Saying someone is a “bright light” is over said to the point of it being almost cliché and without meaning. After talking to Larsen Thompson though, there is barely a more accurate way to describe her. Thompson is very aware of how the energy she emits affects others and strives to make others feel her warmth whether they are someone on set or even a stranger in a coffee shop. F. Scott Fitzgerald once wrote, “It was only a sunny smile, and little it cost in the giving, but like morning light it scattered the night and made the day worth living,” and Thompson seems to be acutely aware of this sentiment in her everyday life. She started her career in dance, appearing as a backup dancer for many notable artists and featuring in a dance video for P!nk’s “Beautiful Trauma” and Katy Perry’s Chained to the Rhythm. As a dancer, she knows how to occupy a large amount of space through energy which is a skill that she has taken with her when moving into modeling, acting, and singing.
When thinking of a color to describe herself, Larsen Thompson tells Schön!, “Maybe it’s a red, maybe a pink, or a yellow because I love to smile!” Like a warm sunset, she embodies all four of these hues. And long after the sun sets and the clock strikes midnight, in her most recent role as Julia Jayne in Netflix’s The Midnight Club, she becomes an urban legend circulating around Brightcliffe Hospice as terminally ill patients meet at midnight to tell sinister stories.
Thompson chats with Schön! about her time filming the series, her own mindset shift during the pandemic, and what’s next for her. We will also soon be accepting applications for anyone who would like to join our Taylor Swift themed midnight club (that we definitely invented)!
In seeing interviews of you, you seem very aware of how your presence and energy affects others, whether that has to do with your Christianity or just your personality in general. Do you feel that this awareness transfers over to your work as well whether it’s in dance, acting, modeling, or singing?
Totally. My faith and my belief system are what keeps me grounded. It’s a huge part of who I am and is what drives me in what I do. Honestly, I try to be grateful for each day and each opportunity that presents itself. I really enjoy connecting with people whether that be on set or with my cast mates, or even at a coffee shop and I strike up a conversation with a random person. I think that you never really know what people are walking through, so if I can be somebody who puts a smile on somebody’s face then that’s really what matters.
I can tell! You make people feel comfortable.
Thank you so much, I try! We’re all just human beings. I love meeting new people. I think that’s my favorite part of our industry. Even being on set with a whole new crew that I’m spending months with and castmates I’m meeting for the first time, but I have to have chemistry with is very interesting. But to connect on a personal level is my favorite part of this job. You meet so many people and hear so many stories and backgrounds- it’s really inspiring.
I know you’ve been working from a very young age- how do you feel like your view of the industry has changed most significantly over time?
I’m really grateful that I started at a young age because I really think it taught me to have tough skin for this business and the rejections you’re going to face at times. But I think the biggest lesson I’ve learned is the importance of being your authentic self and knowing who you are. And, never allowing the opinions of others or even your own mind at times, to put limitations on what you can achieve. I think there’s no substitute for hard work and dedication and when you really put your mind, heart, and soul to something you’re passionate about there’s nothing you can’t achieve. So, it’s definitely been a big learning experience, but I’m thankful that I started so young, for sure.
I’m actually a bit surprised that you say that because I feel like a lot of people regret starting young and feel like they’ve somehow missed out on life.
I’m really thankful because I went to school until my sophomore year of high school and then did independent studies. So, I was able to build friendships – some of my best friends are from high school and my childhood. I was able to go to prom and my graduation since my home school was connected through the high school. I am very fortunate in that way, but I do think sometimes it would have been nice to be able to hang out with friends after school and grab a coffee except I was like, nope I’m flying to New York for the week! Bye school! It’s a totally different lifestyle, but I think there’s pros and cons to starting young.
I feel like people who work from such a young age may feel that it’s hard to turn work off because that’s the mode that they’re used to. If you have free time, do you feel like you have to do work in some way?
Oh my gosh, that is so spot on because I actually had felt like this for a very long time and I think in 2020 when the pandemic happened, I had such a perspective shift. I would feel guilty when I was hanging out with friends, having a good time, or even on vacation with my family. It troubled me so much and wore so much on my mind. Then when the pandemic happened and I had this time to just work on myself, I realized that I don’t need to feel guilty for enjoying family time which are the things that really matter at the end of the day. I realized that I hadn’t done some spontaneous adventure to just let go of work. Those are the things I’m going to remember. Of course I’m grateful for opportunity, but those core memories are what we’re going to look back on at the end of our lives. I started adventuring more and started going on more vacations and experienced life and friends and family. I’m really happy I made that shift. I would have hated to feel guilty my whole life. Work isn’t everything, there’s so much more to life!
Sometimes I realize that I need to just go have fun. When I’m stressed now, I just go walk my 10,000 steps and get out of my house and out of that headspace. I think about something new, look at the sun, and the trees! Then you just don’t have time to overthink. I start putting my running shoes on and put some headphones in, and it helps me so much when I’m overthinking.
I recently interviewed a musician/actor and he said that he approaches every acting job in a very musical way. For example, he said that every character has a particular rhythm and beat to them. As a dancer, do you relate to this in any way?
Wow, that’s a very interesting perspective, that’s awesome! I’ve never taken that approach to acting, but now I’m considering it! I think for me, I am very grateful for having that foundation in dance. It has helped me with body language and feeling comfortable in my body when I’m acting. Then, in modelling, dance has helped me so much with my movement and being able to bring my dance into poses and feeling comfortable in front of the camera instead of being stiff. I use every part of my body and dance taught me that, so I’m extremely grateful for that foundation.
But something interesting that I have noticed now that I’m working on my own music, is that I pay more attention to the beats rather than the lyrics and that’s because from such a young age in dance the choreo was always to the beats. It was rarely ever to the lyrics. To this day I’ll be singing songs, and people are like ‘wait, what lyrics are you singing?’ And I’m like, ‘Oh I just know this from a dance piece I know,’ but now I just kind of make up my own lyrics (laughs). It’s super fun to be in the writing room and telling myself that the beat is important, but the lyrics are even MORE important. The rhythm is great, but what you’re saying is even more important here.
Before getting into The Midnight Club, I want to make sure I touch on a little bit of everything. In modelling, you tend to do high fashion shoots. In general, what do you think your fashion sense says about you as a person?
I think being able to work with high fashion brands has definitely grown my love for clothes and high fashion in a very large way. It’s brought an edge to my personal style. Being on editorial shoots and wearing these unique pieces from designers has translated to my own wardrobe at home. I have these cool unique pieces. I also love to stay youthful and fresh with my style, so I’ll wear a high fashion piece, but pair it with some Levi’s and a shirt from Zara. It just feels more my age. When it comes to carpets and stuff, I enjoy taking fashion risks. I love having fun. As long as my personality is shining through then that’s all that matters! I’m a very extroverted, loud person so if I can show that through my personal style then I think that’s the goal!
I was actually thinking recently about what color would best represent me. I was thinking, maybe it’s a red, maybe a pink, or a yellow because I love to smile! There are 3 or 4 colors that I think represent me.
Shifting to your role in The Midnight Club, we see terminally ill patients in hospice gather at midnight to tell scary stories, one of which being about your character, Julia Jayne. To start with a fun question, if you could create your own midnight club, what would the subject be?
Oo my own midnight club? Speaking of midnight club and Taylor Swift’s Midnights, this goes hand in hand! I think if I had to pick a subject, it would probably be music. I think there’s so much storytelling within music and the way it makes you feel and how you can relate to it. I just know from my own experience being here on set right now, my castmates and I have been talking for hours on end about Taylor Swift’s album. There’s so much conversation to be had from music whether it’s relating your personal experience or learning from it, so I think that would be really interesting to start a club where you have one song you talk about each night. Like the song for tonight is “You’re on Your Own, Kid” by Taylor Swift and then each person does their homework and talks about how they feel. I think that would be really cool.
That’s so fun! I’ve done that with Dermot Kennedy songs with my family!
Wait, that’s crazy! Why isn’t this a thing? Shouldn’t there be a music club? Did we just invent something?
I actually saw on Twitter or TikTok that a college has a Taylor Swift club, and they were doing a listening party of Midnights. Why couldn’t I do this in college?
That is the best thing I’ve heard all day! It’s insane to see the impact. People are die-hard fans. I was on TikTok, and someone was breaking down her “Anti-Hero” video by taking clues and figuring out what might come next. I’m jumping on the Taylor Swift trend a little bit here, and so many people are so obsessed! I think it’s very cool. Her storytelling and music are amazing- I really think she’s a lyrical genius! She’s like a poet.
I also want to go a bit deeper into The Midnight Club’s story because I found the premise of it to be touching and also really scary to think about. I can’t imagine knowing that you’re going to pass away young. It’s a mindset that I think is extremely hard to imagine unless experienced. I know you researched Thyroid cancer. Can you tell us a little bit more about getting into that headspace?
Yeah, like you said, I researched and looked up the treatments you undergo for a diagnosis like this. Just knowing that 5,000-6,000 adolescents are diagnosed with cancer each year and 500-600 lives are taken from it each year is extremely heartbreaking. I really took a lot of the emotional weight from that and how that makes me feel when taking on this role. For me, writing is something that’s really important when I take on a character or even in general. I’m always writing down my thoughts and feelings and putting myself in the shoes of someone who has been told they only have one year to live. Writing, for me, is a great outlet to know where my head is at and understanding my mindset on set. I’m grateful to be a part of a show that is bringing awareness to cancer and how it affects youth.
Yeah, I think a lot of people put it out of their minds that young people can get cancer because it feels wrong and so unexpected.
Totally. The way Mike [Flanagan] approached it as well and just the character developments show the different ways people handle that. I couldn’t imagine, and we do our best to respect people going through that. Just hearing news like that and the grief you go through is something Mike did a great job with. Even showing the different stages of what it could look like whether it’s shock or denial or anger or sadness. Each character was battling a different emotion with news like that.
Even for your character, it was also a commentary on the level someone might go to not have to face it.
Totally! And that’s what was so interesting. Playing a flashback and knowing the degree in which I will go to try to survive was the craziest thing. I had read through all the scripts, and I knew how far I was going to go to try to be healed so when I was playing Julia in the present day it was so helpful. I had in the back of my mind the ending but knowing what degree I would go to get there was helpful.
When you’re thinking about that, I’m sure it can be a little heavy on set. I saw in an interview that you did night shoots and game nights while filming. What are some of your favourite memories from filming?
My favourite memory of us was when we played Spoons! Most of the other cast members had never played so I literally brought metal spoons and told them we were going to play. I told them how it works, and I just remember we were just wrestling each other and tackling each other. It got so aggressive, but it was hilarious! It’s one of my core memories there. I also remember that everyone was very spontaneous and adventurous. We wrapped and we just went to get Five Guys at 2 a.m. or we sat in a circle and watched the sunset and talked. I enjoyed those moments a lot being in Vancouver. I think that kept the spirits up.
It was recently announced that you’re joining the cast of Horrorscope about a group of college friends who get their horoscopes read, and then begin dying in ways connected to their fortunes. I know you can’t really talk about this project yet, so I’ll ask a general question. This theme also relates to The Midnight Club; do you believe that everyone has a predestined path that can’t be changed?
I believe that our paths have been written since the day we were born, but I also know that we have free will and I think a lot of the outcomes come from choices and decisions that you make for your own life. That’s what I believe. It’s true because a lot of Horrorscope focuses on that question. That’s a very great question.
On a similar theme, I liked the beginning of The Midnight Club with the idea that you are in control of writing the next chapter of your life. So, how do you imagine the next chapter of your life going?
I’m 22 in 10 days and I’m freaking out! Time flies! They say once you hit 20 it just flies by! For the next chapter, I want to continue to grow as a person and better myself and my crafts. I want to give back and continue being passionate about charities that I’m involved with. At the end of the day, I want to continue encouraging and inspiring girls. So many girls who have red hair like me feel less than perfect or never good enough and I want to tell them that they are good enough and made with no mistake and that they are fearfully and wonderfully made. I just want to continue to inspire and motivate people to let them know that they can accomplish their dreams if they put their heart, mind, and soul to it.
Two of my sisters have red hair, and they weren’t made fun of, but I remember kids in school talking about red hair in a negative way which is unfortunate.
Yeah, my red hair was very much something I was insecure about and all my freckles – as much as you continue to grow up, those things do play on replay. I think that’s the thing I’m most grateful for in modelling because it taught me to really embrace my own individual uniqueness. They embrace those things. It really changed my view of beauty. I always thought I would love to have blonde hair, blue eyes, and tan skin. But It’s beautiful to be unique!
Before we finish, I just really want you to be able to list the charities you support. Can you tell us what they are?
Yeah, Charity: Water and I’m getting involved with the Tim Tebow Foundation and they do Night to Shine and are involved in anti-human trafficking. So hopefully I’ll be going to their Night to Shine in 2023. Those are the two charities that I’m really involved in right now, but I hope to be involved in many more. I think it’s really important.
Thank you so much for talking with us!
Thank you! Literally the most fun interview, I loved this!
The Midnight Club is streaming now on Netflix.