EXCLUSIVE: “47 Meters Down” stars, Mandy Moore and Claire Holt share the dangers of break-ups, sharks, and auditions

By: Michael Lee   July 7, 2017

In the survival thriller 47 Meters Down, a conservative young woman named Lisa (Mandy Moore) looks to rebound from the heartache of a recent breakup by pushing herself out of her comfort zone and joining her fearless, extroverted sister Kate (Claire Holt), on a quest for carefree fun and daring adventure in Mexico. To these ends, the duo tests their limit for danger by going cage diving with sharks. But when a mechanical failure sends them plummeting through the unforgiving depths of the ocean, the siblings must race against the clock to get back to the surface safely, with mortal threats assailing them from all sides.

By all accounts, co-stars Mandy Moore and Claire Holt formally met on an open-ocean diving session and became fast friends while making this movie. Perhaps this was a foregone conclusion given their mutually warm personalities and their shared experience of a physically taxing underwater shoot, but it’s still heartening (and frankly, kind of adorable) to see them finish each other’s sentences and plan their upcoming adventures together.

In this exclusive interview, Mandy and Claire talk about working on 47 Meters Down, along with some thoughts on auditions, healthy lifestyle choices, and future endeavors on the screen and off. In the process, we might have also started a few fake rumors and a fictional company called Moore & Holt.

Q: To what extent did your on-set friendship impact or inform your roles?

Claire Holt: It’s totally helpful.

Mandy Moore: Yeah.

Claire: Absolutely. To have a connection with someone that you’re supposed to be very connected with in the film…You know, it just adds to it. I’m sure you could convincingly do it if you didn’t like each other… [laughs] But it was great, and I don’t think our performances would have been as strong…

Mandy: …if we didn’t like each other.

Claire: Like each other in the way we do, and get on the way we did.

Mandy: I always feel like it’s somewhat palpable. You can kind of pick up on it when there’s some disagreement or people don’t like each other or something. And especially in this case, where you’re supposed to be playing siblings and we’re so intrinsically linked–we are so dependent on one another to survive this experience.

Q: Did you spend much time together before your open-ocean dive?

Mandy: Not really!

Q: Because it seems like you both have a history together…

Claire: Well, we went through this crazy experience together! [laughs] No, the dive training was the first time that we met.

Q: How was your experience of auditioning for this project?

Mandy: There wasn’t really much of an audition process, which is never the case.

Claire: Never the case!

Mandy: But this project somehow ended up in both of our hands, and so we were fortunate. I don’t know about (Claire), but I had a Skype meeting with the director. And he was like, “Do you swim? Are you afraid to go underwater?” There were very rudimentary questions. [laughs] But we didn’t really all meet each other until we went on that open-ocean dive. So they really kind of took a gamble on two actresses who were like, “Yeah, we’re game for it!” But had no experience whatsoever.

Claire: “Yeah, I can ride a horse. I can juggle. Sure!” [laughs] As an actor, you kind of say you can do everything and just figure it out when you go. But we figured it out somehow…I don’t think we pretended that we were qualified divers, I just think we were very honest about being game.

Mandy: Exactly! And being excited about doing it.

Q: How do you feel about the process of auditioning in general?

Mandy: Whew! I hate auditioning!

Claire: I hate it, too. It sucks. I’ve blown a lot of them! [laughs]

Mandy: Me, too! I just don’t love them. I don’t enjoy the process. There are some people who really revel and, like, “Oh, I’m just going to play. The stakes aren’t high at all!” And I get them, but I like to study and I’m really nervous. And I really shut the experience out, and I try to forget it as soon as I walk out of the room. (to Claire) Don’t you? Because you have no idea. It’s so out of your control.

Claire: Yes! You have to detach from the outcome. You have to do what you can and then let it go, because if you become attached to these projects and you want something so badly, and you work really hard on it and then it doesn’t go your way, it’s pretty crushing. And so I think both of us (I don’t want to speak for Mandy) have learned over the years that there are so many things, so many reasons it may or may not go your way, and they are completely out of your control, so you just do the best you can and move on.

Q: Mandy, your character is going on this dangerous shark adventure as a catharsis for a recent breakup. If the two of you were to launch a counseling firm called Moore & Holt which I think is a great name…

Mandy: Oo!

Claire: Yeah! Strong! Let’s do it.

Mandy: It’s really strong! [laughs]

Q: What activities would you suggest your clients take up to move on, have fun, and enjoy life?

Mandy: Hmmm…

Claire: Skydiving! Because Mandy’s a pro, so she can lead the skydiving troupe. [laughs]

Mandy: I’m one for definitely having some escapist entertainment, like skydiving. But I also think it’s important to pamper yourself. So, like, get a massage or go take an exercise class. It always feels good to sweat or kind of get the endorphins going.

Claire: And to sleep!

Mandy: Good call!

Claire: I think we’re conditioned in this day and age to function on no sleep, and you’re somehow weak if you like to sleep a lot. And I think we need it.

Mandy: Yeah. Naps, for sure!

Claire: Naps, 8 hours at night. That’s my advice!

Mandy: Good advice. I like that!

Q: What hobbies or interests have you taken up recently?

Claire: I’ve been taking a lot of dance class lately.

Mandy: [sighs] You have?

Claire: Mmm-hmm. You know, if I’m in workout classes or anything, I’m always like, “Oh, this is so painful…One more, one more.” Or I’m looking at the clock, I’m wanting it to end. And with dance class, I truly lose myself and I never think of anything (except) the music and dancing, and it’s a beautiful escape for me. So that’s what I’ve really been into lately.

Mandy: I love it!

Claire: (to Mandy) Come with me!

Mandy: I am the worst dancer in the world!

Claire: No you are not!

Mandy: I am. [laughs] I’m a really self-conscious dancer.

Claire: She’s not the worst dancer, she’s self-conscious.

Mandy: I’m not a great dancer. I won’t say I’m the worst in the world. I’m not a great dancer and I’m really self-conscious. So maybe it might be good for me to get out of my head…

Claire: There’s this one class that I go to that’s non-choreography. You just follow the teacher at the front, and it is so fun.

Mandy: Oh, I’ll do that with you! Seriously.

Claire: Yeah, okay, great! Done! It’s the best, you’ll love it!

Q: You have both been juggling film and television roles. At this point, is one more appealing than the other?

Mandy: I think it’s just (about being) lucky enough to get work that you’re really compelled by and you’re challenged by. That’s sort of the goal–so either medium is acceptable! [laughs]

Claire: Television definitely takes up more time, so you don’t have as many opportunities to do film work. So when things like (47 Meters Down) come up, you really jump at it.

Q: Mandy, does the success of your series This Is Us allow for time to pursue other projects, particularly film?

Mandy: Definitely. We had like a four and a half month hiatus. I mean, we’ve only shot one season, so I don’t know how future hiatuses will be… [laughs] But yeah, that definitely leaves a bit of time to relax and enjoy life, do some work if you can find it in the in-between.

Claire: …Or don’t!

Mandy: Or don’t do anything!

Q: What else can fans expect to see you in after 47 Meters Down?

Mandy: Well, I have the show, and then I just finished a small role in a Young Adult movie called The Darkest Minds, that I think is coming out next fall.

Q: How does your character fit into the narrative?

Mandy: I don’t know how to describe it. The world is ending and (almost) all the children in the United States have died of a mysterious illness, and the only ones that have survived it have sort of psychic, special abilities. And I play a woman who heads an organization that helps save the children who have survived and been put in these sort of work camps by the government. I go in and rescue them and rehabilitate, sort of a resistance force against the government. It’s very different!

Claire: That sounds cool!

Mandy: It’s really cool! The script was excellent, and the young people in it are all really fantastic, too. It’s their movie. I’m just the adult in it.

Q: How do you feel about being the adult now, given that you started your acting career as the kid?

Mandy: I love it. Oh man, I am so happy to have graduated! It’s so much fun. I love this chapter of my life! [laughs] Like, I play a mom, I’m a wife–it sort of mimics where I feel like I am in my life, anyway, you know?

Q: Your description of The Darkest Minds sounds like you may have had the chance to do some action…

Mandy: There was a little bit of action. We did some car chase stuff that was so much fun…I came away from that experience going, “Okay, I’m an action actor now! Like, I’m totally ready.” [laughs]

Claire: Hell yeah, you are!

Mandy: [laughs] Not really. But I was like, you know, “Does one action scene, is now an action star.” I was like, “Oh, I can get how people do this…” But then I was like, “Wait…” It’s sort of like (47 Meters Down) in the sense where things are so piecemeal–the technicality of like “And then you put your head down, and then you sort of do this, and get that movement…” I don’t know if I would fare very well in that kind of environment.

Claire: Be Lara Croft! Ummm…Wait, Alicia Vikander’s doing that. I have to find another role for you. [laughs]

Mandy: No, I am not the action babe, no. Put me in a car. I’m fine in a car. I don’t want to, like, have to fight anybody.

Claire: She can be in the new Top Gun.

Mandy: No thanks, I’m good. You can do that. You and Tom. You’ll be great. “Tom, Claire’s ready! She’s available!”

Claire: [laughs] So that’s what I’m doing next, actually.

Mandy: Top Gun 2. You heard it here first, folks! [laughs]

Claire: [laughs] Can you believe it? Like, people planting things that they want? If only… [laughs] I actually don’t know what’s next for me. I always tend to go back and do The Originals every year. So I do love doing that. But I’m trying to sort of take a little time and figure out what I want for my life, and where I want to head. So who knows?

47 Meters Down is currently playing in theatres nationwide. For more information visit the film’s official website at, https://47metersdownmovie.com/

Interview by Michael Lee

Edited by: Jody Taylor – @RealJodyTaylor

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