Thanks to Icon Films, we had the chance to sit down for a friendly chat with the lovely Australian actress Sarah Snook.
During our interview Sarah shared with us about her time working in Not Suitable for Children alongside Ryan Kwanten and director Peter Templeman, her first international film Jessabelle, and she even spoke with us about some personal experiences including her personal advice for young aspiring actors.
SR: Ok Sarah, thanks for your time. We saw the film (Not Suitable for Children). Congratulations on the film, just to start.
Sarah: Thank you.
Sarah: I was really excited, I think. It was one of the freshest Australian scripts I’d read in a really long time and the dialogue really jumped off the page. It was actually really super easy to learn … like, learn the scenes to audition with, because it was such natural, conversational dialogue. So, yeah, I was pretty excited. (Laughs).
SR: How was the process working with an award-nominated director like Peter, and also with a growing Hollywood star like Ryan Kwanten? How did you get along with them?
Sarah: Well, I mean, the lucky thing is that they’re actually really nice men, so any of their fame or awards, or any part of their careers that brought them to this point now, has only really made them better people. Which … creative artists … it’s great working with people who’ve had great experience, but it’s nice really working with people who are just such genuine people. Peter has got a wealth of … ah, he’s very perceptive and can tell when you’re phoning it in, or when you’re lying in a moment; and he’ll really strive for the truth in a moment, which is something that I really valued.
SR: Peter also said, in one interview statement, that this was a very personal project for him – based on his experience. So, I wonder how much freedom he gave you as, an actress, to play in this movie.
Sarah: We had a lot of freedom in the rehearsal process. We had two weeks of rehearsal before starting the shoot. And in that we were able to play as much as we wanted, make any script changes … there were very few. And then, once we got to the shoot, it was, you know, ‘this is what we rehearsed – let’s do it. Let’s find the truth in these moments and really work hard to act what we have.’
SR: What would you say was the hardest scene while filming the movie?
Sarah: The hardest scene to film for me was the scene where – I guess – I tell Jonah that, yeah, I’m going to have a kid with him and make him sign the contract. I think the hardest – in the sense that, having made that flip from not wanting kids to suddenly wanting kids and making it believable for the audience – was a challenge. Just to find each of the points. To really work them out and make it believable.
SR: What would you say was the most rewarding, or most exciting, period of your career so far?
Sarah: Um, oh I’m not sure. This definitely is a huge highlight. It’s like – It’s my first feature film. So, I feel very honoured and blessed to have been allowed to participate in it. Because I hadn’t done anything before Michael and Peter really fought for me. Which I’m very grateful for. To get the opportunity. So, I guess this is a highlight. Also, Sisters of War was pretty special: working on a true-to-life script. Yeah, that was pretty special.
SR: And what about Jessabelle?
Sarah: Jessabelle? Well, again, another first. First U.S feature film with the lead. Very challenging, in that my character was in a wheelchair the whole time. So, working out the physicality of that. I mean, yeah, pretty exciting.
SR: So, how did you get involved in Jessabelle? How was this process of jumping from Australia to the U.S.A?
Sarah: I was in the States earlier this year, just having some meetings. And the director had seen some tapes that I had put down for other projects, and asked me to come and meet with him. And then we talked about the script and I read it and I liked it and I wanted to work with him. And we went from there, basically. So, from that meeting to doing it was a very swift process.
SR: You do plays, TV, and movies. I wonder which project you feel most comfortable working on? Which is your favourite?
Sarah: I feel like they’re such – particularly for film and theatre – they’re such different mediums, in the sense of how I approach them, that I almost can’t compare them. But I love films, in that the stories you get to work on are often quite contemporary and I like that. But then, with theatre you get to work with such great writing. The people who are writing amazing theatre scripts – that’s the goal. You want to work on really great work.
SR: Speaking of this transition – you were working on Spirited, which was a big hit in Australia, to film. So, how did you feel when you were going to take the big step from working in TV to films?
Sarah: Uh huh. I think when I was working on Spirited, I was very fortunate to be just a semi-regular character. So I was able to learn a lot from the people around me, without much pressure on myself as an actor. So, I didn’t have the responsibility of a lead. So, therefore, I could watch Matt King and Claudia Karvan and Rodger Corser, and the people who I’d been working with for a while, and see how they approach things and how they go about a character. So – making the leap to films…that challenge of holding together a feature film was still great and big, but I felt like I had a lot more experience, you know, had had some training, I suppose, in a way, to approach that.
SR: Now that you’re doing your first feature in the States, which kind of film or which kind of actor would you like to work with in future?
Sarah: Um, in the States?
SR: Yes, in Hollywood productions.
Sarah: Ooh – there’s a lot of them. (Laughs). Oh, there are a lot of actors in the States that I would like to work with. I can’t think of their names right now.
SR: I asked Ryan the same question once.
Sarah: (Laughs). Ryan Kwanten? Done that one. I really like … well, I watched Drive last night, actually, and I just love Carey Mulligan in that, and Ryan Gosling. They’re just so wonderful. And it’s so beautifully, intricately directed. I’d like to work on films like that, I think.
SR: A friend from the site Burn Bright, who’s a science fiction writer who also runs a blog, also asked me to ask you what kind of advice you’d give to young, aspiring actresses.
Sarah: I’m not sure that I feel like I’m … One thing that I’m learning, I guess, is that everyone has a different journey and a different path. So, where people might compare you to someone – which has been happening a lot lately – and that’s fine. But, you know, I’m a different person and I’ll have my own journey, whatever that is. However that happens, it’ll happen in my way. And, I guess, for people who are starting out, that it’ll happen for you in your way.
SR: With all these Australian movie industry movies moving very quickly: We have a huge hit – like Red Dog, Animal Kingdom and now the first 3D film Bait What would you say is the forecast for the Australian Film Industry?
Sarah: Ah, I think we have a lot of potential. Being in the States recently … one of the casting directors was … we were chatting and he said, ‘I think Australia’s the next territory’. And whether that’s, you know, true or not, we can make it that, I think. I have good hopes, high hopes. (Laughs).
SR: Did you have any Australian actors who inspired you to go where you are now?
Sarah: Yeah. I mean, a lot of the Australian actors and actresses that I looked up to growing up, like Cate Blanchett and Naomi Watts and Nicole Kidman … and all the people who’ve really followed what they wanted to do and pursued it with tenacity – definitely. But then, other people – like my colleagues – like people like Ryan Corr … he’s a very talented actor … so getting to work with people like that is amazing. And then, Claudia Karvan … and I’d love to work with Joel Edgerton … and the people that you see on screen and stage and go, ‘they’re amazing; they’re teaching us something about people. I want to be able to do that as well.’
SR: So we have a request from a fan from the Internet who wants to ask you something. She wants to know if you could share an experience of having met one of your idols, or favourite actors – a fun encounter?
Sarah: (Laughs). Um, I did. I – I don’t know whether to say it. I met – well, I worked with, the STC theatre company in my final year of drama school, and through that met Cate Blanchett. And she said, ‘hello, I’m Cate.’ I’m like, ‘I know’. (Laughs). But I really liked that. It’s really beautiful, down to earth, no arrogance attached. It’s not expecting that someone might know you. It’s ensuring that you can have a connection with the person on a human level.
SR: My friend from the Burn Bright blog also wants to know if you have a favourite book, or what the last book you read was.
Sarah: Right now I’m reading the Game of Thrones. ‘Cause I used to really like all that kind of fantasy stuff when I was a kid. And I haven’t read it for a while, so I’m getting back into it. But I think my favourite author is Gabriel Garcia Marquez. My favourite book is ‘100 Years of Solitude’. I just really loved that book.
SR: Just to finish … We don’t generally ask this kind of question. It’s a very pushy question, but how do you feel about the media calling you the Australian Emma Stone?
Sarah: Um (laughs). I don’t mind. It’s pretty funny. I mean, I guess I should ask her that – how she feels about that.
SR: I probably will soon.
Sarah: That’d be nice. It’s a funny kind of thing, but, like I said: everyone has a different journey and a different path, so I’m sure that it’ll be just as strange for someone … you know … down the track … if ever someone might get compared to me or something. I don’t know. Who knows?
SR: And what is next for you?
Sarah: Well, the film Jessabelle is coming out. I imagine that’ll come out early next year. But hopefully I can shoot something in between then.
SR: Ok, beautiful. Thanks for your time. Very nice to meet you.
Not Suitable for Children, at the movies July 12
**Many thanks to Bec Stafford for transcribing this interview