Lara McDonnell on playing Holly Short in Artemis Fowl


#ELLEexclusive: Lara McDonnell on playing a kidnapped fairy in Artemis Fowl

The Irish teenager is on the cusp of stardom

By ELLE Team  June 12th, 2020

Artemis Fowl, the eight book saga of a young criminal prodigy in a fantastical world has long captivated many readers. Today, a live action movie adaptation, directed by Sir Kenneth Branagh premieres on the OTT platform, Disney+Hotstar premium. The movie sees an ensemble cast of Ferdia Shaw as Artemis Fowl II, Collin Farrel as Artemis Fowl I, Judi Dench as Commander Root and Lara McDonnell as Holly Short, a fairy kidnapped by Artemis Fowl II. You may remember McDonnell as the 10-year-old alias of Rosie from the movie, Love Rosie.

In an exclusive interview, McDonnell talks about her experience on set and her process of portraying Holly Short.
ELLE: Tell us about your character, Holly Short.

Lara McDonnell: So Holly is an 84-year-old fairy and like a police officer in the fairy underworld. She absolutely adores action and she’s a bit of a rebel. When we meet her she’s not in the best place. She’s a bit lonely, but she’s kind of accepted it at this point. She is put on prisoner transport, which is a mind-numbing job that she absolutely despises. She thinks she doesn’t deserve to be promoted and at this point will do just about anything to show that she can be a proper captain. And she can lead people and do her job properly because she absolutely loves doing her job.

ELLE: Can you give us a brief overview of the story?

Lara McDonnell: Artemis Fowl is basically a child genius. He lives in this huge house and his family is very wealthy. Then Artemis’ dad goes missing and this completely throws Artemis. He knows that he has to get his dad back and he will go to whatever lengths or do whatever it takes to get him back. Holly is an elf in the fairy world and she is like a police officer. She’s always had quite a tough time because her dad did something horrible, so she’s always been compared to her dad. She just wants to do what’s right, no matter what the cost, and she wants to do more, but she’s stuck doing a clock-in-clock-out job rather than getting in on the action. They meet when Artemis decides in order to get his dad back, he needs to pay a ransom, so he kidnaps Holly. But he doesn’t realize that the fairies are much bigger than the thought they would be so it’s not as simple.

 

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ELLE: The story is set in Ireland. Was that important to you?

Lara McDonnell: I am from Dublin, and Ireland is a really big, important part of the book, and not only because Eoin Colfer (the book’s author) is from Ireland, but because the story is based around magic. And I feel like, when anybody tries to think of someplace really magical, you immediately go to Ireland because our legends and our mythology is based all around like fairies and the fairy people. And we still have quite a few people who visit the fairy forts we have, which are still a really big thing here, like leprechauns. We’re very true in our ways of remaining faithful to the ancient times and we’re very connected to our history and our folklore.

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ELLE: What can you tell us about the relationship between your character and the character of Artemis Fowl, played by Ferdia Shaw?

Lara McDonnell: So at the beginning when she’s just been kidnapped, she despises him, not only because he has done all this to put the fairy world in danger, but because he’s cocky and he’s arrogant,and that really, really bothers her. But he’s also right…he’s done his research, and she can’t get over the fact that this child, not only a human, but a child, has managed to pull all of this off, so she’s inclined to hate him. Then throughout the story, she kind of realises they need to work together for everything to happen: he needs one thing to happen, she needs one thing to happen, and the only way they can both get what they want is if they work together. We come to find out that they actually have a lot in common despite being from two completely different worlds. They both have trouble with their dads, they are both trying to prove themselves and they will both go to the end of the world to do what they think is right.

 

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Ferdia is so sweet…he kind of became my little brother in a way. We have a lot in common. We Both love shows like Stranger Things and Harry Potter and Star Wars and sci-fi in general. We spent a lot of time together doing tutoring and school work and we kind of lived together at the beginning of production because we were both staying at the same hotel. We saw each other at work and then we went back to the hotel and we’d have dinner together. We’d have breakfast together and we always hung out together.

Photographs: Getty Images