Including the iconic Jonah Hill movie that launched her career.
In Elite Daily’s I Can Explain… series, we’re asking celebrities to revisit their most memorable photos and tell us what really went down behind the scenes. In this piece, we chat with The Republic of Sarah star Landry Bender about some of her favorite roles.
Not many actors can say they got their big break co-starring alongside Jonah Hill at the tender age of 10 years old. But for The Republic of Sarah’s Landry Bender, her role as Blithe in The Sitter was just the first of many memorable career moments. From landing her own Disney series, Best Friends Whenever, to recurring on Netflix’s popular Full House reboot, Fuller House, Bender’s accomplished more than most actors her age could dream of.
Bender’s latest role as Bella in The CW’s The Republic of Sarah tells the story of a group of high school girls fighting to save their home, Greylock, New Hampshire, from a greedy mining company. Bender’s character happens to be in an extremely complicated situation, as she’s caught between her father, the mayor of Greylock, and her friends, who are in direct opposition of him and create their own nation, aka the Republic of Sarah. In the show, Bella and her friends learn to stand up for themselves and their community in the face of injustice, something that attracted Bender to the script because it mirrored her own personal experience.
“I would say me at 16 was actually very similar to Bella,” Bender tells Elite Daily. “There's this sense of growing up where you're trying to figure out when the best times are to take risks and speak up. I got to the point in the past couple of years, where I'm like, ‘I could have taken more risks. I could have done more for myself.’”
As Bender, 20, navigates a new chapter in her life, she’s paying close attention to the roles she takes going forward. After portraying young characters on kid-friendly shows for most of her life, The Republic of Sarah, as well as her role as Sara on Hulu’s 2019 teen drama Looking for Alaska, represent a new, more mature phase in her professional life.
“It's a weird transition, because you're aging along with these characters aging ... [The Republic of Sarah] and Looking for Alaska were two [projects] that really stood out to me because I felt that they were good bridges to my 20s in my career,” she says.
Thankfully, Bender’s career evolution is well-documented on Instagram; below, she spills some behind-the-scene details about some of her favorite roles.
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.
The Republic of Sarah
Elite Daily: What’s the story behind the photo?
Landry Bender: So the story behind this photo is actually really interesting. We were filming a scene in our first episode and we were tired; it was a long day. But it was also Nov. 4 [the day after the 2020 U.S. presidential election]. The stakes were very high. There were tears; there was a lot going on that day. We all got home after a 12-hour workday, and we were texting each other. It was only the first episode, so we didn't know each other super well. We were like, “I'm scared. I'm sad. I don't know what's gonna happen to our country.” We were like, “Do you guys want to get together and order pizza and, you know, like, bond?”
So we all got to one of our apartments and ordered pizza and obviously we didn't know the [election] results that night, but we were in our pajamas, huddling and praying that everything was gonna be OK. And a few days later, we were obviously relieved and thrilled. But, yeah, that was funny because it was a very stressful, long workday and it bled into a late night for all of us being like, “It's gonna be OK. We love each other, we're good.”
ED: What was the most memorable thing that happened that night?
LB: I just remember a lot of photos being taken. Me and a couple of my castmates on the show all have film cameras, and we're very into getting our film developed. I remember us going crazy with our cameras and taking photos, which is funny, because we were not presentable. It wasn't like we were all glammed up. But I remember I was taking a lot of pictures that night, and that carried through the rest of the shoot.
ED: You weren't glam, but you look so cute! You’re also all wearing the same color scheme. Did you plan to match?
LB: We didn't plan to match, but there's the store called Artizia, and we all got sweatsuits from there because they have really good hoodies and sweatpants. So I don't think we planned to, but I think we all kind of started shopping there because we would wear sweatsuits to set every day.
ED: What was it like getting to know your castmates?
LB: We were originally going to start filming in March of  and our first day of filming was when we got shut down [due to COVID]. So, that was a really weird process because until we went back [to set], we were really bonding, even though we had only spent a few days together in Montreal. We got super close. There was no drama; everyone was very loving and respectful and wanted to make a good show. I really made long-term friends and I love them all for such different reasons. It was a cool way to get close to people. The pandemic was so tragic, but without it, we wouldn’t have bonded so much, which was special for us.
ED: You look so comfy here! What’s going on?
LB: We were filming the series finale of [Fuller House]. It was the longest day anyone had ever had on that show because it was basically this huge wedding sequence. It was a triple wedding, everyone was getting married. It was nuts. There was a lot going on. The funny thing is, I play a really goth character in the show, so I'm normally in Doc Martens or Vans and I always dress casual, but for this one episode where it's a long day, I had a dress on. So, I laid down in the bushes with a blanket over me, or a robe, I guess. I just remember people laying on the floor, because it was such a long day. We were all exhausted.
And then at the end of the day, you would think everyone would go home, but it ended up being the kind of thing where people were on stage until 1:00 in the morning. They were playing music and dancing because no one wanted to leave, because [the show] was coming to an end.
ED: Is napping on set the norm for you?
LB: I think lounging on set is the norm. It's rare that I fall asleep on set because I'm so on work mode. I’m, like, wired. But I definitely lounge. Yeah, I love a good floor.
ED: I mean, you look really comfortable.
LB: I was chilling for sure.
ED: What was your favorite memory from your time on Fuller House?
LB: When me and three or four other kids took the golf carts around the Warner Bros. lot after the live taping. That was a great time because that lot is iconic: Gilmore Girls’ backlot, Pretty Little Liars’ forest. It's got everything going on back there. And we got into a little bit of trouble for taking the golf cart because you're not supposed to do that. But, it's such a kid actor thing to do, right? We were 15, 16 years old, and we just drove that golf cart everywhere at 8 p.m., and then drove it back and went home. But it was a good little 30 minutes of, like, being a little bit of reckless kid actors
ED: Do you still keep up with your former Fuller House castmates?
LB: Yeah, totally. They’re such a great group of people, and it was really cool to be able to kind of grow up with them. It's just crazy to see everyone grown. Like, the smallest kids on that show are now in middle school.
ED: Do you remember what was going through your head while filming this scene?
LB: I actually weirdly remember this experience very well. This scene specifically was the scene I chemistry read with Jonah before I even got the part. And then on the day of filming, I did the most improv I've ever done on anything, and I just remember that being really fun.
ED: Blithe was so iconic. Did you have any favorite lines of hers?
LB: There are so many! There's one where I just go, "Say whatever you want. I know I look good." Like, I need to remind myself of that on a daily basis. In the extended cut version, there's one where I go, “I let my haters be my motivators.” Even my family quotes [Blithe] on a daily basis.
ED: That’s very good life advice.
LB: Very wise child, for sure.
ED: What was it like working with Jonah Hill at the beginning of your career? Did he give you any advice that you still rely on today?
LB: It was really special. Jonah was amazing. What I learned from him was to let the fear and the embarrassment aspect [of acting] go away. I remember recognizing in him how you can't doubt anything. You can't have any sense of, “I don't like how I look right now,” or, “People are gonna think I'm weird for doing this.”[Jonah’s] like, "You just have to go." As a kid looking at [Jonah] and the director, David Gordon Green, that was the first lesson I learned. They were like, “Just sing and dance and be stupid. Don't worry about it.” Because if you go halfway into it and you're not fully committing, people will notice. As an actor, you just gotta go.
ED: Do you have a favorite Jonah Hill movie?
LB: I have a lot. He directed Mid90s and I loved that a lot. I thought that movie was beautiful. I'm a huge Superbad fan. I quote it all the time. And Moneyball. 21 Jump Street’s great, too. I love that movie. He and Channing [Tatum], they're so good with each other, they’re so funny.
ED: Looking back from where you are now in life, what kind of emotions does this photo spark?
LB: I really liked how naive I was to this business. As I've gotten older, you start to realize how competitive it can be and how biased it can be. It can be very negative and not great for your self-esteem. But looking at this, I was so naive. I didn't even think about the fact that other people auditioned for this. It was just like, “I get to go to work and have a fun time.” I love the idea of just being able to laugh and be free, and not have to overthink very much. That's what this photo reminds me of. I think it’s kind of a childhood thing that we all hope to keep a little bit of. Because the naive innocence of that is really special.
The Republic of Sarah premieres Monday, June 14, at 9 p.m. ET on The CW.