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Former Dublin resident breaking into film industry with a part in ‘The Way Way Back’

When Devon Werden was young, and was asked what she wanted to be when she grew up, she didn’t have just one thing in mind, but a whole list. The lineup ran the gamut of childhood dream jobs, but always somewhere among the choices was actress.

Werden, 26, was born in Peterborough, grew up in Dublin, and attended Mountain Shadows School of Dublin and South Meadow School, before attending boarding school in Massachusetts. Now working as an actress and living in Manhattan, Werden is living what once was a childhood dream. She has a small part in the 2013 film “The Way Way Back” alongside big names like Steve Carrell, Toni Collette, Sam Rockwell, Allison Janney and AnnaSophia Robb, and had the chance to walk the red carpet at a New York premiere on June 26 .

It’s a long way from her childhood growing up in Dublin, she said in a phone interview Monday. And it’s not the first time Werden’s been in film. Glimpses of her as unnamed characters can be had in two other films, “Consent” in 2010 and “Not Fade Away” in 2012, both of which were amazing experiences in their own right, she said. But “The Way Way Back” is the most significant thing on her resume so far, said Werden, and hopefully the start of a long film career.

It all happened very quickly, Werden said about getting the role . One minute she was signing with an agent, which in itself was an exciting step. Then, not a month later, she was sending in an audition tape for the “The Way Way Back” and getting a call back. And just as quickly, she had the part and was swept up in filming the movie in Marshfield, Mass.

“It all happened very quickly, but for some reason it seemed very natural,” said Werden. “It just felt right. [The call back] just seemed to work. When I found out a couple of days later that I had gotten the part, I immediately called my mom and brothers and sisters. It meant so much to me. The most emotional part of the experience was actually getting the job. I’ve come close to a lot of really great roles that I’ve fallen in love with, but didn’t get for one reason or another. But I actually loved this part, and got it.”

The film follows a 14-year-old boy named Duncan, played by Liam James, as he comes of age over the course of a summer, while working in a water park. Werden plays a small role as Laura, a friend of Duncan’s sister.

“I play a mean girl,” laughed Werden. “And she’s nothing like me, which was fun. I would never in a million years think to play a popular, mean girl, because that was never who I was, at all. But they’re all really funny and say ridiculous things to make Duncan feel out of place.”

The whole experience was overwhelming, she said, especially getting to work with actors that she’s admired for years. Instead of trailers, there were rooms set aside at two of the beach houses on location, she said, and the actors would gather there on their breaks. “It felt very personal and family oriented,” recalled Werden. Every day when he left the house for filming, Rob Corddry, who played the role of Kip, would jokingly say “bye family,” as he went out the door, she said. And Allison Janney would always tell a joke before every take to get people laughing and relaxed.

While filming was an experience in itself, what followed was equally exciting for Werden: her first red-carpet premiere. The premiere was held at the Lincoln Center in New York City, which Werden has visited many times since moving to New York, she said. This time was a little different, however. In anticipation of the event, a good friend of Werden’s, Jacqueline Bethany, who owns an online clothing boutique, offered to loan her a dress. Getting to choose an outfit from an array of really beautiful classical clothing was a change for a girl that does most of her shopping at Target, Werden said with a laugh. She even had a little team of two stylists to assist with hair and makeup. And then, finally seeing the final product of weeks of work on screen. As her plus-one, she invited her little sister, Hope Werden, 18, of Dublin, who got to experience it all alongside her.

“I knew it was going to be great just from the script, and knowing everyone involved. But when I saw it at the premiere with my little sister, I realized this film is going to be one of those classic coming of age stories people will watch over and over again,” said Werden. “You don’t always get to have that. I’m in a film that people really enjoy, and that’s very exciting to me.”

Ashley Saari can be reached at 924-7172 ext. 244 or asaari@ledgertranscript.com. She’s on Twitter at @AshleySaari.

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