Exclusive Interview with Daisy Eagan from ‘Good Trouble’
Throughout her multi-decade career, Daisy Eagan has dazzled audiences in everything she’s been in. Well-known for her stage work, she became the youngest actress – at age 11 – to win a Tony Award for Best Performance by A Featured Actress for her role as Mary Lennox in The Secret Garden. She can currently be seen on Freeform’s Good Trouble as Alice’s love interested, Joey Riverton – a night-time AM radio talk show host.
I got the chance to talk to Daisy about how she got into acting originally, what we can expect from Alice and Joey’s relationship in season 2 of Good Trouble, what she wishes she had known in her early 20s and so much more! Keep reading to see what she had to say!
Tell me a little bit about how you got into acting originally.
Oh my goodness. Well my dad had been an actor, and he ended up quitting the industry. When I was about 8, he did a play kind of on a whim and I hadn’t seen any theater that I could remember. I went to see my dad in that play and it was a really interesting experience because obviously he was my dad – I knew that – but he was somebody else up on stage. I was really bullied in school and I think, for me, the idea of disappearing into somebody else, and being somebody else, was really attractive. So I told my parents I wanted to try it, and they were cautiously supportive. They had a lot of scary stories of child stars in Hollywood in their head. They just wanted to be careful. I think they honestly thought that I would do some local community theater and get it out of my system. I just had a lot of luck and I got a lot of work very quickly. Ever since then, it’s just mostly been what I do. I can’t get away from it.
So would you credit that experience of watching your dad as [what] help[ed] you decide that acting is what you wanted to make a career out of? Or was it still kind of like, “Oh I don’t know. Maybe I’ll do something else when I get older”?
Well I mean I don’t think any kid really is able to think that far. It’s not like at 8 I was like, “Well this is my career path”. I was just like, “This is cool and fun.” I think if I hadn’t been as successful as I was… I didn’t have much discipline, so I think the fact that I booked so much work so quickly was what helped solidify it. But I think it really wasn’t until I was an adult that I had to make the conscious decision that this is what I was going to do. In my mid-to-late 20s, I decided that I didn’t want to do it anymore. I went back to school and I became a therapist. And then four years later, I decided to get back in [to acting]. I think that was probably the moment where I was like, “This is my career path.”
So over the years you’ve had a lot of different roles, both on screen and on stage. Do you have a personal acting bucket list of roles that you still want to try out at some point in your career? If so, what are some of the things on that list?
I mean I’d still love to do How I Learned To Drive, which I’m worried I’m getting a little too old for. There’s this kind of obscure musical called The Rink that had Liza Minnelli in it; I have fantasies of being in the revival of that. I’d love to be in The Heiress. I remember seeing Cherry Jones on Broadway in that role and that was another moment – her performance was so breathtakingly beautiful – and I was like, “If I could ever get anywhere near that kind of performance, I’ll be happy.” I also really enjoy doing new work. To be very honest, I didn’t go to theatre school and I didn’t read a ton of the canon. I mean I’ve certainly seen a lot of things. But I don’t really have a set list of roles I want to tackle.
So let’s talk about Good Trouble. What did you think about this show when you first read the script and what was your audition process like?
Well, I didn’t know anything about it because it hadn’t been on the air yet. A friend of mine texted me and he gave me the breakdown for the Joey part because they were looking for actors. He was basically like, “They’d be crazy not to cast you.”
I had actually just cut my hair about a month before that. I’ve always preferred it short, but I’ve always ended up growing it because I’ve been told by representation, “You’re too gay. You’re not going to get work.” And I just got to a point where I was like, “I have to be comfortable and feel good about how I look. And this is how I feel good. So I might be cutting off my job opportunities, but I can’t live.” That felt like a prison to me, you know?
So he sent me the character breakdown and I was like, “Oh yeah. I’m right for this.” My best friend and comedy partner is a very good friends with one of the co-creators of the show and so I asked her if she could sort of nudge him for me and she did. They asked for a tape and I sent it and a few days later, I was on a plane to L.A. I was familiar with The Fosters to some degree, but I read the script of the episode that I was going to be in and there was body positivity, feminism and issues about race. I thought, “Oh my God. I haven’t seen this on TV before.” It’s funny – there has been a couple of times in my career where I got a job and then I found out what it is and I’m like, “Oh I just won the lottery.” And that was definitely how I felt with Good Trouble.
You mentioned that you had heard of The Fosters before you got the role. Did you go back and watch any of it? Or was there no really time since like you said, you got the role and then you were immediately on a plane to L.A.? Did you know what world you were getting into?
I knew of it. I had seen some of it, but it had been a while. I didn’t have time to watch it before I shot the first episode. But since then, I’ve been catching up on it when I have time, which is not much. I think Good Trouble is like The Fosters plus a hundred, you know?
Yeah. So on the show you play Joey and I know actors typically bring a little bit of themselves to each character they play, but in what ways do you think you’re similar to Joey and in what ways are you different from Joey?
You know honestly, I think Joey is a little more sure of themself than I am [laughs]. Joey is really good at setting boundaries and knowing what their certain triggers are and being clear about what they’re comfortable with and what they’re not comfortable with. I sort of look up to Joey in that way. But I think certainly Joey and I are both gender nonconforming. I’d like to think that some of my issues about gender helped inform the showrunner, in terms of where Joey was and is heading. Joey is a really “knows what they want” kind of person, and in terms of relationships, I think Joey has some really good and healthy habits that I think we can all learn from [laughs]. I certainly strive towards [that].
You mentioned how you think a lot of your real life influenced the character of Joey. This season kicked off with Joey coming out as non-binary to Alice and Alice is kind of hesitant about that and how that plays into her life. What can you tease about some of the challenges that the two of them are going to face this season?
You know it’s interesting – Alice is going to get on board pretty quick. And just as a little sidebar, I really love that the show tackled that issue of [how] does someone else’s coming out affect you. I think that’s a really important thing to look at. I think it’s important and it’s fair to say someone else’s journey has an effect on us. That’s perfectly fine. But I think Alice sort of processes that and then I think we’re just sort of dealing with relationship stuff. I may or may not have a rival that I need to watch out for. There’s definitely a little bit of a roller coaster. Alice is also really finding herself and discovering herself and Joey is there for it 100%; front-seat, with the popcorn [laughs]. I think Joey is Alice’s number one cheerleader. It’s so funny because ultimately it is a nighttime soap opera, so it’s got to have the juicy relationship drama. But inside of that, I think Joey and Alice are pretty healthy as a couple.
Kind of going off of that, what is it like working with Sherry Cola and having her as a scene partner?
It’s a blast. Sherry is 100 miles per hour all the time and it’s good. Everyone has to kind of match her energy, which is really fun. She’s spontaneous. I don’t know if they knew when they hired me that they were getting someone that could keep up with her, but I hope that that’s what they feel they got with me. In that first episode between us, she was sort of lobbing ad-libs at me and I was lobbing them right back. We have a lot of fun. It’s like being in a tennis game of comedy. She’s great.
Which episode coming up in season two are you most excited for fans to see and why?
I think it’s episode 6 – Malika’s birthday party – because Alice shows a side of herself that we haven’t seen yet and I think it takes Joey aback. I [also] think it’s really fun to watch not just Alice showing this other side of herself, but Joey just being so overwhelmed by it. And then Alice starts to get into her standup and I think that’s all going to be fun to watch. I can’t wait to see that episode.
That’s awesome. I know you’re also really involved this year with the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. Can you just talk a little bit about that and what you’ll be appearing in and doing while you’re there?
Yeah. I’m so excited about this. I’ve wanted to do the Fringe Festival forever. It’s like a theatre person’s Olympics. So I’m so excited. It’s the first time I’m ever doing it and I’m bringing two productions. One of them is 30 minute musical roulette where we take popular, classic movies and we musicalize them. So we’re preparing three different shows and each night, the audience gets to vote on which one they want to see. Then, we have about five minutes to set up whichever play they picked. We’re preparing Jurassic Park, Die Hard and Top Gun.
Yeah, I’m playing four characters over those three players. I play Maverick in Top Gun, I play Hammond in Jurassic Park – with a terrible Scottish accent – and in Die Hard, I play one of the terrorists and I play the chief of police. It occurred to me the other day, I was like, “Wow. They did not put me in female roles” [laughs].
Then, the other play I’m doing is called Sleeping Giant, which is written by Steve Yockey. He writes for Supernatural and he actually just got his own show picked up; I think it’s called The Flight Attendant. It’s with Kaley Cuoco and it sounds incredible. I can’t wait to see it… But yeah, I play three different roles in that.
Wow. That’s awesome. I’m sure that’s a lot of prep work. How long have you been prepping for all of that?
I would say a couple of months. I work best under pressure. A lot of times, I’ll have a script and I just can’t really start doing it until I’m under a deadline. But a lot of it’s been like – especially for the 30 minute musicals – re-watching those movies just get to get familiar [with them again]. I was talking to a friend yesterday and she was like, “I’ve got some free time. I don’t have to be at work till 2, so I’m going to watch something on Netflix.” And I was like, “What?” Like I couldn’t even imagine having the time to sit down in the middle of the afternoon and watch something on Netflix. But I’m really looking forward to having all of these up on their feet and maybe catching up on Fleabag or something like that. That’ll be nice [laughs].
Yeah. So I figured I’d wrap up with a few, quick, fun questions. Since Good Trouble is all about what it’s like being in your early 20s and figuring out adulthood, what is something you wish you had known in your early 20s?
Oh gosh. I think the main thing is I wish I could have known that I didn’t know anything. I feel like [for] people in their early 20s, it’s this really interesting age of you’ve probably finished college or you’re out of the house and there’s this thing of like, “Oh yeah, I’ve got this.” I mean I think secretly we’re all freaking out, but I just didn’t know anything. I think life gets easier the more you realize how little you know and you can just be like, “I just don’t know and it’s fine.”
I [also] think I wish that I had known… not that I didn’t know myself, but I was scared to be who I was. I wish I could have been more authentic. I was married to a man that I should not have been married to because I thought that’s what you were supposed to do and I just wish I could have been a little less scared to be myself at that age.
Last question — our website is called Talk Nerdy With Us because we all have some kind of inner-nerd, so what is something you are currently nerding out about.
Oh God. This is pretty dark, but I’m nerding out about earthquake preparations. We had a couple of earthquakes last week and it made me realize that I am not prepared for this. I’ve been listening to this podcast from KPCC called The Big One and buying first aid supplies and canned goods [laughs]. So that’s a big, nerdy thing for me at the moment. And then I’m also reading a lot of dystopic, future fiction, which some of it I’m really enjoying. But I feel like basically I’m preparing for the when the world ends. That’s what I’m nerding out on.
Make sure you follow Daisy on Twitter and Instagram. You can also check out her blog. Good Trouble airs Tuesdays at 8/7c on Freeform.
Featured Photo Credit: Shanna Fisher
This interview has been edited for clarity.