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It’s quite the challenge trying to interview the energetic child stars of ‘The Florida Project’

The old Hollywood adage to never work with kids or animals forgets the joys that each of these little creatures bring along for the ride. Take Brooklynn Prince, Valeria Cotto and Christopher Rivera, three small but mighty stars of “The Florida Project.” The kids took over a typical photo shoot in a Westwood hotel suite like they took over the movie – with mischievous charm.

They posed as superheroes and the Statue of Liberty. That prompted them to start singing the national anthem, to the best of their abilities. Then a surfing song led to another series of related action poses. Valeria, who played Jancey, said, “Let’s do feelings,” and Brooklynn, who played lead Moonee, replied, “I’m the serious one,” and made a stern face, which lasted about a nanosecond.

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Posing alone momentarily, Christopher, who played Scooty, assumed a famous one-legged stance out of “The Karate Kid.” “I’m doing the crane kid!” he announced.

When it was Brooklynn’s turn to be photographed solo, Valeria shouted, “Act like you’re eating your ice cream,” so she started to lick the pink bib of her dress as if it were the frozen treat. At some point, Brooklynn yelled a one-word joke from the film, “Boobies!” until she and Valeria collapsed in giggles.

L.A. Times photographer Myung Chun got so many good shots he used up his memory card. While he replaced it, the girls played a hand-clap game, making up a song as they went. Director and co-writer Sean Baker quietly entered the shoot and the children ran to him screaming with delight and promptly began climbing him like a jungle gym. Christopher hanging from his neck and a girl on each arm, Baker took it all in stride.

While such easygoing patience must have come in handy for the film, he credited acting coach Samantha Quan and assistant Hannah Peterson with keeping the children calm and prepared on set. No chance of that here.

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