Nélisse, a French Canadian, took on the role of Liesel Meminger in 2013's The Book Thief, a movie adaptation of Markus Zusak's bestselling 2006 novel. When Liesel was sent to live with foster parents (played by Geoffrey Rush and Emily Watson) in World War II Germany, she was taunted by her classmates for not knowing how to read. However, with the help of her adoptive father and Max (Ben Schnetzer), a Jewish refugee, Liesel not only begins to read but falls in love with books, eventually becoming the "Book Thief" and saving books from Nazi destruction. We caught up with Nélisse, who turns 14 on Thursday, by phone recently. When asked if she considers herself a bookworm, Nélisse replied, "Well, I do read a lot. Most of my friends are boys and most boys hate reading, so I do read more than those friends, but then some of my other friends are smart and they read almost too much, well not too much, let's just say more than average.''
What's on your nightstand?
I recently finished the author Brandon Mull. I read Fablehaven. It is a series, and normally I don't like fantasy stuff, but this one was interesting. It was about two young characters and how they discover another world. I liked how when I bought one book in the series, I already knew the rest were out so I didn't have to wait around for the next one.
Did you read The Book Thief before you were chosen for the role?
No. I actually got the part and then I started to read the book. But, when we started to shoot the movie I didn't want it to get confusing, so I waited until last summer to finish it, and I have to say I loved it. I think the movie looks a lot like the book
Have you ever heard the saying that the book is always better than the movie?
Yes, and I agree with that because there's more detail in a book and also because you use your imagination.
How would you encourage kids your age that don't want to read to start reading?
I'd just tell them that they should read because reading is good. You can learn a lot of things and you can get inspired. It gives you hope and it is kind of a way to escape reality when you are not happy.
Piper Castillo can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (727) 445-4163.