Entertainment Movies 'Firestarter' 's Ryan Kiera Armstrong Got to Know Onscreen Dad Zac Efron Over a Game of Ping-Pong "Of course I was a fan beforehand!" the actress tells PEOPLE about working with Zac Efron By Benjamin VanHoose Published on May 13, 2022 10:48 AM Share Tweet Pin Email Photo: Ken Woroner/Universal Pictures Ryan Kiera Armstrong brings the heat in her latest movie — but not so much on the ping-pong table, she'll admit. The 12-year-old actress takes over the iconic role of Charlie McGee in a new adaptation of Stephen King's Firestarter, a character made famous by a young Drew Barrymore in the 1984 film version. Armstrong plays a sheltered girl who's forced to hide her uncontrollable powers (she can cause fires with her mind) until she becomes hunted by scientists for nefarious reasons. Zac Efron plays Armstrong's dad Andy in the movie. She tells PEOPLE she was already a big fan of the Greatest Showman actor, 34, whom she bonded with by playing ping-pong together. "Of course I was a fan beforehand," she says. "The first time I really met him, he actually came over to my house and we played a round of ping-pong, which I lost poorly!" Armstrong says Efron was "there for me for any questions I had." She adds, "It was really fun. We got to explore the characters a lot together, and it turned out very well." Zac Efron Reveals What's Kept Him Grounded Over the Years: 'Staying Positive No Matter What' Ryan Armstrong/Instagram Never miss a story — sign up for PEOPLE's free daily newsletter to stay up-to-date on the best of what PEOPLE has to offer, from juicy celebrity news to compelling human interest stories. To build her formidable Firestarter character, Armstrong says she found a way to include one of her real-life passions within several scenes. "When I'm not working, I love drawing, which is something that I incorporated to Charlie. I was just studying how to draw eyes, like really realistic eyes, so when I discussed this with [director] Keith Thomas, I told him, 'Hey, I love drawing.' He was like, 'You know what? We can incorporate those in the movie.' In my bedroom in a few scenes, there are actually drawings across the wall, and most of those drawings are my drawings. It was really fun to do that. I've never done that before." The Anne with an E alum recently appeared in another spooky role on American Horror Story: Double Feature, and she's done parts in genre movies like It Chapter Two and The Tomorrow War. As she puts it, horror seems have so far "followed" her in her budding career. Ryan Kiera Armstrong in Firestarter. Ken Woroner/Universal Pictures "I love horror, even though I have a hard time watching it. I love making it. Can't watch it, but I love it," she says with a laugh, adding that she'd definitely be down to return for more fire-starting: "At the end of the movie, there is really no clear answer of where the movie's going. There's a huge cliffhanger. I had multiple talks with Keith about what will happen in the future for Charlie. I'm really curious. I would love to do another." Firestarter is in theaters and streaming exclusively on Peacock Friday.