“The Mosquito Coast” is, at its core, a family project. Justin Theroux stars as Allie Fox in the Apple TV+ series remake of his uncle Paul Theroux’s 1981 book, which follows an American family on the run in Latin America. The show deviates from the book (and previous film adaptation, which starred Harrison Ford) with the addition of a teenage daughter, Dina Fox, portrayed by 19-year-old actress Logan Polish.
Polish is familiar with the dynamic of collaborating with family; she got her start in the industry in the 2006 film “The Astronaut Farmer,” which was cowritten by her father Mark Polish and his twin brother Michael Polish, who directed the film. (Her next feature was “Headlock” in 2019, written and directed by her father.) “The Mosquito Coast” is the first major project she’s appeared in as the only Polish on the call sheet.
“I was very familiar with [the book] because of my dad; he has always loved Allie Fox, and he was a big fan of the book and the movie and loved that archetype,” Polish says. After booking her role in the show, she sat down to watch the film. Her takeaway? “This is going to definitely be an adventure.”
The series was shot on location in various parts of Mexico; they started filming in March 2020, got shut down due to the pandemic, and picked production back up in the fall. While production was on hiatus, Polish started journaling from the character’s perspective, and also read the book on which the show is based.
“People came back [to set] with a new outlook on travel and the opportunity to work during such a crazy time,” Polish says. That filming bubble — or pod, if you will — bred both an intimacy among the cast and an intensity that has taken time to shake post-production.
“We were pent up in this hotel together, and we’d have breakfast together, lunch together, dinner, and then we’d go out on the weekends. Even before the pandemic, it felt like we were operating in a bubble because we were all in it together, all separate from our families,” says Polish, who recently relocated to New York. “We were very immersed, and there were times when it felt like what the characters were going through started to coincide with us — in a very privileged, nice way,” she says. “It started to feel like we were on the run in a similar way, because we were moving so many locations.”
Polish appreciated — and related to — the power dynamic that existed among the Fox family.
“The first thing that stuck out was how mature the kids were,” she says. “Even though they’re at the mercy of their parents’ decisions, Dina [Polish’s character] doesn’t ever sway from what she wants and is always determined to get answers,” she adds. “When I was 15, I had those aspects as well.”
“The Mosquito Coast” presented an opportunity for the young actress to work with several directors who were less familiar with her acting abilities from the jump. However, she notes that the prospect was also daunting.
“At first, it was anxiety-inducing because I’m so comfortable with my dad and my uncle. They know my strengths and my weaknesses,” Polish says. “It was a bit scary working with new directors because they didn’t know what I couldn’t do. It was nice getting to work with other people because it forced me to know how to work with other people and collaborate.”
Polish was four years old when she shot “The Astronaut Farmer,” and has been committed to acting ever since. But although she’s been surrounded by the film industry her entire life, her parents wanted her to have a “normal” childhood. So Polish — whose aunt is Kate Bosworth — was relegated to acting in family projects until she was a teenager. In 2015, by coincidence, Polish was approached at a concert by the person who would become her agent. “I finally talked to my dad and said ‘I’m serious; I really want to do this,’” she says. “I think he was testing me.”
Despite her young age, Polish has also tried her hand behind the camera; in 2019, she wrote and directed the short sci-fi film “Margot.” She hopes to direct more down the line, but her focus for the time being is on acting. Last summer, she wrapped the thriller “Murmur,” directed by her father; the film will likely come out later this year.
In the meantime, Polish is still processing her experience filming “The Mosquito Coast.”
“I get very emotional. I tear up every time I see my name come up in the credits,” Polish says. “I think about my parents, and I think about how hard they worked to help me get to this place,” she adds. “And that was usually my first reaction — every time I watched the pilot: ‘Oh my God, we did it.’ I can’t believe I’m finally able to do something that I’ve wanted to do for a really long time.”
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