Little Fires Everywhere is arguably the most anticipated series from Hulu this year. Based on the 2017 novel by Celeste Ng, the story centers on two suburban Ohio families. There are the Richardsons consisting of Bill (Joshua Jackson), Elena (Reese Witherspoon) and their tetrad of teen children whose nicknames scream upper-class aspiration; Moody, Trip, Izzy, and Lexie.
The other family consists of enigmatic boho artist and photographer Mia (Kerry Washington) and her taciturn yet academically gifted teen daughter Pearl (Lexie Underwood).
The worlds of the two families collide when Mia comes to town and becomes a tenant in the Richardsons’ rental property not far from their sprawling home. To be more accurate, she rents the apartment from Elena, played by Witherspoon. A Tracy Flick-type disguised as an Annette Hargrove, Elena dominates everything related to the home in addition to her career as a journalist for the local paper.
From the outside, the Richardsons are an enviable family; the kind that if you passed them exiting Whole Foods on a Sunday morning, you might for a fleeting moment wish you were one of them. If you looked closely though, you’d likely decide against choosing to be Izzy who seems to be the black sheep or scapegoat depending on how you look at it.
Izzy is played by the lovely newcomer Megan Stott, who in real life is much different from her impetuous, emotional on screen alter ego. Stott, 15, describes her co-stars, Washington and Witherspoon, as “Incredible and amazing.” From Washington, Stott shared she learned, “You should always bring your best to the table even when it’s not your coverage, or when you’re just practicing, because you need to make sure that you’re going to do the best possible no matter what setting.”
As for Witherspoon, Stott said that she took away the following piece of advice: “If your character ever feels like it’s out of your wheelhouse and you don’t feel like you connect with them as much as you want to, sit. They’re still a part of you, and you just need to bring yourself to that person and everything will fall into place.”
It wasn’t all work no play, even if Witherspoon and Washington are undeniable bosses. There were cozy cast dinners on set, bowling hangouts and not one, but two trips to Disneyland. “We got to see the new Galaxy’s Edge amusement park which was amazing. It was very very cool because I’d never been to Disneyland!” Stott said.
Although Stott originally went out for the part of Izzy (and of course, got it) she didn’t connect with the character immediately. “I thought that I wasn’t the right pick for her,” she said. “I am just very bubbly. I’m very happy all the time. I’m very positive, and Izzy has many struggles in her life and she has a lot of things that make her sad, and a lot of conflicts that I didn’t think I could relate to.”
It took “sitting” with the character for Stott to find her way in. “The more I got to know her,” Stott recalls, “the more I fell in love with her, and I just thought she was such an amazing character.”
Stott realized that there were a number of ways that Izzy was similar to her. “We both have struggled a lot with bullying, and I know how that feels,” Stott, who’s 4 foot 11 inches, said. “It’s something I can relate to, in a sense. She has people who don’t accept her as who she is, and I can totally understand that because when I was younger in public school I was bullied a lot for my size.”
Izzy is (no pun intended) fiery to say the least. She is what would absolutely be described as “intense” in real life, but this is what Stott feels makes the character so special. “She’s fighting social injustice, and well, she’s just only 14. She’s just trying to figure herself out, and she just needs to be loved and accepted for who she is.,” Stott said. “Whatever Elena does, Izzy realizes that’s not who she wants to be. That’s why she’s so rebellious.”
It made me realize that what we do and what we say, even for our family, affects them in tremendous ways.
Stott also has something else, (which is a little more fun), in common with her Little Fires Everywhere alter ego. “She also plays an instrument, and I relate to that because I used to play violin for a time, and I sing and I play piano,” she said. “I saw it as a way she expressed her emotions, and that’s the same thing for me. When you play an instrument, whether you’re singing or dancing or anything, it’s like the real meat of everything that is built up in your life.”
California, with its abundance of musicians, offers Stott the opportunity to indulge her passion for singing. “Out here, I can pursue singing as well because there are so many great opportunities.” Asked if she liked the idea of making her own album, Stott, whose favorite singer at the moment is Billie Eilish, eagerly responded. “It would be so much fun to do that!
Megan turned to music to deal with the bullying she experienced as a kid. “The funny thing is I actually wrote a song about it,” Stott’s voice softens even more at the recollection. “I talked about how you have to be better than those who are bullying you because you don’t know what they’re going through. I remember the minute I started recording it, and then when I heard it, I realized that I was better than that time period of my life. I could get past it. I knew that I was deserving of love.”
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Thank you so much for giving us such an amazing night @reesewitherspoon I cannot believe that I got to go through this journey with such amazing people. This path has gone by way to fast! I loved getting to know everyone from cast to crew. I hope to someday work with such wonderful people again!!! @hulu @littlefireshulu @osbrinkagency #love #littlefireseverywhere #actorslife #party #actress #hulu
Like Izzy, Stott also comes from a family of four children, though her relationship with her siblings is much smoother. She has two older brothers and one younger one. Playing Izzy made her not only more self-aware, but made her think harder about her own family dynamics.
“It made me realize that what we do and what we say, even for our family, affects them in tremendous ways that we don’t even notice,” she said. The epiphany changed Stott as a person. She became “more aware of what I said to them and more supportive of them in general and of what [my family] wanted to do.”
There are going to be some twists and turns in the TV show compared to the book.
For those of you who read the Little Fires Everywhere book, which was set in an Ohio in the ‘90s, a time when people still played CDs and there weren’t any cell phones, don’t go thinking you know everything that will happen during the eight-episode series. Stott hints that the series will veer away from the novel in some ways.
“The book is a wonderful and fantastic inspirational story. But there are going to be some twists and turns in the TV show compared to the book, and I think people will like it a lot,” she said. “It follows the book but it also expands it in the best way possible. It has a lot of reality of today compared to back then, and tt has a lot of meaning that reflects a lot of today’s concerns.”
Stott is also an active supporter of the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society where she makes blankets for very young children who have the illnesses. “It’s humbling for me because I was premature. Of course, I don’t remember it, but each kid should have something special for them and they should have somebody who loves them,” she said. “If you just do that one act of kindness, it can make the day of the parents or the siblings, or even the child.”
Little Fires Everywhere premieres on Hulu on Wednesday, March 18.