At nineteen years old, Abigail Breslin is starring in her first television series, after years of stealing our hearts on the big screen, in the darkly funny Scream Queens. She’s also set to release her writing debut in This May Sound Crazy. Some of it might, but one thing’s for certain: Breslin is wicked smart, hella funny, and like the rest of us, just trying to figure her way out in this crazy world.
A deafening scream pierces through the New Orleans heat. Pairs of Fendi, Saint Laurent, and other designer heels clack down the marble staircase of Kappa Kappa Tau, the once-exclusive sorority at Wallace University which counts Diane Sawyer among its alumni. Another death has hit the campus and one thing is clear: No one is safe. This is the stage for Scream Queens, the horror-comedy from FOX that mixes old-school tropes (horror cliches and segregation from the 80’s) with new-school flair (social media, modern-day quips and attitude). Abigail Breslin stars as Chanel #5, the next in charge at KKT following Emma Roberts’ HBIC Chanel with no number. She was almost convinced she didn’t get the part after meeting with creator Ryan Murphy. “All I talked about was boy drama,” she shares of their initial encounter, “so I thought I blew it. But a few weeks later, he called to tell me the role was mine!”
It’s surprising to hear Breslin be shocked by potentially not getting the role. She made her screen debut in M. Night Shyamalan’s Signs. Four years later, she earned an Oscar nomination for her role as Olive Hoover in Little Miss Sunshine, the smash indie hit about a dysfunctional family entering their unlikely daughter in a beauty pageant. Since then, she’s continued to have a jam-packed schedule of films showcasing her talent from Nim’s Island to Zombieland. “I try to explore, in my imagination, the background of the character, how she would dress and her relationships to the other characters in the story. Then when I’m on set, hopefully the character comes to life in my performance,” Breslin says of her process. Scream Queens is her first foray into the television world. “It’s definitely a lot harder than I expected. With film, you can shoot something in a month. With this, it’s more like eight.” Breslin relocated from her New York home to New Orleans with the rest of the cast.
Scream Queens is set to break boundaries and appeal to a younger audience. Despite having disappointing viewership during the first airing, it was the most talked about show of the night on social media and within 24 hours was quickly bumped up to one of the top-watched pilots of the season. The creators are clearly trying to show that the TV world is changing with viewers tuning in after the initial showing. They've aimed to take the lead in appealing to the internet-reliant generation. “Ryan set the stage and then he let us create the characters,” she shares of another step production took to target the show to modern-day youth. However, just because some of the words they use are their own, they’re not much like their characters. “I can relate to the anxious annoying aspect of [Chanel #5], unfortunately. Otherwise, we have nothing in common.”
Outside of filming, Breslin has been chipping away at her keyboard penning, or more appropriately typing, her first book. It May Sound Crazy, releasing October 5th, is a short collection of stories, advice, and a few poems written by the actress over a seven month period. She had always found writing to be a place of comfort. When a friend introduced her to a poetry-centered Tumblr page, she quickly became addicted to the site. “After hours of scrolling through photos of sunsets and cobblestone streets and different quotes and stories, I felt like I knew the people who had created them. I knew what they liked and disliked—from bands to foods to movies to whether or not they got along with their parents to who they had a crush on,” she shares at the start of her book. “Tumblr quickly became a place where I could tell stories about guys I liked who didn’t like me back or friends who gave me advice that I wanted to share. I began messaging back to the people who followed my blogs, and they shared stories with me about their exes and their friends, about their recent heartbreaks and their newfound loves—and sometimes just about their cats or their dog.” The biggest thing she learned from the experience, she says, was that we all have a common heart and soul.
“I’ve been putting my emotions out there as an actor my whole life, and writing, for me, is just another outlet for my feelings and observations.” Her blog quickly gained a following. Readers began to write to her for advice, she would sharing stories of her own troubles and tribulations, and eventually got approached with the idea of putting out a book. She decided to go for it and followed the footsteps of fellow writer-thespians such as Mindy Kaling and Lena Dunham.
“I write stream of conscious style and it usually reflects my life at the time,” Breslin shares. Most of the stories are very personal, centering about situations with friends or deep reflections on her life at home. One of the most curious chapter titles, The Time Ryan Gosling Gave Me a Pep Talk, winds up being last thing you would ever expect–and it’s great but I’m not going to give any spoilers. You’ll have to find out for yourself. She writes as if she’s talking to a friend–and thats because she is. “It’s made it a lot easier, for me at least, [that] I can actually call many of my fans friends. It also made me realize that we’re not alone and terribly unique.” Other chapters discuss how to get over a break-up, the joys of unrequited love, and why being honest can suck.
If there’s one thing to learn from Breslin, it’s that all the things that you think make you weird or make you a freak, well, it’s time to tell you: We all do it. We all look through an ex’s instagram even though we shouldn’t. We all have those times where we over-analyze ourselves and get way too into our own head. We all have some of those really weird things that we do but don’t tell anybody about. She gives it to you straight. She pulls back the curtain and shows her oddities and, in that way, it makes it all okay. Because if this mega-successful actress has moments of doubt too maybe, just maybe, everything for us will be okay too. She doesn’t sugarcoat, she doesn’t preach. She just tells her perspective, gives what advice she can, and lets you figure out the rest with humor thrown into the mix.
This story first appeared in the debut issue of Rogue, October 2015. Limited copies still available here.
story by Jordan Blakeman
shot by Tyler Shields