Apple TV+’s The Mosquito Coast is the latest family drama masquerading as a star-driven thriller, much like Breaking Bad and Ozark. In the Bryan Cranston/Jason Bateman position is The Leftovers alum Justin Theroux as Allie Fox, a radical idealist and inventor of sorts who has spent years evading the long arm of the law with the help of his loyal wife, Margot (Melissa George). The couple has two children, a young teen named Charlie and his older sister, Dina, played with both grace and ferocity by relative newcomer Logan Polish.
Polish is the 19-year-old daughter of Mark Polish, who co-wrote and starred in the acclaimed indies Twin Falls Idaho and Northfork with his brother, Michael Polish (who is married to Kate Bosworth). When she was a young girl, Logan played Billy Bob Thornton‘s daughter in the 2006 movie The Astronaut’s Wife, but she hasn’t appeared in a feature film since.
I liked The Mosquito Coast right off the bat, and though the twinkle of madness in Theroux’s eye is the real reason to watch this Apple series, Polish makes one hell of an impression, and she really impressed me over the course of this seven-episode show. For that reason, she has earned Collider’s Up-and-Comer of the Month honors for April, and frankly, I think she’s the perfect fit for this column, as little has been written about her so far, which is exactly what I’m aiming for here — to introduce you to people who I think have the potential to be long-term stars in this industry. Logan Polish is on the rise, and I can’t wait to see what she does next. Enjoy our interview below, because I’ve got a good feeling about her.
Collider: What sparked your passion for acting and made you want to get into this crazy business?
LOGAN POLISH: A number of things, I think. My dad is in film, he’s a director and writer, so it’s something that I kind of had through osmosis. I just grew up around sets. At first, I just loved the community and I loved being in that environment. Honestly, I didn’t even have to act to be satisfied. I loved to just be there and visit people, and I love the relationships that are built in that sort of environment. Honestly, I love the meditation that comes with acting, because I’m so not a person who can be in the moment, and it’s kind of the one thing I’ve found that makes me focus on the task at hand and sort of forget everything else that I’m worried about.
My ultimate goal when I really got into acting, I was like, I really love directing and I really love writing, and I felt like [there would be] no better way to do those sort of things, [and] I might as well act as well. That was sort of, like, the third component to it. I was like, I love acting, it offers all these things, but I also want to direct and write, and what better way to get into it than as an actor?
I know you got a taste of acting as a little girl in movies like 2006’s The Astronaut Farmer, but was this something that you always wanted to do when you grew up?
POLISH: Yeah, definitely. I mean, there were moments when — it was funny — I’d go to my Dad and be like, ‘I want to be an FBI agent,’ or ‘I want to be a doctor,’ and he’d go ‘yeah, but wouldn’t it be fun if you could act those roles?’ and I would go, ‘oh yeah, you’re kind of right! I want to act that. I want to be able to do all of those things.’ Of course, I think he had his own reservations about it because he didn’t ever really want me to be a child actor, so he never forced it at all, and I kind of had to take it upon myself to begin that process of wanting to do it. But it’s something I’ve always wanted to do.
So tell me about the audition process for The Mosquito Coast and how you landed this part?
POLISH: It was surprisingly very easy. I mean, I didn’t expect it to be, for a show that was so well-written and felt very high-profile when I was reading it. I just did a self-tape, and then two weeks went by and I assumed I didn’t get it, and then I got a Zoom call with the director, who was scouting in Mexico, so we just had a meeting and it was really interesting because he cared so much — not only about the audition, but he really cared about my background. So it made me go, ‘oh God, I just want this role even more,’ because I can see the effort he’s putting into it as a director, and he wants to know the history of the people that will be playing these roles. I just felt like that was sort of a tell and a good sign for me.
And then a week later went by and I was driving my car and they called and said “yeah, you booked Mosquito Coast” and I was just crying, and I called my Dad and he was crying, and I was like, “oh my God!” I mean, it’s one of those things where I’ve been auditioning for five years — I started auditioning when I was 13 and I hadn’t booked anything, and then it was finally like, “that’s it!” To me, in that moment, I’m like, “I’ve peaked, that’s all I needed, was just to book something.” To be able to have some sort of work, it was just perfect. It still is. I’m great! This is all I need. This job and maybe a few more, but I’m still riding that.
And what was the timing of the auditions and production and all that? Was that before the pandemic hit, or after?
POLISH: Yeah, it was before the pandemic. We started shooting in November 2019 and then we finished in December 2020.
Did you have to do chemistry reads with the rest of the cast to see how you fit together as a family unit?
POLISH: We didn’t, which I actually was so surprised about. I was expecting that and then we didn’t at all, it was like just, ‘here we go!’ My first time meeting Justin, we just did a rehearsal of all the scenes that we had coming up, and it felt very nonchalant. I just feel like maybe Apple had a lot of trust in people.
How’d you celebrate when you found out you got this role?
POLISH: I think I opened up a bottle of champagne with my parents. My dad’s an independent filmmaker, so there’s this thing that we have embedded in my family — even when something is going through, you don’t really expect it’s going through until you’re on set the day of. So I was kind of holding it together like, “yeah, I got it, but I don’t know if I’m going to celebrate until I’m actually working.” So I kind of just held it close to me and waited. Because I was just so scared, I kind of just wanted to keep my expectations low and go, “you know, I never know what’s gonna happen.” I didn’t want to jinx it.
What do you think makes Dina different from other teenage girls we see on TV?
POLISH: She’s just mature, and she’s also just an accurate representation of kids our age. At least with the parts that I see coming through that I have to audition for, I think it’s a lot of teenagers that act much younger than they actually are. When you think about our generation and what we’ve had to go through, in terms of like, the political climate and climate change and all the adversity, it has created a generation that is very well-spoken and just old for their age and very mature. She was the first person who, when I read for her, I went, “oh, this is the most accurate person I’ve ever been able to read [for].”
And she’s obviously growing up under very unusual circumstances.
POLISH: Yeah, totally. Even though the circumstances are crazy, I don’t feel like it’s too far from… it’s still adversity, and I think every kid deals with a surplus amount of adversity, so even though it’s different, it’s still affecting kids that age the same.
Did you read the book or see the 1986 movie with Harrison Ford to prepare for the role?
POLISH: I did, I watched the movie when I first booked it. I think that’s probably what we did that night, was watch The Mosquito Coast. I watched it with my mom, and we’d look at each other and it’d be like, “oh my goodness, look at what I’m gonna be doing!” Because the movie itself escalates so fast and before you know it, it’s Helen Mirren with her sunburned face and River Phoenix losing his mind, so it was something I was really excited to partake in.
And then I sort of was saving the book for once the show had wrapped because I knew I was gonna miss it, so I was thinking, “okay, I’m gonna read the book so I can sort of prolong the experience,” and then when we went on the hiatus it just ended up being perfect. I needed to read and I had a lot of time to read so I just decided to delve into that and sort of stay in that world. I just wanted to keep that sort of philosophy running, because Allie runs on such a specific sort of oil.
This is a season-long chase and it’s rather relentless, so is that exhausting to play as an actress when your character is constantly in survival mode and you’re wearing the same costume for multiple episodes?
POLISH: Yeah, I mean, I loved it. There’s something so satisfying about being so exhausted. It really created a lot of satisfaction with the job. I remember, they were trying to push costume changes on us and I remember there are times when people change costumes, and I kept thinking, I don’t want to change my costume at all. It almost made me feel like when you see a character go to bed with a full face of makeup. It just doesn’t seem accurate.
So I kind of loved being able to really dig into the intensity of it and go full sunburned face and get really dirty, and wear the same gross clothes. Being exhausted in real life really helped all of our performances, and I love when those lines start to blur, and you don’t really have to act tired, you just are. And I remember Rupert [Wyatt, the director] coming up to me and going, “I really like the dark circles they put under your eyes.” And I was like, “Uh, no they didn’t. Those are my dark circles, but thank you!” But I’m glad he was aware of that [commitment].
Are there any actors you admire, or whose careers you’d like to emulate?
POLISH: I really love… the first person who comes to mind is Rami Malek. I really like him and I just love the work that he does. I loved Mr. Robot and I love how he then started doing movies. And I also just love his subtle acting and his vulnerability and the way he’s so nuanced. There are such awesome little details to his acting that I wish I could do, and hopefully, maybe one day, can. I mean, they’re all men, surprisingly. I think of Kyle MacLachlan, too. I just love the work that these guys were able to be a part of because I hope one day I can do things like that as well.
I ask that question to a lot of people and they usually do answer along gender lines, so the fact that you went with male actors is interesting and different. Are there any directors whom you’re eager to work with?
POLISH: Christopher Nolan. My goodness, I want to work with Christopher Nolan so badly. Cary Fukunaga and Sam Esmail, too. Those are definitely my top ones. Christopher Nolan is just someone I want to meet. Just to be in his presence, I’d probably lose it.
Is there an actress who people say you look like or that you remind them of?
POLISH: Sometimes I get, I don’t know if it’s a lookalike, but sometimes I get Natalie Wood. Just with the aesthetic, or just the hair. But someone once said to me, “you just kind of emulate that vibe.” I can’t think of anyone else, so I’m gonna put her out there and keep her there.
What’s your idea of utopia? Like, if you could run away any place in the world, as your family does in this show, where would you go and why?
POLISH: I think it would be somewhere that I can probably be in the moment 100 percent of the time. I just figured it out… my utopia would be living in a time where everyone would just decide to get off social media, together, and we’d all reset the world. Because getting off social media by yourself is great, and it’s a good detox, but then everyone is still running with that machine. So in my utopia, it’d be like, “okay everyone, we’re all just going to get off [social media] together and we’re not going to promote this weird vortex on our phones, and now [we’re going to] live in the present.”
The later episodes of the show are set in Mexico and I read that your grandmother’s family was Mexican and also that your grandfather worked in law enforcement, so I’m curious if you felt any connection while doing those scenes?
POLISH: I did, and it was the funniest thing because wherever we traveled in the show, I’d somehow find a personal connection with my grandmother. Her family is from Puebla and we shot there for a month. And she crossed the border when she was a kid, so I still have cousins in Mexicali, and we shot there for a little bit over a month as well. So when I was there, I have cousins who still live there and they reached out to me, so I saw them a few times and it was really fun because I never would’ve probably done it on my own merit. I don’t think I would’ve gone to Mexicali or Puebla or any of these places, and it was really fun to have that personal connection. Because I was the only one in the cast who was like, “yeah, my cousins own this hotel in Mexicali.” It was just so random.
Have you ever asked your aunt, Kate Bosworth, for career advice, be it about acting or simply navigating this industry as a young woman?
POLISH: I haven’t… we haven’t talked too much about the industry. She’s honestly one of those people who’s been like, “if you need anything, just come to me.” And I’ve always loved that it’s never been super work-oriented. She’s just like, “if you need anything, I’m here.” And that’s something she always kind of reiterated when I was a kid. Even with the boyfriends I would be dating at the time, she’d even say that to them, like, “I’m here for you!” She really just wants to help.
I’m also super-into fashion, and she’s very into fashion, so we would kind of connect over that. She was like, “if you need any of these designers or want help with this…” We kind of just fawned over people together. It was just nice that we never [talked about] work all the time. It was great to be able to just connect on a family level.
I understand that you wrote and directed your own short film, Margot, starring Jack Kilmer and Colin Ford. Can you talk a little bit about your aspirations as a writer and director and the kinds of stories that you want to tell?
POLISH: My favorite genre is sci-fi. I really love any sort of environment where you can normalize something very, very weird. I love the sort of sci-fi where there’s one aspect of the world that’s treated as if it’s something normal, and it isn’t. And you’re like, “oh my God, what is this? Why is this crazy?” And it just is. I also like it because it asks the biggest questions, I think, in cinema. That’s one reason I’ve always loved Christopher Nolan, because he goes off on his own way.
I think I just have this drive to say very specific things, and that’s why I want to continue to do it, because there’s just a ton of thoughts where I’m going, “I just need to package it into movie form and push it out there and see how it’s received.”
Where would you like to see the Fox family go in Season 2 of The Mosquito Coast?
POLISH: I’d love to see them get crazier. I think I’d love to just see everything get worse, of course, and I’d love to see them become more and more unhinged. I’d particularly like it if Dina started to spearhead the family even more. I think that’s sort of where she’s going. I feel like she’s starting to take more action and establish more control.
And I wanna see Allie just really go crazy, because I think we have the blessing of having so much time to sort of build that, whereas the movie didn’t really have any time. It was just like, “we’re taking you to Mexico and now a madman is telling you that America has blown up.” I wanna sprinkle that in more and see him just get psycho. I haven’t seen many TV shows that bring it to those extremes.
What’s next for you?
POLISH: I’m auditioning, and I’m writing, and I’m actually working on something with my Dad right now that we’re just kind of editing, and that’ll be coming out in the summer. So yeah, some personal things that people will be seeing soon, so that’ll be really fun.
The Mosquito Coast is now streaming on Apple TV+.
The final 10 episodes premiere in May.
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