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An Animated Life

Fairfield’s real life Anastasia



If you’ve ever seen the 20th Century Fox movie Anastasia you’ll instantly recognize the female protagonist with fiery red hair. Anastasia is the beautiful, clever, and adventurous girl fictionalized in this 1997 love story about the daughter of the last Russian Czar. But did you know that Fairfield has its own Anastasia? Anna Pelletier, a longtime resident, was the original human live action model for the animated Anastasia character.

So how do you audition for such a role, not to mention how does a film studio turn a human into a cartoon character? For starters, the opportunity to try out for Anastasia didn’t just fall into Pelletier’s lap; she will tell you that luck had very little to do with it. In fact, similar to her animated character it took a lot of perseverance and faith. There were years leading up to that moment which involved musical roles at dinner theaters, dancing and acting at a 50’s-themed diner, and local radio broadcasting.

She even posed as a video game character and worked as a police dispatcher. Living in Phoenix at the time, Pelletier would grab any job she could to support herself while she pursued her passion. “There were times when I slept in my truck and washed up in McDonald’s. It didn’t matter because I knew I had to support myself while I was out there promoting myself.”

Pelletier’s break came after she saw an ad in a local paper announcing that 20th Century Fox would be holding auditions for a feature animated film. Determined to get an audition, she slipped her resume and headshot under the studio doors and sent multiple resumes.

“I even tried having a large pizza delivered that included my headshot on the inside top of the box. And I’d drawn arrows pointing to my face that said ‘Look at me—I want an audition!’ ” Sadly, nothing worked, until Pelletier signed a new agent who ultimately landed her a spot in the audition room.

At 29, Pelletier was the oldest person to audition for the role, and as she waited for her turn in a room filled with countless teenage girls, she began to lose hope. But her animated gestures, combined with her big green eyes and expressive features, won her a call back. Pelletier was then asked to read the movie lines that Meg Ryan, the voice of Anastasia, had already recorded. Those lines had to be in sync with how Ryan had articulated them—not an easy task. 

One week later she was offered the role of Live Action Model for Anastasia. And one month after that the studio got to work positioning Pelletier in different poses, then freezing the filmed scenes so that they could meticulously draw a cartoon of her form, her face, and her movements.

Now, with the opening of the Broadway remake of Anastasia—on the twentieth anniversary of the movie debut—it’s easy for Pelletier to reminisce about the fun of making the film. If you ask her about the whole experience she’ll tell you it was a crazy, wild ride, one that she treasured. But after a few years and some side roles in films such as Night Rider and Bounty Hunter, she felt that her Hollywood life had run its course.

Her next adventure was with her new husband, Eric. They moved put down roots in the Stratfield area of town, where she started teaching at Unquowa School. Pelletier has since become a National Safety Training Manager at Liberty Construction Services where some of those past stunts as Anastasia​ may be paying off. 

There are some parallels to Pelletier’s life and that of Anastasia, besides the ironic similarity of their names. In 2010 the Pelletier home went up in smoke as an electrical fire raged through the house, and, tragically, trapping their beloved dogs inside.

Crushed and broken, they returned to Arizona to stay with family as they grieved and planned how to recover both emotionally and financially from the incident. But determination to rebuild their lives finally panned out and in 2011 they moved back to the town they loved. With a newly renovated home and two new Airedale Terriers, Phoenix and Blaze, the Pelletiers started over.

Happily ever afters aren’t just for animated movie characters. 


POWERFUL VOICES There’s a new platform for artistic expression in town—Unquowa Repertory, the brainchild of Kirby and Beverly Ward, and Christine Brown. Javier Colon, winner of NBC’s first season of “The Voice” will be starring in Unquowa Rep’s Big River in Concert, its first production is June 15-17. unquowarep.org

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September 2017

The 30th Annual Bigelow Tea, 5K Run, 2 Mile Fitness Walk and Kid's Fun Run will take place at Wakeman Boys & Girls Club, Southport on Sunday, September 24, 2017 from 9:00 to noon,...

Cost: $10, $15, $25

Where:
BTCC @ Wakeman Boys & Girls Club
385 Center Street
Southport, CT  06890
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Sponsor: Bigelow Tea
Telephone: 203-330-2530
Contact Name: Elaine Gavoli
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Cost: Members: Free; Non-Members: $5 Adults, $3 Children, free for children 5 & under

Where:
Fairfield Museum and History Center
370 Beach Road
Fairfield, CT
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See your favorite authors in person during Pequot Library’s on-going Meet the Author series. This month welcome Duff McDonald, author of “The Golden Passport: Harvard Business School,...

Cost: Free

Where:
Pequot Library
720 Pequot Avenue
Southport, CT  06890
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Sponsor: Pequot Library
Telephone: 203-259-0346 ext.115
Contact Name: Front Desk
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Cost: $45 Reserved/ $35 Standing Room Members Save: $10/ticket

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The Warehouse FTC
70 Sanford St
Fairfield, CT  06824
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Telephone: 120-325-91036
Contact Name: Box Office
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Cost: Free admission.

Where:
Sherman Green
1451 Post Road
Fairfield, CT  06824
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Cost: $15 for Adults, Free for Kids Under 15

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48 Calf Pasture Beach Road
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Cost: free

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Stepping Stones Museum
303 West Avenue
Norwalk, CT
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Sponsor: Stepping Stones Museum for Children
Telephone: 203-899-0606
Contact Name: Meg Robustelli
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Cost: $5

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FTC StageOne
70 Sanford St
Fairfield, CT  06824
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Telephone: 120-325-91036
Contact Name: Box Office
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Cost: $10 adult,$8 senior/student, under 5 and member free. Free on Tuesdays to all

Where:
Bruce Museum
1 Museum Drive
Greenwich, CT  06830
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Sponsor: Bruce Museum
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Cost: Free

Where:
Diffley Board Room Bellarmine Hall at Fairfield U
1073 North Benson Road
Fairfield, CT  06824
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Telephone: 203-254-4046
Contact Name: Lauren Williams
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Cost: Free

Where:
Fairfield University Art Museum Bellarmine Hall
200 Barlow Road
Fairfield, CT  06824
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Telephone: 203-254-4046
Contact Name: Lauren Williams
Website »

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Nikon Small World  exhibition runs July 29 - October 29, 2017 at Bruce Museum This exhibit showcases the top 20 award-winning photographs of the 42nd annual Nikon Small World...

Cost: $10 adult,$8 senior/student, under 5 and member free. Free on Tuesdays to all

Where:
Bruce Museum
1 Museum Drive
Greenwich, CT  06830
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Sponsor: Bruce Museum
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Cost: Free

Where:
Pequot Library
720 Pequot Avenue
Southport, CT  06890
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Sponsor: Pequot Library
Telephone: 203-259-0346 ext.115
Contact Name: Front Desk
Website »

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Nikon Small World  exhibition runs July 29 - October 29, 2017 at Bruce Museum This exhibit showcases the top 20 award-winning photographs of the 42nd annual Nikon Small World...

Cost: $10 adult,$8 senior/student, under 5 and member free. Free on Tuesdays to all

Where:
Bruce Museum
1 Museum Drive
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Cost: $10

Where:
Sheraton Stamford Hotel
700 East Main Street
Stamford, CT  06904
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Sponsor: Clear Vision Productions
Telephone: 203-745-4946
Contact Name: Charlene Chiaro
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Cost: $10 adult,$8 senior/student, under 5 and member free. Free on Tuesdays to all

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1 Museum Drive
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Sponsor: Bruce Museum
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Cost: $25/Members $35/Non-Members

Where:
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13 Oenoke Ridge
13 Oenoke Rdg
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Sponsor: The New Canaan Historical Society
Telephone: 203-966-1776
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Cost: $10 adult,$8 senior/student, under 5 and member free. Free on Tuesdays to all

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Bruce Museum
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370 Beach Road
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