‘Dune’ actress Alicia Witt talks about making music, escaping child star curse: ‘I was truly blessed for that’

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Alicia Witt didn’t hesitate to pack her bags and leave Hollywood.

The former child star, who at the age of seven made her mark on David Lynch’s cult science fiction classic “Dune” in 1984, has always been passionate about music. However, a thriving acting career has kept her busy over the years. As a teenager, she moved to Los Angeles where she appeared in a multitude of films, such as “Mr. Holland’s Opus”, “Vanilla Sky” and “Two Weeks Notice”, among others. The 46-year-old was forced to make another move – this time to Nashville. And she doesn’t look back.

Alicia Witt has released a new album called “The Conduit”.

Most recently, Witt released a new album titled “The Conduit”, her fifth where she is also a producer. Witt is now preparing to hit the road with a fall tour. But before that, she spoke to Fox News about escaping the child star curse, befriending Lynch, 75, and making music today.

Fox News: When did you realize you wanted to make music?
Alicia Witt: I have been playing the piano since the age of seven, which is the year I made my first film. I just started with classical piano, competitions and recitals. Then I played the piano to earn a living and support myself while pursuing my acting career. But these weren’t my original songs. They were jazz standards and show tunes. I think I always knew that making my music was a top priority… It was a long time coming. And it just became such an important part of my expression.

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As a child, Alicia Witt made her mark in 'Dune'.

As a child, Alicia Witt made her mark in ‘Dune’.
(official ‘Dune’ trailer)

Fox News: You are remembered by many fans in “Dune”. Looking back, how did you get the part?
Spirit : Well, that was the first time I had done such a thing as auditioning. I still lived in Worcester, Massachusetts with my family and the phone rang. He was the casting director of “Dune”. She had had a hard time choosing this role of Alia because Alia is supposed to be born with this insane vocabulary.

She’s an adult in a child’s body for science fiction reasons. And the child must have been about four and five years old. So they were having a hard time finding someone. My parents sent me a VHS tape and before you knew it I was invited to come and audition for her in New York. Then I auditioned for David Lynch.

American actor Dean Stockwell (left), British actress Francesca Annis and David Lynch on the set of

American actor Dean Stockwell (left), British actress Francesca Annis and David Lynch on the set of “Dune”.
(Photo by Nancy Moran / Sygma via Getty Images)

Fox News: What was it like auditioning for David Lynch?
Spirit : He gave me wonderful, easy-to-follow instructions when I was seven. I remember at one point he wanted me to look scared. So he asked me to lean against a wall and shake against him without saying anything. Just look outside and shake against the wall. This is the most lively direction he has given me.

It made me feel the emotion that the character is supposed to feel. I just remember loving him and feeling like he was part of the family right away. And that was it. Then I got a call about a week later saying I had the part and we were going to spend three and a half months in Mexico City. And I knew from the first moment I stepped on stage that I wanted to do this for the rest of my life.

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Fox News: What was your relationship with the rest of the cast?
Spirit : Everyone was so good to me. So sweet. They all took me under their wing. Every experience I had on this set only made it stronger that I wanted to keep doing this. Also, the actors were pretty cool * laughs *. They took the time to talk to my parents, my father in particular. I think that’s one of the reasons that when I was a teenager he supported me so much to move me to Los Angeles, which I know must have scared him.

As a teenager, Alicia Witt moved to Los Angeles where she has had a thriving acting career over the years.

As a teenager, Alicia Witt moved to Los Angeles where she has had a thriving acting career over the years.
(Photo by Chris Bergman / Fotos International / Getty Images)

He would sit in a director’s chair next to me and have good conversations. My dad felt like the actors were more than the stories you read in the tabloids. These are people who chose to do this for a living and who loved being surrounded by other equally passionate, traveled and caring people. He met a lot of actors, so he knew what kind of business I was getting into.

Fox News: How did you escape the so-called Star Child Curse we often hear about?
Spirit : Well, I didn’t really get into the business until later. “Dune” was the only thing I did when I was young. I didn’t have an agent, didn’t audition constantly, and didn’t have to move to LA. I didn’t get worldwide recognition until much later. And as I got older, I played the piano to support myself. So that kept me humiliated to say the least.

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So I was thankful when the job came… There’s a weird thing that can happen when you’re super young and all of a sudden there’s a lot of money coming in, especially when you’ve grown up without a lot. But it was not my experience at all. It was a slower start for me, but I feel like I’ve been truly blessed for it.

Sandra Bullock, Hugh Grant and Alicia Witt (left to right) arrive at the Ziegfeld Theater for the New York premiere of the film 'Two Weeks Notice.'  They star in the film and Bullock doubled as a producer.

Sandra Bullock, Hugh Grant and Alicia Witt (left to right) arrive at the Ziegfeld Theater for the New York premiere of the film “Two Weeks Notice”. They star in the film and Bullock doubled as a producer.
(Photo by Richard Corkery / NY Daily News Archive via Getty Images)

But you know, it wasn’t entirely easy. It’s a strange thing to be a teenager and to be auditioning and having my appearance constantly scrutinized … [But] finally I was able to find a real sense of balance. And I appreciate that the sense of balance now comes from seeing the other side of that, having an unbalanced sense of what it means to be healthy and look good and all these things that I think about. every woman thinks. But you think about it more when you’re in front of a camera all the time.

Fox News: What kept you going, especially after being scrutinized as a teenager?
Spirit : It’s hard. But along the way, I continued to work with people who inspired me… You often hear a lot in this industry talking about the big break and how a job can do you and then all of a sudden nothing is the same anymore. I think that more often than not there are incredible opportunities that present themselves to you that can hold good surprises or disappointments. It’s a constant learning curve. For me, playing the part is about more than my appearance or my popularity. I want to play characters who hopefully inspire people. I hope to make the world a better place in one way or another.

Fox News: How is your life in Nashville?
Spirit : I love it. I made the choice four years ago to settle permanently in Nashville. It was the same feeling I got when I decided to move to LA when I was 16. But it’s the best thing I’ve ever done for myself. I realized that the more time I spent here, the more I could concentrate on my music.

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Singer / pianist Alicia Witt performs at the Evening Muse on December 17, 2016 in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Singer / pianist Alicia Witt performs at the Evening Muse on December 17, 2016 in Charlotte, North Carolina.
(Photo by Jeff Hahne / Getty Images)

Before, I found myself returning to my beautiful home in LA and missing Nashville. LA no longer felt at home. Once I got to that realization, I thought, “What if I sell this house and buy a new one in Nashville?” Then everything clicked. It’s a beautiful thing to realize that after all these years, I can live where I feel happy and continue to do the job that I love.

I was able to support my acting career during all these years. But at the same time I realized that my music had to be a priority. Now I feel like my work as an actress is rejuvenated. Putting my heart and soul into another creative outlet and not so much on waiting for that proverbial phone to ring just got so much easier.

Actress Alicia Witt attends Hallmark Channel and Hallmark Movies &;  Mysteries summer 2019 TCA Press Tour event at a private residence on July 26, 2019 in Beverly Hills, California.

Actress Alicia Witt attends Hallmark Channel and Hallmark Movies &; Mysteries summer 2019 TCA Press Tour event at a private residence on July 26, 2019 in Beverly Hills, California.
(Photo by Paul Archuleta / FilmMagic / Getty Images)

Fox News: It must be liberating to pursue both outlets and not feel like you have to sacrifice one in order to succeed in the other.
Spirit : Absoutely. The way it all unfolded was miraculous. For years, I would book a tour and cross my fingers that the role I have been waiting for for years does not come at the same time because it would be difficult to make that choice. But without fail, these roles came before or immediately after these tours. And it looks like it just happened again. It is a beautiful affirmation.

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