Taylor Lee is pretty confident in her acting skills, but the 17-year-old Landrum resident couldn't help but be a little nervous around the director of an upcoming film in which she was recently cast.
Lee will appear in “Sully,” a drama directed by Hollywood icon Clint Eastwood and scheduled for release next summer via Warner Bros. Pictures.
“Yeah, I was a little bit star-struck,” Lee said. “Just because he's a big-time director and was an actor in his younger days and a lot of people look up to him, not just from the South but all around the world.
“But I think it's pretty cool that I got to show him what I was capable of. Hopefully, he'll never forget me.”
Lee got the part through a casting agency and filmed her scenes last month in Georgia, where she worked closely with Eastwood.
“He's very humble and down-to-earth,” Lee said of her director. “He knows what he wants in his movies, and he's very quick. He knows time is money, and he's going to get it right the first time.”
The film is based on the heroics of Chelsey “Sully” Sullenberger, the real-life airline captain who in January 2009 guided his disabled plane onto the frigid waters of the Hudson River next to New York City, saving the lives of all 155 passengers.
Lee plays Sullenberger's daughter, Kate.
“I don't remember it personally, but everybody I talk to remembers it,” Lee said of the incident that was major headline news when she was only in the fifth grade.
Of course, she's since learned quite a bit about what was dubbed the “Miracle on the Hudson.”
“The fact that Sully safely landed the plane on the Hudson River and everyone was fine is extraordinary,” Lee said. “That takes a lot of guts, to be able to do something like that. I started studying about Captain Sullenberger more and he's a pretty big inspiration. He's very motivational.”
Captain Sullenberger is being played by Academy Award-winning actor Tom Hanks.
While Lee didn't get to meet her onscreen dad during filming, she was able to spend quite a bit of time with her onscreen mom, Oscar-nominated actress Laura Linney.
“Tom was in L.A. when we were shooting, so I didn't see him, but Laura was absolutely outstanding,” Lee said. “She's a great role model for everybody to look up to. She's very down-to-earth and humble, and, like Clint, she's very professional. It was great to work with someone like that.”
Lee said she expects to have a fair amount of screen time during the film.
“I didn't have any lines, but I had to act quite a bit,” she said. “You'll definitely be able to say, 'Hey, there's Taylor.'”
But her family and friends won't have to wait until next summer to see Lee on the big screen. She was an extra in “The 5th Wave,” a science-fiction thriller premiering in January.
Despite her recent successes, which also include music recordings, Lee considers herself just another Landrum High School senior.
“I just try to stay as much Taylor as possible,” she said. “I don't want to be this person who changes just because they get a role in a movie or their songs are on iTunes.
"I want to be a small town 'Hey, I go to the same school as you' girl. I'm not a huge deal. I just want to stay as humble as possible.”
That's not to say she isn't setting her sights high as an actress.
“It's been about three years since I decided, 'Hey, this is what I want to do with my life,'” said Lee, who caught the acting bug after starring in plays at Landrum High. “The next big step is to get a speaking role.
“It all starts with one line, and it takes just one person to say, 'Hey, I want you to be in this movie,' so I'm going to keep on doing what I'm doing and put forth even more effort.”