Ella Ballentine: Becoming Anne Shirley

The premiere of L.M. Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables is only hours away, and it’s time for you to meet your new Anne Shirley, Ella Ballentine. She is very excited to step into Anne’s shoes and bring this story to a new generation, and says this character is a role model that is needed right now. Read our conversation with Ella from last year’s visit to the set, and watch the film this evening at 6pm ET/PT on YTV.

When you were first cast as Anne, how did you prepare for the role?

Well to become Anne Shirley, first the director [John Kent Harrison] really helped me get into the role. He came over to my house, and we read the script together, and he told more about how Anne acts. There are a lot of shifts. She has a bunch of mood changes.She imagines something and then asks a question about it. We worked on that a lot because that’s not something I do. It’s something that I had to develop. As we’ve been filming, I’ve been getting much more used to that and it’s coming more naturally.

Were you familiar with Anne’s story?

I actually didn’t know very much about Anne of Green Gables or Anne Shirley. I knew it was a Canadian story, but now my generation we don’t really know that much about it.

I really like how I’ve gotten to know her because as playing her it’s more of a personal connection to her so that’s been really exciting. I think it’s great because now another generation’s going to get to see it. I think now knowing her, and her character, I think it’s a great story. I really hope that people now, because there’s another movie coming out, that there’s going to be more people getting to know Anne.

What about Anne do you think will encourage and inspire your peers?

I think a lot of girls need a role model in this generation. There are many women [to look up to], but Anne’s something more their age. Anne’s a really great role model because she’s very positive, she’s always curious to learn, and she knows what’s right and what’s wrong. If there’s something that someone’s telling her, like picking on her because of her hair, she lets them know you can’t pick on me because of that.

You and Lucy Maud Montgomery have something in common — she was first published as a teen, and at 13 years old, you’ve already been acting for four years. What can you tell us about having a creative career at a young age?

I think it’s really great that I can do these things. I know a lot of kids can’t really go on set because their parents are working. I’m very fortunate to have great parents who are very supportive and they take the time to take me on set. I love acting so much. I can’t imagine life not acting so being this young and being able to do it, I’m very fortunate and grateful for that.

You’re also working with some phenomenal talent in this film, Sara Botsford and Martin Sheen. Are they helping you with your performance or offering any advice?

Everyone on set is very kind to me. Martin is very, very fun to work with. He’s very nice. He tells all these stories, like about his other movies. He even told me what movies I can and can’t watch of his. He says I can’t watch Apocalypse Now until I’m eighteen. He’s very strict about that. He tells me that as long as I’m having fun [acting] that I should keep doing it. Sara Botsford, who plays Marilla, she’s also very nice. She’s been doing this for a while. It’s really great to see her on set because while Martin’s making jokes, she is always asking very good questions from the director about her character. I’ve learned on this set that you can ask questions about the character and how the director wants the scene to go.

We had a chance to see some of your fantastic costumes. How much fun has it been to wear these clothes?

I love the wardrobe on this show because I’m very girly. I love dresses. I love having my hair in different styles. The wardrobe is gorgeous. There’s so much detail in every single dress.

Is there a favorite dress so far?

I love the dress that I’m wearing right now for the winter scene because it has really nice colors, autumn colors, and it’s plaid. It has a cute collar on it. I also like what I call the typical Anne Shirley outfit — a green dress with a little collar and a pinafore over it — because it’s very comfortable, but it’s also really cute.

*Anne of Green Gables will make its US debut on PBS on Thanksgiving, November 24, 2016.

Photo Courtesy of YTV

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