Film & TV

Ten Minutes with Grace Victoria Cox

The 22-year-old actress discusses power, corruption, working with Zac Efron, and professes her love for the 1980s.
Reading time 6 minutes

For most people, a trip to the grocery store is uneventful. They walk in, they grab what they need, they pay and then leave, but that wasn't the case for 22-year-old Grace Victoria Cox on one particular shopping day.

As Cox was pushing her cart around the aisles of her local supermarket, she received a phone call with news that she had booked the role of Veronica Sawyer for an upcoming TV show called Heathers, a loose retelling of the '80s cult classic film (Winona Ryder first played Veronica Swayer in the film back in 1988). "I abandoned my cart and started pacing the aisles calling my family," she tells me over the phone. "I couldn’t believe it—I was immediately nervous because I [knew] it was such an iconic role to take on." Iconic, indeed. 

Experiencing nerves is to be expected, especially when you've been given a role previously played by Winona freakin' Ryder. But while the two characters might share the same name, Cox assures me that the story her Veronica plans to tell differs from that of her '80s counterpart. So while the decade may be back as a far as fashion trends are concerned, Paramount Network's version of Heathers plans to tell a story that's remixed and repackaged for the Instagram era. But I digress. 

Cox first moved to Los Angeles back in 2012 at only 17 years old. Her supporting role as Melanie Cross on CBS's Under the Dome would eventually prepare her for her future auditions (and no doubt is representative of her incredible range as an actress). A lot has happened since then. Filming for Heathers has gone underway (the first episode premieres March 7) and she's even secured a role in Joe Berlinger's forthcoming thriller Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile, starring Zac Efron as notorious '70s serial killer Ted Bundy. Not too bad for a former farm girl from Kentucky. 

Ahead, the budding ingénue catches up with L'Officiel USA about working on Heathers, society's obsession with nostalgia, and what catches her eye when it comes to choosing a role. 

When did you first see Heathers
I first saw it when I was 11 and it really, really scared me. I think I was just too young to [understand] it. Then I watched it again when I found out I was auditioning for the show and loved it—it immediately made me want to be a part of the show so bad. 

It's such a great story, the metaphors. I think it's very universal. It applies no matter what the decade is. It’s all about power and how power corrupts. I think people are endlessly fascinated by that and that's why the theme of that is always so relevant.

You can definitely see that. The cast seems to have great chemistry with each other. Shanon Doherty's part of the project too, right?
Yeah, she is! She is so nice and cool. We're so lucky to have the blessing of a person who was part of the original cast being involved. She was very graceful and understanding, just a good example on-set and incredibly kind. 

What was your favorite part of working on Heathers
That I [got] to work with the nicest, best group of people ever. They're all so wonderful.

What would you say the show’s message is? 
Well, social media is a big part of the show [which] makes [it] really different from the movie just because that didn't exist [then], you know? I think it really is about power and how power corrupts people. That can be explored in a totally new way now that we do have social media. Society is different now than it was when the original movie came out. So it's a cool time to explore this idea again. 

Anyone can be a Heather. Anyone can be powerful and anyone can be corrupted by that. So Heathers is really a fun, exciting exploration of that. At the end of the day, we’re just [trying] to create a cool show that people will like and that will make them think, depending on how [they] interpret it. 

You work with Zac Efron on Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile. A lot of people first saw him in High School Musical. Did you grow up watching him on that? 
[Laughs] Yeah! Yeah, I did! I loved High School Musical growing up. I knew every word to every song, I watched all of them. I even went to a theater to see the one that wasn't [a] Disney Channel Original, so I was really excited to get to work with him. He was incredibly kind and so professional. I think that people will think that his work in the movie is amazing. 

A lot of your projects take place in past eras, what do you think makes nostalgia so appealing to audiences in 2018? 
People are so hungry for that right now. I think there's just something so cool about looking back on the past and what it was like, especially [in] the '80s. I wasn't alive then, but my mom says all the time, "That was the coolest time to get to grow up." I think that speaks to the success of shows like Stranger Things. People are just hungry for that. It's just cool; a cool time, you know? 

If there was one era you wish you could have lived during which would it be? 
Definitely the '80s. The style, the music. '80s music—that's all I listen to. 

Who’s your favorite artist of the ‘80s? 
I'm obsessed with Prince. I love Prince.

As an actress, what makes a script jump out at you? 
There are some scripts that when you read them, you can't stop turning the page. I think that says a lot. Books and novels are made to be page turners, but [with] scripts, you can't [really] tell when there's no visual yet, that's usually something that really catches my attention. I think it says a lot whenever a story that's meant to be told in a visual way pulls you in when it's just text. 

What can the public expect from your upcoming show and films?
I've never seen anything else like [them]—they’re in for a wild ride.

Heathers premieres on Paramount Network on March 7, 2018.

Heathers Official Trailer

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