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The Real Reason Lavagirl's Taylor Dooley Took A Break From Hollywood - Exclusive

Actress Taylor Dooley made her mark in 2005, starring as Lavagirl in Robert Rodriguez's The Adventures of Sharkboy and Lavagirl. Now she's back on the screen, reprising that breakout role for Rodriguez's new fantasy adventure movie, We Can Be Heroes. She was 12 when she worked with Rodriguez the first time and was fully poised to follow that performance with a full immersion into a show business career. What happened, with a little help from her parents, was the opposite.

"Living in Hollywood and being a child actor is such a bubble," Dooley explains to Looper in an exclusive interview. "It's hard to explain, but it is such a bubble. My parents were wonderful and at a certain point said, 'You know, instead of working, maybe you should be a kid for just a little bit. You have just a few years left to be a kid, so maybe you should enjoy that.'" 

Was she sad about that decision? Slightly. "[My parents] forcefully removed me a little, and I was sad at first because acting is my hugest passion and what I love. Then I ended up making friends that weren't in the business and [continued] living life." During that break, Dooley also graduated from college and met and married her husband.

Even Lavagirl goes to the grocery store

Even though Dooley took a big break from acting –- peppering her semi-hiatus with a few gigs –- Lavagirl fans never forgot her. "Well, before I got called to make We Can Be Heroes, I'd get stopped in the grocery store. People would ask if I played Lavagirl and say things like, 'You shaped my life,'" Dooley recalls. "[When that happens], I'm always like 'Really? Me?' It's just so exciting and crazy that the movie has had legs for so long."

That excitement and recognition from fans made it both thrilling and easy to return to the beloved character when Rodriguez called about Heroes. "Lavagirl started my career twice now, as I took time off in between. Revisiting this role has coincided beautifully with me wanting to get back into the business and come back as an adult actor."

Ultimately, the actress is happy with the path she followed. "Life was able to be somewhat normal, and I loved it. I loved being able to take a step away and gain life experiences outside of Hollywood. Getting back in it now felt like it was finally a time where I could step in with both feet and not feel like I had any other distractions."

We Can Be Heroes is getting a sequel, but for now, catch the first installment on Netflix.