AGE: 15. LIVES IN: Barrington. CLAIM TO FAME: Nelson was chosen by director Richard Linklater to take a lead role of Bee in his new movie “Where’d You Go, Bernadette.” The movie centers on the disappearance of Bee’s mom, Bernadette, played by Cate Blanchett, and the fallout for both Bee and Bernadette’s husband, played by Billy Crudup. A RAW TALENT: Following a lengthy search that saw hundreds of seasoned hopefuls audition for the part of Bee, Nelson stood out with her naturalistic style and confidence, even though she had no previous professional acting experience. “They asked me to talk about my interests and dreams,” she says. “We auditioned as regular people rather than actors.” FAMILY VALUES: With no ties to showbiz, Nelson grew up in the ’burbs with her dad, the mayor of West Dundee; mom, a preschool owner; and an older sister. STARTING OUT: Nelson’s love for singing landed her a role in a pre-Broadway musical at age 9. Auditioning for several years, “I had a lot of rejection,” she says. “I had to keep going and believe in myself until someone else did, too.” BECOMING BEE: Filming the final scenes happened in Greenland under extreme weather conditions, including a hurricane. “We were on a research vessel with real explorers. I alternated between schooling and then going into the wilderness to shoot.” UNDER WRAPS: Choosing to focus on school and get back to reality when filming wrapped, Nelson kept her impending stardom to a small circle of family and friends. She waited two years before telling some. “It was hard, but I’m glad I had that time and space to grow up,” she says. TRUE MIDWEST: Despite spending her summer at Linklater’s house in Austin, Texas, with Hollywood continually beckoning, Nelson stays grounded here. “I love the slow pace and the fact you can walk everywhere.” Find her having coffee at Cook Street (100 E. Station, Barrington), eating pizza at Lou Malnati’s (1120 N. State), and walking around the Gold Coast.
“Where’d You Go, Bernadette” opens in theaters nationwide on August 16.