KEARNEY — Julia Butters caught the acting bug even before she could read.
The 10-year-old actress said her parents, Darrin and Lorelei Butters, read her lines to memorize for roles in commercials when she was 4.
“I was a 4-year-old child, like I didn’t know how to read. I actually had to memorize it without reading it off the page,” Julia said.
Darrin, a Kearney native and Disney animator, said since then his daughter has been a natural actress.
Julia, who plays Anna-Kat Otto on ABC’s “American Housewife,” landed herself a role as Trudi in Quentin Tarantino’s latest film, “Once Upon a Time ... in Hollywood.” Julia and Darrin flew into Kearney to talk about her role and her life as an actress before a viewing of her film Saturday night at the World Theatre.
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The Butters family also donated $500 toward the World Theatre’s capital campaign, which will pay for renovations to the balcony and backstage.
Julia charmed the packed theater with her wit and larger-than-life personality. She told how she got into acting and what it’s like to perform at Universal Studios, where “Once Upon a Time ... in Hollywood” was filmed.
Her first gig was as a baby model.
“Well, I was a very, very shy baby,” she said as the crowd busted into laughter.
“So I wouldn’t be able really even to look most anybody else, other than my mom and dad, in the eye without freaking out. So we did baby modeling to kind of get me out of my shell. As you can tell it worked,” she said with a big grin and a hand wave.
The modeling then lead to commercial work for Julia.
She said somebody asked, “‘Hey, would you like to audition this toddler for a car commercial?’ Of course. Who doesn’t love Hondas.’”
A Butters’ family friend who writes for Criminal Minds then wrote Julia a role in one of the scripts.
Julia tried it, and fell in love with acting.
When Julia was offered a role in a Tarantino film, she said she almost fell out of her chair because she was excited to work at Universal Studios where she enjoys the tram tour.
Julia was comfortable working on the film with famous actors, Brad Pitt and Leonardo DiCaprio, and director Tarantino, Darrin said, because she wasn’t real familiar with them. But she was starstruck when she saw director Steven Spielberg at Universal.
“She doesn’t watch any of those movies. So she didn’t know any of those people at the table read. But she knew who Spielberg was because we are a huge fan of Jaws, ET,” Darrin said.
Julia wasn’t shy to introduce herself, though. She also captured him on video as she was driving out of the studio back lot. She acted-out how Spielberg slowly turned his head to look at her after he was walking and talking on his cellphone.
“And in Leo’s words, it’s like a Sasquatch photo,” Julia said.
Julia said she’s seen most of her latest film, but she can’t watch all of it because of the violence language, which Tarantino is known for.
But she joked, “The language I’m not too bad with because I worked on the set too.”
Acting keeps Julia busy throughout the year. Darrin said her schooling is done with a tutor in a trailer on the set of her sitcom.
But Julia said, she’s still a normal kid. While waiting backstage at the World Theatre, she said she bit on a loose tooth and yanked it out of her mouth. Darrin held the tooth in the air for the crowd to see it.
“So if you hear stories about these Hollywood softies, you can say I know a 10-year old girl that ripped part of her face out,” Darrin quipped.