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I have a feeling that when we look back on our favorite 2021 movies, not only will A Quiet Place Part II make that list, but its young star, Millicent Simmonds, will be one of the primary reasons why. At just 15 years old, she wowed audiences in the 2018 thriller A Quiet Place (one of the most beloved horror movies in recent memory) as Regan Abbott, the deaf daughter of a family living in silence to evade nefarious aliens that hunt by sound.
The now 18-year-old actress reprises the character (now a much larger role in the story) in the sequel, a box office hit which has received almost universal praise. The follow-up may not have even turned out the way it did if not for Millicent Simmonds, which is just one of the several fascinating facts we will explain further in the following list, starting with one thing she has in common with her best-known role so far.
Millicent Simmonds Has A Cochlear Implant That Helps Her Hear Slightly
Millicent Simmonds, who also often goes by Millie, was born on March 6, 2003, in Bountiful, Utah, and is the middle sibling of five children. According to an interview with the actress published in Teen Vogue in February 2020, an accidental overdose of medication cost her the ability to hear before she had even turned one year old. While she uses American Sign Language to communicate with her family, her friends, and her co-stars, sound is not actually completely lost on her.
In the A Quiet Place movies, Millicent Simmonds’ character, Regan, uses a cochlear implant to defend herself against the sound-sensitive monsters. The deaf actress actually does use a cochlear implant in real life to make things a little less quiet for her, which she revealed when speaking to Vpro Cinema to promote the 2017 drama Wonderstruck, which was the beginning of her career in movies - something she originally never expected would happen for her.
A Lack Of Deaf Screen Characters Initially Convinced Millicent Simmonds Acting Was Not In Her Future
While most audiences may likely know Millicent Simmonds best from the A Quiet Place movies, she currently has five other screen acting credits to her name, including the groundbreaking Disney Channel original series Andi Mack and her debut in the 2015 short film Color the World, in which she co-starred with her real-life mother, Emily Simmonds. No one is more surprised by Simmonds’ success in Hollywood than the actress herself who never had any idea someone like her could ever achieve such a career growing up.
In 2018, when she was still 15, Millicent Simmonds penned an op-ed for Teen Vogue that begins with her recalling how an acting career was something that never even crossed her mind. She “didn’t think it was possible” with how few deaf characters she saw in movies and on TV. Simmonds then goes on to detail how acting finally became a dream and, later, a reality.
Millicent Simmonds First Acted In An Elementary School Shakespeare Production
According to a profile piece by Observer, Millicent Simmonds attended elementary classes at the Jean Massieu School of the Deaf, where she was asked to join the drama club after a theater teacher noticed her penchant for telling stories and talents in expression. She mentions in her aforementioned Teen Vogue op-ed how she was cast in the school’s production of William Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream as Puck - one of the first roles she ever played and the one that made her fall in love with the craft. When she was 12, Simmonds’ drama teacher at the time helped her land the role of Rose, a deaf girl searching for her mother in 1920s New York City in director Todd Haynes’ 2017 drama Wonderstruck, which would have a profound effect on how she chooses roles moving forward.
Millicent Simmonds Is An Advocate For Casting More Deaf Actors In Deaf Roles
In Wonderstruck, Millicent Simmonds plays one of two children, separated by 50 years, who embark on life-changing journeys and are both deaf. However, her co-star, The War with Grandpa actor Oakes Fegley is not deaf like his character, Ben, which is a phenomenon she actually hopes to see less of in Hollywood. Simmonds voiced her thoughts on non-deaf actors in deaf roles in the following excerpt from a Variety interview in May 2021:
I think it’s not realistic, and it’s not fair to the talent out there who aren’t chosen because of their disability. That doesn’t make sense to me.
Millicent Simmonds’ hopes to see more talented people with her same disability seem closer to becoming a reality. Her amplified presence in A Quiet Place 2, streaming on Paramount+ soon, is also a crucial factor.
Making Millicent Simmonds The Lead Of A Quiet Place Part II Helped John Krasinski Overcome His Fear Of Doing A Sequel
After A Quiet Place became a critical and commercial sensation, talk of a sequel inevitably followed, to which star, co-writer, and director John Krasinski was initially apprehensive about. However, the filmmaker (formerly best known as Jim Halpert from the Office cast) revealed to CinemaBlend that all it took to convince him to return to the helm of A Quiet Place Part II was an idea to put his onscreen daughter Millicent Simmonds in the spotlight:
What happened was, where my organic in to the movie was Millie, and this idea of making Millie the lead character, not only because she’s amazing, but also because that’s the continuation of the metaphor of the first one. All my fears were assuaged, and we realized that rather than being scared of doing a sequel, and scared of doing it bigger and more intense and those sorts of things, we just said, ‘Let’s not worry at all about that. Let’s just tell the story.’ What happened was, the movie took on its own organic life. And so, you find out… I think you will be much more scared in this movie because you love these characters so much.
I would agree that making Millicent Simmonds the driving force of the story certainly helped elevate the material. It makes me hopeful, and as the A Quiet Place 2 ending (without giving too much away) suggests, that we will see more of her as Regan Abbott if A Quiet Place 3 is in this franchise’s future.