I Won’t Back Down: Hannah Marks and Mia Isaac on Don’t Make Me Go | Interviews

Mia, this was your first feature. 

MI: Yes, it was. 

Do you have a memory from it you think you’ll always cherish?

MI: Definitely the first day of shooting really felt surreal for me. It was my 17th birthday and so it just felt like a really, really, really special birthday gift to be there in New Zealand. At first, I was scared, but it was really, really special. We started in the house with just Max and Wally, which was really nice, because it set the stage for the rest of the movie. That was my favorite memory.

That sounds like a great birthday. 

MI: Better than 16. I was in quarantine by myself. 

HM: Seventeen you were in New Zealand as the lead of a movie.

MI: So much better. 

You said this was the furthest you’ve gotten through in the casting process. What was that process like for you?

MI: Yeah. It was the farthest I’ve ever gotten. I really didn’t read the script until maybe my second round. So after I had already auditioned for it a little bit. After I met with Hannah, I read the script. When I read it, I just immediately connected to Wally. It felt like we were at the same place in our lives. I was 16 when I was auditioning, and she was going on 16. I really loved her relationship with Max. I’m really close to my parents. It brought out an emotional reaction in me that I wasn’t really expecting. Then when I finished it, I got really scared because when you care about something, you get scared. So I just, I really, really wanted to be a part of it, because I loved it so much. That made me even more nervous for the coming auditions. But it was really great. Hannah was very supportive through the whole process. It felt like we were already friends. She talked a little bit like I’d already gotten the role. 

HM: I couldn’t help myself. I wasn’t supposed to talk like that. But in my head, Mia was always the first choice. And you never seemed nervous. I know you were nervous, but your nerves manifest as joy and happiness, which is great. Some people’s nerves go internal. I feel like yours go external, which is so special to watch because your nerves only elevate you.

How did you build up to a big shift towards the end of the film?

HM: I liked that there were really subtle seeds planted throughout the movie. Things that felt like they could be teenage anxiety or teenage panic attacks, but yet it was a symptom of something much larger. I think that the shift really speaks to the themes of the movie, which are that you can’t control everything. You have to be present and live your life to the fullest. We don’t know what’s going to happen. Ultimately became a more empowering movie for Wally, because the shift showed that Wally was the one teaching her father instead of the other way around.

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