Abigail Breslin's trunk show in 'The Call'

"The Call" is a suspense thriller directed by

"The Call" is a suspense thriller directed by Brad Anderson about a veteran 911 operator (Halle Berry) who takes a life-altering call from a teenage girl (Abigail Breslin), shown here, who has just been abducted. (2012) (Credit: Greg Gayne)

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Abigail Breslin burst onto the scene in 2006, playing Olive, the youngest member of a dysfunctional clan in the quirky film "Little Miss Sunshine." Despite sweatbands and nerdy glasses, Olive was obsessed with beauty pageants and led her family on a cross-country road trip to a pageant where she'd perform the choicest dance numbers.

Breslin, who earned an Academy Award nomination for best supporting actress for that role, turns 17 next month and stars in another road trip movie of sorts -- though the ride is bumpier.

In "The Call," hitting theaters Friday, Breslin plays Casey, a typical American teen hanging out at the mall who -- in a terrifying instant -- is grabbed by a serial killer and thrown into the trunk of a car. She calls 911 on her cellphone, reaching a dedicated operator (Halle Berry) who is determined to save the girl.

Breslin spent hours filming scenes in the trunk of two cars -- a Lincoln and a Camry. But intense roles are nothing new. Her upcoming films include the drama "August: Osage County" (with Meryl Streep and Julia Roberts), "Haunters" (a horror film), "Final Girl" (a dark indie) and "Ender's Game" (a sci-fi actioner). She recently spoke with Newsday contributor Joseph V. Amodio.

If I spend time in a trunk, which do you recommend -- the Lincoln or the Camry?

Lincoln. For sure. No hesitation. It's a bigger space. The Camry is very small. But... nobody should be in a trunk -- ever.

I heard the Camry has cup holders in the trunk.

There are. And we were all kind of like... why? I'm guessing maybe if you're... tailgating? We were all a little confused.

How did you prepare for an acting gig like this?

I talked to Brad Anderson, the director, a lot. And I listened to 911 calls on YouTube. I probably heard over a hundred, just to get an idea how people sound in that kind of panicked situation.

How long were you in the trunk at a time?

I got out if we were taking a break... but I could be in there for an hour, sometimes longer. It's really hard to come in and out of that panicked state, anyway, so it kind of helped to just stay in it all the way through. We filmed for about four days in the trunk. It was pretty crazy.

Are you claustrophobic?

I never thought I was until they actually put me in the trunk and shut it. And then you start thinking, like...  what if I suffocate? What if they forget I'm in here? I mean... it was pretty scary the first time because I never thought I would be claustrophobic. So I wasn't really prepared for it. It was pretty terrifying.

And where was Halle Berry during these phone call scenes?

Halle was in another room, talking into a microphone... and I could hear her through an earpiece. I did the same for her in the call center scenes. She's so sweet. She's just an amazing actress and woman. It was awesome to get to work with her.

You grew up in New York City. ... Where do you go to school?

I'm home-schooled.

Will you take time out for college?

Right now, I'm still trying to get through, like, you know, the whole SAT thing. But, yeah, I'd like to go to college. My dream would be to go to Notre Dame. It's such a gorgeous campus. And it's also a great school so... that would be my top pick.

You recently shot "August: Osage County," with Julia Roberts and Meryl Streep. Not a bad cast, eh?

It's like going to film school just in that three-month period. It was crazy. The whole cast is brilliant. To get to work with all those amazing actors and actresses who I've always looked up to was incredible.

You're also in "Ender's Game," based on the popular sci-fi novel.

Yes, I'm excited for it. I ended up reading the book when I was making the movie.

Have "Ender" fans given you advice about what they want to see? Fans of book series can be very opinionated.

Definitely. I play Valentine, Ender's sister, and I've had people come up to me saying, 'Ohmygod, Valentine's my favorite character.' Or, 'I wish I had a sister like Valentine.' Stuff like that. It's fun to hear.

What do you get asked most about "Little Miss Sunshine?"

A lot of people ask me if I still know the dance. And I don't . . . unfortunately.

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