Darby Camp on working with Reese Witherspoon and playing Emily Elizabeth in the new Clifford film

Darby Camp is an actress who can be seen in The Christmas Chronicles and The Christmas Chronicles: Part Two, Big Little Lies, and the upcoming film Clifford the Big Red Dog. Clifford the Big Red Dog is an American fantasy comedy based on the beloved children’s books and will premiere on September 17th. Clifford Darby portrays the character of Emily Elizabeth. YEM was able to to speak with Darby about what drew her to becoming an actress, the Clifford books and PBS show, and her breakout role on Big Little Lies.

Young Entertainment Mag: What drew you to become an actor? Since you started acting alongside your mother, is acting something she inspired you to pursue?

Darby Camp: It just came naturally as something to do with my mom… my sister, too, but she started playing basketball and got into other hobbies but I stuck with it and have enjoyed it. I always loved playing make believe, traveling and meeting new friends, so it worked out for me!

YEM: Was there a big difference between starring in The Christmas Chronicles and The Christmas Chronicles: Part Two? How did you get back into character for the sequel?

Darby: I already have a lot in common with Kate, so it’s not much of a stretch for me to play her. Going back to the sequel was so much fun because it was like going back to be with family with a few new faces.

YEM: In The Christmas Chronicles, your character Kate is trying to keep the Christmas spirit alive. What’s Kate’s journey in The Christmas Chronicles: Part Two?

Darby: Kate’s journey is more interpersonal in the sequel. It’s kinda like she’s feeling how Teddy felt in the first one. She is the one who has the biggest character arch going from bitterness and loss to acceptance and joy. 

 YEM: In the sequel Santa and Mrs. Claus reconnect with an estranged family member. How does Kate also have to come to terms with her new family dynamic?

Darby: Kate is reluctant to accept her mom’s new boyfriend and his son in the beginning of the movie because she feels neglected and that her father will be forgotten, but as they spend time with the Clauses, Kate sees other perspectives and realizes the importance of family and recognizes unconditional love. She’s also realizes her selfishness and asks forgiveness. She eventually sees the goodness in her new potential family members.

YEM: Kate’s a little older this time around when she travels to the North Pole. Do you think believing in the Christmas spirit is something for everyone of all ages, not just children? How does Kate handle with getting older? What was it like telling a Christmas story that involves Mrs. Claus? How was it working with Goldie Hawn?

Darby: Absolutely! Kate is a true believer and always will be!  The alternative is pretty lame, like how she felt in the beginning of the movie. I think she realized how much better her life is when she’s not just focusing on herself and what bums her out. But, I mean, she is a teenager and that is what we do sometimes! We just can’t stay in that space too long, right? There is a sort of sadness when growing up and missing the kid in yourself that totally freaks out for hours over a new Lego set and a fresh set of crayons and coloring books. I kinda miss little Darby sometimes but I’m loving being a teenager, too!  Mrs. Claus and Goldie Haven are kinda like the same. I’m not sure where one ends and the other begins! Mrs. Goldie’s and her version of Mrs. Claus are both nurturing, creative, hospitable, silly, fun and wise, and of course beautiful and stylish! We both love dogs, too, so we connected right away!

YEM: One of your upcoming projects is Clifford the Big Red Dog. Did you grow up with the Clifford books or PBS show?

Darby: My mom had a Clifford collection as a child so I would read those books or they would be read to me at my MawMaw’s house and I spend a lot of time over there with her. She was a teacher and we played school together a lot. Reading was always a big deal for her. I don’t remember the PBS show, but now I have older friends singing the intro song to me all the time, so of course I had to look them up!  

YEM: Can you talk about your character on Clifford and what are you most looking forward to?

Darby: Emily Elizabeth starts out a bit of a loner, feeling sad and neglected, but she’s an animal lover with optimism and wit and eventually, having Clifford, she grows to find her voice and speaks up for her beliefs.

YEM: Your breakout role was Big Little Lies. What was it like working on a big show at such a young age? What kind of insight did you get from working with Reese Witherspoon?

Darby: I didn’t really know it was that big of deal because I didn’t know what HBO was, or who the stars were, but my parents talked a lot about what a huge deal it was so I just figured “COOL!” I just really loved having young friends to work with!  Working with Mrs. Reese was awesome! She was always really nice to me and always made sure I was comfortable, but it wasn’t until I was older that I realized I was really getting an education watching these actors work and listening to how they interact with directors and crew members. I remember Mrs. Reese always encouraging me to speak up if I had something relevant to share. One time I had a fly in my glass and she was like, “go ahead, let them know, they will want to make that right, you can tell them.” Looking back, I also really appreciate what Jean-Marc Valle did for me. He made me feel like an actor who happened to be young…all of us. Now i see that sometimes people talk to you like you’ve never done this before and you’re just a silly kid. It makes me feel like they don’t believe I’ll do a good job. I now know BLL was a huge gift. Everyone was amazing. That was a special project I know would be hard to match. 

 YEM: What was one of the hardest scenes to shoot on Big Little Lies and how did you overcome it?

Darby: The piano scenes because I didn’t know how to play piano! But they got me a teacher and I eventually felt confident with it. The second season had a piano scene that was cut, but the day we shot it, they wouldn’t let me rehearse because they wanted the mom’s to react like it’s the first time they heard it. I was so nervous because it had been like 2 weeks since I’d been in front of a piano. Oh, and i had to sing, too, and Keith Urban, (who was an American idol judge) was there and watching and listening! I was so nervous but he told me it was great! 

 YEM: Was there any specific skill that you got (that you can share) from working on Big Little Lies that you brought to The Christmas Chronicles 1 or 2?

Darby: Overall professionalism and confidence to give appropriate input or ask questions

YEM: Your character, Chloe is a major music buff. What are some tracks you picked up from Chloe?

Darby: I am definitely a Janis Joplin and David Bowie fan now. My favorite band is Queen but I’m pretty sure that influence came from my dad. He exposed me to lots of music and superheroes at an early age and we still obsess over good tunes comic books together!

YEM: How have you been keeping your craft alive during these hard times?

Darby: If you count TikTok, yes! Haha! My friends and I love making those! I was given the advice from a producer to watch lots of movies, i have done a lot of that! Some as old as SOME LIKE IT HOT but mostly 90s flicks I’ve heard people mention.  I’ve also spent a lot of time painting and skateboarding these days.

See Darby Camp in Clifford the Big Red Dog on September 17th!