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Being the best thing in a movie can be both a curse and a blessing, but Teresa Palmer has used that gift to carve out a distinctive career for herself, even in the occasional film where she might have been the onlygood thing ("I Am Number Four," we're looking at you).
But in "Wish You Were Here," she joins an able cast that includes Joel Edgerton ("Warrior") and Felicity Price (TV's "Home and Away") to tell the story of a young woman whose tryst with her sister's husband is the tip of a much larger iceberg of bad decisions and dangerous encounters, and proves she's even better when matched with folks who are equally formidable.
On the morning after her Sundance premiere, NextMovie sat down with Palmer for a chat about her role in the film and where she'd like to go from "Here."
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How has your experience at Sundance been so far?
It's been pretty incredible. It's been surreal and very exciting; it's my first time here, so it's quite overwhelming at the same time, and I feel grateful and fortunate that the film was well received. I'm definitely very proud of it, but I only saw it for the first time at the screening, which is so nerve-wracking.
What is that experience like, to sit there with an audience full of people watching your work for the first time up on the screen?
I think you're only kind of focused on your performance, and it's very natural as an actor to be critical of your work. I was like, why did I do that? Or, okay, that worked better than I thought it did. But it's very hard to actually see it as an audience member the first time -- you have to watch it a few more times. But having said that, I was so impressed by what [director] Kieran Darcy-Smith did with the film; it just went above and beyond my expectations. It was so fluid and kept me riveted the whole time even though I knew exactly what was happening in the film, it just felt like a new experience for me -- which was amazing.
How was this character written? She obviously plays an important part in what happens in the film, but she also has her own story running concurrent with Joel and Felicity’s.
Steph, she’s almost the antagonist in the film, and she’s going through a period in her life where she’s very sort of self-indulgent; it’s her twenties and she’s having fun, she’s a loose cannon, and obviously without giving anything away, that personality, that side of her is very integral to the film and what eventuates. But it was fun for me to play a character like that, because I haven’t been able to play someone who’s kind of boundless in that way. She’s got this incredible energy and she doesn’t set any boundaries for herself; she just lives life, she truly lives it, so that was really fun to play around in.
How important is it as an actor to transform yourself into someone else, or resisting the impulse to let those little quirks of yours seep into a performance?
I actually have been trying to embrace more of the quirky side of me, and try and get that more on screen. I think some of my favorite actors, they’re always playing versions of themselves, and it’s important to be open and let your guard down and let those little idiosyncrasies come through.
But having said that, I truly love sinking my teeth into a character and going through a transformation and actually not letting my personality come through. And I just recently did that on a film called "AWOL," which is this beautiful romance set in the 1960s with Liam Hemsworth. It’s along the lines of "The Notebook," and it really was a transformation for me, turning into this journalist, and I loved it. It’s equally challenging, I must say.
How do you balance opportunities in Australia with ones in Hollywood? Is it important to move back and forth?
I am attracted to really good scripts, to be honest, and if great material is coming out of Australia, then I feel so connected to it and I feel very inspired to make a movie in Australia -- which is what happened with Wish You Were Here. But having said that, my ultimate goal was to be in the position to get small independent [films] financed, and you have to do a number of these bigger-budget studio films like "I Am Number Four," and I have a movie coming out this year called "Warm Bodies," which I’m really excited about, but I would love to be able to mix it up and do cool independents, go back to Australia and shoot a guerilla-style film, and I’d love to direct my own stuff too. But yeah, you have to be in the position to go off and do that, and then you do these bigger films so you have that freedom.