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– by Gig Patta

Being young—there’s always the coming of age moment in everyone’s life.

Almost Friends stars Freddie Highmore (The Good Doctor, Bates Motel), Haley Joel Osment (Tusk), Odeya Rush (Lady Bird, Goosebumps), Marg Helgenberger (CSI) and Chris Meloni (Law & Order: SVU).

Here’s the synopsis of the film:

Once a promising young chef, Charlie (Highmore) is now an unmotivated twenty-something who lives at home with his mom (Helgenberger) and stepfather while working at a small movie theater and living vicariously through his best friend, Ben (Osment). His life takes an unpredictable turn, however, when he finds himself falling for local barista Amber (Rush). Problem is, Amber has her own distractions—her mooching roommate (Jake Abel), a track star boyfriend (Taylor John Smith) and steadfast plans to move to New York City. On top of that, Charlie’s estranged father (Meloni) unexpectedly re-enters his life just as he begins to take a long, hard look at where he’s going and who he wants to be. With conflict after conflict piling on, will Charlie reach his tipping point or will he finally find a path forward?

LRM had a phone interview earlier this month with Odeya Rush. She plays the love interest to the main character, but is being pulled in multiple directions in her complicated life. She talked about her attraction in being in a romantic indie film like this. In addition, she also discussed about the start and maintaining balance of her young career.

Almost Friends is currently playing in select theaters, On Demand and available on Digital HD.

Read our interview transcript below.

LRM: I appreciate you speaking with me for this movie Almost Friends. The last time I interviewed you was with The Giver years ago.

Odeya Rush: Yeah. That was a long time ago.

LRM: Tell me on why you were attracted to this project and how you were approached.

Odeya Rush: I felt at that point was that I hadn’t done anything contemporary or more of a love story. I really love love stories and I really love indies. Love stories like Before Sunset and that whole trilogy. With movies like that, they look at love in a much more real way. I saw that Freddie [Highmore] had already been attached.

I got the script and I met Jay [Goldberger], the director. We talked about it and I really liked his approach. We got along very well. It seems like it was the right thing to do.

LRM: Tell us more about your character, Amber. Is she relatable to you?

Odeya Rush: I think she was. She has to be responsible for her brother. I grew up with six brothers. I have two older brothers, but I was like the oldest in the house. I was the first to go through everything. Especially, I have parents who are not from this country and not growing up here—I feel like I had this leader mentality—which I think Amber has.

I believe the moment of your life that can change everything. How are you supposed to know on what your destiny is at that time? Some people don’t know to this date. I don’t think there’s enough movies about that period. I related to that too.

LRM: How was it working with Freddie Highmore on this project?

Odeya Rush: Freddie is amazing. He is so professional. He is so prepared and often kind to everyone. He takes this so seriously on set and yet be playful to have fun. There’s no stress, because he had done all the preparations at home.

LRM: Now Freddie is a child star. I recalled you started relatively young yourself. How did this all change from going to a child star to maturity for yourself? Sometimes starting young in this career—they have a bad rap.

Odeya Rush: I feel like I was never a child star. I did a few movies sometimes and go back to public high school in Jersey. I also didn’t have anyone else in my family who was doing it. I didn’t grow up in Hollywood. I grew up in a suburban small town in Jersey. I think being a part of my family, doing it off and on and going back to school really helped me.

Freddie grew up in England if I’m not mistaken. I think that takes you away from it too. Being in Los Angeles, it seems like every other person has a script. Every waiter is an actor. Everyone is trying to see on what you are doing so that they can get farther.

Being around people who didn’t make it a big deal would make me feel like it’s not a big deal. I don’t think I grew up with that type of stereotype.

LRM: When and how did you get started yourself?

Odeya Rush: I always did plays at home with my brothers. I would write, direct and star in plays. I love movies. I did acting classes in school. I was really attracted to all of that. I love that whole acting world and drama world, but I started modeling at the start. It wasn’t something that I was going for, but photographers took pictures of me to send something to my mom in Israel. We just had moved. We sent me to a modeling agency and we didn’t think of it that much then. I started working in modeling pretty quickly. It was fun and nothing crazy. That modeling agency had a partnership with an acting agency.

When I was thirteen, I went to meet with this acting agency. They told me that I had more of an accent, so I worked on my accent. Once that happened and fixed, they started to send me out to all these auditions. The first thing I did was Curb Your Enthusiasm at the time in New York. I felt like I got the work pretty quickly.

LRM: How do you balance your young life with a professional career like this?

Odeya Rush: I think it’s important that you find real friends and hang on to them. It’s also to surround yourself with people who are not in the business. And it’s do things that has nothing to do with your career. I’m really attracted to things that are genuine. The more time you spend with genuine people—the more it affects you and make you feel more normal in this crazy business.

LRM: Excellent answer. There was a scene in the movie with Christopher Meloni in which he was actually naked. Were you present on the set that day?

Odeya Rush: Yeah, but I didn’t see anything. [Laughs] They shot his scene with a few crew members. They made it really private for him. I think I remembered being there on the set. [Laughs] I forgot about that completely.

LRM: It’s definitely a hilarious scene. Did you do any fun things in Alabama while you were there?

Odeya Rush: It was such a quick shoot. I remembered hanging out at the hotel. The hotel may be haunted. It was a really awesome group of people and we’re all around the same age. All I remembered is just running around and hanging out at the hotel. Otherwise, we were mainly working, because we have no time.

LRM: For such a young career for yourself, what kind of roles do you like to choose?

Odeya Rush: For me, the priority is that if there are good scripts and a good director. I just want to continue working with great directors. They are the ones who set the tones for the experience. Even if critics don’t love the movie, you still have that experience that no one could take away from you.

I want to surround myself with good people who I could learn from. It’s to tell stories that could impact people and that are important to tell. These stories must be really fun to make. I look at the purpose of this and what kind of experience it may have.

LRM: One last question for you—correct me if I’m wrong—Odeya means “praise God?”

Odeya Rush: thank God.

LRM: Oh, thank God. [Laughs]

Odeya Rush: It’s Hebrew.

LRM: My last question is that since you were originally from Israel—do you miss that country? Will you ever go back there to star in a film or TV?

Odeya Rush: Hundred percent that I missed [Israel] so much. I go back as much as I can. The next thing I’m directing is going to shoot in Israel. It’s such a beautiful place. It’s a unique place. A lot of people just know about it from the news. I want to educate people on it better. It’s such an incredible place and I’m lucky that I grew up there.

LRM: Thank you so much, Odeya. It’s been a pleasure speaking with you again.

Odeya Rush: Yeah. Thank you so much.

Almost Friends is currently playing in select theaters, On Demand and available on Digital HD.

Source: Exclusive for LRM

Gig Patta is a journalist and interviewer for LRM and Latino-Review since 2009. He was a writer for other entertainment sites in the past with Collider and IESB.net. He originally came from the world of print journalism with several years as a reporter with the San Diego Business Journal and California Review. He earned his MBA from the Keller Graduate School of Management and BA in Economics from UC San Diego. Follow him on Instagram @gigpatta or Facebook @mrgigpatta.