An article on the McCann sisters -- Hailey & Tatum, who recently worked together in The Time Traveler's Wife -- that gives a very complete picture of them and their careers. Interesting fact: Hailey, age 14, and Tatum, 10, are exactly one year behind the most famous young sisters in Hollywood: Dakota Fanning, 15, and Elle, 11.
Sometimes life imitates art.
In 42nd Street, chorus girl Peggy Sawyer was given her big break when she had to fill in for the leading lady, who broke her ankle.
It was almost like that for Long Beach actress Tatum McCann.
"My first commercial was for Iams cat food," recalled McCann in a recent phone interview. McCann, age 10, remembered it as though it were yesterday, even though the events took place when she was 4.
"I was booked as a backup, and the cat was not very friendly and hurt the other 4-year-old," she said. "So they put me in, and the cat seemed to like me."
McCann never looked back, going on to do more than 30 other commercials and play Adam Sandler's daughter in the movie Click. Her biggest role so far was in the recent drama The Time Traveler's Wife, in which she played the same part as her big sister, Hailey, age 14.
The role as the time traveler's daughter, Alba, involved traveling in time, so when the older Alba (Hailey) travels back, naturally she meets herself at a younger age (Tatum).
Hailey & Tatum promoting The Time Traveler's Wife on ABC News
"I got started because I saw my sister on commercials, and I wanted to try it out," said Tatum. "So when I was 3, my mom and dad talked to me about it, and then we just sent some pictures to my agent and got started."
She was calling from a friend's house, where she had taken time out for the interview from "riding bikes, talking, hanging out, playing catch or kicking a ball around," she said, "and other times we like make up random situations, like scavenger hunts, and we go out and do them."
When Tatum's older sister called later in the afternoon, it was right after her softball practice with Black Gold, a club team in Signal Hill.
"It was tiring, but it was fun," she said.
Just starting her freshman year at Poly High in Long Beach, Hailey McCann said juggling acting and school was not as hard as juggling acting and softball.
"I'm currently playing on two teams -- a rec ball team in Los Alamitos called the Patriots and Black Gold, a travel team," she said. "Travel is like the highest level. We play tournaments all over California, and I think we're going to Vegas for a tournament in a couple of weeks."
She's been playing softball since she was 10, but her show business discovery was at 2.
"I was at my uncle's birthday party, and I sang Happy Birthday to him," she said. "One of his friends is an agent, and she came up to my mom after I finished singing and said, 'She's adorable. When she turns 3, send me some pictures, and I'll see what I can do.' So it was kind of in the back of my mom's mind, and when I was almost 4, she decided to send in the pictures."
Her career didn't begin with a bang.
"Right as I signed the contract with the agency and started going out, SAG [Screen Actors Guild] went on strike," she said. "My first audition after the strike was a Lysol commercial, and I booked that one. I guess the pan was all greasy from fried chicken, so we [she and some other children] had to run in, eat the chicken and help her clean it up. I had a lot of fun. I still remember it."
She's been in three movies. The first two had some adult content, but she got to see the PG-rated The Time Traveler's Wife, which took a long time to get released. The first ending, based on the book, did not test well with sneak preview audiences, so things were changed.
"They needed to redo one of the scenes that we had shot in the meadow, so we had to wait for the season to be right again, because the leaves had to be the right color and everything," said Hailey. "And [star] Eric Bana had to shave his head for Star Trek, so we had to wait for his hair to grow back, too."
Starting high school and playing softball are all that are on her schedule for the moment, but she is waiting to hear about a couple of auditions she went out on a few weeks ago. She's taking a relaxed approach to her acting career for now.
"I'm just kind of letting it pan out on its own right now," said Hailey. "I'm really happy with it, and I want to keep it going, but in four years, that can all change. Basically, I'm just trying to keep a level head and do it because it's fun."
That last quote from Hailey sounds a little scripted, but for the most part, she and Tatum really do come off as normal, grounded kids taking their acting in stride. Perhaps because they haven't acheived a very high level of fame. In any case, their attitude is extremely refreshing, especially when compared with, say, Bella Thorne and her sisters, who seem very eager to pimp themselves out or do anything else it takes to become famous. For Bella especially, what little attention she has gotten has apparently gone to her head already.