It’s almost a year since we fell in love with the acting skills of young Dublin actress Alisha Weir in Roald Dahl’s Matilda The Musical.
Her singing, facial expressions and emotional interpretations, heralded her arrival amongst movies biggest young stars.
Showing she’s not going to be pigeon-holed, Alisha has since filmed a horror movie and a comedy and is currently recording an animation.
I caught up with the bubbly 14-year-old, via Zoom. Just home from school and still wearing her school uniform, she greeted me with an infectious wave.
Like any teen, dreading the homework still to come that evening, she admits that it does seem at times like she’s living in “two different world”.
“It's quite weird when I'm out on the street and people notice me and get excited.
“When Matilda first came out, of course, all my friends were excited to find out all about it, but after a few days it was just back to being Alicia,” says the humble teenager, who even finds time for some “normal” activities.
“As well as singing, dancing and acting, I just love to hang out with my friends. I even played Gaelic football with school last year,” she giggles.
Although none of her parents work in the entertainment industry – in fact her father works for a car sales company, just like Matilda’s dad Mr Wormwood – Alisha was hooked on performing arts from a young age.
She would copy her sisters, Katie and Emma Jane, singing and dancing and as soon as she was old enough joined them in drama class.
“I just wanted to be like them and follow in their footsteps. My middle sister is at UCD studying film, music and drama, and my eldest sister has just graduated from Urdang Performing Arts College in London,” she explains proudly.
@katieroseweir ✨The AMAZING moment we found out my little sister was going to be Matilda Wormwood Roald Dahl's Matilda The Musical Only In Cinemas NOW (UK & Ireland Netflix Summer 2023) #fyp ♬ original sound - Katie
She says the experience, and the character of Matilda, has taught her a lot.
“When I was on set, I was just trying to look up to all the actors and learn from them. Emma Thompson (who played Miss Agatha Trunchbull) was so helpful and gave me lots of tips.
“The director Matthew (Warchus) and I talked about some words that would describe Matilda, so if I went to do a scene I could think about those words and get inside Matilda’s mind.
“I learned so much from playing Matilda, especially to be strong and have courage.”
Her favourite and bravest moments during filming were performing Naughty, whilst dancing on top of the roof of a house, and singing Quiet whilst flying over England in a hot air balloon.
“The roof was on the floor, so it wasn’t as high as a full building, but it was still scary,” she laughs.
Alisha will be reliving her Matilda experiences during a Q&A session following the screening of the film at next weekend’s Cinemagic Festival in Belfast.
Her advice to budding actors during auditions is: “leave yourself behind and get into the mindset of your character” and “just have loads of courage and confidence”.
When it comes to new roles, Alisha looks for “a connection” and “something that intrigues her”.
This was certainly true in the as yet untitled Universal horror movie, from Irish screenwriter Stephen Shields. Alisha stars alongside Melissa Barrera (Scream VI), playing a child kidnappee who is revealed to be more than she appears.
“I love watching horror movies and always really wanted to do one. It was so exciting to be on set and see behind the scenes of a horror movie.
“We filmed it in the summer but because of the American actors' strike it shut down. So when the strike ends we will go and finish the final two weeks,” she reveals about the movie, which was filmed in Dublin.
Alisha can next be seen in the comedy mystery Wicked Little Letters. Due for release next February, it stars Olivia Colman, as a pious woman who begins to receive scandalous letters and Jesse Buckley as a young Irish mother.
“I recorded it this time last year and I really, really loved it. Jessie and Olivia were again so nice and helpful.
“I play Jessie’s daughter. I really liked my character, especially as I got to sing and play guitar,” adds the multi-talented Alisha, revealing that her dad taught her to play for the role.
She is currently recording the voice of headstrong nine-year-old Mary in the $15m animated feature Buffalo Kids. Also featuring the voices of Gemma Arterton, Sean Bean, and Stephen Graham, it tells the story of two Irish orphans who journey to New York and along the way have to deal with a band of outlaws.
“Animation is very different to filming because you are in a studio, but I love it as well,” adds Alisha, a voice we are sure to hear a lot more of.
Whilst she still has to complete her school exams, the excited teenager is dreaming of a future as a movie star.
“I've had so much fun on the films that I've done so far, so I'd definitely love to do lots of films as well as perform on stage. Let’s see what comes,” she beams.
Having already worked alongside Oscar winners Emma Thompson and Olivia Colman, I can’t resist but ask Alisha if she dreams of Oscar glory?
As for her co-star wish-list, again she is aiming high.
“I love Millie Bobby Brown, Jennifer Aniston, Zendaya, Saoirse Ronan and the list goes on and on.”
Roald Dahl’s Matilda The Musical and Q&A with Alisha Weir is on Saturday October 14 at 11am at Belfast Odeon. For tickets and full programme visit Cinemagic.org.uk.