Kaitlyn Dever Reflects On Breakout Roles In ‘Last Man Standing’ And Film

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At just 16, Kaitlyn Dever has a resume that most actresses in their late 20s would only dream to have. You may have caught her as a goody two-shoes on Bad Teacher starring Cameron Diaz, and even getting direction by Clint Eastwood during her time on J. Edgar, but these days audiences can now see Dever working alongside Tim Allen and Nancy Travis on the ABC hit Last Man Standing.

Playing the sports playing “tomboy” in a family of three daughters, Dever recently let me in on what it’s been like balancing work and school, how the cast surprised her during a Christmas party, and what it’s been like to work with the Home Improvement vet. It looks like both television and film will be in Dever’s future, and begging her parents about her goals are finally paying off!

You have an impressive resume for such a young age. When did you know you wanted to start acting?
KAITLYN DEVER: I was probably like, six. My parents tell me stories all the time. My parents told me that I came to them one day crying. I had already asked them if I can do acting classes and be an actress so many times, and they just thought I would quit because I quit gymnastics and ballet and all of that stuff. I quit everything I did because I didn’t want to do it. I wanted to do acting, but they thought I would just quit that too. They tell me that I came to them one day crying and saying that they weren’t doing enough for my dream [laughs] and I’m going to get a phone book and call an agency right now. So that’s when they sort of realized, ‘Oh, maybe we should put her in some kind of acting class.’

Well, that persistence has definitely paid off! How is it balancing schoolwork and being on set of Last Man Standing?
It’s really kind of easy because I do school on set with my studio teacher, and I do all of this homework, and then I turn in the homework into – it’s sort of a homeschool. It’s independent studies where I just have to go two hours a week, and I turn in my homework and take test at the actual school, and then she gives me new homework that I work on with my studio teacher. And when I’m on set, during rehearsals and stuff, it’s really easy because in a regular episode, I’m usually in five scenes. When I’m done rehearsing a scene, I’ll go back up to my schoolroom and I’ll keep doing whatever – Algebra II – which I’m hating right now. I hate it so much!

I’m with you! Playing Eve Baxter must be a lot more fun. Are you able to relate to your character at all?
I love playing her just because the writers write this hilarious stuff for her, and amazing lines. So, I love doing that and making people laugh. And I think I relate to her in the way that she has such a dry sense of humor, and I have a very dry sense of humor in real life too. She’s a really fun character. She’s really into sports and if you ask her any question about sports, she will know it. But I know nothing about sports. I know nothing, actually [laughs], zero.

What’s been some of your favorite moments on set?
We have so many moments on set. It’s really hard to keep track of each one, because every time we go to shoot or any time we go to rehearsals, I’m constantly laughing. Tim [Allen] is constantly making me laugh. But it was really, really cool because we went on a hiatus and we were throwing this Christmas party right after the show…I show up to the party – my parents stalled me into going 20 minutes late because they had something planned, I guess – and I walk in and everyone is singing happy birthday to me and they have this big Sweet 16 cake! And the whole cast and the crew was standing there singing happy birthday. I was so surprised! I was so happy because I thought it was too early to celebrate my birthday, but it was really, really cool! I thought it was awesome and the cake was so pretty!

It seems like such a great environment on set. You’ve also been spotted on a lot of film sets too! What was it like working on J. Edgar with Leonardo DiCaprio?
I didn’t ever meet Leonardo DiCaprio, but I met Clint Eastwood, which was just as good. And I worked with him, and he was awesome. He’s so cool. He gets scenes done in like, one or two takes, and then he’s done and he moves on.

You’ve also done some comedy in Bad Teacher with Cameron Diaz.
Cameron Diaz was just – she was amazing. She was just the coolest person because she was just down to earth and she’s so funny. She’s very, very sweet and very nice, and it was amazing to get to work with her.

What do you like to do on your downtime?
What I do off set…I hang out with my friends. I love shopping. I go shopping a lot. I also have played guitar for about eight years. I’ve played guitars since second grade, and actually I just did a few covers of songs and I’ll be releasing them for the first time on YouTube soon. I did them with my sister.

It would be a plus if you got to translate that on film in the future.
Yeah, yeah! I would love to do that. In my favorite movie, Walk The Line, Joaquin Phoenix got to sing and play guitar in that movie. Have you ever seen it? That’s my favorite movie of all-time! It has music in it, but it’s not a musical, which I love. It’s a great, amazing film, and Joaquin Phoenix is just, [sighs].

You never know! You’re in the right field for it.
I know! I hope that happens someday.

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