Into the Woods' Mackenzie Mauzy on Rapunzel Life

Mackenzie Mauzy spills on what it was like to work with Meryl Streep, filming with real snakes and on-set shenanigans

(Photo: Walt Disney)

(Photo: Walt Disney)

After starring in live stage productions and a requisite soap-opera stint, 26 year-old American actress Mackenzie Mauzy has made her way to the big screen as the lovable Rapunzel in Rob Marshall’s highly-anticipated film of Stephen Sondheim’s  Into the Woods (which already has three Golden Globe noms). Mauzy opens up to FLARE about all the highs and lows on playing Rapunzel–including what it was like to work with Meryl Streep and those unwieldy 30-foot long extensions. —Takara Wong

Is there more pressure working on a film as oppose to a live production play? They have their own kind of versions of pressure. You have the adrenaline of it being live on Broadway, you sort of have to go with it – whatever happens, happens. But with film, it’s going to be out in the world forever, and that’s always kind of a daunting thing. You’re putting it in the hands of the director to pick the takes, and whatever that is, it’s set in stone forever. So that can be daunting, because actors are their own worst critics.

Your character, Rapunzel, had to have one of the most beautiful costumes in the movie, especially with all that hair. How was your costume prep for the movie? It was a lot of stuff. I’ll start with the hair: the process was like four hours long. It’s my hair, but it’s my hair braided into a long extension, so it just took forever. They were insistent upon using the top of my hair being the start of the braid, and it did probably look real that way, but it just added so much more time.

And probably weight, too? Oh, yes! I ended up wrapping it around my arm because I thought that Rapunzel had to have a way to be mobile. She doesn’t have gigantic neck muscles – and plus, it’s a tripping hazard.

You got to work closely with some very well distinguished actors in the movie, including Meryl Streep. Did you get any advice from her? Being in her presence you learn so much, she’s such a generous actress. She really not only does her own work, but I think has such an awareness of what she needs to give the other actors so that they can give her back what she needs. It’s that kind of duel-responsibility that is something that I really learned from her. Because just being in a scene, she’s giving so much to you, you receive it, you give something new back, and you’re creating something. That’s technically what it’s supposed to be like as an actor, but when you’re dealing with someone like Meryl Streep who is obviously incredible, it’s a whole new kind of experience and it really takes you out of yourself. It’s what actors live for.

(Photo: Getty Images)

On the red carpet at the film’s premiere (Photo: Rob Kim/Getty Images)

The film takes place in a fantastical land – what was one of the weirdest props you worked with or saw on set while filming? We had to film in a swamp, so I had a little nest made out of twigs, and I had to deal with live snakes and a lot of swamps.

Was it filmed in a real-life swamp? Yup, a real life swamp. They had snakes brought in from a snake handler. I don’t know if those are props technically, but that was a crazy experience. And it was freezing and I had this dry suit on that was skin coloured, and if you’ve ever seen the Texas Chain Saw Massacre, that’s kind of what it looked. It was like a seal skin, or skin leather – you can’t see it in the film because it was on my legs. I could feel the water swishing around in my boots, but the water wasn’t actually touching my feet.

What were some of your most memorable behind-the-scenes moments with your costars, like Billy Magnussen? He’s a jokester, everyone knows that. We were playing that game where you put your phone up to your forehead and you have to guess the word [Heads Up!]. We were all together for the orchestra and vocal recording days, Rob [Marshall] called us in all at once, so we would play celebrity games, and we had cast dinners.

If you could choose to be any fairy tale character, other than Rapunzel, who would you be and why? Oh wow, I’ve said Ariel before because she’s awesome, and she can be a mermaid and breathe under water. But I’ve always loved Belle in Beauty and the Beast. I think it’s the idea of discovering something that you never knew was there – this whole long lost love story. Every since I was a little girl I was always caught up in that journey, believing in someone and seeing something in them. But it’s a tough call, because Cinderella is great too. Mostly because of the mice.

Into the Woods hits theatres Christmas Day.