IF Interview: Cailey Fleming On First Lead Feature Role, Working With Ryan Reynolds, And More (Exclusive)

IF Interview: Cailey Fleming On First Lead Feature Role, Working With Ryan Reynolds, And More (Exclusive)

The Walking Dead star Cailey Fleming talks to us about her role in IF, John Krasinski's new family adventure revolving around everyone's imaginary friends, known as IFs. Check out what she told us here...

By JoshWilding - Jun 18, 2024 12:06 PM EST
Filed Under: Other

Starring Cailey Fleming, Ryan Reynolds, and John Krasinski, IF is a heartwarming and hilarious tale about a girl who discovers that she can see everyone's imaginary friends, known as IFs. She embarks on a magical journey to reconnect forgotten IFs with their kids, before they disappear.

Perfect for the whole family, the movie is written and directed by Krasinski and also features a stellar voice cast including Phoebe Waller-Bridge, Steve Carell, and the late Louis Gossett Jr.

IF arrives to buy or rent on Digital on June 18 from Paramount Home Entertainment and debuts on 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray and DVD on August 13. To celebrate its release, we recently sat down with Cailey to learn about how she approached the role of Bea and what she learned by sharing the screen with Krasinski, Reynolds, and more. 

The Walking Dead and Loki star also discusses the challenges of using her own imagination to picture the IFs on set, her favourite scene, and which of the movie's many cameos is her favourite. 

Cailey is a standout in this fun family adventure and you can check out our full interview with this rising star below. 

This movie is all about imaginary characters, but they’re brought to life with visual effects. What was it like to have to rely so much on your imagination on set?

Honestly, I was very worried about that when we started preparing to shoot. I didn’t know what to expect. I kind of thought there would maybe just be pieces of tape or something because I didn’t know. Thankfully, John didn’t want that for us and did everything practically. We always had something to look at and it was very rarely a tennis ball or something. For the IFs that were in the movie a lot, we had actors, sometimes we had puppets, stuffed animals, or cardboard cutouts. Even though we still had to use our imagination, we didn’t have to use it that much which really helps. 

You mentioned John and he’s directing this movie and playing your dad. How was it having those different dynamics with him as an actor and filmmaker?

Well, it was really cool to see how he worked because I had never worked with anyone who had directed themselves before. I was really interested to see how that was going to work just because I had no idea. John is just the best director ever. I mean, this was literally my dream project and I think it would have been a whole lot different if he wasn’t the man in charge. He’s just the best. He’s so magical, so dedicated to what he does, and I just feel very lucky that I got to work with him. As far as him playing my dad, we shot everything in order apart from me and John who did all of our stuff last. That was his decision. I guess he wanted us to bond over time shooting so all of our stuff would be very real. And it worked! I think he’s a genius and one of the hardest-working people that I know. 

I loved those scenes between the two of you and you also worked with Ryan Reynolds a lot. He’s known for having fun on set and improvising, so how did you find bouncing off him as the straight man to his comedic character?

Yeah, that was probably the biggest struggle of the movie: trying not to laugh all the time. I think that’s a good problem to have. I don’t know how people do it, honestly. I barely pulled myself together and I don’t know how people share the screen with Ryan and not laugh 24/7 because that’s what I did. He was very gracious with me. Me laughing at him all the time gets old after a little while but I can’t help it [Laughs]. He’s just so funny. One of my favourite things we did was the IF interviews. That was all him just throwing out stuff. I tried to play off him but don’t think I ever did; I just tried to keep a straight face.

Fiona Shaw is an icon of the screen and is playing your grandmother. You have some great scenes together so did you learn a lot from here and was that a fun process? 

Me and Fiona had the best time. She’s just so brilliant. She’s lovely [Laughs] and, I don’t know, so amazing. I don’t think I’ve ever met anyone like her. Her energy is infectious. Anytime Fiona is on set, everyone is just so happy and smiley. I taught her how to play Wordle so we did that a lot between takes. I still talk to her too. She’s so amazing and very dedicated as well. She always got very into her character so I liked to watch her and see what ideas she’d throw out to John. Most of the time they worked obviously because the actors know their characters.

You mentioned having people on set playing the IFs, but were you shown the final designs before shooting to help with your performance?

Yeah, John showed me as much as he could. I knew what most of them would look like. We had this thing, I can’t remember what it was called, but it was a VFX thing and anytime he’d get an update, he’d show it to me. I got to see Blue in the making and Blossom in the making, but there were a few IFs I didn’t see and didn’t hear so when I watched the movie for the first time, it was a nice surprise. 

We see so many of the IFs during your and Ryan’s memorable dance sequence in the film. What was it like shooting that? It must have been a crazy few days on set?

That was probably my favourite scene to shoot. I’ve always wanted to dance in a movie because I’ve been dancing since I was 1. John didn’t know that, though, so originally when he wrote it, it was going to be the IFs dancing for Bea. But then he found out I could dance so he put me in it and my dream came true and I think it turned out pretty well if I do say so myself. I think we did it for two or three days and it was so much fun. Our choreographer was Mandy Moore, and she’s incredible and it was an honour to work with her. Every time that scene starts, I have a smile on my face for however long it lasts.

Bea is awesome and I know this was your first movie as a lead. How did it feel to not only be the lead, but to do so with such a great character? 

I don’t know! I just feel very honoured. I was very nervous about shooting because I had never done a lead role before but I was also just so excited because this was literally my dream project. I was nervous, I was excited, but as soon as we started shooting, I had so much fun. We did it for three months and every single day, I sat on my bed and was ready to go no matter how early it was because I’m not a morning person! But I was for IF. No doubt about it. I was just so excited to get to set every day and see what we were going to get into that day, so it was definitely the most magical experience I’ve ever had and probably the most fun I’ve ever had shooting.

Part of the fun for me as an audience member was all those cameos with the different actors playing the IFs. Did you have any favourites when you sat down to watch the movie?

Oh geez, that’s hard! I loved Brad Pitt as Keith. That was just freaking genius, everybody loves that. I don’t know, that’s hard. My favourite IF is Lewis. He’s like my favourite but I have a new favourite every time I watch it if that makes any sense. Most recently, it would probably be the unicorn who was Emily [Blunt] because she’s so cute and nervous. 

I can see you have Blue behind you, and he’s such a fun character played by Steve Carrell. I’m guessing you two didn’t get to work on set, but how much did you enjoy seeing him do his thing in the movie? You both had an awesome dynamic.

Thank you! Blue was one of my favourite characters. I don’t know, I just smile every time he comes on camera. He’s just so cute. I think Steve was perfect. I got to meet him before the movie came out as we were doing ADR. I was waiting in the lobby and John texted me and was like, ‘Just give me a second, we’re finishing up with Steve.’ I said, ‘Oh my God, hello? I watch him on TV every day because The Office is my favourite show!’ I had heard his voice as Blue and I was so excited so I got to meet Steve during my ADR session and got to catch the last 15 minutes of his session. I thought I was just going to laugh my butt off while he was doing his thing, but I started weeping just because [Laughs] he’s so good. I think voice work is so hard. I wouldn’t know, but I feel like it would be but he’s so perfect as Blue and so good at what he does. He’s so talented. 

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ObserverIO
ObserverIO - 6/18/2024, 1:16 PM
This movie was alright. I know it got some negative reception for being meh, but I thought it was nice. It's a kind of heart-warming Christmas movie.

That whole moment when Bea's grandmother was dancing in her apartment was beautiful. That a damn good day at the office (or days if it was) for John Krasinski.

It was cinema. Genuinely.
User Comment Image
AlexGSpeaks
AlexGSpeaks - 6/18/2024, 2:36 PM
She was great in The Walking Dead. Had better screen presence than some of the older actors even. Hope she has a long career ahead of her.
DocSpock
DocSpock - 6/18/2024, 2:50 PM

She was very good in TWD.

I wish best of luck for this young lady and hope she avoids the pitfalls that plague so many young actors.

ObserverIO
ObserverIO - 6/18/2024, 3:40 PM
@DocSpock - Yeah, stay off the smack kid! Serious.
NateBest
NateBest - 6/18/2024, 4:04 PM
Saw this last week with the wife and kids. It was *not* what we expected, but we really liked it!
dragon316
dragon316 - 6/18/2024, 10:13 PM
Enjoyed movie trailer is different what I expected from movie
NinnesMBC
NinnesMBC - 6/19/2024, 1:40 AM
Cool interview, IF turned out to be unxpectedly heart-warming and at times emotional due to the performances and that theme song from the OST.

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