It’s been 30 years since Aileen Quinn won over the world’s heart playing the title role in the big screen version of “Annie.”
The 41-year-old actress stopped by Access Hollywood Live on Tuesday to help celebrate the movie’s 30th anniversary Blu-ray release.
At just 9 years old, Aileen beat out 8,000 other little girls hoping to land the role.
“It was over about a year period and they just kept dwindling it down and down and down until it became nine and then the screen test with Albert Finney [brought us ] down to three,” she told Billy Bush and Kit Hoover, recalling the tough process of the landing the role of the plucky redheaded orphan.
“What a great actor to work with,” she said of Albert, who played Daddy Warbucks.
Aileen – who had starred in the chorus of the Broadway musical of “Annie” – said she didn’t have one of Annie’s trademark features.
“I’m not [a redhead.] I’ve gone lighter in California with the sunshine. I’m a brunette,” she explained.
During Aileen’s audition process she and her mother were both convinced that the part was going to another young actress.
“I thought I lost the part the day that I actually got it,” she told Billy and Kit, recalling a meeting with director John Huston. “He asked me questions about my family and my life… [and]I left the audition and my mom said, ‘Well, let’s go get some McDonald’s or Burger King. You lost that one.’ That was the day he said he knew [I was right for the role after] talking to me.”
“He was looking for a strength, but also an innocence,” she said of the director.
The actress credits her parents for keeping her grounded at the height of her stardom.
“Luckily I’ve had really good parenting. I’m very fortunate that both my parents were very normal, very down to earth,” she explained. “So when I came back from filming, I still had to do my chores, still had to do the dishes and everything else.”
Aileen went on to study at Drew University and is now a professor. She also starred in the national Broadway tour of “Fiddler on the Roof” in 1994.
“Annie” 30th anniversary Blu-ray is in stores now.
-- Jesse Spero