Madelyn Cline Talks "Knives Out 2," Her New Indie Movie "What Breaks The Ice," And 25 More Behind-The-Scenes Stories
"When they finally got us all together for the last time, it felt like puzzle pieces just kind of fell into place."
Flashback to April 2020 — we're all in the middle of a worldwide lockdown, and suddenly a little teen drama series called Outer Banks debuts on Netflix. After literally millions of fans watched her play Sarah Cameron, OBX star Madelyn Cline was immediately boosted into stardom. Now, 18 months later, Madelyn has just finished filming Knives Out 2, starred in an indie movie called What Breaks the Ice, returned for the second (and hopefully third) season of OBX, and attended Paris Fashion Week.
In honor of What Breaks the Ice's theatrical release, Madelyn sat down with BuzzFeed to talk about everything — like her favorite behind-the-scenes "tomfoolery," getting to work with the Hollywood legends she grew up watching, her newfound love for Squid Game, and her ideal OBX Season 3 storyline. Here's everything we chatted about:
1. First, what was it like becoming an overnight sensation after Outer Banks dropped in the middle of the pandemic?
It's been a lot of high highs. It's been a lot of low lows. It was crazy because we started this journey with Outer Banks, in the middle of quarantine, so we were just stuck in our apartments. We are so excited that the show is doing well. And then once quarantine is lifted, we'd go out of the house, and people would be coming up to us and be like, "We love the show!" I remember the first time I got asked for a picture — it still wasn't really registering in my mind — and so I said "Why...?" And they were like, "Are you...are you on Outer Banks?" And I was like "Oh! I am, I actually am, yeah, no, I'm sorry. I'm really sorry about this, of course." It's been the coolest thing, and it's crazy to go to, like, different parts of the world and see the show's reach. It's just been the wildest experience of my life.
2. What was your original audition like for Outer Banks?
It just happened so fast. I had maybe one or two auditions, and usually, for a series regular role on a show, you would imagine that you have to jump through hoops. Like, you'd have multiple first auditions, and then director sessions, and then producer sessions — usually you have to go through this entire process, but it was just two auditions and then they offered the job. At first, I was just like, "Are you sure? Like, are you positive? I just don't think you guys thought about this enough." But they were sure, and I was so excited that they were so passionate about me playing Sarah.
BuzzFeed: Was this around the same time you first met the rest of the cast?
I had been to a couple of chemistry reads after I'd been cast and it was different iterations [of actors] when they're trying to pair the Pogues together. So, I had met a ton of different people and they were all so amazing. It was just crazy because when they finally got us all together for the last time, it felt like puzzle pieces just kind of fell into place. Everybody just had their characters in them and they lifted them from the page so well. We all kind of looked at each other like we knew.
3. Sarah Cameron has already been through a lot of chaos and trauma on Outer Banks. If the series gets a third season, how would you want her story to play out?
I want to see her step into some independence and I want to see her happy. Season 2 was just so heavy for her, and for everybody, it was just an adrenaline-fueled season and we just felt like the Pogues just kept running into walls. I want to see them go back and just be teenagers again. I want that friendship that everybody fell in love with. I want to see Sarah get a job and absolutely panic and be like, "I never had responsibility before in my life! What am I doing?" I just think that would be so much fun. I've said this before, but I just think it'd be really fun if she had, like, some Rachel Green moments where she's just, you know, working at a coffee shop and she's putting tea bags in coffee. It'd be so great if we saw her just trying her best.
BuzzFeed: Yeah, we haven't even seen her be just a teenager. Like, she almost died and then had to watch her dad die.
I wanna just slow it down a bit.
4. What Breaks the Ice had mostly female-led departments behind the scenes. How was this filming experience different from any of the other sets you worked on?
I love working on indie [films] because it's just so tight-knit. We were on location, and I love shooting on location because everyone is just displaced. You kind of have to lean on each other and you make friends quickly. You have late nights where you're listening to music, and you're sharing your music tastes, and you're talking about life. It's just a really fun bonding experience. You create this little family while you're shooting and it makes the experience that much more special. That's how it was shooting on that movie. Sofia [Hublitz] was amazing, and our cast members were amazing. Most of our department heads were women and they were just incredible. It was so great to watch them run this film. Rebecca [Eskreis, screenwriter and director] brought this film to life completely by her bootstraps. It's very cool to see.
5. The film, which centers around two teens who find themselves caught up in a murder investigation, definitely takes a very dark turn for your character, Emily. How did you prepare mentally and emotionally prior to filming?
I mean, it wasn't another spoiled teenager — which is always really fun to play. Obviously, there are some scenes that are difficult to play and — excuse my French — a fucked up headspace. Sometimes, I'm like "I don't know where to start" and sometimes that's the best place to start because who would? Who would actually know where to start in situations like that? You just allow yourself to discover and know you have to be empathetic.
6. Do you have a favorite memory or scene from What Breaks the Ice?
The sleepover scenes with Sof [Madelyn's costar, Sofia Hublitz] were always really fun because we were so tired — our schedule was just so hectic. So, whenever we got a chance to be literally just laying down, we were so happy and so relieved.
7. Between Emily in What Breaks the Ice and Sarah Cameron in Outer Banks, is there a character that you relate to more?
I don't know...I think because I played Sarah for so long, I feel like there's a lot that you know [about her]. I think we've infused a lot of ourselves into the story and into our characters. So I don't really know if I relate to either one more than the other, but I think I know Sarah better.
BuzzFeed: Probably for the best that you don't really relate to either of them.
[laughter] Yeah, probably!
8. You were also filming Knives Out 2 in Greece over the summer. Can you tell us a little bit about the audition process for that movie?
That was one where it was rounds, and rounds, and rounds, and rounds of auditions, which feels more normal, but it's also even more stressful. You audition and you don't hear anything for a couple of weeks, and then you hear something and you're absolutely elated. But then you're like, "Oh, shit, now I have to do this work. Now I have to put my money where my mouth is," and really do the prep work as much as you possibly can with limited material because it's super top secret.
When I found out, we'd actually just flown to New York and we were landing. I just turned my cellphone service on and I had a ton of missed calls. Rian [Johnson, Knives Out director] texted me and was like, "Give me a shout!" I started shaking. I was like "I feel like I know what this means. But I'm terrified!" I was at baggage claim and Rian called. He was like, "I would love if you come on this journey with us. Let's make a movie," and I was just jumping up and down. I was absolutely over the moon. It was so great because we actually just spent the next weekend in New York. We're just celebrating the whole time. It was so much fun.
9. You’re also acting alongside Daniel Craig, Kathryn Hahn, Janelle Monáe, Kate Hudson, and a ton of other legendary people. What has it been like working with a stacked cast for Knives Out 2?
It's insane! It's so insane! I mean, it's crazy. It was so sweet. At the very end of it, we had a dinner and everybody went around and poured their heart out. I was like, "Can I say one thing?" I meant it so much when I said it, but I told them all, "I've grown up watching you guys. I've grown up admiring your work, and obviously this whole time we've been trying so hard not to fangirl, but it's been like the most amazing experience: To see you guys work, and to see you guys be so human, and so vulnerable, and also so welcoming, and so sweet, and so giving, and so fun." It was honestly just such a cool experience. And I miss it so much.
When we were on stages, we would be in the green room and we had a chessboard set up and Scrabble set up, then we had jazz playing, and we were drinking tea. It was just such a fun experience. And then Greece was magical. It was a great summer.
BuzzFeed: I know it's super top secret, but is there anything you can tease about the movie so far?
[laughter] I'm not saying anything! I don't want to get in trouble!
10. What’s the first thing you do after you wake up?
Oh, brush my teeth? Yeah.
11. What’s the last show you binge-watched?
Squid Game. Oh my god, I loved it. It totally sent me on a spiral. Those are my favorites.
12. What’s your wildest fan story?
One time I was greeted with a gift of a White Claw. And I don't think that's very wild, but I definitely don't think they were old enough to be drinking. And I was like, "Thank you, but I also don't want to condone this behavior...I don't think I can accept this...but thank you!" It was also the experience when they asked me to take a picture and I said, "Why...?" All around a 10 out of 10 interaction.
13. If you could guest-star on any show — currently airing or not — what would it be?
Oooh, Sex Education, maybe? I love Sex Education. It's so much fun. I love the humor. It's incredible. Yes. Final answer.
14. Have you ever caught someone on a plane watching a show or movie you’ve been in?
No, but I did get a picture from Sofia. She was on a plane and she sent me a picture and there were three or four people watching Outer Banks on their phones. It was just after [Season 2] came out and I was in Greece and she was like "It's everywhere!" I was just in shock. It blew my mind.
15. Name a celebrity on your bucket list that you'd love to work with.
Oh my god. I'd love to go on Between Two Ferns [with Zach Galifianakis]. I think that would be so much fun. Also, I just adore Anthony Hopkins. I feel like that would be the wildest experience.
16. What’s your favorite thing to do between takes on set?
My favorite thing to do — especially on night shoots and everybody's getting a little delirious and, you know, slap-happy and super sleep deprived — everybody just starts to lose their mind a little bit. So, people are singing, people are dancing. Basically, tomfoolery. I love when people get really goofy.
17. What’s the most used emoji on your phone?
Right now the top used emoji is the little skull 💀. The skull with the laughing emoji 😂💀, and this hand 🤌. I think it's because I was in Italy and I was just sending this to everybody.
18. Describe your style in three words.
Baggy, comfy, sweatpants.
19. Have you picked up any new quarantine hobbies?
Chess! I need to watch The Queen's Gambit, though, everybody tells me I need to.
BuzzFeed: Yeah, maybe you can become a chess pro!
I don't know about that...my favorite is like just chaos where you're just moving pieces really fast and you make, you know, just chaos.
20. What’s the last thing you looked up on Google?
The last thing I looked up on Google was...oh! [laughter] "Blood pressure stress," because I was watching Squid Game. And I was like, "I feel like my blood pressure is rising...I can feel my blood pressure going through the roof right now." I just wanted to make sure this is related and something's not actually wrong.
21. What’s your go-to karaoke song?
"Gimme, Gimme, Gimme" by ABBA.
22. Describe your perfect day.
I would actually wake up early and then go get a cute little coffee, and a cute little breakfast, and then maybe go shopping? Then get a cute little lunch and then maybe go get my nails done. Meet up with friends for dinner and maybe we'd go out and then go back and have drinks and dance and maybe just all crash on the couch.
23. Who was your childhood celebrity crush?
Oh, I was Team Edward. All the way.
24. What’s your go-to drink to order at a bar?
A passionfruit martini, with a shot of champagne on the side and you pour it into it. Oh, it's so good, girl. It's good. It's been a game-changer.
25. What’s something on your bucket list?
I want to climb a mountain or go backpacking somewhere. That'd be really cool.
BuzzFeed: Oh wow, are you a big hiking person?
[Laughter] Like, I hate going on hikes, but I feel like I should climb a mountain at least once in my life. Just to say I did it. Yeah. I saw the view, I saw some clouds. And yeah, it's good, I did it. No more hiking ever again. Just cross it off.
26. What’s a typical day for you at the moment?
Well, there's been no normal recently because I've just kind of been all over, but right now I'm home. So, a typical day is wake up — I'm home with my family — so my mom's like, we have errands to run. We have to do this, this, and this. And I'm like, "Mother, I don't. But I will come with you." It's really cute. She'll give me like a grocery list and she's like, "Go pick this up" and "What are you cooking for dinner tonight?" And, you know, "Make sure to do your laundry before you leave." It's always very fun. I love coming back home for a few days because I feel like it grounds me.
27. Finally, who have you been the most starstruck by?
One time, I saw Whoopi Goldberg and I turned around and started hyperventilating, so I just ran to the bathroom. I didn't say anything. It was great. I love her.
BuzzFeed: Have you met her again since?
No, but the memory is enough.