Fearlessly entering the world and trying endless new experiences outside of your comfort zone as you embark on a new stage in life is an important practice for people of all ages and backgrounds. Not only does the title character in the upcoming comedy ‘Tammy’ take the all-important journey of discovering who she really is as the life she has come to know suddenly and unexpectedly changes, but up-and-coming actress Mia Rose Frampton is also setting out on a new life path. The performer, who plays a supporting character in the film, which was directed by Ben Falcone, is courageously breaching out to try diverse forms of movie, television and theater acting to showcase what a versatile actress she truly is.
‘Tammy’ follows the title character (Melissa McCarthy, who also co-wrote the script with Falcone, her husband), as she’s having one of the worst days ever. She’s totaled her clunker car, gotten fired from her thankless job at a greasy burger joint and, instead of finding comfort at home, finds her husband getting comfortable with the neighbor in her own house. So she decides it’s time to leave her life behind and start over, but the bad news is she doesn’t have any money, and can’t afford another car.
The worse news is her grandma, Pearl (Susan Sarandon), is her only option to start over, as she has a car, cash and a desire to take a road trip to see Niagara Falls. While it’s not exactly the escape Tammy had in mind, being on the road with her grandma riding shot gun may be just what Tammy needs. Along the way, the two learn to have fun together, even though they get into endless trouble, including getting into a fight with a young teen, Karen (Frampton), who teaches Tammy and Pearl how to stick together when times are difficult.
Frampton generously took the time recently to talk about filming ‘Tammy’ over the phone. Among other things, the actress discussed how starring in a film with McCarthy and working with Falcone as a director was a dream come true, in part because they encouraged her to improv while filming and fully explore her character; how it was also inspiring to see Sarandon get into character and put her comedic talent to work on the set; and how she decided to pursue her B.A. in theater at Chapman University in Orange County in the fall, because she loves learning, and feels like have as much knowledge about as many subjects as she can helps her acting.
Question (Q): You play Karen in the upcoming comedy, ‘Tammy.’ What was it about the role, and the film overall, that convinced you to take on the role?
Mia Rose Frampton (MRF): When I first got the audition, I was so stoked to audition for a project with Melissa McCarthy, because I had never worked with her before. People think I met her while making ‘Bridesmaids,’ but I never had. So I was excited to finally get to meet her.
My first audition was with her and her husband, Ben Falcone, who’s the film’s director. They were super nice. I read the scene during my audition, and as I was leaving and going to my car, I felt good about it.
Then one of the casting associates ran after me and said, “Come back, we need you to do it again.” Ben was like, “Can you be meaner?” I said, “I can be meaner, so just tell me when to hold back.” He said, “No, don’t hold back-be as mean as you can.”
That time I got to improv, and I love improvising; it’s my favorite style of acting. Improvising with Melissa McCarthy was a dream come true. I love being able to fully get into character through improv, because it’s the first thing that comes to your mind. So you really have to be in character, and that’s what I really liked about the role. I was given free rein of what I felt was right. Ben and Melissa told me if they liked it, or if I should try something different. It was fun to improv and fully be that character.
Q: Speaking of the audition process, Melissa selected you for the role of Karen after you read your scene. What did it mean to you that she selected you for the part?
MRF: I was ecstatic! To get to work with Susan Sarandon and Melissa was a dream come true. When I got the call, I was at school, and I literally ran out of my classroom to take the call. I figured it was good news, because I didn’t think they’d be calling with bad news. My manager and my agent told me, and I was ecstatic. I couldn’t wait to start filming. Just the fact that she picked me was crazy, and I felt so lucky.
Q: You had a cameo role in one of Melissa’s previous comedies, ‘Bridesmaids,’ like you mentioned. While you two didn’t have a chance to act together or meet on that film, what was the experience of finally getting to work with her on ‘Tammy?’
MRF: Honestly, she’s the nicest woman to work with, and it was an amazing experience. I actually got to be physical in the scene, which I’ve never really done before. I’ve done some physical things in roles before, like on ‘Make It or Break It,’ on which I played a gymnast, but I’ve never had the chance to do physical comedy with someone else.
Melissa was super nice and fun. She made it a fun experience, and was so welcoming. I’d come on when they were reshooting the movie, and it was so much fun because she was so welcoming.
A funny story from the set was where we were shooting, there was a huge, life-sized stuffed bear that was wearing a fishing outfit. We were all taking selfies with it, and it was really funny.
Q: Speaking of the physicality, Melissa is known for her physical comedy in many of her films. What was the experience of shooting that physical comedy with her in ‘Tammy?’
MRF: I love all types of comedy, and to dive into that style was fun for me. I love doing comedy and making people laugh. I remember during my exercise during my first acting class at Second City, which is an improv house, I thought, this is what I love to do. It’s so authentic and real. With the physicality of my role in the film, I loved playing a character that I’m totally not like; Karen’s so mean and jarred. Being physical and someone you’re not is one of the perks of being an actress. (laughs)
Q: Besides the fact that Karen is mean and different from you, are there any details can you reveal about her and how she fits into the storyline of the movie?
MRF: I can’t say much, because what makes the scene funny is the element of surprise. But as Susan and Melissa’s characters decide to go on a road trip together, because nothing seems to go right for Melissa’s character. Susan’s character, who’s the grandmother of Melissa’s character, decides they should go on a road trip together. They find me along the way, and I’m a little bit more than they can handle. Like I said, I get a little physical, and it gets a little shocking. (laughs)
Q: What was the experience like of working with Susan and the rest of the cast in the film?
MRF: It was amazing. In the scene that I’m in, Susan has to act like her character’s drunk, because she’s a little inebriated throughout the entire movie. (laughs) To get into that mindset, she would spin around on set. It was so inspiring to see her get into a certain state, and get into that character. It was great to get a glimpse into her talent, and what goes into creating such a captivating performance. I felt really privileged and lucky just to be near her and get an inkling of her talent.
Q: You mentioned improvising during your audition. What was the experience of improvising with Melissa and Susan in your scene together?
MRF: Oh, yes. Ben was like, do whatever you want. If you feel like what you’re saying is perfect for the part, go ahead, say whatever you want, and don’t hold back. It was an actress’ dream to get that full freedom.
Q: Besides directing the film, Ben also appeared in the comedy, and co-wrote the script with Melissa. What was your experience working with Ben, as both the writer and helmer on the comedy?
MRF: Like I said, he was open to anything I would say or improv, and was very welcoming. I keep saying this, but it’s true-it was a dream come true for any actress. Right after I got the role, he called me and my mom, too. He said, “We’re so happy to have you be a part of the film.”
It really was a labor of love for the both of them, and they poured their hearts into this movie. You can tell by how funny it is. It was great to work with him. They’re both so talented, and a dream team.
Q: Besides ‘Tammy’ and ‘Bridesmaids,’ you have also starred in last year’s independent comedy, ‘G.B.F.’ How did your experience making the movie independently compare and contrast to starring in the bigger studio films?
MRF: ‘G.B.F.’ was so much fun to work on, as well. I had actually gotten that role because the writer and director (George Northy and Darren Stein) had seen me in ‘Bridesmaids.’ I was so lucky they saw that, and wanted me to be in their film. I loved being in that film, because it was like ‘Mean Girls’ on steroids. It was so dramatic, and the costumes were amazing. I got to be in a slow-mo walk, and who gets to be in that sort of thing?
It was different, as it was on a smaller scale. There were also more opportunities to change things. But overall, it was only really different in that there was a smaller production crew, but we got to know everyone better. (laughs) It was like a little family.
Q: You started your acting career in the recurring role of Becca Keeler in the ABC Family sports drama series, ‘Make It or Break It,’ like you mentioned earlier, and it was your first major role. How did your experience on the show compare and contrast to the films you have appeared in?
MRF: Like you said, it was my first major role. The audition process was different, as I went on multiple auditions. That was very grueling, but when I got the role, it paid off tremendously.
I have never had to train for a movie, but I had to train for two weeks for the show. It was so much fun, as I got to work with real gymnasts, who had worked their entire lives to get to where they were. It was so difficult to just hang on a bar, so I can’t even imagine doing all the flips and walking on the balance beam, which I almost fell off of while practicing.
That was a great learning experience, because I learned how to work off of, and with, other actors. I had a couple roles before that, but nothing on that scale. The show helped me come into my own, and find what type of actress I am, and what kind of person I am. It also helped me find my love for acting, and realize I can’t do anything else.
Q: Speaking of working with talented actresses, on ‘Make It or Break It,’ as well as on ‘Tammy’ and your other films, are there any actors you admire and wish to work with in the future?
MRF: Of course-I have a never-ending list! I’d love to work with Amy Adams, as I have an obsession with her right now. I also like Jennifer Lawrence and Mark Wahlberg. I actually watched ‘Lone Survivor’ recently, and that was phenomenal. I’d also love to work with Leonardo DiCaprio.
I’ve also been so lucky to have gotten to work with the actors and actresses I’ve already collaborated with on my projects. I hope to continue working with talented actors in the future.
Q: You have been acting since you were 7 years old. What initially drew you to pursue acting?
MRF: Well, my mom always says that when I was younger, I saw a little girl on a commercial, and I said, “I can do that,” and that’s when it started. Then I started doing plays and theater in my hometown of Cincinnati.
Then I was outgrowing the little pond I was in, and wanted to dive into a bigger ocean. So I did a trial run in L.A. when I was about 10, and I said, “Mom, please, we have to do this. This is all I want to do, so we have to give it a shot.” So we moved here when I was about 12. Ever since then, I couldn’t imagine doing anything else.
I love being able to jump into different characters, and make people laugh or cry. I love making people feel different emotions, because it’s an amazing experience. Movies and television have such an effect on people. They make people feel things they’ve never felt before.
Q: Like you mentioned, when you were younger, you attended several musical theatre programs, including one at the University of Cincinnati College Conservatory of Music, while you lived in Ohio. Do you have an interest in pursuing theater again in the future, besides films and television
MRF: Definitely. I’m actually going to college this fall, and I’m doing a B.A. in theater, because I feel like I’ve let that style of acting go. So I want to revisit it and hone that style of acting, because it’s very important and different than film and television acting. Both are difficult and have their own quirks you need to work on, so I’m really excited.
Q: Speaking of attending college in the fall, you will be going to Chapman University in Orange County. While not all young actresses continue their education after high school, as they instead choose to focus on their careers, why was it important for you to attend college?
MRF: I’ve never even entertained the thought of stopping school. Home schooling is great, but I really wanted to have a great education. I went to a private school here in Los Angeles, and I’m lucky my parents were able to give me that experience.
I have my professional acting side, but I’m still young and a teenager. I’m able to have friends at school, and not have to think about acting all the time. I love learning and gaining knowledge, and I feel like that only helps my acting. That’s why I wanted to continue on to college, because I want to become the best actress I can be. I want to be as smart as possible, and have as much knowledge about as many subjects as I can.