The first day I met Troy and Daniel was when we went out on the fishing boat prior to filming. It was a great bonding experience. It’s like when you’re learning a language—until you go and live in the country, you don’t really learn the nuances. When I worked with Troy, Marlee, and Daniel, I was always watching the little things they did. Doing a scene with every single one of them was like a masterclass. I learned so much—not just ASL, but how to internalize a range of emotions. We were filming in Gloucester, Massachusetts, a tiny fishing town, so we were kind of on our own. Marlee’s an amazing cook so on the weekends she would invite Troy, Daniel, and me over for dinner. We’d watch football and play games. I’ve honestly never felt so close to castmates before.
How do you hope audiences will react once the film comes out this summer?
CODA is a strong example of representation done right. Deaf actors play deaf characters who are fully realized and not defined solely by being deaf. That’s different to see on screen and I hope that people watch the film and want to learn more about this amazing language. Some of my friends who’ve watched the film are suddenly like, “There’s this deaf woman that works at the shop. How do you sign this? I want to be able to communicate with her.” CODA is also a feel-good crowd-pleaser, so I hope people enjoy it and that, in Hollywood, people can make films like this more often.
Up next, will we see you in Netflix’s Locke & Key and the big-screen adaptation of Cat Person?
We filmed seasons two and three of Locke & Key back-to-back, so I’m deep in Season 3 at the moment. There are lots of twists and turns! Then, I have the film to do afterwards in New York. I can’t say much, but I’m super excited. It’s going to be a challenge.
How have you spent the past year and a half when you haven’t been working?
I’d been working for a year, then lockdown hit and it forced me to go home. I hadn’t seen my family in a while and I’m really close with them, so it was nice to be in one place. We just had movie nights and dinners. I carried on with ASL lessons, watched lots of TV—Normal People, How to Get Away with Murder, Euphoria—and played guitar.”
Do you have plans to keep singing? It would be great to see you in a musical.
I love singing and I’ll continue for sure. I did a musical when I was about eight, but I can’t remember much about it. [Laughs.] I’d love to do one. West End, call me!
CODA will be in theaters and on Apple TV+ from August 13, 2021.