Mackenzie Davis Didn’t Have to Wait for Success

The beautiful star of Halt and Catch Fire and the new movie What If describes taking the shortest possible route to fame and fortune.

You wouldn’t guess it if you took a quick glance at Mackenzie Davis’s lengthy IMDB profile, but the Canadian actress has only been at it for a few years. Since debuting in the indie alcoholism drama Smashed in 2012, Davis has scored starring roles as a love interest in the Zac Efron vehicle That Awkward Moment, on AMC’s ‘80s computer drama Halt and Catch Fire, which wrapped up its impressive first season finale on Sunday, and as a vampire in upcoming would-be franchise (because of course). This Friday, a romantic comedy Davis shot two years ago with Daniel Radcliffe and Adam Driver called What If will finally be released, earning her the sort of praise that most actresses have to wait more than few years to get.

We spoke with Davis about wrapping up her first ever TV series and what it was like shooting a movie with Harry Potter.

When you started acting did you know what sorts of roles you wanted to get?

I mean, I wanted to be Beetlejuice. I watched nonstop Beetlejuice and The Princess Bride growing up. I think it was the exposure to those two worlds – that you could go somewhere else. I’ve never really vocalized this to myself or had a thought that this is why my acting career started, but I imagine those two really fantastical movies had a big effect on me wanting to do this and be able to do it as an adult.

Do you have a sense that there are Halt and Catch Fire fanboys who are really into Cameron as a hot, geek girl?

No! I am just not aware of anything. My first instance of exposure was doing the Twitter Q&A and I was like, “Wow, this is so cool. These people are interested in the show!” That was lovely. But in my daily life I think one of my friends actually watches it. That’s not in a bad way, but it’s only one of many things that’s going on in my life. I’m not really aware of what currents are going on other than the fact that the show aired on Sundays.

Do you know if you’re getting a second season of Halt and Catch Fire yet?

No, I know nothing. We did a Twitter Q&A before the finale and I would just scroll through and be like “I don’t know. I don’t know. I don’t know.”

When you took the role, did you realize the scope of the character and how integral she would be to the story?

Yes, that was really important to me when I took the role. I probably thought she was going to be more of a shit-disturber than she was. She ends up being really productive and also has an enormous arc of who she is at the beginning of the season and who she ends up being. I didn’t think she would have traveled as far as she did, which is really exciting and cool. I just wish she would chill a little bit and harness her energy for good. But yeah, I knew she would be smart and aggressive.

Was there something specific about your character in What If that appealed to you?

It was more how I wanted to be. She’s very unfiltered. I’m a much more muted version than she is. She’s balls to the wall and not really concerned with making a dainty impression on anyone. Plus, working with Adam [Driver] was a huge incentive. And Daniel [Radcliff] and Zoe [Kazan] are the loveliest people. The whole package was really exciting for me.

Is Adam as interesting of a guy as he seems onscreen?

In real life he’s not the same as he is in the film or as he is in Girls, but obviously there’s kernels of that. They’ve just exploded in the characters he’s plays.

And did you ever have a moment where you were like “Whoa, I’m making a movie with Harry Potter”?

This was only the second or maybe third movie that I’ve done so I just adopted this attitude of like ‘If you recognize what you’re doing then you’ll freak out and not be able to do your job.’ So I would go into every job like, ‘This is really normal!’ and act like nothing was a big deal and I wasn’t intimidated by any scenario. But once I met [Daniel Radcliffe], he’s just a really normal, lovely human being. There was no reason to ever think about the hugeness of his place in the world outside of our set. Except that children would lineup outside to meet him every day.

Really? That’s so bizarre.

He was really lovely about it and would always take time for them. It was really nice exposure to how somebody famous could be.

And he’s had the chance to be magical. Did you get to sort of indulge in those sorts of Michael Keaton-esque shenanigans when you were filming Kitchen Sink, your upcoming vampire movie?

I’m on the outer circle of it. It has the same sort of flavor of it, which is nice. I don’t know if anything can match Beetlejuice.

Photos by AMC