If you didn't catch Tomorrowland during its opening weekend, you missed out on one of this summer's most impressive performances. Based on previews and trailers, you probably think I'm talking about George Clooney or Britt Robertson, the stars whose faces are plastered on most of the billboards.
While George and Britt provide their basis of the story as Frank Walker and Casey Newton, newcomer Raffey Cassidy proves herself as a scene-stealer and a rising star to watch. As the extra intelligent Athena, Raffey is something of a guide to Tomorrowland and all its wonders, but there is nothing more worthy of marveling than the young actress's command of the screen.
After getting the chance to interview Raffey Cassidy on her breakout role, it's clear that the sky's the limit for this new talented performer. Here's how she proved to be a stand-out in Tomorrowland and made me want a future with way more of her in it.
1. She perfectly embodies the wonderfully complex character, Athena
When we first meet Athena, she's a mysterious but welcoming figure who clearly has a few tricks up her sleeve. As the movie goes on, we quickly discover an integral character trait (one that I'm trying really hard not to reveal) that makes Raffey's performance all the more captivating. In short, Athena is not an easy role for any actor, but Raffey easily makes her both relatable and special.
2. She has amazing chemistry with all her co-stars
How often do we see child actors relegated to the background while their top-billed co-stars get all the action? Luckily, Raffey fares much better.
Brad Bird makes certain that she is front and center for many pivotal scenes, and her rapport with George and Britt establishes a hilarious rhythm that gives Tomorrowland the kind of humor we've come to expect from Disney.
3. She steals scenes from George Clooney
Now, I want to be clear that George does a marvelous job of being crotchety as Frank Walker (which is definitely a departure from someone who typically oozes charisma), but my eyes would go right to Athena for most of their scenes.
They have one of the most unique dynamics I've seen on screen this year, making their relationship alone worth the price of a ticket.
4. She does most of her own incredible stunts
Why use a stunt double when you already have a pint-sized human dynamo? Raffey told me that she spent two months training in gymnastics, swimming, and martial arts to prepare for the extremely active role. And, let me tell you, that preparation must have come in handy because Athena is easily the best fighter in the story, which brings me to my next point.
5. She gets the most thrilling fight scenes
Yes, that's Athena controlling an intimidatingly large robot, and this is just one of the scenes where she's in life-threatening peril but never bats an eyelash. Tomorrowland's most eye-popping moments are courtesy of this one girl, who never shies away from the action.
6. She proves that age is not a limitation
With her brilliant mind and determined attitude, Athena is an inspiration to young kids everywhere, and I felt that same sense of motivation from Raffey herself. She said that she hit the ground running when she got to the set, and the final result can't be denied. It's clear that she brought excitement and professionalism to the set, and her co-stars can't say enough good things about the impressive young star.
7. She's an "old soul inside of a young body"
That's how Raffey herself explains her character, and it seems like only somebody with equal maturity would be able to bring Athena to life.
Without giving too much away, it's pivotal to the story that Athena have wisdom beyond her visible years, and Raffey performs that duality with ease. She's a conundrum, both idealistic and rational, and it's astounding to watch such a young actress totally nail it.
8. She's got impeccable comedic timing
The ability to land a joke is one of the hardest things to teach. In fact, it may just be pretty much impossible. But Raffey clearly didn't need much comedic training considering she commands every funny moment with terrific delivery and had me roaring in the theater.
I could listen to her call Britt Robertson "young lady" all day, and I still wouldn't be able to stop chuckling.
9. She's already inspiring girls to get into science
If you scour social media, there is already a flurry of positive response to Athena and Casey, two female characters who use their interests in science to ensure the progress of humanity. There are no damsels in distress or simple love interests here. Athena's power comes primarily from her extensive knowledge and leadership skills, and she's an amazing role model for any aspiring scientist or engineer to look up to.
10. She captures the optimistic spirit of the movie
Tomorrowland presents a positive message for the future that could not be further away from the dystopian adventures that have become so popular in the past few years. It's a refreshing tone, and Athena is constantly the one pushing for things to get better.
11. She's the future
What more do you need to know? After a performance like this one, Raffey Cassidy is going to be everywhere. And I, for one, can think of no better tomorrow.