If Kyliegh Curran could describe her experience in Stephen King’s Doctor Sleep, she would say ‘exciting.’
Curran just started the press tour for The Shining sequel and chatted with multiple outlets all week. It was only during this time, it hit Curran that she was starring in a major motion picture.
“It was kind of a delayed reaction actually,” said Curran over the phone with The Nerds of Color. “When all the press started, I finally started thinking ‘oh, this is really big and super exciting.’ It was more excitement to be a part of this film.”
This was Curran’s second film and she plays the lead role of Abra Stone, a courageous teenage with powerful ‘shine’ abilities, who seeks help from an adult Dan Torrance (Ewan McGregor) to fight against Rose the Hat (Rebecca Ferguson) and her followers, The True Knot, who feed off the shine of innocents.
“I’m really excited to be a part of the continuation of The Shining story,” Curran tells us. “Mr. Ewan and Miss Rebecca are so talented and I was really excited to be working with them.”
Working with Hollywood veterans like McGregor and Ferguson has not intimidated the 13-year-old rising starlet. She learned a lot by observing them on set.
Curran shared, “I was so new to film, I didn’t know what I was doing. So, it was a real comfort to have them there.”
Of course, performing was not new to the young actress. Curran started out on Broadway as young Nala in Disney’s The Lion King. With a theater background, Curran did face some challenges being on set, but was given a lot of guidance from director Mike Flanagan.
“I was used to big acting and projecting,” Curran shared. “Sometimes I would be a little too loud for the mic, but the people on set were super helpful and they would tell me if I was being too loud or when I needed to adjust. I really appreciated that.”
Curran’s performance in the film has been highly praised by critics and fans and is being called the breakout star of the film. Her character goes through so many obstacles against True Knot and faced a lot of emotional challenges. She recalled some of the scenes as ‘intense,’ but still remained ‘excited’ and had ‘a lot of fun shooting the challenging scenes.’
During one scene in particular that was intense in the book as well as the film with a child being brutally tortured, Curran dove deep to get the emotion right.
“I watched the scene when the baseboy was captured,” said Curran. “I kind of went on my own to dive into Abra. After I watched it, it was pretty easy to take on that anger because I just thought ‘how would I feel if I saw that.’”
Fortunately for Curran, filming the horrifying and emotional scenes did not faze her. “When we were filming, I never really felt [disturbed] because I was excited,” says Curran. “But when we watched the movie in August, I thought it was a completely different movie.”
Still, Curran wants to continue working in the horror genre and expressed interest in playing a more antagonist role.
“I would love to play a psychotic character,” Curran shared. “That would be a lot of fun. Kind of like Joker.”
Despite her eagerness to play the demented and disturbed, Curran shared that she was your everyday happy teenager. She loves to read, write, dance, ride horses, and hang out with the kids in her neighborhood. “There’s a park behind my friend’s house so we all just travel back there with my fanny pak and snacks and have a lot of fun there.”
She tells us that her family keeps her grounded and she wants to use her celebrity for good. Curran is currently an advocate for literacy programs that encourages kids to read and write more.
“During school, I would get nervous for reading and writing tests and I feel like I wasn’t learning and behind,” says Curran. “I think that programs like [Reach Out & Read] will indulge our love for reading.”
Curran also practices veganism and talks about how society could help protect the Earth.
“I know there is so much negativity about veganism, but once they get into it, you start to feel pretty good about yourself,” Curran shared. “One, because, for me, it really helps with my skin. Definitely given up dairy. It’s also very good for the Earth. I feel like once you’re vegan, or vegetarian, you’ll start to feel like you’re doing your part for the Earth.”
As for what’s next for the young actress, it seems that she cannot seem to get away from haunted hotels. Curran will begin production on the new Disney Channel paranormal mystery series Sulphur Springs about a haunted hotel. Curran plays Harper, a friend of the kid who moves into the hotel, and they embark on an adventure through time to figure out the mystery behind the haunted hotel.
Curran laughed, “Now that I’m thinking about it, there are a lot of haunted hotels.”
Stephen King’s Doctor Sleep opens in theaters this weekend!