed to touch. I'm not really there. That was challenging. Exciting challenging was jumping off the bridge. That was a lot of fun. It was scary but it was well worth it.
What is a dream role that you would love to explore in your career?
Amanda-I have two dream roles that I would love to do in the future. I would love to do a period piece. I would love to do an Elizabethan, big dress romance kind of thing. I would love that. I would also love the opportunity to do a musical. Like singing, big dance numbers. I think that would just be so much fun. Even the preparation for something like that would be fun. Wow, I would love that!
Have you ever done theater work?
Amanda-I did do some musical theater. I was comfortable younger singing on stage. But there's some big voices so I don't know. (Laughs) I would love the chance to do it. I mean it's even hard for me to watch films like Moulin Rouge or just big numbers without sort of picturing myself doing it. I just think it's so much fun to watch that kind of energy on film.
Center Stage was a major hit for you, what do you think about how the industry has changed now with the influence of the online world? A show like One Tree Hill has a large online following, how does that affect everything you think?
Amanda-It's totally different from when center stage came out there's so much less privacy and even things that we do and behind the scenes, like we were shooting that bridge scene and I ran home for lunch during my break and my sister had already watched the bridge scene online. It really affects what people know about shows but at the same time it can affect what you think you know and it ends up being a totally different situation
Shows like One Tree Hill or Grey's Anatomy, something where there's a recurring storyline, you hear through the grapevine what's going on and you can hear little snippets. But when there's an actual scene shown online then it's sort of a disappointment to me because then people already know what's going on and that's frustrating. It spoils the surprise element and it spoils the excitement of it because One Tree Hill uses a lot of surprises with the characters that you come to know and think that you foresee their every move. Mark Schwahn and the writers are wonderful at throwing you these curve balls every once in a while and when people get wind of it in advance it's disappointing.
On the flip side it could make you really excited about it and make you stay tuned for it. but I think for lot of people and for us as actors we wanna show it to you before you can come up with an opinion.
If you could go back in time and spend a day in the life of anyone from history, who would it be and why?
Amanda-I have to be them? Or can I shadow them? (Laughs)See If I could shadow somebody I would love to be around the time of Anne Boleyn or Elizabeth I, but Anne Boleyn got decapitated so I don't think that'd be too exciting. But one day I think might be fun. I've read a lot of books about Henry VIII and all of his wives. I just think that would be so intriguing to be a fly on the while. But I don't know about being subjects and being one of his mistresses. Maybe being Amelia Earhart? Getting to fly, but then her plane was lost. They're all interesting people, they just don't have good endings I guess.(Laughs)
My grandmother led a really fascinating life I would love to just shadow her too. I think I'm drawn to these people who had such dismal endings. Not my grandmother but you know these other ladies.
Well those are all interesting choices, and it seems interesting to relive those earlier days?
Amanda-It is and because it's only subject to different people's documentation of it. It makes it that much more mysterious and intriguing. I would love to be able to do it you know to see what the gowns were really like, to know what the politics were really like. And just a day in the life I think would be so fascinating to watch.
Do you have any upcoming projects aside from One Tree Hill?
Amanda-I have a film that's probably coming out in America hopefully in the near future. It's a film that I shot in Australia and it came out in Australia and did incredibly well and we're on waiting on news of North American distribution soon. It's entitled Mao's Last Dancer.
Coming up exclusive interviews with India de Beaufort & Jackson Brundage from One Tree Hill.