Hometown: Buffalo, New York
Sidney Flanigan is a true beginner, having never even thought of acting until she was cast in Eliza Hittman’s Never Rarely Sometimes Always. But despite that lack of experience, Flanigan’s performance has an almost shocking depth and nuance, and has received much Oscar buzz—an experience Flanigan calls “extremely crazy and weird, but very exciting”. The film follows a teenager forced to travel out of state to get an abortion. Along the way, she and her cousin face disappointments, setbacks and threats. It’s a story that resonated with Flanigan from the first. “The issue of reproductive rights, how it’s taboo and there’s a stigma around it,” she says, “that’s something that I feel is looming over women all the time. It affects pretty much all women alike, so I was instantly drawn to it.”
The raw expression of trauma didn’t intimidate Flanigan, but she was a little nervous about nudity, she says. “There was one scene that didn’t even make it into the film, where I was in a bathtub. I felt nervous about shooting that day.”
Flanigan credits her musicianship with giving her the courage to perform on set for the first time. A stint as a backup dancer in an eighth-grade production of Camp Rock “doesn’t count”, she says. “I’ve been a performing musician for a long time, so I’ve already been used to making myself vulnerable in front of the crowd I guess.” In fact, Hittman was an early fan of her music. “When I was 14,” Flanigan explains, “Eliza’s partner Scott was working on a film in Buffalo called Buffalo Juggalos. I was hanging out at this house that they were shooting at frequently, and I met Eliza there one day in passing. They followed me on Facebook over the years and watched videos that I posted in my bedroom of me playing guitar.” Six years later, Hittman suggested she audition for this film, and friends encouraged Flanigan to go for it. “It ended up being one of the greatest experiences in my life,” she says.
WHEN & WHERE
Predictably, she’s been snapped up on the back of this performance, signing on to star in Matthew Kaundart’s psychological drama My Twin is Dead. And she’s been sent a lot of scripts. “I’m still figuring out what I like since this is still very new to me. I think for the most part, the scripts that I really like reading are mostly indies. I guess I haven’t exactly formulated the dream role in my head yet.”