As one of eight children, Love, Simon star Talitha Bateman knows a thing or two about sibling dynamics. Though she’s the second youngest of her brood, she uses her powers of persuasion (which may or may not have something to do with her nightmare-making turn in the 2017 horror hit Annabelle: Creation) to get her brothers and sisters to serve her interests. But unlike the demon-children she’s contended with onscreen, Bateman’s interests wouldn’t exactly please the dark lord. Growing up in Northern California next door to a dairy farm, she started proselytizing veganism to her family after seeing how the cows were treated.
“My siblings all ate a lot of meat, and my whole family thought I was a weirdo at first,” she says. “And then after I went vegan, my brothers started getting more interested in it. And now all but one are actually vegan too.”
Despite being a Mother Nature-loving 16-year-old, Bateman’s film credits read more dystopian than pastoral. “I can’t let a lot of my siblings see a lot of my movies, because they’re really serious,” says the actress, whose action credits include the upcoming Geostorm opposite Gerard Butler and Vengeance: A Love Story with Nicholas Cage. But Bateman’s latest project is tailor-made to conjure all the feels in viewers of all ages; based on the YA novel Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda, Love, Simon, coming out March 16, is being touted as the first major studio-backed teen romance to feature a gay protagonist and an anti-bullying message to boot.
“Anyone of any age can watch the film, which makes me really happy. It addresses really serious topics but also makes you laugh,” Bateman says. As a Gen-Z native with progressive values and a close-knit family, Bateman’s real-life story has more in common with that of the Greg Berlanti-produced Love, Simon than most of her past projects. While she and her siblings have grown up home-schooled by their mom, she says they can relate to the film’s anti-bullying theme. “I’m really into anti-bullying. I’ve had some siblings be bullied and it makes me so sad to hear [those] stories,” she says.
Vexed by his social life at school, Simon seeks refuge in his über-supportive nuclear family, portrayed by Jennifer Garner (mom), Josh Duhamel (dad) and Bateman as little sister Nora, who is perceptive of her brother’s inner struggles. “[Before Simon comes out] I think Nora knows a little bit. She’s the sister so it’s a different kind of relationship than with his parents. So I think she got it,” she says.
Bateman’s next big project will also deal with strong family dynamics—but in yet another extreme context; in 2019 she’ll star as Iver in Robert the Bruce, a long-awaited sequel to Braveheart, the iconic 90s drama centering on a 13th-century Scottish warrior’s quest to avenge the slaying of his loved ones. And while the shoot took place primarily in Montana and in the Scottish Highlands, the project was close to home for the actress; the youngest Bateman, her brother Gabriel, also stars in the film.
When they weren’t busy shooting scenes, here’s where the Bateman clan hung out in the Highlands of Scotland.
Cup of Joe: While we were filming at the Eilean Donan Castle in Scotland, there was this cute little coffee shop right next door to us where everyone went for a coffee break. Apparently, they made the yummiest coffees! I wouldn’t know because coffee isn’t really my thing, but I did enjoy their tea and scones.
Power Lunch: It was really hard to find any options for vegans in Scotland but we did end up finding this amazing place right next to a ski resort where I got a delicious veggie burger.
Power Drink: My favorite drink is GT’s Mystic Mango Kombucha, but Scotland did not seem to have any sort of kombucha at all. In fact, whenever I would ask someone about kombucha they would look at me as if I was speaking gibberish. So I was forced to go with water— which is the ultimate power drink!
Retail Therapy: I had one day off so my mom and I went exploring through the town we were staying in that night. We ended up finding this adorable shop where everything was hand made and we bought a couple different beautiful knitted pieces of clothing.
Field Trip: We went on a tour of the Eilean Donan Castle before we began filming there. It was so incredible to hear all the history of who had lived there and how it was rebuilt. I would definitely recommend going on the tour.
Dining Out: One of our nights in Scotland we stayed at The Royal Hotel, way up in the hills and there weren’t any places near by to get dinner, so we ended up eating at the hotel restaurant and our meal there was incredible.
Don’t Miss: We were filming almost every sing day, so we didn’t have a lot of time to visit any “iconic destinations,” but I feel like the hills of Scotland are pretty iconic. We filmed a horseback riding scene where we spent a whole day traveling through the glens. Each location was even more breathtaking than the next.
Hidden Gem: On my first day in Scotland we filmed in a stunningly fantastical forest. It was the most most beautiful place I had ever been in my entire life.
Main image: Talitha Bateman (photo: © Christopher Patey)