Meet the new Carrie Bradshaw: AnnaSophia Robb steps into the Manolos for Sex and the City prequel
By Gill Pringle || August 23rd, 2013
If Sarah Jessica Parker’s risqué Sex and the City was one of the most iconic TV shows of the late 1990s and early 2000s, then the star of its spin-off series, The Carrie Diaries, admits it’s a struggle to fill those big shoes. “I mean really. My feet are ridiculously tiny. I’m practically still in a child’s-size shoe,” quips doll-sized AnnaSophia Robb, who finds it tough to emulate her predecessor’s shoe obsession when so few designers make them in her size five. “I’m just a little bit too small for adult shoes so we have to pad my shoes when I play Carrie. It’s terrible. I need to buy shoes in Asia!” says the 19-year-old who portrays a young Carrie Bradshaw as a high-schooler in the early 1980s.
Despite the fact the prequel has been renewed for a second season in the US (yet strangely not yet bought for the UK), Robb still doesn’t quite know if she has received Parker’s blessing: “I’ve only met her [Sarah Jessica Parker] once. Briefly,” she reveals. “Briefly. At a fashion show. It wasn’t anything personal. It was random like: ‘Hello nice to meet you.’ ‘You too.’”
Parker herself has shed little light on her thoughts on The Carrie Diaries, famously remarking that watching Robb portray a young version of herself in the show was “odd”. And, unlike Parker, Robb is no fashion horse: “I really don’t enjoy shopping, I find it overwhelming. I prefer to have someone else pick clothes for me and then I pick from that. Clothes shopping is so much work – like you have to take off all your clothes and put things on, and nothing ever fits quite right and then when you find something you really like, you always have to take it to a tailor and then you have to pay extra and wait a week until you can wear it. It’s a lot of work,” says the 5ft actress, who is still elegantly draped in Kate Spade and Jason Wu when we meet.
If Robb had a favoured genre then it would be the wise-beyond-her-years kid, a role she’s played effectively throughout the course of her career.
Just five when she began performing on stage at her local church in Colorado, she was later scouted by a talent agent leading to roles in Because of Winn-Dixie, Bridge to Terabithia, and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory with Johnny Depp.
Probably her most notable film to date is Soul Surfer, portraying real-life surfer Bethany Hamilton, who lost her left arm in a shark attack in Hawaii.
Today she plays the savvy daughter to Allison Janney’s boozing blabber-mouth of a mother in coming-of-age drama The Way Way Back.
“I think this story is very poignant for any teenager. We’ve all been there and everyone has felt like that: they’re isolated; they’re not connecting and trying to figure out where they are in life.
“For me, it happened after high school, working and coming home and being, ‘oh my gosh, none of my friends are home yet’, and feeling this sense of home without any of my friends and everything being different and being like, ‘oh God, I have no idea how to behave here’. So you’re home but everything has changed, and so it’s about being able to get through that and recognising that you can’t get through it alone – as this movie demonstrates,” says Robb, who joined fellow cast members Sam Rockwell and Toni Collette in filming The Way Way Back in the sleepy Massachusetts beach town where co-star Steve Carell spends his annual summer vacation; it being the only way the A-lister would agree to give up his treasured family time.
Filming The Carrie Diaries in New York has resulted in two major milestones for Robb: finally moving out of her parents’ Denver home and renting her own apartment in Manhattan, while also deferring her coveted place at prestigious Stanford University. “Its great. Its time. You get to a certain age where you’re like: ‘Alright! I’m out!’ There’s always a certain time you’ve gotta leave, you know?”
But Robb has always been a confident young woman. Aside from long months spent on movie sets for The Reaping, Jumper or Race to Witch Mountain, she has travelled extensively on her own ticket: “I visited Nicaragua with my local youth group when I was 16, and also I went to Paris with my best friend for six weeks on a summer study programme doing art classes and learning French. Just to be able to have that freedom in such an exotic city was wonderful. There were chaperones in the evening but during the day we were able to go off and do our own thing,” says this only child of an interior designer mother and architect father.
Unlike many coddled child actors, her parents made a point of enrolling Robb in a local public school. “Being an actor didn’t make me feel more special than anyone else. Even the most confident of us have felt like an outsider or insecure. I think that’s just the cycle of life; part of growing up, and I think that happens when you’re younger and it happens probably in your twenties a lot more than people would like to admit, and in your thirties and probably in your forties. You’re constantly growing and figuring out who you are and what you want in this world.”
At school she developed a thick skin to classmates’ taunts: “I don’t take anything too personally because I know they mean well and that I mean well, its not like I’m a bitch to everyone.
“I think its how you handle it. I never had any problems in high school. I had great friends and no one ever gave me a hard time and if they did I took it all in stride . When Soul Surfer came out, they had fun – but it is funny and it is weird. And that’s how it should be – people have a sense of humour.”
While it’s a popular myth that Facebook and social media are to blame for all the ills that beset today’s youth, including teen suicides and depression, Robb disagrees: “I think the problems will always be there. I just don’t think it was as talked about so much. I think it’s now just a bit more open but I don’t know if it’s gone up necessarily? Maybe depression has risen because there’s more pressure put on kids in school. But there should be. Work hard! Life isn’t easy, so study!
“I definitely think Facebook and technology has changed things but it’s simply a forward progression of life. Like in Eighties movies the dorks would hear about the parties that they weren’t invited to – but now you can see pictures of the things other people are doing and realise they’re not a part of them.”
If Robb comes across as older than her years, then she agrees: “Do I feel old? I do old things I guess – like sleep a lot and go out to dinner.”
‘The Way Way Back’ is released in the UK on 28 August
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