Where did Izzy end up?
Little Fires Everywhere took several detours from Celeste Ng‘s novel in the eight-part Hulu adaptation, from who set the Richardson house on fire to Mia and Pearl’s final destination to the Mia’s final art piece. But the character that saw the biggest shift from the book was Izzy, the youngest of Elena’s children and the rebellious outsider in her own affluent, picture-perfect family.
While the book alluded to Izzy’s sexuality, the series dove right in, giving the high school teen a backstory that included a sexual awakening with a friend, April, at a party and having to suffer the consequences of it. It didn’t help that Izzy was a product of the ’90s, as she navigated the choppy waters both at school and at home. “After I read the book and was thinking about ways I wanted to adapt it, I asked Celeste, ‘Did it ever occur to you that Izzy could be gay?'” executive producer Liz Tigelaar told ET. “And she said, ‘Yes, I felt that way, but it felt like a whole other story,’ that she didn’t “Every teenager wants to rebel for the sake of rebelling, but I think what it added with Izzy was it felt like there were very real stakes and it made Mia become this life raft where it was the only place she really felt safe,” Tigelaar added. “And then, of course, being able to learn Mia’s own experience and backstory also, I think, gave hope to Izzy that maybe her life could still be OK. Maybe she could have all the things that she longs for and be true to herself.”
It all came to a head in the climactic finale, when a rage-filled Elena screamed that she never wanted Izzy in the first place, prompting her youngest child to pack her bags and leave Shaker Heights for good. Her siblings, shocked at the mother’s cruel words, did the thing Izzy couldn’t do, dousing accelerant all over their rooms and lighting the matches, and watching as their home — and lives — went up in flames.
With the season concluded, ET spoke with Izzy’s portrayer, young star Megan Stott, to get her take on her character’s bittersweet ending, where she ended up and why she can’t help but cry when she talks about the finale.
ET: Were you familiar with the book at all and did you make a point to read the book before you jumped into the series?
Megan Stott: I read the book immediately when I heard Reese [Witherspoon] was going to be a part of it. I would highlight what I thought was important about the character. When I found out that I was auditioning for Izzy, I made it more about Izzy’s character and exploring her emotions more. When I first read it though, I loved it. It was such a good book. There are so many storylines that just from a sentence, there could be so much going on behind that in a TV show. And that’s what they did; one scene became an entire storyline.
What was it about Izzy captured your attention?
When I first read the script, I immediately saw that she was a rebellious, outspoken teenage girl and she’s having trouble living up to the expectations of Elena and she just wants to fit in. She’s never afraid to stand up and say what she wants to do and thinks what she thinks is right. But at the same time, it makes her feel alone and bullied from school and from her own family. She just wants to be loved and I knew that when I read this book. The biggest thing that made me drawn towards her was probably her artistic side, and her rebellious side really connected to me. I understood what that was and I understood what it was like to draw and make sketches and explore your emotions through music. I wanted to explore that with her — and especially bullying as well, because I have been through that.
What has been the most challenging moment for you during the season?
The most challenging episodes were probably seven and eight. They were very intense. She’s so multi-layered that I had to do so much research in what I wanted to say and how I wanted to portray these episodes. Eight especially is such a profound moment in the entire series. She learns things about herself, she learns things about her family. She comes out of her shell and discovers who she is and I think it was hard to do that. She’s only 14. It was hard to have these emotional scenes and it was hard to get into that place, but she was coming into her own and that was really important and challenging, but at the same time, I loved doing it. It was absolutely incredible.
You’re having to stay in a dark, emotional place for much of the series. How did you get into that head space to play Izzy?
It was hard. I’m very bubbly and joyful, so it was difficult to be in this head space that was so troubled and sad. But I did a lot of prep work to be able to do this role because I felt like her story needs to be told with truth and justice. My main inspiration was her music and every day before I would come on set, I would listen to Alanis Morissette, Billie Eilish, My Chemical Romance and it helped me get into the head space. I would also journal before and after scenes, get her opinions and thoughts and her emotions of what had just happened and what she’s feeling, if she’s feeling drained from what just happened in her life. It really helped me reflect back on how she felt in those moments. Knowing what she was feeling emotionally and physically, it helped me stay in touch with her emotions, especially for the more intense scenes.
What did you like about how the show expanded upon Izzy’s identity from the book?
It was very interesting to explore because she is so complicated and different. Being able to be her as she finds her identity and seeing what she was going through, especially with her sexuality and the bullying with her family and kids at school, they were seeds that were planted in the book that developed into eight episodes. We were able to grow it into full stories. I think that was really important, that just maybe a little sentence that Izzy said caused them to write why she was doing certain things.
You touched on Izzy’s sexuality. Did anything surprise you at all about where they went?
It wasn’t exactly surprising for me. It was a little surprising at first, but once I dove deeper into why she made certain decisions or why the storylines developed into what they were, it made more sense to me and I understood why so many of the things that had happened to her and why she acted certain ways caused her to do what she did. Being able to explore that and having Liz [Tigelaar] especially, one of our main writers, was incredibly helpful. I was able to ask her so many things about her childhood and what it was like coming out to her parents and friends. I think it was so incredible to see what she had gone through and being able to show that story with her. We had multiple moments where we would be talking and I would go into depth about my emotions of it and then both of us would just cry because it was a deep conversation and we know there is pain going through that. I had a coach who had a sister that I interviewed and she gave me so many insights on how to ask questions about the LGBT community so that I could properly portray them and explain what I was experiencing and still be able to have it relatable to other people as well.
One of the most heartbreaking moments came in the finale when Izzy and Elena have their final confrontation, and she runs away before she can set the house on the fire. What it was like filming that sequence?
It all came to a head once I actually was in the scene. I didn’t practice the scene very much because I didn’t want to get into that emotional space before I had to, because it is so draining and tiring doing that scene. But it was hard. It was very difficult having to take into account the cameras because we all wanted to be emotionally into it and make sure each of us had the right reactions to what each of us was saying or acting. So we did it multiple times to make sure it was perfect and make sure that the emotions came across correctly. It was awkward at moments because once you cry, you have to stay in that mental state. And I tried my absolute hardest not to talk to anybody because it was so difficult and I felt like in that moment, [Izzy’s] mother didn’t accept her and it was especially… (Starts to trail off.)
I am terrified to watch episode eight because I know I’m going to bawl because that scene was… I was really connected to it. I cry each time I think about it, really. It’s very sad, but at the same time it makes her grow and she’s coming to terms with that. One of my favorite scenes in that last episode is with Gavin [Lewis, who plays Moody]. We’re down by the stairs and we’re talking, and he’s like, “Don’t go.” He knows he won’t be able to survive either if I leave because we are in it together. I think it’s important that the other kids come together in the end because even if they didn’t express their love for each other, they expressed it then. But they didn’t do it in time where they were able to save their sister. And, yeah, it’s very emotional.
What do you make of Elena and Izzy’s relationship at the end of the day?
For Elena and Izzy, at the end of it, they’re at a standstill. Elena tells her she never wanted her and that’s why she doesn’t love her like her other children. But at the same time, the kids are all recognizing the struggles that each of them have had with Elena and each of them are fighting against her, but trying to be that perfect child and be the perfect siblings Elena wants them to be. It’s all at this breaking point at the end. And everyone’s relationship, in the end, was broken because Elena comes to terms that Izzy is her daughter. At the end, she says “Izzy,” and she knows that it’s too late. That’s such an emotional scene to see because Izzy needed her and Elena finally realized that; Izzy needed her in her life to be able to be stable and to stay in that home because she knew she wasn’t going to be able to make it. That’s what happened at the end. I don’t know what will happen in her future. I don’t know if she’ll come back. I think she’ll probably explore her light because I don’t think she can handle any more of her family. That episode is my heart and soul right now.
Do you think about where Izzy goes in the end? Does she find Mia and Pearl?
Yeah, I thought about it a lot after we finished. I want her relationship with Elena to recover. But I don’t know if she’ll find Mia because I think Mia’s done so much for her and Izzy knows that she’s trying to move on with her life as well. Izzy might go and find her to maybe find some comfort and maybe stay with her for a while. But in the end, Mia would direct her back to her family and would have her go back to her own family and I don’t think that’s something Izzy wants. So, I don’t think she would go back to her. I think she would just move on with her own life and go to college and hold on for a while. And love art like Mia did.
Were you surprised at all that Elena made the move in the end to cover for her kids when she tells the cop she set the house on fire? What do you make of that?
Yes, I think that moment is really a moment where the family bonds and unites. I knew Elena would do that because of where the storyline was going and I don’t think she would go that low [and not cover for her kids]. And so, I wasn’t super surprised but in that moment it’s all about bonding and uniting in that moment. Izzy might not be there, but it brings the rest of her family together, in a sense.
This is one of your first big roles. What’s next for you?
Right after Little Fires, I filmed a feature film for Netflix with Jennifer Garner and Jenna Ortega called Yesterday. I’m really excited about that. I really hope that eventually I’ll be able to be in a feature film because that’s one of the main things I’ve always wanted to do.
Little Fires Everywhere is streaming now on Hulu.