Interview: Shannon Purser

From the interview archives.


Interviewed & Edited By: Jaimee Jakobczak IG: @ThisIsJaimee

Shannon Purser made her acting debut as Barb in Netflix’s Stranger Things and quickly became a fan favourite and a bit of a viral phenomenon. Coming up she’ll be appearing in Wish Upon alongside  Joey King and has landed her first lead role starring in the upcoming Sierra Burgess is a Loser. Shannon took some time to discuss her recent projects with VULKAN, read on below!

You made your acting debut in Stranger Things as fan-favourite Barb, and the series itself quickly gained attention and almost a cult-like appreciation worldwide. Did you think the series would take off as well as it did when you signed on?

I think we all knew we had something special. I remember reading the scripts and being so blown away by the quality of the writing. Once we got started it became pretty clear to me that everybody had been cast perfectly and that the show would be great, no matter how many people watched it. I don’t think any of us expected to the show to become the phenomenon it did, though.

I think I’ve seen more memes about Barb than any other character from the show at this point; was it weird seeing yourself all over the internet?

Absolutely! I had no idea that people would even remember Barb, much less care about her. It was totally overwhelming, in the best way possible, and also incredibly encouraging to me to discover how many people had resonated with my character. 

Were you a big sci-fi fan before filming? What’s your favourite film from the genre?

I do love science fiction! I definitely can’t pick one, so I’ll give you a few: Alien, Jurassic Park, The Thing, Interstellar, and Arrival.

Did you know Barb was to be killed off when you auditioned for the role? What were you feeling on set on your last day of filming?

I had no idea what part Barb would play in the story. I was definitely a bit sad when I found out that she was going to die, but there are upsides. I got an awesome death scene, which was what I did on my last day of filming. I just remember being so overwhelmingly thankful and I still am. I owe so much to the Duffers and everyone at Netflix for giving me that opportunity. Acting is my dream and I had pretty much the best first job ever. 

What will you miss most about the Stranger Things experience? Do you intend on watching the show as it progresses?

Even if I hadn’t been on the show, I would have adored Stranger Things and I’m absolutely going to be following along as it progresses! I’m just as excited as everyone else to see what happens! I miss the people, especially, and hopefully I’ll be able to work with them again someday.

You’ve landed your first leading film role, as well, congrats! Can you tell us a bit about Sierra Burgess is a Loser and what attracted you to the role?7

Sierra Burgess is a Loser
is my pride and joy. It’s a charming, authentic story about a girl in high school who gets caught up in an elaborate lie to keep a boy’s attention and learns a lot of really important lessons along the way. The movie is sweet and genuine in a way that reminds me of John Hughes’ movies but also funny and awkward – just like high school. The script was really just great. Sierra grows so much as a human being during the movie and I feel so lucky to have gotten to portray that. I think meeting our director, Ian Samuels, is what really made me fall in love with the project. He’s a wonderful man with a really beautiful vision of the world. I’d gladly be in every movie he makes. 

I’m a big fan of Ben Falcone and Melissa McCarthy so I was thrilled to see you’ll be appearing in Life of the Party. Can you tell us a bit about that role and your experience on set?

My experience on Life of the Party was wonderful! I actually have a pretty small part but I got to act alongside Melissa and be directed by Ben, which was such a dream. They’re both incredibly kind and talented. Melissa is basically the queen of comedy and I remember just being totally in awe of her. We kind of just ad libbed the whole thing and I had so much fun. 

Tell us a little about Wish Upon?

Wish Upon is a horror movie about Clare Shannon (Joey King) who finds a magic box that grants her seven wishes. However, every wish comes with a terrible, bloody price and her friends (Sydney Park and I) watch her begin to spiral into darkness as she continues to make wishes. We had a really amazing time making this movie and got very close in the short amount of time we had together! I hope everyone enjoys it!

What’s your dream role?

One of my favorite books of all time is Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell. It’s an incredible story about two star crossed teens in 80’s Omaha who fall in love and hold each other up as they deal with hard circumstances. I’m hoping that the right people will take the opportunity to create what could be a beautiful film and if they do, I would love to be Eleanor. 

What producers or directors are you hopeful to work with in the future?

There are really so many people I would love to work with. I love Wes Anderson, Steven Spielberg, Martin Scorsese, Christopher Nolan, Sian Heder, Guillermo Del Toro and so many more. 

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