EXCLUSIVE! Kaylee Hottle is slaying the screen in Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire

Not every girl can say they've had a convo with Kong or faced Godzilla, but 11-year-old actress Kaylee Hottle can.

Starring in Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire, Kaylee's reprising her role from the 2021 film as Jia, the adopted daughter of the scientist (aka the fab Rebecca Hall) investigating the giant ape. 

Whether you're already a Monsterverse fan and can't wait to see new Titans (which, psst, this flick will not disappoint) or just here for an action-adventure ride ft. epic battle sequences, her character will leave you totally touched.

Mark our words, Kaylee's stellar performance—which is especially empowering considering she's a deaf actress representing a deaf heroine on the silver screen—is going to be one to remember. We sat down with her to chat about all the larger-than-life behind-the-scenes moments.

Girls' Life: For most of the movie (no spoilers!), you're the only young person we see. What was it like to be surrounded by all these amazing adult actors?

Kaylee: It was interesting! There were no kids my age on set until we went to the school. So whenever we would cut, I always took the opportunity to have great conversations with everybody on set. We'd laugh and have a good time.

GL: Bring us inside Jia's head—she's having some visions, she's trying to figure out her place in the world. What three words would you use to describe her character?

Kaylee: Brave for sure, then strong and curious. Getting to play Jia again has been great. The emotions were so different this time, and being in this new environment with the same character was very cool. 

GL: In filming the movie, there's a green screen in the place of Kong. What is it like to portray these deep emotions when there's no actual human—or huge ape—there?

Kaylee: I had to practice ahead of time before those scenes. My parents helped me a lot! And Adam (the director of the movie) helped me to get a vision. We talked about my character in-depth and what he wanted the scene to look like. I studied my signs—or my lines and the sign language—as well.

Hollow Earth or Skull Island?
"Hollow Earth."
Dream movie to star in? "An adventure movie! With more humans involved this time."
Celeb you really want to meet? "Bailee Madison."
Kong or Godzilla? "Kong, of course!"

GL: Were there any big differences in filming The New Empire and Godzilla vs. Kong

Kaylee: New characters and new Titans, of course. And for Jia, it's a new storyline—now she's a little bit lost and trying to find her way to a home.

GL: Did you have a fave scene to film?

Kaylee: When Godzilla and Kong meet up for the first time and they have this moment of understanding like, We all need to be working as a team.

GL: Speaking of teams, your Hollow Earth team-up costumes look pretty epic!

Kaylee: When they took me to the fitting room and I tried on the costume, I had a moment of, "Wow, this is great. This is a bigger role this time." It was just so cool when I put on that cloak and then got to film in it. I felt like a different person. It made me feel like a princess.

GL: What advice do you have for girls who want to become an actress like you?

Kaylee: Follow your dreams. There are so many paths in life you could follow, but if you want that dream, go for it.

You can watch Kaylee in Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire, hitting theaters this Friday!

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Image credit: Rob Latour / @godzillaxkong


by Ally Coy | 3/28/2024