Cailee Spaeny is Headed to the Top

Cailee Spaeny is Headed to the Top

The actress joins two political dynasties this season, in 'On the Basis of Sex', and alongside Amy Adams and Christian Bale in 'Backseat'.

The actress joins two political dynasties this season, in 'On the Basis of Sex', and alongside Amy Adams and Christian Bale in 'Backseat'.

Photography: Milos Nadazdin

Styling: Yana Kamps

Text: Whitney Mallett

This interview appears in the pages on V115, our Fall 2018 issue. Head to shop.vmagazine.com to order your copy today!

“I’m a little bit of a creep,” says 21-year-old Cailee Spaeny, the breakout star of the blockbuster sequel Pacific Rim: Uprising, which hit theaters in March. “I could just watch people all day long.” Since her performance as a street orphan in the sci-fi flick, Spaeny has the chance to explore more of what she loves about acting—investigating “tactics and defense mechanisms”—by inhabiting real-life members of two major American political families. In Backseat, she plays a young Lynne Cheney, former vice president Dick Cheney’s wife, and in On the Basis of Sex, she plays Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s daughter, Jane. She’ll also star in Bad Times at the El Royale, a mystery-thriller with a star-studded ensemble cast, including Je Bridges, Jon Hamm, Dakota Johnson, and Chris Hemsworth. “Sharing scenes,” she gushes, “was so surreal.”

It’s all been a whirlwind for Spaeny, who will next head to London to start shooting Devs, an FX series helmed by Ex Machina’s Alex Garland. Before filming the Pacific Rim sequel in Australia and China, Missouri-born Spaeny had never been outside the U.S. Growing up one of nine siblings, she gravitated toward performing. “I always felt like I was stupid and couldn’t get anything right unless I was singing, dancing, or acting,” she recalls. In pursuit of her passion, her mom would drive the family minivan all the way to L.A.—a 25-hour trek—for auditions. “We’d couch hop,” recounts Spaeny. “One time we stayed with a family that we just literally met a week before at church.” They ended up staying in the family’s back room for four months. “I kind of miss the adventure,” Spaeny adds, “but I definitely don’t miss the being unsure that it was all going to work out.”

Credits: MAKEUP NATASHA SEVERINO (FORWARD ARTISTS), HAIR MATTHEW COLLINS (THE WALL GROUP)

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