'I had to stop rehearsal and get some acupuncture': DWTS Juniors' Ariana Greenblatt on training, playing young Gamora and seeing Avengers in their PJs

All of 11, Ariana Greenblatt has managed to wow viewers and judges of the dance reality show with back to back stellar performances

'I had to stop rehearsal and get some acupuncture': DWTS Juniors' Ariana Greenblatt on training, playing young Gamora and seeing Avengers in their PJs

ABC's hit reality show, 'Dancing with the Stars: Juniors' might be on its debut season right now, and as unpredictable as the show has been so far, if there's one thing that's been a constant, it's one particular tiny-tot's performances, which have been consistently brilliant right from the very beginning.

All of 11, Ariana Greenblatt - who has been partnered with Artyon Celestine and mentored by Brandon Armstrong on 'DWTS: Juniors' - has managed to wow and win over several viewers and judges of the dance reality show with her back to back stellar performances. That's probably why her fans felt her last performance on the show, in its Halloween Night themed episode, was too harshly judged as she landed towards the lower end of the scoreboard.

But that doesn't bother the big talent she packs in her tiny frame. In case you didn't know, Ariana was the young Gamora in Marvel's mega-hit movie this year, 'Avengers: Infinity War.' And, that's not all. She also played the role of Mila Kunis' daughter in the hit comedy 'Bad Moms Christmas' which released last year and is now gearing up to star opposite the likes of Bryan Cranston, Angelina Jolie and Helen Mirren in the highly anticipated film, 'The One and Only Ivan.'

Ariana Greenblatt attends the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric Aids Foundation's 30th Anniversary, A Time For Heroes Family Festival at Smashbox Studios on October 28, 2018 in Culver City, California.
Ariana Greenblatt attends the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric Aids Foundation's 30th Anniversary, A Time For Heroes Family Festival at Smashbox Studios on October 28, 2018 in Culver City, California.

With all these big projects in her bag, one would think Ariana has a crazy busy life, but she was ever so sweet to scrape time off and speak to us about how hectic her training schedules on 'DWTS: Juniors' have been, yet how exhilarating she finds the whole experience to be. And, if you're as hardcore an Ariana stan as we are, here's all you need to know about her 'DWTS' journey, playing Gamora, and, of course, what lies ahead!

Your performance on 'DWTS: Juniors' has been spectacular so far; how intense have your training sessions been?  

I’m not gonna lie, they were hard and intense to the point that going into my second week my feet were really hurting. Not like hurting sore, like hurting couldn’t put any weight on them. It got so bad I had to stop rehearsal and get some acupuncture which really did the trick and healed me so that I could perform that Sunday. As time went on though, your body gets used to the routine and it’s just a matter of learning the steps and being in total sync.

What's it like having Artyon Celestine as a partner? 

Immediately, I felt good about Arty. He was so sweet and inviting right from our first meeting. He told me he was really hoping to get paired up with me, so, when I walked through the door, he was super excited. It was cute.

What do you think is your biggest strength as a duo?

Our biggest strength was just our natural chemistry and senses of humor. There was no faking it we just had so much fun all the time. He and his family would come over to my house a lot to hang out, play, practice and have fun sleepovers.

You also have Brandon Armstrong as your mentor - how has that been?

Brandon was great! I think he’s one of the best natural choreographers and other mentors check in on what he’s coming up with. He really always challenged us and gave us hard steps and routines. He knew he could push us and he did. I had 100% trust in him. 

You and Artyon also decided to work as matchmakers for Brandon; what led to that? How is that going so far? 

Yes! Well you know we would spend all day together, six days a week in a pretty small space so you hear things and as hard as we would work, we would also laugh and goof off. It was fun to always come up with perfect girlfriend options for him. He’s so picky! LOL, unfortunately, I’m not sure we succeeded but we are not giving up and the search continues!

Do you have a set strategy to go ahead on your journey in DWTS?

Honestly, so much is out of your control and everyone is looking for any kind of edge for themselves, but we focused on our skills and technique. We took a lot of pride that we danced hard and honest!

Most importantly - with so many talented young people on the show, have you made any tight friends yet?

Yes, definitely! Many of us would hang out in each other’s trailers or go to each other’s houses. I had a great birthday party dinner that I threw at PUMP in West Hollywood and later many of us went to Disneyland which was so much fun. Artyon and I will be forever friends, I’m sure of it.

Was it intimidating to play young Gamora in Avenger's Infinity War among all the big stars? What was your personal favorite take away from that film?

Oh my gosh, where do I begin?! You have to understand that my family is mega Marvel fans. We have never missed a single movie so when I heard I was going to play young Gamora I nearly died and I don’t think I’ve ever seen my Dad and brother so excited. To be honest it was such a huge honor and I was most nervous about not letting down Joe and Anthony Russo.

It was so important to me to really bring it for them. They went out of their way to make me feel special. I’ll always remember walking into their private war room on my first day in full hair and makeup and how excited they were to see their young Gamora. Their private room had all the storyboard shots to the entire Infinity War story, shot by shot and was very off limits. I just thought it was so cool that they let me in to see it. 

The next day they moved me to the main stage to shoot my first scene (which in the movie was my last scene). The soul stone scene. The producers really kept my role secret and had me under a huge umbrella with long veils so that no one could see me or sneak a picture. When Zoe was finishing up her last shot of the day, we got to meet for the first time as the two Gamoras in our full beautiful green selves. It was so cool I can’t even explain!

I was called to set to shoot the soul stone scene and meet my dad, Thanos, for the first time. Josh Brolin and I immediately hit it off and he made me feel comfortable right away. We would laugh all the time and he taught me all kinds of tricks like this app that can prank call anyone! We had a lot of fun and we came up with nicknames for ourselves. I would call him sesame because of all the computer generated dots on his face and he would call me avocado for obvious reasons. 

I remember right before that first take how silent it was on set. I mean dead quiet on this huge set. I closed my eyes and really just got into character. When I heard Anthony say “action,” I slowly turned around and opened my eyes to see Josh walk slowly towards me. I felt all this emotion. I just looked into his eyes as he got closer when I asked him, “Did you do it?”  You could hear a pin drop in the room. It was magical. Goosebumps magical. 

After that morning, I kinda felt like… well, an Avenger. It was also super fun to randomly run into Robert Downey in his pjs or Chris Evans and Chris Hemsworth in the makeup trailer and watch Thor get his haircut. My dad would always geek out when I would tell him about my day. I will never forget this movie.

What was it like playing Mila Kunis' daughter in 'Bad Moms 2'?

It was such a fun movie and she’s such a sweet lady! We had so much fun in my swearing scene but she would tell me that “remember you only get to say this on action, not in your real life”. I had just finished Infinity War so it was awesome when I found out that Zoe and Mila where lifelong besties. Mila would take a picture of us and send to Zoe saying, “guess who I’m working with?”  It was awesome. I love both those ladies so much and really look up to them. 'A Bad Moms Christmas' was the first film premiere of a movie I was in and a super special memory for me.



You are also set to star opposite the likes of Bryan Cranston, Angelina Jolie and Helen Mirren - what was that experience like? Did you feel a lot of pressure? 

Being a part of this incredible movie, 'The One and Only Ivan' with all of these epic actors, definitely made me feel some pressure but it only made me want to work harder and be better at what I do.  I couldn’t wait to get to England and start working with Thea (my director) and the rest of the cast.  Bryan couldn’t be a nicer man. We goofed off, played games like "eye spy," took silly pictures and always had so much fun.

The real treat was sometimes just sitting with the crew and watching Bryan be Bryan. He is such an incredible actor it was like watching a class. Angelina is also the producer and was working on the next stage filming 'Maleficent 2' at the same time and would come over and check on things. She is super sweet and I got to meet her kids and spend a little time with them which was awesome because I was the only kid on set. This movie is going to be special.

How did you come into the world of dancing? Do you want to continue with it as a profession or do you have other plans?

I started dancing at 3 years old in a mommy and me class in NYC. I continued to dance until I was 6 years old in Parkland, Florida, until I got the role of Daphne Diaz in Disney Channel’s “Stuck in the Middle.” Since then it’s been acting full time until the 'DWTS: Juniors' opportunity came up and I was able to do it again. 

Any other upcoming projects you're excited/thrilled about?

I’m always pretty busy and as soon as I’m able to talk about what’s coming up next, you’ll be the first to know!