It’s been 25 years since Britt Robertson was born at Presbyterian Hospital in Charlotte, and more than a decade since she left Chester, S.C., with her grandmother to pursue dreams of Hollywood superstardom.
This month, that dream is taking full shape.
Robertson has 20 movies (and 18 television roles) to her credit, but the one she can be seen in this weekend – Disney’s new fantasy “Tomorrowland,” also starring George Clooney – is far and away her biggest ever.
In the PG-rated action-adventure, the South Carolina native plays bright, optimistic teen Casey Newton, who catches glimpses of a utopian metropolis via a mysterious pin and becomes determined to find her way there with the reluctant help of Clooney’s Frank Walker.
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So, now that Robertson is on the verge of becoming a household name, we offer up eight things you should know about Hollywood’s newest “It Girl.”
1. While doing interviews about “Tomorrowland” prior to its release, she had to watch her mouth. Director Brad Bird (“The Incredibles,” “Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol”) kept plot details under tight wraps during development and filming, in hopes of not spoiling the movie’s mystery. “So it has been a bit of a dance trying to figure out what I can and cannot say,” Robertson says.
2. You will never see her starring in a Broadway musical. While growing up in Chester, she was cast in minor roles in plays like “Peter Pan” and “The Jungle Book” at the Greenville Little Theatre in South Carolina. But she was rejected for the lead role in a Chester Little Theatre production of “Annie” because, Robertson says, “I can’t sing to save my life.”
3. She is the only member of her family who doesn’t live in South Carolina. Her mother, Beverly; her father, Ryan; half-siblings Jordyn, Heather, Jerry, Anna, Matthew and Jackson; and grandparents Jerry and Shuler all reside in the state. (Shuler Robertson did live in L.A. with Britt for more than a year while her granddaughter pursued acting opportunities, but moved back to S.C. when she turned 16.)
4. She comes back to visit a few times a year, and – occasionally – on her employer’s dime. Before exiting CBS’s “Under the Dome” last year, she got to spend a fair amount of time in Wilmington shooting episodes for Seasons 1 and 2. Robertson also bounced around the state last summer as star of “The Longest Ride,” a movie based on the book by N.C. resident Nicholas Sparks that came out in April.
5. Yes, she had a Southern accent. No, she doesn’t have it anymore. Except... “I still get it when I talk to my family and I go back home for an extended period,” Robertson says, “When I was there shooting ‘The Longest Ride,’ I got my accent back. But just being (in L.A.), I lose it.”
6. She gets carded more often than you do. The 25-year-old actress has a face that looks extraordinarily youthful – which is probably why Disney didn’t balk at casting her as a teen. In everyday life, Robertson says, strangers constantly mistake her for an adolescent: “I get on a plane, people don’t think I should be sitting in the emergency row. Or, I go and get my nails done, and they’re like, ‘Are you by yourself?’ I’m like, ‘YES!’”
7. So, not surprisingly, she’s had a long career playing 17- to 18-year-old girls. In the quirky 2007 dramedy “Dan in Real Life,” Robertson played a sullen high-schooler. In the cheesy 2010 thriller “Triple Dare,” she starred as a trouble-making high schooler. And in the sexy 2014 drama “Ask Me Anything,” she starred as a newly minted high school grad. “Young girls, they’re trying to figure out who they are. Those are the most interesting characters to me,” Robertson says. “But I’m going to have to start breaking away from the high school years at some point.”
8. Her favorite restaurant in Chester is Summit Food & Spirits on Main Street. But she’s biased. Her father – Ryan Robertson, 48, of Rock Hill – has owned the place for the past quarter-century. (Check it out here: summitfoodandspirits.com.) “I grew up with his food, and so (when I’m home) I always have to stop by there and get chicken fingers and mozzarella sticks and sweet tea.” Second-favorite restaurant in the South? “Cracker Barrel. That’s my jam.”
Birthdate: April 18, 1990.
Birthplace: Presbyterian Hospital in Charlotte.
First movie: “The Ghost Club,” released in 2003 when she was 13 years old. Her grandmother, Shuler Robertson of Chester, served as an associate producer.
Breakout role: Turned heads as Steve Carell’s mopey daughter in 2007’s “Dan in Real Life.”
Breakout year: 2015. She was the female lead in “The Longest Ride” (based on Nicholas Sparks’ novel); has a critical role in Disney’s “Tomorrowland” (new in theaters this weekend); and later this year will co-star with Eddie Murphy in “Cook,” a drama about a young woman who inherits a cook.