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The Transformation Of Alexandra Daddario From Childhood To The White Lotus

Alexandra Daddario took the small screen by storm with her role as Rachel Patton, a freelance journalist on her honeymoon in Season 1 of HBO's "The White Lotus," a performance that gained her a lot of critical praise. Of course, the TV nerds out there know she's been acting since childhood and made her screen debut two decades before "The White Lotus" with a small role on the long-running daytime drama "All My Children."

Since then, Daddario has had something of an unconventional path to stardom. From appearances in music videos by popular musicians to supporting roles in well-known TV shows like "American Horror Story" and "True Detective" and a horror movie that granted her scream queen status, Daddario is one of the most versatile actors working today.

Here's how she made her way from a minor role on a soap opera at the age of 16 to one of the lead characters in the first season of HBO's prestige drama "The White Lotus."

Daddario decided to become an actor at age 12

Born in New York City in 1986, Alexandra Daddario always had something of an artistic sensibility; in fact, she decided to become an actor at the age of 12 after watching "Les Misérables" on Broadway (via IMDb). On the Whiskey Ginger podcast back in 2019, she revealed that her decision came from the fact that she "always loved storytelling." In an interview with Interview Magazine, Daddario recalled that she didn't receive "a ton of pushback" about wanting to pursue acting, despite both her parents having careers in law.

The actor attended the Professional Children's School — a New York City-based non-profit college-preparatory school intended for kids between sixth and 12th grade who hope to become actors or dancers. The school's slogan reads: "You don't have to choose between a great education and your dreams," and it seems that Daddario's attendance was indeed the first step in achieving her wildest dreams of becoming an actor.

She made her screen debut at age 16 on All My Children

In 2002, Alexandra Daddario first appeared on the screen as teenager Laurie Lewis on the ABC soap opera "All My Children," which follows the complex intertwining lives of multiple families. But her debut wasn't all peachy — the actor got fired after just one year on the show.

In an interview with Women's Health, Daddario admitted that, during her stint on "All My Children," she still had a lot to learn about acting. "I wasn't a very good actress," she reflected. "I could memorize my lines, but finding my camera, finding my light, even learning how to walk naturally — it took a lot of practice." She continued, explaining that she thinks of her time on the show as a learning experience. "I knew something was wrong," she explained, "but I knew I could fix it. I knew that I loved what I did and that I could be better."

Luckily, Daddario was able to keep practicing her acting chops, as she went on to snag small TV roles in shows such as "Law & Order" in 2004 and "The Sopranos" in 2006.

Daddario's first major role was in the Percy Jackson series

After landing a bunch of small roles in TV shows such as "All My Children," "Law & Order," and "The Sopranos," and films like "The Squid and the Whale" and "The Babysitters," Alexandra Daddario finally landed a leading role in the film "Percy Jackson & The Olympians: The Lightning Thief," which she starred in alongside big Hollywood names like Logan Lerman, Pierce Brosnan, Sean Bean, and Steve Coogan.

In a recent interview with The Wrap, Daddario reflected on her time shooting the film, explaining that it was a very positive experience. "I loved it," she said. "When I stepped into 'Percy Jackon' and got that job, I had no idea what it was." At the time, she was "working at a bar" and "didn't have any idea of Hollywood or all of this stuff." She added that it was "the most amazing experience for a 22-23 year old to have."

She went radioactive on behalf of Imagine Dragons

It was pretty much impossible to go anywhere in the year 2012 without hearing the Imagine Dragons song "Radioactive." But did you know that Alexandra Daddario is in the track's music video?

In the video, she plays a girl who visits a mysterious fighting rink. The role likely put her on map even more than she already was, as the video was wildly popular. A decade later, the video has around 1.4 billion views on YouTube.

"Radioactive" isn't the only music video that Daddario has appeared in. She was also in the video for Maroon 5's "Wait" in 2018, where she plays Adam Levine's fictional girlfriend as the couple go through a series of surreal, absurdist acts. "Wait" probably isn't the best-known Maroon 5 song, but it has nevertheless garnered an impressive 186 million YouTube clicks.

While Imagine Dragons and Maroon 5 are all certified megastars, Daddario also starred in the video for a song called "Whenever You're Around" by the lesser-known band Bootstraps back in 2019. Sam Jaeger directed the clip and appears alongside his onetime "Parenthood" TV wife Erika Christensen. Oddly enough, Daddario had a guest-star arc on "Parenthood," although her character doesn't interact much with Joel Graham (Jaeger) or Julia Braverman (Christensen).

Daddario is the final girl in 2013's Texas Chainsaw

In 2013, Alexandra Daddario became a bona fide movie star in director John Luessenhop's remake of the iconic film "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre." In the modern update whose title is often stylized as "Texas Chainsaw," Daddario plays Heather Miller, who travels to Texas with a small group of friends. Once Heather collects an inheritance left behind by her recently deceased grandmother, she leaves Texas with her pals and everyone returns home safely. Just kidding! The film's cast also includes Scott Eastwood, Dan Yeager, and Trey Songz.

The film saw a wide release but was met with a mostly lackluster response from audiences who found the characters unlikeable and the script corny. Critics liked the film even less, and accused it of being filled with horror cliches, as well as not-great visual effects.

Still, Daddario doesn't regret her time attempting to fend off Leatherface. In an interview with Collider, the actor said "It's a 'Texas Chainsaw' movie. It's supposed to be fun. I'm very grateful to have been in it. I had a really unique experience shooting the film."

Bigger TV parts became her new normal

After earning recognition with her role in "Texas Chainsaw," Alexandra Daddario went on to perform in prestigious, exciting TV shows like HBO's "True Detective" in Season 1.

Daddario has claimed that her role in the show changed the trajectory of her career. In an interview with Collider, she noted that she knew that getting nude for the role had been a big risk. "I didn't know what to expect," she explained. She recalled that the day after the episode aired, her manager called her and said "The phone's been ringing off the hook all morning. The phone won't stop ringing!" She continued, recounting that "All of a sudden, everyone in town wanted to meet with me and then I booked 'San Andreas.'"

The year after appearing in the Brad Peyton-directed disaster flick "San Andreas," Daddario snagged a role in Season 5 of the beloved show "American Horror Story."

Daddario starred in 2017's Baywatch

In 2017, Alexandra Daddario starred in another reboot of a well-known franchise. Fortunately, this one panned out a little better than "Texas Chainsaw," as her turn as Summer Quinn in the movie adaptation of "Baywatch" became one of her most lauded roles. The film follows a lifeguard named Mitch Buchannon (Dwayne Johnson) who is forced to confront a dangerous drug lord in an effort to protect his beach. The cast also includes Zac Efron, Priyanka Chopra Jonas, Jon Bass, Kelly Rohrbach, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Pamela Anderson, and David Hasselhoff.

The film saw very mixed reviews. While it has a certified fresh audience score on Rotten Tomatoes, with viewers calling it funny, exciting, and praising standout performances from Efron and Johnson, critics had less than positive reactions. "Baywatch" has a low 17% critics score on Rotten Tomatoes, with many complaining that the film lacks the necessary humor and lightheartedness of a summer comedy, and others dubbing its CGI as clunky, and condemning its pacing as slow. Much like the original "Baywatch," the movie's not for everybody; however, folks with a specific fondness for the sight of famous people in swim gear running in slow motion seem to appreciate it. 

She appears in one of the first COVID-era productions

In 2020, COVID-19 took the world by storm and forced film productions to shut down indefinitely for safety reasons. One of the first films to go into production after COVID was declared a pandemic was "Songbird," a film directed by Adam Mason and co-produced by Michael Bay. The film went into production in July 2020 and was the first to shoot in LA after the start of the pandemic.

This is oddly fitting, as the film was actually inspired by the virus. "Songbird" takes place in the year 2024, during which time the government has turned into a fascist state that locks people infected with COVID in quarantine camps. Alexandra Daddario plays a singer called May, and acts alongside K.J. Apa, Sofia Carson, Craig Robinson, and Bradley Whitford.

Despite "Songbird" being a major milestone for COVID-era Hollywood, it was met with a largely negative response, with critics calling it derivative, unrealistic, and exploitative.

The White Lotus made Daddario a household name

In 2021, Alexandra Daddario appeared in Season 1 of HBO's "The White Lotus," where she plays a journalist named Rachel staying at a resort in Hawaii on her honeymoon. The show was met with instant acclaim, with critics calling it a shrewd social commentary, a totally addicting watch, and praising the cast (via Rotten Tomatoes).

In an interview with TV Insider, Daddario said that she'd wanted to be in "The White Lotus" from the moment she first heard about it. "You could have given me any role," she explained, "you could have told me I was going to play the beach monster and I would've played it." The actor also noted that "The White Lotus" helped resuscitate her career, as she felt as though it had stalled in the years leading up to it. In an interview with Cinemablend, she admitted, "In the couple years prior to the pandemic, I knew the work I needed to be doing, but it just wasn't happening. I was like, 'Where am I going?'"

Her career looks headed in an interesting direction

Now that "The White Lotus" has put Alexandra Daddario back on the map, the actor's plate is full of juicy acting roles. Included in her upcoming projects is an adaptation of Mason Deaver's popular 2019 young adult novel "I Wish You All the Best," which follows a non-binary teenager named Ben who is kicked out of their house after revealing their true identity to their parents. Not knowing where to turn, they move in with their sister and attempt to work through feelings of rejection. "I Wish You All the Best" is set to be the directorial debut of Tommy Dorfman, previously known for her performance in Netflix's "13 Reasons Why."

Daddario is also acting in an adaptation of author Anne Rice's "Mayfair Witches." According to AMC's plot description, "The series will focus on an intuitive young neurosurgeon who discovers that she is the unlikely heir to a family of witches. As she grapples with her newfound powers, she must contend with a sinister presence that has haunted her family for generations." Sounds a little like "Charmed" channeled through the imaginations that brought us 2022's "Interview with the Vampire." The eight-episode season is set to premiere in early 2023.