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Dakota Blue Richards Talks Lyra

13-year-old actress talks to Scholastic about The Golden Compass

By Marie Morreale | December 3 , 2007
Dakota Blue Richards stars as Lyra Belacqua in the 2007 film, <i>The Golden Compass</i>. (Photo: New Line Cinema.)
Dakota Blue Richards stars as Lyra Belacqua in the 2007 film, The Golden Compass. (Photo: New Line Cinema.)

Recently, Dakota Blue Richards talked to Scholastic News Online about what it was like to play Lyra in the movie adaptation of The Golden Compass—one of her favorite books! Read on to hear what Dakota had to say about her big-screen debut.

Q: Over 10,000 girls showed up at the open audition for Lyra. What was it like to be chosen to play her?
Dakota: When I found out that 10,000 other girls had auditioned to be Lyra, I didn’t think I had a chance at all. It was quite a big surprise. Also, before I found out, I had been having a really bad day at school, so it was the last thing I expected to happen.

Q: Author Philip Pullman personally selected you to play Lyra. How did it feel to finally meet him? Did he give you any advice?
Dakota:
Before I met him, he wrote me a letter and said I could call him or write to him if I ever needed to talk about anything. Later, he gave me a lot of input into how my character would be feeling during several of my scenes. Nobody understands Lyra better than he does, so that was a real help.

Q: What do you like most about your character?
Dakota: I like the fact that she’s kind of naughty and she doesn’t like to do what she’s told. But she’s also quite loyal. She would go to the end of the world to do what she thinks is right.

Q: How old were you when you first started reading the His Dark Materials trilogy?
Dakota: My Mom read them to me when I was about nine.

Q: Do you like to read?
Dakota: I didn’t really like reading much before I did The Golden Compass. But then my teacher told me to read it. And I thought, “Oh god, I’m going to have to read a whole book by myself!” It’s not that I couldn’t read, it’s just that I didn’t really like books very much. But the book that she lent me I really enjoyed. And since then I’ve read quite a lot.

Q: That’s great.
Dakota: I’m quite a slow reader. It can take me quite a while to get though a book.

Q: What’s your favorite school subject?
Dakota: Math is my favorite subject. It’s the universal language. I like the fact that wherever you go in the whole world, two plus two will still be four. Whereas you can say something in England, and then in France or Spain it could mean something completely different. In math, it’s always going to be the same.

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