Lexi Simonsen makes her feature acting debut opposite Ryan Philippe in the action thriller The 2nd. During our conversation she talked about learning on the job from Philippe and Jack Griffo, pursuing other endeavors, and why The Devil Wears Prada is one of her favorite features.
Is this your first feature film role? If so, how were you able to get over those nerves?
This was my first feature, and honestly I didn’t have a lot of time to be nervous. I auditioned for this a week before we started filming and I got the call that I booked it the night before.
It was 7 pm and the producer said “Hey we love you.” I had pink hair at the time and they were like “You can’t have pink hair so we need you to get rid of that and we need you on set by tomorrow at 8 am.”
I was on my way home taking a road trip with a really good friend from Colorado to L.A. I wasn’t going to be home for another four hours. I really didn’t have time to be nervous at all.
It was really great. I got to jump right in and I didn’t have to really let it sink in yet. It didn’t sink in that I was doing it until a week into the project.
What are the main things you learned from The 2nd?
Number one – that I wanted to do this. It was my first one and I wasn’t repped yet. I want to do this (acting) all the time.
I was able to get a website put together and a little reel and I started self submitting which is how I got to my team now who I love so much.
Other than that, I (learned) how important collaboration is especially on a feature. I had done shorter student films that were maybe like three to seven days. There’s just nothing compared to the vast compression of collaboration that is feature film, especially when it’s low budget (filmmaking).
It was really awesome to see everyone’s there because they want to be there. They want to work hard to make this really great thing. Just how important it is to respect everybody that you’re working with and make sure you are thanking people and showing up on time and your part. Showing up prepared so you can make (the film) really great.
What’s the key to learning how to fence? (note – Simonsen has a fencing scene opposite Jack Griffo and an action section towards the end)
Thank you. I grew up a dancer so I had a little bit of physicality in my body already and then the way that I was brought onto the project is that my stage combat teacher at my college referred me. They hadn’t found a lead and they were like “Hey this girl knows how to do this stuff and she’s great so maybe try her out.”
That is kind of how I got into it. I knew a little bit about fencing prior and just stage combat in general. That really helped the process go a lot smoother for all of us.
What was it like to have Ryan Philippe and Jack Griffo by your side?
It was so great. Jack and I hit it off right away and he’s just a great person to work with in general. He’s a very supportive scene partner and a very giving person. He was helping me if I had questions. I knew I could ask him.
Ryan was awesome because he was there to work. With indie filmmaking it’s a little bit more chill and it was fun and relaxed and you get to know everyone. At the same time, he was like “No we’re making this. We’re working on hard on this. We’re not here to joke around and screw off all the time.”
So that was really great to observe someone who really took what they did seriously and it raised the standards and stakes for everyone which helped a lot. It’s a high stakes movie and so it was really great to get to observe these working actors. It was really great to learn alongside them.
I checked out your Instagram profile and it seems you love being a content creator.
Yeah. I’ve always just kind of done what I loved and done what I’ve wanted. And so I started my food thing and I was doing some food videos for a while because I love food. The only other thing in the world that I could really, really do and be able to put (all my energy) to is the culinary arts. I love cooking.
That was something that I wanted to put in my life. I wanted to make fun videos and I got to edit videos and do stuff on my own. That was fun.
My mom is a seamstress and I just recently learned how to sew so that was something that I (thought) “Cool, I’ll do this. I’ll have fun with this for a little bit.”
Whether or not I’ll continue – I mean, I don’t have any aspirations to (have) a blue check mark or be Insta-famous or anything like that. It’s just not something that’s ever really driven me success wise.
I like to do things I like to do and I like to have fun doing them. I’ll do this here, and do this there. If I continue, great. If not, I’ll continue to focus on acting and focus on the work.
Where did that drive for you to come out to California (she moved to Los Angeles at 17 from Kansas)?
I always knew I was going to be out in L.A. Being a dancer it was either New York or L.A. and I’m definitely an L.A. girl. I like the weather here. I just always wanted that.
That was always instilled in me – that drive that there is more to be found. There is more life to be lived. Whether it’s here or there, it doesn’t matter.
One of my mentors told me that the whole point for this industry is just waiting for everyone else to go home. So I think it’s that instillment of you just got to keep going and you’ve just got to stick around and keep your head down. Eventually it’s going to work out.
Can you name one of your favorite movies and what makes it a unique one for you?
This is so silly but the the first movie that I fell in love with was The Devil Wears Prada. Not going to lie. Meryl Streep, Stanley Tucci and Anne Hathaway in that movie . . . I still watch that movie so often and I think it’s just I love all of the different materials in it all.
I love Meryl Streep’s stillness and her forwardness. Watching that, now especially as an actor, it shows that to be mean and be assertive you don’t have to be loud and screaming and crazy.
To be shy and silly you don’t have to be quiet and small. And I think that film in general, it’s just a good film to watch. It’s a feel good movie. It also is just a great character study movie.
It’s like a reset of “those are really great people and they’re doing really great things” and I love watching them.
Thank you Lexi and continued success.
Thank you Greg and have a good one.
The 2nd is now available on Digital and On Demand.