Abigail Breslin started acting in commercials at age 6 and was already a working actor by 8 with roles in films like Signs (2002), Raising Helen (2004) and The Princess Diaries 2 (2004).
But 2006’s Little Miss Sunshine was a Big Deal for her. The comedy-drama released in theaters 15 years ago, on July 26, 2006, starred Breslin alongside Greg Kinnear, Steve Carell, Toni Collette, Paul Dano and Alan Arkin as a dysfunctional family of misfits who road trip from Albuquerque, N.M., to Southern California in a yellow VW bus after Breslin’s precocious Olive qualifies for a beauty pageant.
Written by Michael Arndt and co-directed by husband-and-wife team Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris, Little Miss Sunshine was the definitive Little Indie That Could — made for $8 million before becoming the toast of the town at the 2006 Sundance Film Festival, selling to Fox Searchlight and continuing its hot streak to the tune of $101 million at the box office. It also earned four Oscar nominations, winning Best Original Screenplay and Best Supporting Actor (Arkin) while also up for Best Picture and Best Supporting Actress (Breslin, who at 10 became one of the youngest nominees ever).
“It was such an incredible film to be a part of, and I don’t think anyone expected it to become as successful as it was,” Breslin, now 25, told us during a recent interview promoting her latest film, Stillwater (watch above). “So it was obviously a film that gave me a lot of opportunities and opened a lot of doors for me, so it’s crazy to think it’s already been 15 years, but I have amazing memories from that whole experience.”
Though it’s undeniably dark at points, the film was heralded as a crowd-pleaser the moment it bowed at Sundance, and no moment better epitomized that energy than Olive’s climactic eyebrow-raising shakedown to the Rick James funk classic “Super Freak.”
“I had a lot of fun doing that, getting to work with everybody on it. It was just a blast,” Breslin says now. “And I think I was so young I didn’t have any insecurities yet or anything. That took about a day and a half, I think. I just remember having such a fun time doing it.”
Little Miss Sunshine is available to buy/rent on most major digital providers. Stillwater opens July 30.
— Video produced by Jen Kucsak and edited by Steve Michel
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