A truly gifted young lady, Alison has showed her acting attributes in the most complex dramatic roles in movies like 2002's "White Oleander", 2003's "Matchstick Men" and 2004's "Chronicles of Riddick." As a child, Lohman performed in her hometown Palm Springs at musical theatres. Lohman turned down a scholarship to N.Y.U. in favor of an acting career in Hollywood. She landed her film debut in the thriller The Thirteenth Floor at the age of 20 and soon was offered a role on the WB family drama Safe Harbor. Along with appearances in a couple of independent film releases, she continued working in television on the Fox prime-time soap opera Pasadena. However, her role as Michelle Pfeiffer's daughter, Astrid, in 2002's White Oleander marked her first big break. Alison Marion Lohman was born on September 18, 1979, in Palm Springs, California, USA. She grew up in a family with no showbiz connections but she always wanted to perform. By age 9 she had landed her first professional, theatrical role playing Gretyl in "The Sound of Music" at Palm Desert's McCallum Theater. At 11, Alison won the Desert Theater League's award for "Most Outstanding Actress in a Musical" for the title role in "Annie" and by age 17 she had appeared in 12 different productions. An accomplished singer, she performed as a featured solo vocalist for Frank Sinatra, Bob Hope and the Desert Symphony. As a senior in high school, Alison was an awardee of the National Foundation of the Advancement of the Arts. The offer of a scholarship to NYU's Tisch School soon followed, but instead she moved to Los Angeles to pursue a career in film. She attended a session of the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts in London. Alison Lohman has been living in London for the past few months, performing in Kenneth Lonergan's play This Is Our Youth.
More fun facts about Alison Lohman
Height 5' 2" (1.57 m)
She played a older teen pretending to be a 14 year old girl in Matchstick Men. In real life she was 22-23 at the time (She had a birthday midway through shooting).
Had a small role in Kevin Costner's 'Dragonfly' as a cancer patient, though her scenes were cut
Since she shaved her head for the role she had to wear wigs throughout her next movie 'White Oleander'.
She studied acting, ballet, dance, and eventually won awards and scholarships for her talent.
She's a natural blonde.
Her personal quotes:
''I can cry on cue to get out of a traffic ticket. That's happened at least three times.''
"My first film was Kraa! The Sea Monster. I played a telepathic girl who could communicate with the monster. I got so into the character and tried to take the plot so seriously. There was absolutely nothing for me to take seriously!"
Alison Lohman isn't sure she wants to be an actor
Someone should tell her it was already too late for indecision once she wowed audiences with her powerful portrayals of Michelle Pfeiffer's troubled daughter in White Oleander and the leading lady on Fox's Pasadena.
"Acting always seemed like an odd choice for someone as shy as I am," says the 23-year-old, who has been doing community theater and singing at parties since she was 10. "I don't really start conversations with strangers. I am a big homebody. But I get so excited about bringing a character to life and imagining what their world is like that I forget to be nervous. I guess I hide behind a role."
She won't be able to hide for long: She has several high-profile films--including Big Fish, with Ewan McGregor, and Matchstick Men, with Nicolas Cage and Ridley Scott--in the pipeline. "I can't believe the caliber of work I get," she says. "I don't know why these directors trust me with these intense, wonderful parts. I don't even think I'm that good."
Her modesty is as fresh in screenland as her pixie-cute looks, sensitive eyes and chipmunk cheeks.
Lohman's future is looking even brighter and busier, which leaves her less time to travel (last trip: Amsterdam over Christmas), cook (she likes to experiment with meat loaf, "because you can put in so many ingredients and it's still edible") and take classes. "I don't know if I'm ever going to get a degree; it's more about constant learning. I like lectures. I like teachers. I like reading. Basically, I'm a big nerd."
A nerd who shreds some serious powder on her snowboard, that is. "You fall down a lot in the beginning. But the more you do it, the better you get. It is the greatest feeling to surrender to what you fear the most. I guess it sums up the way I feel about acting, too."
Ewan McGregor and Alison Lohman Pair Up on Screen in "Big Fish"
Ewan McGregor and Alison Lohman play the younger versions of Albert Finney and Jessica Lange in the fantasy/drama “Big Fish,” directed by Tim Burton and based on the Daniel Wallace novel, “Big Fish: A Story of Mythic Proportions.”
The filmmakers were inspired to cast Ewan McGregor and Albert Finney as Edward Bloom at different ages after seeing a photo of McGregor and Finney side by side at the same age. Producer Bruce Cohen recalls, "There it was, the same smile, the same dimple, the same sparkle in the eyes. They looked eerily and brilliantly alike."
On casting Alison Lohman and Jessica Lange to play Sandra, producer Dan Jinks feels fortune smiled on the production twice. "Who could wish for two better actors to play Sandra, and who could deny the similarities - the cheek bones, the smile, the same feminine physicality."
What do you think of two British actors playing an American?
EWAN McGREGOR: I think we're all players and that we should get to play whatever. I didn't question that it was two British people playing an American guy. To be in a film with Albert Finney at all would be a huge honor, but to get to play him was insane, in my thinking. Although we didn't get to act together, it was such a beautiful experience getting to know him because he is a diamond. He's a lovely man.
Can you remember the moment when you began to think of your parents as people, not just parents?
ALISON LOHMAN: I think it's just gradual but you don't really notice it. For me there wasn't one big moment. You kind of change and grow together, and things change. I don't know.
How tough was getting the accent down?
EWAN McGREGOR: You worked hard on this (indicating Alison). For me, as a Scot, it's a much easier accent to do then a standard American accent because you can really hear it. You can get your teeth into it. Standard American is much harder because…
ALISON LOHMAN: It's more lyrical, isn't it?
EWAN McGREGOR: Yeah, there's just sounds in it that my ear recognizes more than in a straight American. It seems to be a bit tougher. But it's a really lovely accent to use. I loved listening to especially older people down there in Alabama. There's a real beauty in the way they use not just the sounds, but the way they use words. It's really lovely [and] comforting.
ALISON LOHMAN: The perfect accent to tell stories.
EWAN McGREGOR: Yeah, I think that's right. It's probably no mistake that it's set down there. I met this great old farmer, ropin' old cattleman down there, a f**king real cowboy, this guy who was in his - he's called Bubba and he was maybe in his '70s. We just met him and we had a party at his farm. He had all my kids and all the local kids around. He threw this big party for the children, really, and he was lovely. He's really flirtatious with my mother-in-law, which was hilarious, I remember. But he was a real old cowboy and just a man of the earth. He was fantastic.
Was he working on the movie?
EWAN McGREGOR: No, he wasn't working on the movie. He's just a guy down there, a rancher from down that way, a nice bloke.
Why should people see “Big Fish?”
EWAN McGREGOR: I think it's a rather beautiful story about a father and a son.
ALISON LOHMAN: It's a Tim Burton movie.
EWAN McGREGOR: And it's a Tim Burton movie, yeah. It's not a hugely explored relationship in movies. It can connect to all of us because whatever our relationship is or has been with our parents, we can all relate to that. And it's a reparation of a severed relationship. It's hugely moving and it's a beautiful, simple tale.
Did you feel the sense of whimsy while filming, or was it just technical?
ALISON LOHMAN: I think Tim was great with that, like the daffodils. He actually had all those daffodils, so he makes it very realistic for you. The actor doesn't really have to work. You're not acting. He tries to make it as genuine as he can.
How did the finished film compare to what you imagined it would?
EWAN McGREGOR: It matched exactly. It kind of matched how I saw it frame by frame almost, because you're familiar with Tim Burton and his work and his style. When I read the script, it was no surprise to me that he was directing it. I couldn't have imagined anyone else directing it, you know. So none of it came as a surprise. The fish looked like I imagined the fish would look like. Before you start reading the script, you've got that because you filter through [Tim Burton’s] visual sense. None of it came as a surprise.
Can you talk about the circus scene and the elephant poop?
EWAN McGREGOR: Genius. How amazing was that moment when the elephant craps on screen? We'd shot the wide shot where you see the two elephant's bums and then me. We'd shot that and we'd moved in to do a close-up, so they were setting the camera here, so you just see a bit of elephant's leg. You didn't see his bum or anything. And as we were setting that up, it lifted its tail and we all went “QUICK,” and they widened the camera out. I got ready and there was no turnover. They just turned the camera on and I played the scene as it dumped next to me. Genius, and none of us thought it would make it to the film but it's genius that it did. There's not many elephants pooing on the big screen that I can remember. Not enough, actually. I'm trying to bring it back.
There were other animals there too. Working with the elephant was a real treat. You don't meet elephants every day and that elephant was around [a while]. We were shooting the circus stuff for a couple of weeks. It was lovely that big elephant lumbering through. It was just beautiful and you got to go up and give it an apple.
You bonded with the elephant?
EWAN McGREGOR: Yeah, it was nice. We all did. They're incredible animals. It's a real treat. I loved the circus people we worked with. I found them really interesting that there was a gypsy quality in their lives that's not dissimilar to ours, in a way, when it's on the move. I liked meeting the lion people, the big cat people. They were interesting. She was an Englishwoman. She spent her life with big cats and her son, who trained some of the tigers and stuff, since he was a kid he's been working with big cats.
Was any of that down with CG?
EWAN McGREGOR: No. See, this is the lovely thing about Tim is that we did most of it in the camera. There was very little effects stuff. WE did all the making Matthew bigger than he is, even though he's a very big guy, it was all done in the camera with forced perspectives. We didn't do green screen stuff. We did camera tricks, but we did them on the set there. And the special effects people built a beautiful lion's head. It was absolutely beautiful to look at, which is the lion's mouth my head is in is a prosthetic head. And then when you pull out for the wider shot, that's the real lion.
What was shooting in Alabama like?
EWAN McGREGOR: I loved it. I really did like it. I have very fond memories of working down there. My wife and my children were with me, and there's a great neighborliness about the South. People did come over with pies when we arrived. It was quite genuine. That's the way it is down there. I'd come home from work and there'd be [people] everywhere. All the neighborhood kids would be kicking around in backyards. That's how I grew up in Scotland. You'd come home from school and you'd just kick about the streets with all your mates. In London we can't do that [and I] certainly don't know that most people do that here.
How much could you relate to the parenting theme of this movie?
EWAN McGREGOR: I responded more as a son as opposed to as a father, I think. I think it's about a father and son relationship and so therefore I thought a lot about my dad while we were doing it. My father isn't dissimilar to Edward Bloom in that he's very gregarious and he loves telling stories, my dad. He doesn't tell huge stories about his life like Albert's Edward Bloom does, but he loves telling stories. If you were to go back to my hometown with him, he wouldn't be able to walk down the street without (telling old stories). He used to frustrate us in our childhood because it would take us so long to get anywhere, because he'd always be stopping to speak to someone - it would take hours to get anywhere.
There was a rumor your wife was going to make a movie but she wanted Johnny Depp to star in it, not you.
EWAN McGREGOR: No, such nonsense. It was a funny story about [how] my wife adapted a Spanish novel, wrote a script, and said that she would like Johnny Depp to play [in it]. But it was such a small joke between me and my wife, I don't know how it ended up in a magazine.
Will you miss working on “Star Wars?”
EWAN McGREGOR: It is over. It'll never be over because I'll always be in them. I'll always have been in them, so it's not something that's gone. It's something that the third one will come out in 2005 and I'll always be very happy to have been in them. I won’t miss the blue screen experience. I won't miss making them because I find them very difficult to make, but I'll always be glad to have been in them.
Alison Lohman's Nice Catch
"Big Fish" actress Alison Lohman is one of Hollywood's hottest properties. So why does she take the bus?
Alison Lohman is a study in contrasts. On one hand, she has a thing for speed: Whether she's snowboarding down a particularly difficult hill or riding the roller coasters at California's Magic Mountain theme park, the 24-year-old actress loves to go fast.
But Lohman, who stars in Tim Burton's "Big Fish," also enjoys the slower things in life: She'd rather take the bus than drive. ("It's one of my favorite things ever. I love sitting and talking to the driver and people who come in, looking at what everybody is wearing and what they talk about.") And she regularly bypasses takeout for a chance to putter around in her own kitchen, turning out everything from meatloaf to exotic shakes.
Lohman's serene side is on display in "Big Fish." In it, she's a 1950s-era college coed who falls for charming drifter Ewan McGregor. She's his ideal woman: a sweet girl-next-door type. Despite its seemingly custom fit, it's something of a departure from the grittier roles that made her famous -- a neglected teen in 2002's "White Oleander," and a precocious one in last year's "Matchstick Men." That kind of versatility makes Lohman a hot commodity in Hollywood.
Yet despite her meteoric rise in just a few short years, Lohman confesses she sometimes dreams of leaving Los Angeles to build a life outside Hollywood: "I've lived here for six years already. Everyone says it's a transitional place, yet they stay forever."
The southern California native has lived on her own in L.A. since she was 18, but she spends much of her time away working or visiting her boyfriend, who works in the film industry behind the camera in Canada.
Although she loves the travel, her nomadic lifestyle makes it hard to establish ties and nurture them. One example she gives: "I used to have a cat named Lucy. But I would be gone so often, she would take the toilet paper and it would be like somebody TP'ed my whole place. I felt really sorry for her. I felt so bad," she says, ruefully. "So I gave her to a friend."
What's in Lohman's future? "I definitely want to have kids soon, in the next five years or so," she says. "But you never know what's going to happen."
Alison Lohman speaks about 'Matchstick Men'
Alison Lohman is quickly emerging as one of Hollywood’s youngest rising talents, having won critics over with her endearing performance in last year’s “White Oleander.” Looks can be deceiving as Alison, who can play roles that require her to be in her teens, is actually 24 years old.
This is actually to her advantage in the movie “Matchstick Men,” which opens on September 12th in theaters everywhere. Directed by Ridley Scott, “Matchstick Men” tells the story of two con artists, Roy (Nicolas Cage) and Frank (Sam Rockwell), who live lives based on lies and deceit. Roy, who happens to have an obsessive compulsive disorder, finds his world turning upside down when he meets his teenage daughter, Angela (Alison Lohman), for the first time in his entire life. Angela becomes fascinated with Roy’s occupation and begs him to learn the tricks of the trade.
Alison was in NYC promoting “Matchstick Men,” where we got a chance to speak with her.
Did you hang out with any skateboarders to try to learn how to skate?
Yeah, it was amazing to see them but I felt like a big dork.
Did they welcome you to their world?
No. I remember I would be like, “Well how do you do the flip thing?” And they’d be like, “I don’t want to have to teach you” because they want to do their thing. But once I said I was doing it for a movie, they would be like, “Ooh, who’s in it?”
(Loud gasp) “Oh, I’ll teach you how to do it!”
What was the most interesting thing you found about Nicolas Cage?
He’s just interesting all over. He always has something really intelligent. I love that kind of sense of humor. He’s really just witty and funny. Eccentric is not the right word, but maybe – he’s just different in a great way.
Can you talk about the ticks that Nicolas Cage developed for his character?
I remember he and [director] Ridley [Scott] would have discussions, like “Maybe I should do it more in this take or less in this take.”
Is it tough to act against or did it throw you off?
If anything, it would help the character because she would be looking at that and say, “What is that? I’ve never seen anybody so weird and neurotic.”
Is it weird for you that you can still pass for 14?
Yeah. I embrace it and I’m not 14. I’m 24. I think when I was 18, 19, I had a problem with it because I wanted to look older and more womanly. I look in the mirror and I don’t feel or look 14 to myself, regardless of what other people think. I’m fine with it and it really doesn’t matter what age I’m playing. It’s more about the spirit of the character.
Are you worried at all about being stereotyped as a teenager?
No, I’m not the type to worry. I just try to live like Angela. Just live in the moment and not worry about what’s going to happen. Life’s too short. I just have fun with what I’m doing. I mean, God, I’m so lucky right now with the opportunities that I’ve had. There’s nothing to worry about.
So growing up, did you pull any cons or tell any lies that you’re willing to admit to?
No, I wasn’t anything like her at all. Angela’s always two steps ahead of everybody. Definitely manipulative but not in a bad way. I think maybe the worst [thing] was I felt like [I wanted] a candy store in a grocery store and I took one and ate it. That’s really lame but that’s the only thing I can remember. (Laughter)
Alison Lohman: putting the shadow back in teens, she blooms as Michelle Pfeiffer's daughter in White Oleander
Newcomer Alison Lohman has many gifts, a good number of which are displayed in the current White Oleander. The 23-year-old shines as Astrid, the film's central character, a teenager shuttled between foster homes and miseries after her mother (Michelle Pfeiffer) is jailed for murder. But one might argue Lohman's greatest gift, at least at this point in her career, is her innocent, youthful look. In Oleander we follow her character from the ages of 15 to 18, and in Matchstick Men, Ridley Scott's upcoming drama, she plays a 14-year-old. Unlike some actors, who walk the halls of Hollywood's fictitious high schools with receding hairlines and crow's-feet, Lohman genuinely looks the part--and frankly, you're blown away that someone who appears so young can demonstrate such depth. Still, as we learn here, there are experiences that some actors, no matter how poised they seem, find daunting.
SCOTT LYLE COHEN: About two years ago you shaved your head. Not the typical career move for a young actor looking for work.
ALISON LOHMAN: Well, I had I started getting a few independent movies and I wasn't really happy with the parts. They were kind of one-dimensional. I was always playing the blonde girlfriend.
SLC: So you shaved it off in rebellion?
AL: No, actually. I shaved it for [a role in] Dragonfly. And I was so excited--I had wanted to do that really badly. But then a few months later when I auditioned for White Oleander, I had to put on this awful wig they gave me, and I put it too low, so the casting director thought I had a really low forehead.
SLC: "Sorry, we're not casting Cro-Magnons in this role."
AL: [laughs] But I heard back from them and went in to audition with Peter [Kosminsky], the director. And I was like, "Screw the wig!" I went in bald. I guess it worked--I got the part.
SLC: In White Oleander you play Astrid in a number of different incarnations, as she moves from foster home to foster home, from blonde innocent to snarky Goth.
AL: Right. She adapts herself to each of these different environments in order to be accepted by her foster mothers. The great thing about Astrid is that she's remarkably and innately resilient. She's a survivor. I worked a lot with the costume designer--when I put on the clothes on, wore the wig and looked in the mirror, I felt like Astrid.
SLC: So you approached it as one Astrid. not a handful of different Astrids.
AL: Exactly. It's me playing Astrid playing different roles. She's trying on these different guises, like all young people do. She's trying to find out who she is, trying to discover her identity.
SLC: What's this moment like for you, when there's so much excitement and anticipation?
AL: Exciting. And hilarious: All of a sudden I'm getting all this attention. A few days ago they had this gala screening for the premiere of White Oleander and there was a red carpet, limos and everything. So we drive up and I realize that I actually have to get out of the limo and talk to all these people. I asked the driver, "Can we go around the block a couple of times, because I can't get out of the car." I mean, I know I can handle it, and I know what I have to do is change my way of thinking--I have to laugh at the silliness of what goes on--and just enjoy it. But all that attention, it's scary.
SLC: What scares you the most?
AL: Interviews. Talking about myself. I remember watching young actresses being interviewed on TV and thinking, Thank God, I don't have to do that. And now they want me to do The Tonight Show and I'm freaking out. Jay Leno, he's normal, right?