I Will Not Back Down: Hannah Marks and Mia Isaac on Don’t Make Me Go | Interviews

Mia, this was your first feature film.

MI: Yes, that was it.

Do you have a memory of it that you will always cherish?

MI: Sure, the first day of shooting felt really surreal to me. It was my 17th birthday and so it felt like a very, very, very special birthday present to be there in New Zealand. At first I was scared, but it was really special. We started in the house with just Max and Wally, which was really nice, because it set the tone for the rest of the movie. That was my favorite memory.

That sounds like a great birthday.

MI: Better than 16. I was quarantined alone.

HM: Seventeen you were in New Zealand as a lead in a movie.

MI: So much better.

You said this was the furthest you’ve come in the casting process. How was that process for you?

MI: Yes. It was the furthest I’ve ever gotten. I really didn’t read the script until maybe my second round. So after I already auditioned for it a bit. After I met Hannah, I read the script. When I read it, I had an instant connection with Wally. It felt like we were in the same place in our lives. I was 16 when I auditioned, and she went at 16. I really loved her relationship with Max. I am very close with my parents. It brought out an emotional response in me that I hadn’t really expected. When I finished it I got really scared because when you care about something, you get scared. So I just really really wanted to be there because I loved it so much. That made me even more nervous for the upcoming auditions. But it was really great. Hannah was very helpful throughout the process. It felt like we were already friends. She talked a bit like I’d already gotten the part.

HM: I couldn’t help it. I wasn’t allowed to talk like that. But in my head, Mia was always the first choice. And you never seemed nervous. I know you were nervous, but your nerves manifest as joy and happiness, which is great. Some people’s nerves go inward. I feel like yours is going out, which is so special to watch because your nerves just lift you up.

How did you build a big shift towards the end of the movie?

HM: I liked that very subtle seeds were planted throughout the film. Things that felt like teenage anxiety or teenage panic attacks, yet they were a symptom of something much bigger. I think the shift really speaks to the themes of the movie, which is that you can’t control everything. You must be present and live your life to the fullest. We don’t know what’s going to happen. It ended up being a more empowering movie for Wally, as the shift showed that Wally was the one her father taught rather than the other way around.