Interview

Catching Up With Mckenna Grace

 Lifetime’s THE BAD SEED RETURNS is the sequel to 2018’s THE BAD SEED, and 16-year-old Mckenna Grace reprised her role, executive-produced and co-wrote the film with her father, orthopedic surgeon Dr. Ross Burge. The flick premiered on Labor Day and is now streaming via Lifetime. Grace shared during the TCA press tour that she and her father conceived and wrote the script while under Covid-19 quarantine.

How was it to revisit Emma after all this time? “So rad. I love that because it’s sad [when] you shoot one of these films for like three, four months and then you never see any of these people again, or you get lucky and you work with them again. So, it’s nice to be able to have a little family on set that you can come back to. It’s familiar, and it’s pleasant to be able to have characters that you know inside and out. So, it’s great.”

Do you like playing dark characters like Emma? “I enjoy it. It’s fun, honestly. I don’t know what it is about it, but I always seem to gravitate toward these darker, scarier roles, and I appreciate getting these roles.”

How was it working with Patty McCormack, who is reprising her role as Dr. March and starred in the original The Bad Seed in 1956, for which she received an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actress? “When we shot the first one, Miss Patty was on set for a little minute and she taught me how to do the skip that she used to do in the old film, and gave me a Bad Seed rundown. Emma’s totally evil, and that’s the fun thing about her. She’s very planned out but unpredictable. It’s fun.”

How was it writing with your dad? “Right now, we have three films that we’ve been writing. We have a lot of stuff that we’re working on right now, so it’s cool. Whenever we get home from work and I’m at home, we both sit at the kitchen table and write together. It’s nice. We were just sitting over Covid, and we were like, ‘We should write something together. What could we write that we could realistically get made?’ Because scripts take forever to get made. And then, we were like, ‘Wait, what if we just wrote a BAD SEED sequel?’ ”

Do you personally think people are born evil or do they become that way? “I think that there are always going to be people in the world that bring down others for no reason…. I’m not speaking about Emma because Emma is a psychopath who murders people, so that is definitely evil. I’m more speaking to the mean girls, but I think that there are always going to be people that bring others down and I don’t know why. It wouldn’t be for me to understand, because I don’t think that way, so I wouldn’t be able to understand it. But, I feel like there’s always something going on in other people’s lives. I don’t think that I would walk into a room and immediately suss [them] out and be like, ‘Hey, you’re the mean [one] here. I see right through [you], mister.’ ”

What do you like to do to prepare for playing a character? “I very specifically do character journals. There are some characters that I get really into and do a lot of character work for some of my upcoming things that I’m working on. I’m really getting into it. Though, for Emma, I never wrote in a journal, which is interesting. I made her a playlist, and that was about it. I was scripting it. It wasn’t just a character that I was being given to play but it was something that I got to write and really explore and get to do what I wanted with it. It wasn’t my interpretation of someone else’s writing or character. It was me being able to act out the scenes as I had envisioned them, which is honestly so cool to me.”

How fun was it for you to wear so many hats on this project? “It was really cool to be able to write for myself, because I know myself and the way that I act and the way that I do things. [It was] the best, and so it was really great and easy to be able to write dialogue and stuff. It was also great to be able to be there on the day and to be able to help change things if they felt unnatural or adjust dialogue and be able to talk with the other girls and people that were in this film, to be able to be, like, ‘What feels more natural to you?’ I would message some of the other teens that were in this film, and I’d be like, ‘Do you want to make a board, like a Pinterest board, for your character or something for the vibe so that I can show it to wardrobe or something, just so that we get a vibe of what you’d actually like?’ For me, it’s easy. It’s easier writing a character if [you have] someone in mind for it. I’m writing a lot right now, and I know who I would specifically want to play each character, and that makes it a lot easier to be able to write it.”

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