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On Location with Madeleine Arthur

The star of the new series The Family dishes about getting a taste of the Big Apple

It was just last year that 18-year-old actress Madeleine Arthur made her first trip to New York last year to film the The Family—an ABC thriller that follows a family after the homecoming of their youngest son, long presumed dead—but she’s already developed a deep affection for the city. “New York is so colorful—there’s really never a dull moment,” says Arthur.

And while conventional wisdom holds that it takes a full decade to become a “real” New Yorker, Arthur seems to have gotten more than her fair share of experiences in with just a fraction of that time. “I can say that I’ve been to all five boroughs, I went to 16 plays, I saw lots of museums and I ate so much good food,” she says with a laugh. “Mostly too many desserts.” Indeed, one of her favorite spots was the legendary Peter Pan Donuts and Pastry Shop in hip Greenpoint, Brooklyn

But Arthur’s time in New York wasn’t all fun. Her role as young Willa Warren—who was supposed to be watching her little brother before he went missing—gave the actress the opportunity to experience a show from the pilot through its first full season. 

“When I read that script, I was on the edge of my seat. It was so intriguing and full of twists and turns,” says Arthur. “My audition process was a short one. We ended up only having to send in one tape. I was lucky enough that they cast me off of that.”

She worked closely with Alison Pill, who plays older Willa Warren, to truly understand the nature of their shared character.

“Before we started filming, we sat down and talked about her morals and how she would react to certain things in life,” explains Arthur.  “It’s really cool, in a story sense, to see her evolve into older Willa and see what she’s done in her past to affect her. As a person, that’s something you don’t really know how you are going to turn out in 10 years. So, to get to see a character and act that was really exciting.”