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05-29-03: A star is born in Auglaize County
Minster girl hopes public will take shine to her first movie opening in
Dayton in June

The Daily Standard
    MINSTER - One day she was a quiet fourth-grader from Minster. The next day she was a movie star reading script for a Hollywood director.
    That's what life was like for Regan Arnold two years ago.
    In about two weeks she will nibble on popcorn at the Neon Theater in Dayton as she watches her own performance in "Blue Car," the Miramax movie she co-starred in.
    That is, if her parents escort her to the show. It's an R-rated movie and she is only 12.
    "We found out after she got the part that it was R-rated," said Regan's mother, Renee Arnold. "We had mixed emotions at first, but her father (Scott) and I believed she was mature enough to handle it."
    It's hard to believe the innocent-looking girl with sparkling hazel eyes could fill the role of a dark character named Tilly, who develops mental and physical problems when her father abandons the family.
    The movie is a drama centered around Tilly's older sister (played by Agnes Bruckner), an 18-year-old who looks to her English teacher for comfort and inspiration after the girls' family life falls apart.
    The Arnold family saw the movie in its entirety for the first time in January 2002 at the Sundance Film Festival in Utah, where it debuted and was snatched up by Miramax for $1.5 million.
    "I couldn't believe that was me up there," said Regan, who claimed the toughest part of the movie was putting on make-up and not tripping over camera and lighting cords.
    To top off the experience, a woman in the audience spotted Regan and asked her for her autograph. With an embarrassed smile, Regan said she answered, "Sure."
    Stardom hasn't quite sunk in yet and it may never for Regan, who seems to take the whole "actress thing," as she calls it, in stride. Part of her humbling attitude could be that the movie is not yet available in local theaters, so her classmates have yet to see her in action.
    "When my friends found out, they asked how I got the part," the sandy-haired blonde said. "They kept saying, 'You were in a movie?' "
    The New York Times called the movie "a most impressive writing and directing debut." TV Guide critics said it is "a rare, unromantic take on female adolescence as sharp as a razor: It cuts right to the bone."
    Regan and her brother, 10-year-old Seth, began taking acting classes in Columbus four years ago with teacher Gail Ramsey, a former soap opera star. Through Ramsey's contacts in Los Angeles, Regan was tapped to try out for the movie. She was videotaped reading the script and a copy was sent to the movie producers in California.
    "Then they wanted me to try out in person," Regan said. "And it came down to me and another girl."
    The director/writer, Karen Moncrieff, came to Dayton in early 2001 to listen to the petite 10-year-old rehearse. But Regan's soft voice nearly ruined her chance to land the part.
    "They couldn't hear me. I don't talk very loud," she said.
    Moncrieff came back to Dayton a second time and Regan eventually found out she got the part.
    Soon Regan began rehearsing in Dayton on weekends. Then, in March 2001, filming began daily for three weeks.
    "I slept in the car on the way down and back," Regan said.
    Some days filming began at 8 a.m. and lasted until 11 p.m., her mother said. The last night they worked until the wee hours of the morning, getting home about 6 a.m.
    "We grabbed a couple hours of sleep, then I took Regan to basketball camp," said Renee Arnold, who formerly worked in marketing and is now a stay-at-home mother of four.
    By late spring, Regan and her mother headed for L.A. for three days for sound editing and voice placement.
    Together they watched the scenes come together.
    "It was fascinating to learn the sequence of how things are filmed," Renee Arnold said.
    Renee and Scott Arnold, who have no acting experience themselves, declined to say how much Regan was paid for her performance. The income was placed in a college fund, they said. However, Regan did make one purchase with her earnings - a Nikon camera.
    Regan's parents said they don't wish for stardom for their daughter, but they do like exposing their children to different experiences in hopes of making them more rounded people.
    "Not that Minster's not a great place to live, but you have to show them there's a whole 'nother world out there to see," Regan's father, Scott Arnold, said.
    Renee Arnold agrees.
    "We want all of our children to have normal lives - school, sports, camp, the works, and not lose out on being just kids," she said.
    Regan, whose own favorite actress is Sandra Bullock, said she'd like the chance to act in future movies.
    "I really, really, really want to do others," she said, spoken like a true 12-year-old.
    Local theater and drive-in owners told The Daily Standard they are not yet certain if the movie will be played locally.


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