One to Watch: Julia Butters Is Charting a Noteworthy Path in Hollywood

Let’s take it back to the beginning. How did your journey with The Fabelmans first begin?

It was April of 2021 around Easter, and Amblin [Partners, Steven Spielberg’s production company] sent an email to my agent and manager, and as soon as they saw Amblin, they immediately sent it to me—like, “Oh my god, your name has come up. This is an opportunity of a lifetime!” So I did a self-tape, and I actually forgot to slate and do the full. In auditions for self-tapes, they always want a full-body shot, and I forgot to do both of those things. I sent it in, and I felt so sad and was like, “I hope I didn’t just ruin my dream self-tape.” But within a few days, they said, “Steven really liked it, and we’ll keep you posted.” That was all I really needed. Even if I didn’t get the part, that was going to satisfy me. And then on my birthday, I got a call from Steven, and he wished me a happy birthday, and he said I was going to be a part of the movie. 

What an epic birthday gift! Outside of it being a Steven Spielberg project, what aspects of the story resonated with you when reading the script?

Steven likes to say that no family is perfect, and I definitely could tell what the story was by the sides I was given. It was such a powerful message to really normalize regular families and imperfect families, and I think it’s a very relatable subject for many people, myself included—just to normalize that nobody is perfect. No family is perfect. We all have issues, and that is okay, and that’s normal. I think that was a really powerful message that I’m very glad to be representing. 

You play Reggie Fabelman, one of the three younger sisters of the central character, Sammy. What conversations did you have with Spielberg about his own relationship with his sisters?

Well, he definitely said that through writing it he got to be closer with each and every sister, especially Anne, who my character represents. They would tell me little stories about their childhood and how their mom would cut their hair, and I actually cut my bangs for the role. They just told me stories about their relationship when they were younger and their relationship together with their mother and their father, and that was really special to get to hear about that. 

Oh, I love that you got to connect with Anne too. 

Oh, definitely. We still talk. We go out to lunch every now and then to catch up. She gives me miniatures, which is lovely. She’s like an aunt that gives gifts all the time. She’s so sweet. She gave me her high school ring from, I think, 1967. 

That’s so special. What did you enjoy about stepping into this role?

Oh my gosh. Obviously, I enjoyed being on set and working with Steven and getting to work with my on-screen family, but I really got to know Anne, and I really got to know Reggie, and I got to create Reggie. It was such a learning experience for me to be bold and brave and to take acting risks. On the first day after a few takes, I pulled out a little improv, and Steven laughed and loved it, and I definitely think stepping into Reggie… She helped me become more confident and speak my mind. I really enjoyed that. 

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