Saving the day and stealing the show. Xochitl Gomez is being praised as the breakout star of Doctor Strange and the Multiverse of Madness, but she almost didn’t even audition for the blockbuster.
“I did my first audition in February 2020, and then six months later, in August, I got my second audition, which was for a younger version of the character,” the Baby-Sitters Club alum, 16, told The Hollywood Reporter in May 2022 about reading for the role of America Chavez. The character was originally written for someone in their late teens, but then 14-year-old Gomez decided to take a chance and send in an audition tape anyway. By her second reading, they had tweaked the role to open it up to a larger range of actresses.
“I was like, ‘Oh my gosh, I might have a shot at this!’” she recalled. “So I did some stunt training for a full month, every other day for a couple of hours, and then I did the test. And two days later, I found out I was cast. It all went pretty quick!”
Though she has been acting since the age of 5, Doctor Strange was the biggest project that Gomez has been a part of, and it took some time for her to process that she was playing a superhero. “My reaction was basically, ‘Oh, great, wow.’ Then of course, as I get off the call, I’m like, ‘Did that really just happen?’” she told Entertainment Tonight in June 2021. “Of course, it took me probably two or three days until it actually hit.”
The You’re the Worst actress continued: “That’s when I actually, I cried. I mean, my mom didn’t know. I don’t want her to know, but I definitely, at night I cried. It’s just crazy that I get to be a part of this crazy, huge thing. It’s so just insane.”
Introduced in September 2011 before joining the Young Avengers in January 2013, America Chavez is a tough, wise-cracking teenager with the ability to travel through multiple dimensions and powers that include superhuman strength, invulnerability, and the ability to explode her enemies into star fragments with a single punch. However, when fans meet her in Doctor Strange, she’s just discovering her powers and learning about the multiverse. “It was very important for me to keep that youthful, fake-it-till-you-make-it kind of vibe,” Gomez told Entertainment Weekly in May 2022 about her approach to playing a 14-year-old America.
“In this movie, there’s a lot of heavy stuff going on. It’s not easy when you’re a teenager and you have all this pressure and crazy stuff going on around you,” she continued. “You have to remember that you are a kid. You’re allowed to make mistakes, and we’re all learning. … It was kind of fun taking the version from the comics and making her younger and less experienced.”
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