Hayley Mills looks back at her Hollywood debut in new book
Not everyone who works for a big company has time to face their so-called big boss. Former child star Hayley Mills, whose most memorable roles include the carefree orphan in “Pollyanna” and as savvy twins hoping to mend their families in “The Parent Trap,” called movie icon Walt Disney her boss for seven years. when she was under contract with the studio.
“He was very present,” recalls Mills, now 75, from her home in London. Mills says that one memory in particular stood out: When she arrived in Hollywood to film “Pollyanna,” Disney personally picked up her whole family in their car and drove them to Disneyland. “We stayed there for the weekend and he took us everywhere. We went for walks with him. He had probably done all the rides 100 times. “
Mills talks about his Hollywood experience in the new book “Forever Young: A Memoir”. She reveals that she struggled in her teenage years with her self-esteem, over-dieted, and partied with the Beatles. Mills says she wanted to write about her younger years because she finds people’s origin stories most interesting.
AP: You have to play alongside your father a lot and be led by him. It must have been so special to work so closely with your father, Sir John Mills.
Mills: I was very lucky. The first movie I made was called “Tiger Bay”. And I had a lot of scenes with him in this movie. It was a lot easier to work with him as an actor because I was the character, but my dad was watching me. And that was good until it came to acting out love scenes. At first I struggled to kiss actor Ian McShane (in the movie “Sky West and Crooked”) on camera, with my dad 4 inches from me.
AP: Plus, you write about how you were the last person to win a Youth Oscar (for ‘Pollyanna’ from the 60s).
Mills: It was a small statuette. And it wasn’t very tall, all 6.7 inches. It was very thin and soft. And after they gave it to me, they got rid of everything. And from that point on, they gave any kid actor a full-size Oscar. So Jodie Foster, Tatum O’Neal, they got the full amount. But I love my little Oscar.
AP: Does it surprise you how much people still love “The Parent Trap”?
Mills: Actually, no. It was a very well done movie and a cast with wonderful actors. It was a great script and it was about something important. These were children who took it upon themselves to try to sort out the terrible mess the adults had made. When he got out, divorce was just starting to be available. Before that, it was not easy to get a divorce. When I went to my boarding school, there was a girl whose parents were divorced. And she was so unhappy and ashamed of this fact that she pretended that her father was really dead. And then he came along and we realized he wasn’t dead at all. So you know it was a very timely movie
AP: Do you remember ever being confused on set, like, ‘OK, what twin am I supposed to be right now? Susan or Sharon?
Mills: Oh, everyday. That’s why my accent wobbles a bit. And, of course, when they both had the same hairstyle, similar clothes, it made things a little easier, but it was confusing because all day long I was changing clothes and wigs.
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