In the trailer for the upcoming film “Equalizer 2,” there are plenty of action shots of Denzel Washington punching, shooting and charming his way through another high-stakes caper.

In a few other scenes, there is a little blond girl who smiles, clutches a teddy bear and hugs her on-screen mother.

Denzel’s appearance in the trailer is predictable. He’s the star, after all.

Rhys Olivia Cote, 8, and actor Denzel Washington on the set of “Equalizer 2.” (Photo: Tina Cote)

The little girl? Not so much. This is 8-year-old Rhys Olivia Cote, a girl from Wells who auditioned for just a small part in the movie — she was originally supposed to be just glimpsed among a group of other girls sitting in the back seat of a car.

“And we were excited about that,” says Tina Cote, who grew up in the Lewiston-Auburn area. “I mean, it’s a Denzel Washington movie.”

Then Cote’s mother, Tina, got a call from their talent agent. The movie creators wanted to use Rhys in a more substantial role, one that would involve more scenes and a line.

“I guess the producers just ended up loving her,” Tina said.

Rhys’ scenes were shot in Boston. The Denzel Washington thriller is her first movie, although it’s not like Rhys hasn’t been working. She’s been modeling since the age of 3. She’s done commercials. Rhys has even appeared on Steve Harvey’s TV show, “Little Big Shots.”

Rhys, says her mother, is a natural.

“She’s always had that gift of gab,” she said.

The girl’s journey into show business began years ago when her parents, Tina and Jeff, sent their daughter’s picture to a network television show’s “Cutest Kid Contest.”

The contest drew more than a hundred thousand submissions. Rhys’ photo made it to the top 15 and a show business career was born.

According to Tina, Rhys narrowly missed landing some roles because she is 8 years old instead of 9. At 9 years old, child actors are allowed to remain on set longer than younger children. It’s a showbiz rule Rhys’ parents didn’t even know about at the time.

“It’s a different world,” Tina said. “It really is.”

Rhys turns 9 in July and will continue to pursue movie roles, according to her parents.

The actress can be found on Instagram at @rhys_olivia.


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