Rising Circuit: Kaya Scodelario Breaking Into American Cinema with ‘Crawl’ and More in 2019

Scodelario in 2019's Crawl

Although a fairly new name to American audiences, British actress Kaya Scodelario is a star on the rise. With an iconic British television series, and a slew of movie roles under her belt, Scodelario has shown audiences that she is ‘leading lady’ material. She’s managed to show this versatility and depth in “Crawl,” now out in theaters.

Kaya Scodelario’s Effy in Skins

Born in March 1992 to a Brazilian mother and a British father, Scodelario’s first acting role was as the titular “Oliver” in her school’s production. She beat out all the boys in auditions. Her “big break” was in 2007 when she was cast in the controversial British teen drama “Skins” (2007-2010, 2013). Dealing with very adult issues, Scodelario was cast as the mysterious and manipulative fan-favorite “Effy” at just 14 years old, after the first actress dropped out.

The show was known for casting young amateur actors and launching the careers of some of today’s more well-known stars like Nicholas Hoult, Joe Dempsie, Dev Patel and Daniel Kaluuya amongst others. Praised by critics, Scodelario’s character developed into a central role and was one of the only characters who stuck around after the cast was replaced with a new generation of characters. The show was so popular it lead to an American adaptation and helped launched Scodelario’s modeling career.

Kaya Scodelario & Johnny Depp in Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales

The success of “Skins” led to Scodelario’s film debut in the sci-fi thriller “Moon” which premiered at Sundance Film Festival in 2009. This film also starred Sam Rockwell and Kevin Spacey and appeared on Entertainment Weekly‘s list of “The 50 Best Movies You’ve Never Seen” in a 2012 issue.

After “Moon” came the 2010 remake “Clash of The Titans” in which Scodelario played “Peshet” and a 2011 adaptation of “Wuthering Heights,” directed by Andrea Arnold. Scodelario’s portrayal of “Cathy” earned critical praise, and the film played at several film festivals throughout the year. 

Scodelario in The Truth About Emanuel

Next up was Scodelario’s first official American film debut in 2012’s “The Truth About Emanuel” in which she played the title character, a troubled 17-year-old girl. In this role, she continued to show her knack for playing complicated and mysterious characters with ease. 

That film moved her to one of her most prominent roles to date. In 2013, she signed on as the female lead in the dystopian teen action franchise, “The Maze Runner.” Holding her own as the lone female survivor in the maze, Scodelario’s performances in the 2014 film and the 2015 sequel garnered her several Teen Choice nominations. She even reprised her role in 2018’s “Maze Runner: The Death Cure.”

Scodelario and Dylan O’Brien in The Maze Runner

In between Maze Runner releases, Scodelario also starred in the fifth installment of the “Pirates of the Caribbean” franchise, 2017’s “Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales.” The “Maze Runner” franchise years were reasonably busy for Scoladario personally as well. She married fellow actor Benjamin Walker in 2015 and gave birth to her first child in 2016, with former castmate Daniel Kaluuya as the godfather of her child. 

Earlier this year, Scodelario took a brief break to the action-heavy roles, and delivered in Ted Bundy serial killer drama “Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil, and Vile.” Playing Carol Ann Boone, Bundy’s wife, Scodelario was a standout, utilizing her trademark husky voice and talents. This all amounted to a breakout dramatic, transformative performance. 

Going back to her action-heavy roots, Scodelario helms this month’s horror, disaster flick “Crawl” from director Alexandre Aja (“The Hills Have Eyes”). She shines in another physically demanding role with intense stunts where she’s fully submerged in water for the majority of the film. There is also a complexity to this role with the strained relationship with her character’s father.

On her roles, the actress has said, “I don’t think that I could ever play just a ‘pretty girlfriend’ or just a stereotypical female part that’s just there to get her tits out – that just doesn’t interest me at all, really. I just want to keep pushing myself with every role and keep pushing myself with every film.”

Her filmography and choices in roles would suggest she’s following her own advice. Next up, Scodelario is starring the in the “Romeo & Juliet” update, action-romance “Die In A Gun Fight” and Netflix’s edgy, figure skating drama “Spinning Out” due out in 2020. With an eclectic mix of big-budget action films, smaller indie films, and a stable television career, filed with independent and strong characters, the future is bright for Kaya Scodelario.

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