Suzanna Son’s path to stardom was anything but ordinary. Three years ago, while on a date at the movies, she had a chance encounter with acclaimed director Sean Baker, known for his talent in discovering hidden gems from everyday life. This unexpected meeting eventually led to Son landing the role of Strawberry in Baker’s latest project, Red Rocket. Alongside former model and MTV VJ Simon Rex, Son portrays a teenage donut saleswoman who becomes entangled in the shady world of Mikey Saber, a former pimp from Los Angeles visiting Texas. In an exclusive interview for W’s Best Performances issue, Son spills the beans on filming in a donut shop, gracing the red carpet at Cannes in a wheelchair, and why filming nude scenes in Red Rocket didn’t faze her.
A Chance Encounter with Destiny
“How did you get cast as Strawberry in Red Rocket?” we asked Son.
Son shares the serendipitous story of meeting Sean Baker at the ArcLight theater while she was on a date. Baker, in need of a favor, asked her to hold his cigarette, much to her chagrin. Little did she know, this mundane request would turn her life around. Baker and his wife, Sammy, approached her and offered an audition, unaware of her background in theater at Cornish College of the Arts.
From Audition to Cannes
Son’s excitement was palpable when she found out she secured the role. The opportunity to be part of what Baker described as a small, guerrilla-style film seemed surreal. However, their expectations were far exceeded when Red Rocket premiered at the prestigious Cannes Film Festival.
“Crazy” is how Son describes her Cannes experience. Despite nursing a broken foot and using a wheelchair, her joy eclipsed any physical discomfort.
Immersed in the World of Donuts
In Red Rocket, Son portrays a donut salesperson. When asked if she actually made the donuts for the film, Son revealed that the dedicated staff at Donut Hole, the shop where they filmed, prepared fresh donuts every morning for the cast and crew.
“Did you eat any?” we couldn’t help but inquire.
Son’s response was a resounding “Yes.” She indulged in many donut holes during the production, savoring the delicious treats while fully immersing herself in her character.
One aspect that made Red Rocket unique for Son was the number of nude scenes she had to perform. Acting naked felt liberating to her, but singing in the nude left her feeling exposed and vulnerable. She describes the experience as stripping away all barriers, baring her raw self.
“The beauty of it,” Son reflects, “lies in the vulnerability.”
Unexpected Musical Choice
Son’s character, Strawberry, performs a memorable scene singing *NSYNC’s “Bye Bye Bye.” When asked if she had any say in the song selection, Son explained that director Sean Baker surprised her with it the night before shooting. Though familiar with the song, she had never heard the version chosen for the film.
As for being a fan of *NSYNC, Son jokingly admits, “I’m a little young for that.”
A TikTok Dilemma
When the topic of TikTok dances arises, Son confesses that she refrains from participating. She finds the trend repetitive and feels pressured to conform. However, she admits that she might be missing out and contemplates joining the platform to learn something new.
Son’s desire to act in films wasn’t sparked by a specific movie. Surprisingly, she recalls being enamored with Jane Fonda’s workout videos, which she would enjoy with her mom. The energetic routines on those VHS tapes made a lasting impression on her.
As for inappropriate childhood movie choices, Son confesses to accidentally stumbling upon Barbarella at a young age. Her mother quickly intervened and turned it off, recognizing its unsuitability.
First Crushes and First Kisses
Growing up, Son had a poster of Hannah Montana on her ceiling, harboring a crush on Miley Cyrus, not her on-screen alter ego. With a sense of nostalgia, Son fondly recalls her first kiss, which took place in the wings of a stage. As she was preparing to move to a new school, a boy asked her what three wishes she desired. One of those wishes was a kiss before parting ways. This sweet encounter turned into a seven-hour-long make-out session, resulting in missed classes and a memorable experience.
The Birth of “TheStrawberryButcher”
Son’s Instagram handle, @thestrawberrybutcher, has attracted attention. When questioned about its origin, Son reveals that she used a serial killer name generator to come up with a unique username. Sean Baker appreciated the strawberry element and decided to incorporate it into her character’s name, Strawberry, in Red Rocket.
Suzanna Son’s journey from an accidental encounter with Sean Baker to starring in Red Rocket showcases the unpredictable nature of success in the entertainment industry. Her passion for her craft shines through in every scene, capturing audiences’ hearts and leaving a lasting impression. As Son continues to carve her unique path in the world of cinema, we eagerly anticipate her future endeavors.
To learn more about Suzanna Son’s incredible journey, visit Ratingperson.