Stefanie Scott Tells Us All About Peacock's Girl In The Woods - Exclusive Interview

Ever since she was a preteen, actor Stefanie Scott has appeared on TV and in movies. From making us laugh on Disney Channel's "A.N.T. Farm" to becoming the star of "Insidious: Chapter 3" to even showing off her singing voice on "Jem and the Holograms," the 24-year-old is still only getting started when it comes to her eclectic career.

This month, Scott's action-packed series is set to premiere on Peacock — and it definitely won't disappoint. In "Girl in the Woods," she portrays Carrie, a kick-butt young woman who has escaped the cult she grew up in. Her job is to protect a wooden door in the woods that's filled with everything from our nightmares. When things get crazy, she has to go back and save it. Oh, and did we mention that this actor does all her own stunts? At this point, there doesn't seem to be anything that Scott can't do.

We got the chance to sit down with the star herself and hear all about her new series. In an exclusive interview with The List, Scott told us all about how she prepared to play Carrie, what it's like watching herself onscreen, and the surprising type of project she'd love to star in next.

What it was like for Stefanie Scott to grow up on Disney Channel

What is it that made you want to go into acting, especially at such a young age?

Yeah. I always loved performing when I was a kid. I did dance, so I was in all the dance classes and theater classes and stuff. It's kind of hard to say. I think I just always loved it. I had older brothers, and I was always kind of putting on shows for my family. I guess that's kind of how it started, it's kind of hard to actually — as a little kid, every little kid kind of has a random dream or career that they want to accomplish, but I guess I wanted to be an actress since I was really young and then ended up kind of actually doing it.

Your first recurring television role was on Disney Channel, right?

I actually worked — I did do a Disney show, but I did a lot before that. I started working when I was about 11 or 12. I did some films and TV shows and stuff, but that was kind of my first, I guess, bigger gig, definitely.

What was it like to grow up and spend your teenage years, and a lot of your childhood too, on popular TV shows — especially "A.N.T. Farm"?

Yeah. It was an interesting experience. I started that show when, I think, I was 12 or 13. So I spent most of my kind of young teenagehood and high school life on the show, but for me it was just work. I kind of had a full-time job while kind of balancing my normal home family life and stuff. So for me, it was like school, high school, or like a job. It came with a lot of challenges, for sure, having that much responsibility at a young age, and that's kind of when social media kind of started. So it was a lot kind of at the same time, but I'm really grateful for the experience. I think it helped me a lot mentally prepare for my career now and being able to do what I do.

Once "A.N.T. Farm" wrapped up, you took on completely different kinds of roles. It was almost a complete 180. What made you want to go through such a drastic transition in your career?

I just kind of started doing work that I was drawn to and got me really excited. When I did the Disney show, that was a dream of mine since I was a little kid, and then I accomplished it, and I did my job, but then I just started auditioning for other things and kind of doing what I wanted to do next. It wasn't a big plan or anything. It was just kind of the next phase of my life. I was at the end of high school and discovering who I am, and that brought on a whole lot of other things.

Stefanie Scott shares how her career has changed

So what kind of roles do you look for now?

Now I'm more of the person who's drawn to who the director is and their vision and how I can best help bring that to life. It's kind of like — what's interesting about movies and TV and stuff is it's such a group effort. The whole is really much greater than the sum of its parts, so it's less about the role, because anything can kind of be written down and perceived one way or another, but it's who's the team and what's their goal in mind? What's the point of the movie or the show they're making? What do they want to share with people? That's what gets me excited, is more of the people that I get to work with and then kind of the role. I see that and what that role entails and stuff.

Many stories and projects that you've been working on lately, your characters have found themselves at the center of some pretty disturbing and sometimes really scary situations. How do you go about as an actress preparing for such dark roles? How do you get yourself into character?

I'd say that what I do to prepare for these roles is just be as present as possible. I'm a very meditative person, so I meditate quite a lot, and that's kind of, I think, my trick for acting as well, is just kind of being present. That's kind of all I really need to do, that and learn my lines, but once you're kind of in those moments and stuff, I feel like as long as I'm present, the right emotion kind of comes through at the right moment, and we kind of just see what happens.

Has there ever been a time when you're working on a scene and you get scared yourself? Because watching some of your projects, they're scary!

Yeah. I don't know if I've ever been scared myself. I've been lucky enough to work with very trustworthy people and stuff like that. Sets are fairly, at least in my experience, have been pretty safe environments, especially when there are big stunts or fight scenes and stuff like that. I really like when things get kind of scary and dangerous, because that's kind of where it's most exciting on sets and stuff. I don't really mind getting messy and dirty or a little bruise if something kind of goes awry, but yeah. I don't know, I guess. I hope I answered that.

You totally did!

Stefanie Scott tells us what makes scary movies so exciting to star in

Are you the type of person who likes watching scary movies in general?

I can get into it. It really depends on — I don't know. I don't always see — Okay. I like thriller movies and stuff, and things that kind of grab your attention, but sometimes I can kind of — more paranormal stuff, I get kind of scared watching that kind of stuff, so I sort of stay away from it. But if it's got a great story and a great plot and it really sucks you in, I'm definitely interested.

What's the scariest movie that you've seen?

Oh, man. I have to think about that. I don't really know. I guess I can't answer that. I guess I'm also really interested in — as opposed to watching scary things and movies and content, I guess in general I'm actually not a big consumer of movies and television and stuff. It's kind of rare I get into a TV show. I'm pretty interested in real-life stuff and hearing people's real stories. So whenever I meet someone new, I kind of always ask if they have any good ghost stories because I like to hear those, but sometimes in movies, specifically when you're seeing everything happen, I guess that kind of gets me a little freaked out then when I go home.

Stefanie Scott opens up about what it's like to see herself onscreen

What's it like when you watch your own projects onscreen? Because special effects sometimes go into it, and I imagine it can look completely different when you're watching it as a final piece.

Yeah. I don't know. It kind of depends. I've honestly never really watched any of my movies by myself. I'm usually with family or friends or my boyfriend or something. When that's the case, I'm honestly laughing and smiling the whole time because I know what really happened and how all that stuff goes, but when they're really watching it, they're freaked out. Yeah, for instance — maybe I wasn't laughing in this — but I did this movie. It came out earlier this year called "Girl in the Basement." It was a very rough movie, and it was based on a true story. All my respects go to the people who went through that. I really can't imagine. It's one of the most horrible things I had ever heard.

So yeah, the movie was definitely not as intense as the real-life story, but there were some pretty rough scenes where Sarah gets kind of beat up and some more horrible things that I won't get into, but it was a safe environment filming it, and we had to do [what we had] to do for the scene and stuff, but watching my family watch that — it was so hard, because they're watching me go through this whole experience that I know I was safe during the process, but they don't know that. So they definitely were freaked out, and it's always kind of, I guess, interesting for me to watch them watch it, I guess.

As your family and even friends, I feel like they would watch it as if it's happening to you versus your character, so it's probably even scarier for them to see those kinds of things.

Exactly. I know I'm okay, and I know what the whole experience was like, but they're like, "Oh, Stefanie, stop. Don't. Don't go in the door," or whatever the scene is.

Oh, my gosh. For sure. It'd be fun to see their reactions, I think.

Yeah. It's definitely entertaining for me to watch their reactions, especially in scary movies and stuff.

Stefanie Scott explains what it's like doing all her own stunts

I wanted to bring up "Insidious: Chapter 3," because I recently learned that you did all your own stunts in it, which is amazing! Do you have a background in martial arts or gymnastics? How did you prepare to do something that intense?

I grew up dancing, and I really think that helped a lot with body movement and stuff. For "Insidious," the stunts were a bit different. I would be hooked up on wires and kind of tossed around and thrown around a lot. So it was kind of more things happening to my character that I just kind of had to do and sell.

So for this show, "Girl in the Woods," it was totally different, because they were all fight sequences and really intense battles that were pretty brutal, but we had to do it without actually hitting anybody and working with knives. I had a robotic arm and aero bionic arm in it with a retractable blade, so I had to learn how to work with all this and that involved — for two weeks before I left to go film for three hours a day, I did, like, MMA fighting and boxing, punching, kicking, like learning martial arts and stuff with a professional here. Then when I got to Portland, I was working every day with the stunt team, learning everything I had to learn. Then on the weekends [I had] to learn the routines for what we were shooting that week. So for that, I definitely got to learn some martial arts and stuff, which was pretty fun for me. I really hope I get to do it again because that was the best part of the shoot, for sure.

Stefanie Scott discusses the future of her career in film

Are stunts something you want to do throughout your entire career?

Yeah. Now I'm all hooked on it. I've always loved stunts and stuff because I'm pretty — I don't know. I like being present, and I don't mind getting a little beat up, honestly, in the scene and stuff. It's just really exciting when you're in the moment, and you're doing these big numbers and stuff. It's honestly like a dance routine or something, but really selling it. You have to scream and act out the pain, but still keep fighting. It's so thrilling, and then now I'm all like, "Okay, I can't wait to do something else action." I want to do some more action films now, because it was just so fun.

I think it would be fun to just learn tons of different things in different movies. Like you said, in "Girl in the Woods," you got to learn martial arts.

Yeah. Oh, my gosh. That's the best part of this career, is all the different things I get to learn and do that I would never get to do in probably my regular life, if I didn't, I guess, go after those specific things.

Aside from action movies though, is there anything else that you haven't done in your career yet that you want to try next?

Yes. So I definitely love musicals. I kind of did one with — I did this movie called "Jem and the Holograms." There was a little bit of — we got to learn how to play certain instruments, and we had all these performances in the movie, and we got to record songs for it, which was so fun. I want to do that, but with dance numbers. A musical with cheesy Broadway dance numbers and stuff. That sounds so fun to me.

Why Stefanie Scott wanted to star in Girl in the Woods

"Girl in the Woods" is coming out very soon on Peacock, where you'll be seen playing Carrie. What drew you to the character and to the team? What is it that made you want to be a part of this specific project?

This is such a great role, and I feel so lucky that I got to play her. She's been trained since birth to fight, and she has a lot of, as I was saying before, fight sequences in the show, but she's — I don't know. She's a very tough yet loyal character. I guess I had never played something like that before, the toughness and the intensity that she kind of carries in the show while also kind of having these quirky, funny moments. I'd never, I guess, had the opportunity to do that, so that's what got me really excited. Then when I found out Krysten Ritter was directing the first four episodes, I got even more excited because I'm such a big fan of hers, and she has such a cool vibe. I knew that whatever project this was, if she was a part of it, then that was totally icing on the cake. I knew whatever it was going to be, it was going to be awesome.

Stefanie Scott shares what it's like working with Krysten Ritter

What was it like working with Krysten Ritter and having her direct you?

It was fantastic. I mean, she's been acting for so long and done such amazing work that I think she knows how to direct because of all those experiences, especially how to direct actors and stuff, and knows how to have the scenes ready to go for us at the beginning of the day so everything can go by really quickly. Yeah. She was super fantastic and organized, and I loved working with her.

Is there anything new you learned from her or from being on this set? Are there new things that you learn all the time, every time you step on a new project — besides martial arts?

Oh, yeah. I'm learning every day. That's what's so cool about this job, specifically, is all of the new stuff you get to learn all the time, and people you're around, and — I don't know. That's why I love it, is how I find myself in different, weird situations all the time. What I liked about working with her is, I think because of her experience on "Jessica Jones" and the character she played, that bada** ... woman superhero, that was actually really cool that she was on this because I think she really helped me, I guess, find my center and stance for Carrie, because Carrie has to be very tough and grounded at all times and know her surroundings and be ready to fight. So that's kind of something she taught me, was how to really root my feet in the ground and be solid where I am. So that was actually really helpful.

Stefanie Scott on Peyton List's Girl in the Woods performance

"Girl in the Woods" is based off of a short film with the same name. I actually noticed that there's another Disney Channel alum in it who plays Carrie: Peyton List. Have you met her before?

Yeah, I have. I've actually known Peyton for quite a while because we, I guess, did kind of a few little Disney things at the same time years ago. That was 10 years ago.

Did you ever chat about the role, or did you just watch and kind of study the character to get prepared to play Carrie?

So, yeah. The TV show is definitely inspired by the short, but it's kind of its whole new universe that they've taken on and written, which is really cool. But yeah, Peyton did originally play that role, but it is a different show, I guess, is what I'm trying to say. It's definitely a whole other world. We didn't actually speak about it or anything, but I did see the original short when I auditioned for the show and it was really great. I thought she was awesome in it.

What Girl in the Woods is all about

Can you tell us what the show is about, and what viewers can expect to see this season?

Yes. I'm going to do my very best. It's kind of hard to explain because a lot happens, and there's so much that isn't in the trailer either, which is actually really exciting because that means nothing was really given away, which is good. So "Girl in the Woods" is kind of a supernatural thriller show that takes place in a mining town called West Pine. I played Carrie who grows up in this cult in the woods, this colony where they kind of have some supernatural secrets. The job of the town is to protect this door, the secret door that kind of is like the gates to hell, in a way. You don't want to let any of the monsters or demon entities escape. 

So that's where Carrie comes from, but she escapes the colony — there's a lot of crazy brainwashing there — and she gets into the real world, and she meets Tasha and Nolan and kind of goes on some adventures with them before realizing she has to go back and save the town because some crazy s*** goes down.

What was the best part about working on "Girl in the Woods"?

Well, I feel like I'm very repetitive with this answer. My favorite part is definitely all of the stunt work on the show. It's super action-packed, as you were saying. That was the best part, for sure, is all the fight sequences I got to perform. A lot of them are with me sparring with this girl named Kylie Liya, who plays Sara. It was a really cool opportunity to do all these fights just with another girl, too, and to get really, really rough. It was pretty brutal. So I think that was my favorite part, is kind of being in on those scenes with her.

"Girl in the Woods" premieres Thursday, October 21 exclusively on Peacock.