LBHS grad lands silver screen role

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By Tasmin McGill, Special to the Independent

Laguna Beach High School graduate Meg Millidge (O’Connell) will play a supporting role in the upcoming romantic comedy “The Idea of You,” starring Anne Hathaway and Nicholas Galitzine. Photo courtesy of Meg Millidge

Recent Laguna Beach High School graduate Meg O’Connell, known as Meg Millidge on the big screen, is set to play a supporting role in her biggest project yet, “The Idea of You,” a romantic comedy starring Anne Hathaway and Nicholas Galitzine.

Millidge read about the Harry Styles fan fiction novel that became a New York Times bestseller and moved to the silver screen through a Deadline news article. After reading the article, she became excited about the script and the fact that she knew a friend of a friend who was linked to it as a co-producer at the time.

Although she was in what she considers a “dry spell” for auditions, she was determined to snag one for this film. 

“I was like, ‘I gotta make this happen. If I can get an audition for it, a huge pat on the back, mission accomplished,” Millidge said.

This was her chance. 

Millidge reached out through her connection to ask about auditioning. After weeks of emails, she was told that auditions had not begun since the film was still in pre-production. She was told that she would hear from them when they started. 

Rather than wait, Millidge continued to reach out via email to check in and stay on their minds. She even connected with a casting director she previously worked with to hone in on her audition skills, so that she would be ready when the call came. 

Not only did Millidge get the call, but she also landed the role of Claire, personal assistant to Hathaway’s character in the movie. Just a few weeks later, she was off to Atlanta, Georgia, to begin filming in October 2022. 

Although she has been on television sets, appearing on Bones and having a five-episode role on Twisted, her first day on set on The Idea of You was nerve-wracking. Millidge not only had to familiarize herself with the movie set, but also meet and remember the names of the crew and cast.

“It was a lot to juggle the first day, but so much fun,” Millidge said. 

While working alongside the movie star Anne Hathaway, Millidge took the opportunity to gain knowledge.

“It was so informative watching her work. I’ve been such a fan of hers since The Princess Diaries,” Millidge said. “It was so cool being around her and seeing her do her own thing, preparing before a scene, seeing how she works – just being there was cool.”

Growing up, Millidge loved to play pretend. Coming from a family that had annual passes to Disneyland, she was heavily influenced by what some believe is the most magical place on Earth.

“She listened to all the Disney stories over and over and loved to dance around, sing and pretend,” said Millidge’s mom, Karen O’Connell. 

Millidge pays homage to her mom by using her maiden name, Millidge, as her stage name. 

O’Connell remembers Millidge wearing her older sister’s dance costumes, clipping colorful hair pieces in and filling the mornings with songs. 

“I could never carry a tune in a bucket, nor could her older sister. Oh my goodness, it fascinated me,” O’Connell said of Millidge’s singing. “To see her enjoy it and have a natural ability – I was happy to find places for her.”

Throughout her childhood, she took dance, acting and singing classes. From elementary through high school, she was involved in plays and musicals as well. 

Although Millidge majored in sociology at Loyola Marymount University after graduating from Laguna Beach High School, she minored in studio arts and was involved with performing arts classes at the university and around Los Angeles. 

From scene study, audition, movement, and improv classes; continuous training and the desire to sharpen her skills are important to Millidge. 

“Your needs kind of change. You get to know yourself a little better,” Millidge said. 

During the Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists strike in 2023, Millidge turned to her acting classes for solace. Along with reaching a fair deal and taking care of her mental health, she prioritized surrounding herself with laughter. For Millidge, taking classes brings her back to what is important and why she loves acting in the first place. 

“I know a bunch of people who got back into class just really trying to enjoy the craft side of it while the business side was on hold,” Millidge said. “It was so nice to meet new people, play together, and explore funny characters and scenarios.”

Now that the SAG-AFTRA strike is over and The Idea of You premieres May 2 on Amazon Prime Video, Millidge is looking towards the future and wants to “do it all.”

“I don’t have any projects lined up, but if you know someone who knows someone, let me know,” Millidge said with a laugh. “I am staying hopeful and grateful for this year, and who knows what can happen. That is the biggest message I have – you never know what can happen. The hard thing about this industry is you never know, but then you could get an audition tomorrow.”

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