I saw Not Suitable For Children at the Sydney Film Festival, walked out of the film, turned to a fellow critic and said – “Who was that amazing actress? She steals the whole movie!” He’d done his homework and told me it was Sarah Snook.
She's a wonderful actress and has the potential to become an international superstar (without putting too much pressure on her). I was lucky to speak with her about Not Suitable For Children which is about to be released in Australian cinemas.
You can download a 2 minute audio extract by clicking here.
Matt: I’ve pulled a few strings and it’s a pleasure to be speaking with you. You’ll have to help me out with your back story and tell me a little about yourself. Where exactly are you from?
Sarah: I grew up in Adelaide, actually in Belair. I then moved to Sydney in 2006 to go to NIDA. I was fresh out of high school, only 18 years old and a bit green. On graduating from NIDA, I started working my way through the industry trying to get more experience.
Matt: You always wanted to be an actress from a young age?
Sarah: Yeah. I got the bug when I played the understudy to the understudy in Big Chief Red Feather when I was in year 2 and just 7 years old. One of the people above me got the measles and the other one broke their arm so in the end I got to play Big Chief Red Feather.
Matt: Ah, so it was fate?
Sarah: Absolutely (laughs).
Matt: In 2011, you were one of the runner ups for the Heath Ledger Scholarship. Do prizes like that help open up some doors for you?
Sarah: Yeah, they certainly do. The calibre of the name lends itself to opening those doors. It gives you an opportunity to go over to the States and open the doors yourself. Definitely having that behind you helps people recognise you and has something attributed to your name.
Matt: I’ve since learned that you were shortlisted for the lead role in David Fincher’s The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo. You obviously got someone’s attention in Hollywood early on. How did that come about?
Sarah: Again, it was just of those random twists of fate. A woman named Jenny Rawlings, who is now my manager, was in Adelaide and had heard my name and had managed to get me an audition. I kept getting further and further along in that process. It was a really fortunate situation because David Fincher was looking for someone completely unknown and that helped me get a foot in the door.
Matt: We’ll should talk about the film Not Suitable For Children. How did you become involved?
Sarah: It was a similar, simple kind of audition process. It was quite protracted and went over about 5 months. I'd come in, two weeks would pass and I’d think “well that’s done” and then I’d get a call telling me to come back in and then yeah, I finally got the role.
Matt: This character you play – she’s a strong, funny, opinionated young woman. I’m curious to know how much of you is in this character? I’m hoping you’re going to say a lot because I love this person.
Sarah: (Laughs) Definitely a lot. I think I got to live a vicariously through her. She’s a little more opinionated and far wittier than I am. You have this image of what you’d like to be and I was lucky enough to get to play this character that represents that a little bit. It was really fun.
Matt: You’re working alongside Ryan Kwanten – a fact that will make many people I know insanely jealous. You’ll have to tell us – what was he like to work with?
Sarah: He was terrible (laughs). He’s a lovely man. Very generous and just a super guy. He was calming for me given it was my first feature film and to have someone who has had international experience and a real passion for the Australian film industry was great. I was able to learn a lot from him.
Matt: Now there are some love making scenes in this film which you guys manage to make as awkward looking as possible. How uncomfortable was it on the set?
Sarah: They were terribly awkward! It’s such an unnatural thing to be doing that in front of a crew and knowing that millions of people are going to watch it forever and a day. Those scenes are meant to be awkward anyway as their relationship up until that point has been as brother and sister. To step over that boundary is very awkward in itself.
Matt: Some of the dialogue between you two looks so relaxed. Was it scripted or did you have the chance to add your own dynamic to the character?
Sarah: It was thoroughly scripted and we had two weeks of rehearsals prior to the shoot where we went through things and made sure that they seemed natural. When we got to the shoot itself, we’d make sure that the scene was absolutely to the letter and then if there was time, we’d do a few other takes and try to throw a few different things in.
Matt: And what can you tell us about Peter Templeman who has stepped up to the plate and directing his first feature film. What was his style?
Sarah: I love Peter. He made sure that the script was to the letter whilst also allowing an element of freedom. He’s a keen “truth teller” I suppose. He can tell when you’re “phoning it in” or you’re faking it. He’ll go “no no no.” He’s a good guy and very relaxed. You’d be forgiven for thinking that he doesn’t know what he’s talking about sometimes but trust me, he does!
Matt: It’s tough trying to sell any Australian films. We had The Amazing Spider-Man released last week and The Dark Knight Rises out next week. What have we got to do to get people to go and see this film? How do we sell this?
Sarah: Well, it’s a damn good film actually! You’re going to want to see it. People somehow have this icky, irky thing about seeing an Australian film but to be honest, this doesn’t feel like an “Australian film”. It could be set in Berlin or Milan or London or anywhere. It just happens to be Sydney which features a little bit. It has a lot of heart which translates universally.
Matt: I’ll finish up by asking what’s in the pipeline? I’m hoping you’ve got a bunch of projects we’re going to see you in soon.
Sarah: I just finished wrapping a horror film in the United States called Jessabelle which was exciting to do. Kevin Greutert was the director and he was an editor on many of the Saw films. I star alongside Mark Webber who is the self-proclaimed king of American independent cinema apparently (laughs). He’s one of those names where people in America go “Mark Webber, oh I love Mark Webber!” I’d never heard of him beforehand but I do now and he’s a good friend.
Matt: Well best of luck with all your future endeavours and it’s been a pleasure talking with you today. Thank you!
Sarah: Thank you Matt!
You can read my review of Not Suitable For Children by clicking here.
All Rights Reserved. Matthew Toomey. 2012.