Orange County School of the Arts

Disney’s ‘Tomorrowland’: Interview with Raffey Cassidy

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Reporter Cassandra Hsiao and Raffey Cassidy (Athena in Disney’s Tomorrowland)

At the age of 13, Raffey Cassidy has a major motion picture under her belt, starred alongside George Clooney, and worked with director Brad Bird (“The Incredibles”, “Mission: Impossible — Ghost Protocol”). The England native takes the big screen as Athena, an intelligent, quick-witted little girl with fighting skills like no other. “Tomorrowland” takes audiences to a place in another dimension, inspired by Disneyland’s very own futuristic realm.

As a fan of “The Incredibles” and “Ratatouille”, Raffey was beyond excited to find out she would be working with renowned director Brad Bird. “When I found out this was a film Brad Bird was going to direct, I thought this is going to be amazing because he’s so imaginative,” she said.

Raffey’s experience on set was indescribable—she spotted something new every day. The scrupulous attention to detail in the costuming was a pleasant surprise as well. Raffey revealed that the lines on Athena’s grey futuristic-looking dress are actually numbers and algebra signs.

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Raffey Cassidy (Athena in Disney’s Tomorrowland) Picture credit : Courtesy of Disney

For the parts that were green screen or CGI, Raffey had no problem transporting herself to Tomorrowland. She is a girl with a big imagination and a love of special effects, which made it easy to dive into the futuristic world. “Brad would tell you so much about it that it was all in your head and you could just imagine where everything was,” she reflected.

It was incredible to watch the movie for the first time, and see all the parts come together seamlessly. One of Raffey’s favorite scenes was when her character Athena battled a giant robot called Goliath. She also loved the energy in the theater.

“It was so cool that the audience could be laughing one moment, and next there could be a sad moment,” she said. “I thought it was great that the emotions could change.”

She trained in gymnastics and martial arts for several months before and during the movie along with co-star Britt Robertson (Casey Newton). The two formed a sisterly bond. Throw George Clooney into the mix and the set was alive with energy and pranks.

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Raffey Cassidy and George Clooney at the Tomorrowland news conference

“There was this one time we filmed a monorail. The doors were supposed to open and the cameras would see us standing there. George decided it would be funny if we all ran to the sides, so when the doors opened, no one would be there,” she explained, laughing. “And sometimes, when I wasn’t looking, he’d pretend to slow-motion punch me. We’d fake react, and we’d fake kick and fake punch each other… George pulled many funny faces too.”

Her character Athena is a recruiter of dreamers. Raffey gave an inside look on the top qualities recruiters are looking for.

“You have to be very optimistic,” she said. “You have to be intelligent and smart. You have to believe in yourself and feel that you can make a difference in the world.”

From left: Raffey Cassidy, George Clooney, Britt Robertson, Tim McGraw, writer Damon Lindelof, and story writer Jeff Jensen.
From left: Raffey Cassidy, George Clooney, Britt Robertson, Tim McGraw, writer Damon Lindelof, and story writer Jeff Jensen.
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Reporter Cassandra Hsiao at Tomorrowland’s news conference.