Exclusive: Summer’s Breakout Star Britt Robertson Eyes a Bright Future

It was spring 2010 when Who What Wear first shot Britt Robertson—then a 19-year-old ingenue getting her start on The CW. Five years later, the South Carolina native is back in front of our lens, all grown-up and with a role of a lifetime. That role is starring opposite George Clooney in Disney’s highly anticipated science fiction adventure, Tomorrowland, in theatres nationwide today. In the film, Robertson plays a wise-beyond-her-years teen who teams up with a former inventor (Clooney) to uncover the secrets of a mysterious place that exists somewhere between time and space. In our exclusive interview, we chatted with the actress about making fearless career moves, embracing fashion, and figuring out what the future holds. 

Photo:

Kat Borchart

Who What Wear: You landed such a covetable role. What was the audition process like for Tomorrowland?
Britt Robertson: It was long—really long. It always felt like I was seeing massive amounts of girls, and they are going through these tapes, and randomly they’d call me back. So I came back in and met with Brad [Bird, the director], and three months later I met with him again. I don’t even think he remembered me. And then a couple of weeks later they wanted me to test for it. I went to Vancouver—I was shooting in North Carolina at the time—to test with Raffey Cassidy, who was already cast as Athena in the movie. We worked on three scenes with full sets, and it was great. I went back to North Carolina, and about a week later they called and told me I got the part. 

WWW: What was your immediate reaction to hearing you got the film?
BR: It was nuts. My immediate reaction was very emotional. I think just because it was such a huge opportunity, and typically with auditions, my family doesn’t know that I’m auditioning for anything. But with this it was publicly announced that I was testing even before I got the part, so I was like, “Oh my God, so much pressure.” So it wasn’t just pressure on myself; I felt like everyone else had pressure on them for me to get the part, which is ridiculous. But once I got it, it was such a relief. I just cried, and I was so happy. I was with my friend Alex Koch, who was working on the show [Under the Dome] with me at the time, and he was so sweet. We were at lunch and he framed the receipt from the lunch and gave it to me, and it says on the frame, “A moment of happiness,” because that’s literally what it was. I was just so happy; it was this elated emotional feeling. 

Credits: Tanya Taylor dress; Bionda Castana heels. 

Photo:

Kat Borchart

WWW: What excited you about this particular role?
BR: I just thought it was such an interesting idea. I loved the story—I laughed, I cried. I was so into the idea that Brad and Jeff [Jensen] and Damon [Lindelof] had come up with, and in addition to that, I thought it was such an interesting thing that they created this young 17-year-old girl who was not falling into the trap of being sad about her future even though there weren’t a lot of things to be happy about in her life. You know, there is nothing positive going on for her future, but she’s still looking at it in a really optimistic way, hoping tomorrow will be the day that everything changes. Fortunately for her, that ends up being the case. And [the film] proposes this idea that if everyone looks to the future in a positive way, then maybe they might have a more positive outcome. 

WWW: What intimidates you about the future?
BR: Great question—love that question. The intimidating thing about the future, because I’m not Casey—I think Casey is a really special type of person, and I’m not that person. Literally I have dreams weekly about alien attacks [laughs]. Like the world is coming to an end in a really dramatic fashion. Funny enough, I’m kind of paranoid about the apocalypse or some alien planet taking over. I’m sure that’s not a very realistic way of viewing the future, but it is something that is actually kind of exciting, because it’s like maybe my generation is the generation to experience something really intense like that, so that is kind of exciting, but very scary. 

WWW: What excites you about the future?
BR: On the more realistic side, I’m excited about a lot of things. I’m excited about what my life holds. I’ll kind of take it in a self-centered direction and say like I’m excited to see what happens in the next five years, whether it be with my career, or do I live in L.A., do I get married, do I have kids? All of those things, I think life changes are really exciting, because it’s the unknown. 

Credits: Gucci Classic Blue Marine Silk Cady Sleeveless Jumpsuit with Contrast Tobacco Multi-Stitching Details ($3100).

Photo:

Kat Borchart

WWW: What was it like working with George Clooney?
BR: You know, really amazing. I was not necessarily intimated; I was really nervous about getting along with him. I didn’t want to be that nerdy girl who was like, “I’m an actor; I would love to know everything you know about acting.” But I also didn’t want to be like I’m too cool for George Clooney, I’m just going to be my own person. I wanted to find a good balance or find a nice way of interacting with him. For him, because it was important that we had a very specific chemistry in the movie, it was probably like, “Who is this girl that I’m about to spend six months of my life with? Is she going to be a total pain or, you know, nice to work with?” We have this very funny dynamic in our relationship, and it has to work. My feelings going in were just more nervous about whether or not I could pull that off.

WWW: Did you hang outside of shooting to achieve that relationship?
BR: No, I don’t think that was necessary, because we were constantly travelling and moving to different cities and countries. One of the producers, Jeffrey, was always adamant about treating cast and crew to dinners and stuff like that, so we would always be around each other outside of work anyways. I think that did help, because you get to know someone on a level that is not so professional all the time. You can open up and talk about life or big picture, and it was nice when we had those moments. 

Credits: Creatures of the Wind Kia Sweater ($1095, 312.587.1000) in Red/Orange/Aubergine; vintage shorts.

Photo:

Kat Borchart

WWW: You started acting at a young age. Do you think that was a good decision?
BR: I’m actually really lucky that I started at such a young age. I don’t think I would handle it as well as I did at this point in my life, because I’m so much more aware of the business and all of the great things, but also all of the crappy things. You know, just what the industry means. I was so unaware of it. For me, I was just hanging at home, normal life, and occasionally I would go to an audition then go back home. I wasn’t talking to an agent or making deals, because I was a kid and someone was doing it for me. For me, it was best-case scenario, now looking back on it. I didn’t get it. 

WWW: You’ve had the chance to work with some incredible actors, like George Clooney, Steve Carell, and Vince Vaughn. What did you take away from those experiences?
BR: Working with people who have been successful, I’ve always been really curious about what that means and how that happens. And so for me, working with those people I’ve always tried to just observe, and sometimes I learn really important lessons down to just being professional and being kind and respecting people, and that gets you a really long way. I would say what’s partly responsible for some of the jobs I’ve had the opportunity to work on is because I’ve known some producer that I’ve worked with who is best friends with another producer and they give a good word. And I think good word is really—I mean, look at George Clooney. People love that guy because he is a great human being and people want to work with him. And everyone asks me what it’s like to work with George Clooney, because he’s amazing, and so I think that’s the point. That’s the lesson I’ve learned in all of this, just to be kind and to be good and do the best that I can with the opportunities I’m given and work hard, but just be a good person. 

Credits: Creatures of the Wind Kia Sweater ($1095, 312.587.1000) in Red/Orange/Aubergine; vintage shorts.

Photo:

Kat Borchart

WWW: You also starred in last month’s Nicholas Sparks flick, The Longest Ride. Were you familiar with the book before auditioning for the film?
BR: No, I wasn’t. I knew it existed, but I had never read it. I had no idea what it was about until I read the screenplay. And then after I got the part, I read the book.

WWW: Was your chemistry with Scott Eastwood for the film instant?
BR: No, I think we found our rhythm half—no, maybe not halfway. After rehearsals we started finding our rhythm, because at first it was like, you know, he had this front, this façade that he was putting on, because it’s hard to trust people in this industry, and I think I probably do that too. Everyone puts on that preventive for the first little bit. And then after a couple of weeks, when I figured out that I could like goof around, and make jokes, and laugh, and you know, have goofy moments when I can give him a hard time about silly things, that he says, I think that’s when we found our chemistry, because it was like our own little dynamic that we created. It was fun; we had fun being around each other. 

Credits: Valentino Embellished Linen Dress ($899); Jennifer Meyer earrings.

Photo:

Kat Borchart

WWW: What has been your most fearless career move thus far?
BR: I mean, Tomorrowland was a huge deal. I think because—it was fearless because I never thought that it would happen. Like sometimes when I’m auditioning for things or just in my career when I’m making certain decisions, I make them pretty realistically. But for this movie, it was such a big deal that I didn’t think there was any chance of me getting it. I mean, what are the odds? I think every girl was auditioning for this in America, so the odds were against me. So it was fearless in that I never thought about it. But then after I got it, I thought, “Oh my god, I’m about to go to another country for seven months. I am about to embark on this journey that I don’t even understand what it is. Like I can’t conceptualize this movie in my head; this is beyond my capacity.” So all of that started coming down on me after the fact, but I think it was a fearless move in that I never thought it would actually happen. 

WWW: Let’s talk fashion. Are you into it? Are you not?
BR: It’s funny that you should say that, because I went on a press tour and wore all these great designers, you know. So when I’m doing something like making the decision to work with a stylist and wear nice designers and not look like I normally look, I’m thinking, “God, everyone must think I’m just some giant fraud right now.” Because it’s so clearly obvious that I have no idea what I’m wearing, what I’m talking about, what I’m doing. I just learned how to pose on a red carpet like yesterday. Someone taught me how to do it. I was like, “No way, that’s how you do it, so cool!” It’s a complete game changer. I’m becoming more into it. Prior to this, I was just like—I’ve always tried to be into fashion, but I don’t really have an identity yet, and I think that comes with time or age. I mean, I’m almost 25, so I should really get it together. I’ve never really had an identity. One day I’ll decide to be hippie girl and wear the weirdest stuff in the world, and the next day I’m like sporty girl, and then androgynous. 

Credits: Tanya Taylor White Textured Kathy Dress ($825).

Photo:

Kat Borchart

WWW: What would you say your style is currently?
BR: Well currently it’s gym chic, because I just came back from the gym. Like I said, it sort of changes every day. I’m really into this sort of androgynous thing, though, but like the cool version, where it’s sleek. I wore something in The Longest Ride that I was obsessed with. It was this man suit, and everyone kept telling me that this should be my look. I am down with the look. I’m going to try and do more of that. It’s not flashy; it’s really understated but classic—I love it! See, I am into fashion. Who knew?

WWW: You work with an amazing stylist! How do two go about picking looks for events?
BR: We usually try and plan out two or three hours for a fitting, and we will just try on stuff and just pump through it. And I know Elizabeth [Stewart] is really specific about what designers she wants to have me wear, and I think that’s really nice, being conscious and not just throwing anything and everything on. It’s more strategic, and because of that I’ve opened relationships with brands like Dior. I’ve had the opportunity to wear some of their dresses recently, and I’m just obsessed! I think what Dior is doing right now is really cool. So yeah, we are really conscious about certain things in a fitting, but a lot of what I wear has to be tailored. Literally everything I wear has to be tailored. So that’s a huge part of it, just making sure I have someone there. We can pretty much make anything look nice or wearable as long as it’s a good piece, as long as it’s tailored. I think that’s the most important thing. 

WWW: What’s next for you this year?
BR: I am really looking forward to seeing how Cook turns out, a film I did with Eddie Murphy at the beginning of the year. It’s such a great story based off this true relationship that’s created. It’s a really interesting story, and I’m super-excited for that and to see where it goes, if it goes to festivals, and what that process is like. And then beyond that, it’s just trying to figure out what my next move is. I’m trying to be really careful. I don’t know what’s going to happen—it’s interesting. There are a lot of scripts out there; I don’t know which one works. 

Credits: Tanya Taylor White Textured Kathy Dress ($825).

Photographer: Kat Borchart
Hair: Christian Wood
Makeup: Lauren Andersen 
Stylist: Elisabeth Stewart 

Are you going to see the film Tomorrowland