In Conversation with Rose Byrne
Rose Byrne has done it all in Hollywood since her acting career began in the Sydney suburb of Balmain. She spent years as the ambitious, idealistic Ellen Parsons in Damages (2007–2012), flexed her comedy muscles in Bridesmaids (2011) and Get Him to the Greek (2010), starred in the cinematic epic Troy (2004), worked with CGI co-stars in Peter Rabbit (2018 and 2021), and formed her own independent production company, Dollhouse Films.
Film journalist and podcaster Jenny Cooney caught up with Rose as she launched her new film Seriously Red (2022) at the 4th International Screen Forum in New York. In this special podcast, the 2 discuss Rose’s incredible career, including her thoughts on the best ways to find inspiration, holding her own alongside Glenn Close and the pitfalls of grabbing a drink with a TV writer.
[Jenny] Okay. Rose is here? Yeah. Through rain and sleet and snow.
[Rose] Sorry I'm late. I just got disoriented around Lincoln... Where are we? Lincoln Center. But we’re here. How is everybody?
[Jenny] Welcome everyone. And I know you've been here for some sessions today already, most of you. And we're just so thrilled that we could fit in this special career conversation. A little history, I have a podcast called Aussies in Hollywood that has been on Apple for three or four years, and the entire time Rose and I have been trying to do an episode of it together.
[Rose] We have.
[Jenny] We're very lucky that now we've partnered with the Australian International Screen Forum, thanks to Chris Beale and Michael Kelleher. And also now the podcast is going to be archived and part of the National Film and Sound Archive in Australia. And in Canberra they already have an Australians & Hollywood exhibition if any of you haven't been. It's now been completely extended till the end of 2023. It's really great. There's a lot of George Miller and rooms full of incredible stuff. So I'm very honoured that little parts of my podcast are going to be there in the future.
[Rose] That’s wonderful!
[Jenny] So people are going to be listening to this hopefully for a long time. Okay. So, we should start at the beginning, although you've had one of those careers where things happened slowly, like they evolved. A lot of people who had careers like yours started, sort of gave up at some point and just said, forget it, you know, but yours just kept getting bigger! Each one got bigger than the last one. Right? So, talk a little bit about the passion you had for what you do. I know you started when you were like eight or something. And, also at the Australian Young People's Theatre, right? Where Nicole Kidman and Rebel Wilson both, and probably quite a lot of other people, got their start.
[Rose] Yeah, at the Australian Theatre for Young People. I started going there really young. I was eight years old and I grew up in Balmain and a bunch of kids used to go there and a friend of mine, Rosie Fisher, who is now a producer in the arts, she suggested that I go. She was a student there and it's a wonderful, wonderful, you know, theatre program for young adults, ranging from ages five, I think they do, through to early twenties. And I'm still an ambassador for the company. And so I started going there really young and then got cast in a film, you know, casting agents came around to look for a young kid for a film. And I got this part when I was 13 and kind of got bit by the bug. Yeah, very young. Very young.
[Jenny] So prior to that, what were your early cinema memories? In particular, Australian cinema memories? When you look back, what were the things that made you think, ‘Oh, I could do this’?
[Rose] Well my parents were... Balmain was a pretty bohemian suburb I suppose when I was born in the late seventies. But we really went to galleries more, my parents were more into if anything, the galleries and museums and stuff. We grew up with a lot of art in the house and classical music and things like that. And acting kind of came later, none of my siblings were into acting and I think being the youngest and a bit of a clown, you know, I was drawn to it. And my memories of Australian film are the classics like The Year My Voice Broke (1987) was a profound movie I remember seeing at a really young age. And, you know, having a profound crush on Ben Mendelsohn.
[Jenny] Did you ever tell him that?
[Rose] Oh yeah, for sure. Yeah, that was one of my earliest memories. And Malcolm (1986), I remember that great movie Malcolm with Colin Friels, and obviously Gallipoli (1981) and, you know, all these sort of iconic Aussie movies that were very... they’re very vivid because it's such a reflection of our culture. Whereas obviously more international films - that's what's so great about movies is that reflection of your culture. I really remember those feelings of seeing those films.
[Jenny] So what would you say is your favourite Australian movie if you have one?
[Rose] Probably The Year My Voice Broke. That's one of my favourites. The Cars that Ate Paris (1974), I think is beautiful. Picnic at Hanging Rock (1975), that was also so haunting and stunning. Yeah, some of those classics.
[Jenny] So you started working - well, you got work when you were 13, you said?
[Rose] Yes, I was 13 when I was cast in Dallas Doll (1994).
[Jenny] So that was the one that Sandra Bernhard came to Australia to star in.
[Jenny] And how was that? As your first experience on a set?
[Rose] It was so wild and fun. I'd done just theatre programs, and this was like a proper set. Again, very vivid memories of being on set and showing up and all the variety of people you're exposed to. And being a young person, and how you're treated on set, and all that sort of stuff. But my parents were very, very grounded and down to earth and were constantly telling me, you know, you're going to finish school and go to university. And this is just some fun. And so they were very determined to sort of keep my feet on the ground, I suppose. It sounds very Australian, doesn't it, when you...
[Jenny] Don't get too full of yourself.
[Jenny] And you were the youngest of four?
[Rose] Yeah, youngest of four.
[Jenny] So you probably got a lot of that.
[Rose] Yeah, I think by the end they were so tired they're like, oh whatever you want to do.
[Jenny] Is it true that you did audition for all those schools and you got rejected?
[Rose] Yeah, I auditioned for NIDA, WAPA, VCA...
[Jenny] They're not going to like to hear this.
[Rose] You know everyone's path is so different. I'm envious of people who went to drama college. I look at Juilliard all the time and I still have a fantasy of being a student there. I think what a pleasure to go and do something you love every day, you know? And so as an actress, I really enjoyed class. I was a bit of a nerd and always loved... I did go to Sydney University and so I’ve always gravitated toward teachers and learning and being studious and that sort of thing. So that to me is - I still have a bit of a fantasy about it I think.
[Jenny] And so then you actually did end up studying acting, but in New York with people like William Macy and David Mamet.
[Rose] Yeah. Well, the Atlantic Theater Company was started by Macy and Mamet and Felicity Huffman and a bunch of actors and writers. And it's still here in Chelsea. It's a wonderful theatre. And the technique they use - Practical Aesthetics - became this kind of cult hit in Australia. I don't know, have any of you been affected by it? Oh, affected by it sounds a bit...
[Jenny] Can you try and explain that?
[Rose] Well, it's very Mamet, you know, it's very nuts and bolts. It's very sort of empowering to the actor. And it's controversial. Like Mamet... character doesn't exist. It's just words on a page. So it's very demystifying, it's sort of reactionary, I think, to the Method. It's the opposite of that, like all good sort of acting movements, you know, it's challenging. It's based in Meisner and really early Stanislavski. And it's a wonderful technique that I still go back to when I need to, when I feel like I need to decipher something properly and really break it down to its bare bones.
[Jenny] Wow. So how long were you involved with them?
[Rose] Well, I worked with Nico Lathouris on a show called Wildside on the ABC in early 2000s, I think... Late nineties, was it? Late nineties. Yeah, it was really a long time ago.
[Rose] Yeah, he's a wonderful famous dramaturg in Australia who's very close with George Miller and has worked on all his movies and he worked on the show. And it was really one of those like, wow, you know, seeing the kind of cultish feelings almost of really falling in love with the way he worked. And that was kind of my way onto that path.
[Jenny] And so you had been doing a lot of episodic TV in Australia and then did this in New York. And then you got Two Hands, which was also 1999, which was - in fact when I was back in Sydney last year it was on Netflix again in Australia.
[Rose] Oh it was? They screened it at MIFF too.
[Jenny] Everybody I knew was talking about having rewatched it and remembering it and it really holds up well. I don't know if you've seen it recently?
[Rose] I haven't, but I can't wait to show my children when they're older because it is such a classic and has such a special place in my heart and obviously a real turning point in my career and personally and professionally. So it's very beloved, which is really always a delight when people bring it up.
[Jenny] So talk a little bit about how did you get that role, Gregor [Jordan], did he know you? How did he cast you? How did you and Heath work together? Tell us about that whole experience because it was a very small film...
[Rose] Yeah, it was really small. Christine King was the casting director who was an incredible casting director out of Sydney. And I went in and read. I didn't even read with Heath at that point because he was shooting his show at that time, I think in America or somewhere. But Gregor had tapped him already as the part of Jimmy. And we were just kids - I mean I was 18, he was 18. We were just like kids doing this dirty little Aussie movie in Sydney on Bondi Beach. Like it was sort of really... I think that charm and innocence of it really shows through. But Gregor has always been a really sophisticated filmmaker and very cinematic and has great taste in films and in music. And I think it has a really specific Australian sensibility about crime and humour and class. And I think that film really represents a particular sort of cultural snapshot that - tickles me, anyway, and I find really delightful and I feel like audiences still relate to it. And I know Heath really shines, he just popped. And he was such a big-hearted, generous person and friend for years and helped me a lot coming over here. And it's very, very sad. He was gone way too soon, obviously.
[Jenny] Were you one of the many people that had a key to his house or that stayed with him? I've spoken to so many people that said that there were, like, 50 people who had to return a key when the house was sold.
[Rose] Yeah, he was like that. He surrounded himself with his family and friends. You know, it's a strange life being an actor, you're on the road. And we were so young. We were 18, 19, and he was even younger, I think he left Perth even younger. And so he had a crew of friends and family constantly in and out. And I was, yes, I was absolutely one of them at one point. In my early twenties.
[Jenny] What did Two Hands do for your career? You came to LA on the back of it, is that part of the timing?
[Rose] I did, yeah. We went to Sundance to the film festival, which was magical, I still remember. And I got an agent and started to come over [to LA] and, you know, it was back and forth for many years. I was working pretty consistently in Australia but I was still in university and trying to get my degree, which I never got. [laughter] I know!
[Jenny] You didn't do very well without a degree, it’s pretty clear.
[Rose] That was the beginning of coming over. And back then there wasn't as many Australians [in the US]. Now it's far more common to sort of leave Australia immediately if you finish school and just come straight to America to try to pursue work, or Europe or wherever you're trying to pursue. So, it's interesting. Back then, it was still a smaller pond of us, I think.
[Jenny] Right. You got the amazing role in Troy. And I think for a lot of Americans, that might have been the first thing that they really remembered you from. It was 2004, Wolfgang Petersen's movie. And we lost him recently too.
[Rose] I know, I know. And he was a real gentleman. I loved working with him.
[Jenny] It also, I think, gave Eric Bana his break at the same time as you. And then, of course, you had all those wonderful steamy scenes with Brad Pitt, which can’t have been hard.
[Rose] His career has really taken a dive, though. God, poor guy. [laughter]
[Jenny] Brad who?
[Rose] This guy, Brad...
[Jenny] So tell us a little about your first epic Hollywood movie set and what that experience was like.
[Rose] It was pretty overwhelming. Just the scale of it, it was so many people. And these wild locations and huge film stars and that kind of energy that can come with acting with people like that. Less so of them, and more the people around them. And then doing this incredibly, you know, historical epic - kind of swords and sandals - dramatic piece. It was really very seminal and very much ingrained in my mind. It was a little bit disorienting I think at the time. I wish I'd enjoyed myself a little bit more. I think I was pretty nervous the whole time. Yeah, I was.
[Jenny] Did you know Eric before?
[Rose] I mean I did, but we didn't have any scenes together. So I did find the experience a little bit isolating because the character was never really - she's either getting tied up crying or getting tossed around between the slaves or... it was pretty grim for Briseis. But Brad was a real gentleman. And I remember him coming and saying, ‘You can talk to me’, because I was so shy and quiet and intimidated and he would - I wished I'd lightened up a little bit more about it. But I was young, and it was such a monumental kind of thing to be doing, and it was a long shoot too. It was like nothing I'd ever experienced in terms of the time and the budget and things like that. It's a miracle those movies get made. I mean, they go in these sort of trends, right, of those movies getting made? And I feel like it's been a while since we've seen one.
[Jenny] And you had already made the move full-time over to America or...?
[Rose] At that point I was still pretty much based in Sydney. I will say that Wolfgang was a wonderful director, Wolfgang Petersen, and very astute. And I had watched Das Boot (1981), his incredible epic masterpiece, and was completely overwhelmed that I was getting to work with him as well. So that was a real honour.
[Jenny] I think the first time I met you was when you started on Damages (2007) or maybe around that time?
[Rose] We've done many press conferences together, me and Jenny.
[Jenny] Been at the Golden Globes a few times.
[Rose] Oh, yeah.
[Jenny] For your nominations. Yeah, 2007 to 2012. I can't believe it was that long ago.
[Rose] I know, that’s so crazy.
[Jenny] A lot of people think that your show was one of the first that showed that movie stars would go to television and that it wasn't looked down on anymore. Glenn Close is a legend, and she did this role. And you had this incredible part where it was the two women driving the whole thing. Tell us about how that experience was for you. I know you were calling her ‘Glenny’ at some point, obviously you weren't intimidated all those years. So what was it like also finding that you were in a show that really hit the zeitgeist at the time, more than now where it's really hard for your show to get noticed?
[Rose] We came out the same year as Mad Men. Obviously HBO had really set the bar with Sopranos and Six Feet Under and Oz. But then it was this sort of next wave of shows. And then shortly after us Breaking Bad came out. And Glenn [Close] was the lead in a basic cable TV show, which was kind of extraordinary. But it was at the beginning of the real sort of Golden Age for TV, which is now fully in swing, where there's so much content, you don't know what to watch.
I felt very intimidated by Glenn. But the writing was brilliant, and the character was also in over her head. And it was a tricky character to play because the audience was so much ahead of her, of Ellen, in the show. It's a high-concept, kind of legal, stylish thriller tone. And that was the trickiest part for me. And learning the fortitude you have to have doing television hours, which [are] long, 18-hour days sometimes. Doing a show that's an hour long and being in every other scene. So that took some stamina. And I realised I had to get fit for that in a way that I had never had before.
We were working in New York City because of Glenn, and she became a dear, dear friend. And we're still very close to this day. And I have incredibly fond memories of doing the show. And again, it was a real turning point in terms of career and personal life living here and yeah, being part of that.
[Jenny] And the Kessler brothers who wrote it, did you find that they were changing their writing at all based on who the actors were, after it started?
[Rose] Oh yeah. You never tell a TV writer anything because it will be in the show. Like, 5 minutes later. You'll be like, ‘Oh I know this story - I told you when we had a drink the other night!’ They're a sneaky bunch, any TV writer will put it in if they’re worth their salt. So I quickly learned that, but I loved it. Todd Kessler, who is the creator of the show - one of the creators, along with Daniel Zelman and Glenn Kessler - he had been one of the lead writers on Sopranos. So he was really interested in the idea of power, but power for a female and what does that look like? A character like Tony Soprano, being so polarising and divisive but yet very watchable and still wanting to root for him as an audience, [he was] playing with those sorts of ideas with Glenn's character.
[Jenny] And it was such a great device that the audience always got a taste of what the end of the season was going to be in the opening episode. And then you would be like, ‘Oh my God, how are they going to get there?’. Did you know everything that was going to happen to your character? At what point did you find out?
[Rose] The day before, they'd be like, ‘So, this is what...’ No, they had a very specific way of working, which really was they wrote very, very late with their ideas. And it was just the way they work, and I'm not sure if they still do work like that. But back then, it was nerve-wracking. Me and Glenn were constantly in a state of... But it's a different muscle that you learn how to use. But frustrating as an actor because, I like to ask too many questions and I'm very nosy about the character and what's happening and wanting to have a sense of, you know, orientating myself. And this was a lesson in letting go of all of that.
[Jenny] So you would just know that you were going to be standing on a roof looking like you were going to commit suicide or something at the end of the season?
[Rose] Pretty much, yeah! It was very much an exercise in trusting the writers that they had a grander plan. Particularly with episodic TV, it's very specific the way it's structured. And so learning to understand that was, again, a great lesson.
[Jenny] And that was also the time when you made New York home, is that right?
[Rose] Yeah, so I had studied here at the Atlantic Theater Company for four months, lived here, and then came back to shoot the show and ended up staying.
[Jenny] And you're still here.
[Rose] I know, wandering around Lincoln Center, lost... [laughter]
[Jenny] When Damages came out, there was so much attention - not just on Glenn, but on you, because you held your own against her. I mean, there were a lot of showdowns with those two characters. And I think a lot of people were looking at you. You were getting the Emmy attention and the Golden Globes, and all the rest of it as well. What was it like to, as an actor, want to grow up and be an actor but not know what it felt like to have that next level of fame and the attention and the recognition? Because, I mean, everybody is watching that show. So you must have started to have that side of it happening for you, too?
[Rose] I guess it's just - as you say, it was a very slow process for me of working here, there, back home. So I was in my late twenties by that point. And I look at other young actors who are really thrust into those situations, much younger, and with way more attention on them. And I think that would have been very hard for my type of personality. And I felt with Damages, working with Glenn was such an incredible experience. I mean, she's just such an exquisite actress. And I felt the need to really rise to the occasion for that - she just raises the bar, like any great actor. And I've worked with so many. So having scenes with her everyday toe-to-toe, it I was just such a pleasure and such a challenge.
[Jenny] So I would imagine having that many scenes with her, over that many years, you get a lot of experience? Were there any particular lessons you look back on now that you took out of that experience that you apply in some way in your career or your acting?
[Rose] Well, again, working on TV is not for the faint of heart. It is hard work, it is long hours, and it is a long shoot. It’s a marathon and trying to stay on top of the material and on top of your energy - it's a different game, a different ballgame. So that was something I had a crash course in, doing Damages for sure.
[Jenny] I hadn't realized until I was reminding myself of all your work that it was during the time you were doing Damages that you made these other films, like Insidious (2010) and Bridesmaids (2011). How did that fit in? Were you looking for different things to do on your hiatus? And you worked with James Wan and Leigh Whannell obviously on Insidious, which was the beginning of their big journey to where they are now?
[Rose] I know, I kind of forgot that I did those at the same time, to be honest with you.
[Jenny] I’m glad I wasn’t the only one!
[Rose] You know, you're an actress, you're just - I just wanted to work, I just love working. And those jobs were great and very different. And again, Damages was an interesting journey, but in between I did these films which - is odd isn’t it, I forgot that! I'm so old now, that's the thing, is that time goes on guys, did you know that? [laughter]
[Jenny] Oh, and Get Him to the Greek (2010), which is one of my personal favourites, I loved your character in that.
[Rose] Aww, thank you.
[Jenny] That movie with Russell Brand was really hilarious.
[Rose] So silly.
[Jenny] It brought you into [working with] Nick Stoller too. You've done a lot of projects with him since then in comedy.
[Rose] I know, I just finished a show with Nick Stoller and Seth Rogen and Francesca Delbanco, a show for Apple, a 10-part series called Platonic. And it's about Seth and I and our friendship. And it's a very sweet, funny comedy. But we were reunited just recently, so it was great.
[Jenny] And then of course you did Neighbors (2014) with Seth.
[Rose] Yes, I did the Neighbors films with Seth too.
[Jenny] There was always a lot of talk about - is she a comic actress, is she a dramatic actress? People would see you in Bridesmaids, and then they go, ‘Oh look, she can do this really dramatic stuff [too]’. Were you deliberately all the time looking for just a different challenge or a different role? Did you see yourself as having a strength in one or the other? And I mean, what was your own perception? Because I know a lot of journalists would ask you questions like that about - do you see yourself as a comic actress, after Bridesmaids especially?
[Rose] Yeah, I mean one of my favourite shows ever is Fawlty Towers with John Cleese, and his performance as Basil Fawlty. Growing up that was one of the shows that we were all allowed to watch together as a family. My parents were really strict about TV. That physical comedy was always such a huge influence on me. And I just loved that character and the timing, and I knew everything about the show. Like, it took six weeks to shoot one episode of Fawlty Towers, they rehearsed so well and it was incredibly fine-tuned. And then I'm a huge Julia Louis-Dreyfus fan, Elaine Benes in Seinfeld, and all her physical comedy. And then when I auditioned with Kristen Wiig, I was just, again, such a big fan of her work and her comedy. So I was a fan, I'm a fan like everybody was. And I wanted to... I think, as an actor, you’re terrified of getting pigeonholed into anything and you want to try other things. And I was absolutely determined, and I think that spirit of - that great Australian quality I think we have of not taking ourselves too seriously, which is really what Seriously Red (2022) is about, the film that we're here for tonight. So it was definitely something that I was actively trying to pursue.
[Jenny] And you did pretty well at it! I mean, it was pretty hard to see Damages and then to, you know...
[Rose] I don't know what you're talking about! Damages is hilarious, it's like The Big Bang Theory, it's a similar show. [laughter]
[Jenny] Yeah, yeah, I’d better go back and rewatch it.
[Rose] I think the best drama - you know, it's the face. It's crying, and so it's the same place so I approach it the exact same way. I think comedy is harder because it's exactly the same as a drama but on top of that, you're trying to get a laugh. So it's the most precious part of the scene.
[Jenny] Right. But I also find it interesting that you were able to break out of being stereotyped, that there were people willing to give you those kind of jobs in the middle of a show where maybe that was all they knew about you.
[Rose] Nick Stoller, who directed, and Judd Apatow who produced Get Him to the Greek were great like that. They're so open minded and they wanted to see me for Get Him to the Greek, which was the first time I'd done a really big, hard, broad comedy like that and yeah, it’s that sort of idea of those open minds who do that. But I mean, I personally love when you see a comic actor known for their comedy give a really dramatic performance, or a dramatic actor doing a comedic performance. Those are so exciting to me as a viewer, watching that, because I think it's a very fine balance, a fine line you're walking and those are the performances I'm always drawn to.
[Jenny] So you must have been really thrilled when Bridesmaids became this massive, massive hit, right?
[Rose] No, I was miserable. Jenny, come on!
[Jenny] I mean, what was amazing to me was everybody was saying, ‘Oh my God, a comedy with women can be really, really successful!’
[Rose] I know. I remember Maya Rudolph saying one point on the press tour, ‘It's like, guys, we're not dolphins, you know!’. I was very naive about it, just naive. I didn't realise when we were doing it, it was so fun, and so fun to be with all of these actresses and you never... There's always just one actress on a job. And this was the opposite of that. And it was such a fun shoot. But I was incredibly naive about the amount of attention that would get.
[Jenny] So what did that feel like? I mean, you weren't doing it alone at least, it was a group of you together, right?
[Rose] I felt like I was increasingly, as you can tell, I was baffled by it. I was like, why is this such a topic of conversation? But it is. It was. And I can't imagine for those girls, too, who were all seasoned, you know, Saturday Night Live actors for years and, you know, graduates of Groundlings and UCB, these iconic improv comedy groups. And they're still having to talk about that. I was in a way the odd one out, because I was not from that background. And yeah, I found it baffling.
[Jenny] And a lot of your comedies have done really well. And you've worked with people over and over again. Is that something - once you have a really good experience, like [with] Seth Rogen and Nick [Stoller] and people like that... I mean, you did Neighbors (2014) and then that was really successful, it was very funny. And then you went back and did another one of those (Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising, 2016). Do you have a plan, in terms of like do you tell your agents, look for this or for that?
[Rose] I wish I had a plan; I mean don't we all! But this business is so silly and such a silly kind of thing you're trying to navigate. And particularly now I have 2 young children, so it's even more of a chaotic experience. And I'm married to an actor, so it's even more like chaos, as I said. But the pleasure of working with the same people and collaborating again is just having a shorthand. Already having had a collaborative experience with them and knowing tonally where they're coming from and where you're coming from, and it's a pleasure - it's lovely to reteam with people.
[Jenny] And I think it was 2015 you guys set up Dollhouse, is that the right timeline? And so for people who might not know what Dollhouse is or what that was about, we’ll be celebrating it later tonight because Seriously Red (2022) is a movie that was one of the reasons why you guys wanted to start this company. And it's finally here and we're celebrating. But at what point did you decide that you wanted to take that step into being part of a production, have your own company?
[Rose] Well, my best friend, Krew Boylan, who's an actress and a writer, had written the script Seriously Red. And we were trying to get it made. And then another friend of ours, Jessica Carrera, who is a former publicist, sent [it to] Shannon Murphy, who is a writer and director, and Gracie Otto, who's an editor, writer, director, producer. We all kind of were like, why don't we try to do something together and form a company and see if we can start to produce? And that was really the conversation. I'm very close with Nash and Joel Edgerton, and I had always admired Blue-Tongue [Films] and how they had run their company and made their short films, and then their feature films and their documentaries and their TV shows. And I went to Nash and we had great conversations about it. And we decided to sort of start this thing up and that was in 2015. And it's been an incredible learning curve. And we've finally produced this script, which was the inspiration for the company, which will be on tonight. And we went to Austin to the film festival. We've been to South Korea to a festival, to Melbourne, and we're going, we just went to Cinefest in Australia. So it's been a very personal journey and I'm delighted with the movie. And Krew's performance is just heartbreaking and really emotional and charming, and I'm so thrilled finally people are seeing it.
[Jenny] So what other dreams do you guys have as a company?
[Rose] Well, to produce great stuff is the simplest answer. And it's a learning curve too, the way these things get made, and particularly in Australia. Understanding all the ins and outs of that has been a learning curve and something I've been really enjoying. And like all great performers who I admire, I think trying to source your own material is always exciting and that's been a fun part - reading, reading, reading, reading, reading and discovering things.
[Jenny] Speaking of Nash Edgerton, I noticed you did his latest short film, Shark (2021).
[Rose] I know, yes.
[Jenny] During COVID?
[Rose] Yes, it was.
[Jenny] How many of you have seen Shark? Well, go on... I think it's on YouTube now. You've got to find it and watch it. It's the latest in the series of short films about this terrible prankster who creates havoc. And it was a very funny one with a shark in it. Well, it wasn't funny at the time.
[Rose] It wasn't funny at the time. But yeah, I’ve been friends with him such a long time, he's like such an old friend. And he just asked me, I was in Australia, in Byron Bay because Bobby [Cannavale] was shooting Nine Perfect Strangers (2021) in the height of COVID where everything was locked down here and Byron was still, you know, acting like everything was normal. Because it was to be fair, it was, it was this oasis, it was so surreal. We flew from here to there and I got to do that. And it was so fun again; reteaming with old friends is like, there's nothing better or more fun or more familiar. And, um, yeah, it was very special.
[Jenny] Was Peter Rabbit (2018) something you wanted to do because you've become a mum?
[Rose] I loved those books growing up, I think they were bigger in Australia than anywhere, certainly bigger than here in the States. It's obviously that kind of cultural link we have to England. And Will Gluck I had worked with on a film and he came to me and pitched me the idea and it went from there. And we decided they could shoot it in Australia, which was incredibly fortuitous and such a gift for me. And it was really fun to do this genre of a kid's film, which I had not done before, and to be able to show the kids one day. Although I tried and they didn't really want to watch me.
[Jenny] They still haven't seen it?
[Rose] Well, I've tried, but they are not interested. [laughter] I think they're just playing me a little bit.
[Jenny] I know that they obviously weren’t in scenes with you because they were voices, but Margot Robbie and Elizabeth Debicki were there. And I'm sure you probably had more to do with them on the press tour than you ever did making the film. Do you consider yourself part of some Aussie family of people that have made it outside the country? I mean, it's like a very supportive community.
[Rose] There's something about being from a country like Australia. There's only 25 million people, and then from the business there's even less. And so when there is a fellow Australian, even if you don't know them that well, there is obviously a cultural branch that you have and it always tickles me when I meet Australians like that, whether it's Margot or Elizabeth or anyone. And you just do have that sense of your countrymen. Well, I do anyway. I don't know, maybe they don't, but I feel like because we're just so small, you know it's a very small country, but there's lots of us in the business it seems.
[Jenny] And growing by the day, right? Now we can't even name them all. It's amazing. Back when you started out, everybody knew who the Australian was.
[Rose] Sure. Yeah.
[Jenny] So I always ask one question in all of my podcasts. I'm always curious what people's theories are on this because you probably get it too. But for all the years I've lived in America, people are always saying, ‘What's in the water down there?’.
[Rose] That's what they say to me too.
[Jenny] So many Australians. And not just in front of the camera but, you know, DPs and directors and writers. And do you have any kind of a theory about why you think that is, [why] it's an extraordinary number, given that we are such a tiny country?
[Rose] Well, do you?
[Jenny] I've got lots, but you don't want to hear mine.
[Rose] I don't know. It's interesting being married to an American because you get the perspective of them coming to Australia and seeing the culture and so on and so forth. And that's been really fascinating to me. And his sort of appreciation of it and the qualities that we have there. That's been really eye-opening for me, I think. But that doesn't answer your question. And I don't know.
[Jenny] You did answer - in some ways it's about the people. It's something about the attitude or the working ethic.
[Jenny] Some of those things that the Americans seem to really admire.
[Rose] I wish I could be more articulate about it.
[Jenny] Let's just put words in your mouth!
[Rose] No, no, I appreciate it. I wish I could be more articulate about it because it is an interesting conversation that is worthy of having because our country is complicated and has a really weird, dark, disturbing history that a lot of people also don't know about that is also part of the story. It's a very interesting path to go down. Yeah.
[Jenny] And I don't know if you've had anything to do with the National Film and Sound Archive before, but I'm just curious to know what your thoughts are about the idea of preserving and making sure that we protect all of these amazing things, [so] that Two Hands can be seen in 100 years.
[Rose] As I get older, I'm so desperately sentimental and nostalgic about that stuff. So for me, it just taps into all of that and I adore that stuff. Like I'm more than ever going down the road of, you know, family history and film history or like anyone's history, I become more and more interested in that as I get older. So it just taps right into that for me, which I think is delightful and really, really special.
[Jenny] You mentioned the films [of the previous generations] but were there any Aussie actors that really inspired you?
[Rose] Oh, I mean, so many. Judy Davis is obviously iconic, you know, an incredible, iconic figure who I've always admired. Ben Mendelsohn, again, I think he's maybe one of the greatest actors we have, I think he's incredible. There's so many, the list could go on and on and on.
[Jenny] And what about upcoming talent that we might not all know about yet that you've spotted? Is there any Aussie you think we should be all looking out for, that's kind of coming up behind?
[Rose] Oh, I'm not the person to ask. I'm a bit uncool and I'm not tapped into the incredible talent that is out there. But I am as excited as anybody else. Having 2 small kids and being behind, I'm desperately trying to catch up on all the wonderful things coming out of Australia, and talent and artists and so on and so forth.
[Jenny] Well, we have to wrap up in a minute, but it would be really remiss of me not to talk about Physical because it's been my new favourite show. I just binged the second season. If you haven't watched Physical on Apple, really it's such a powerhouse performance from you and such a unique character. I mean, you have an inner life for the character with that voice that in the second season we sort of discover the voice is a character all on its own. And then your repressed housewife versus all the other... the mental illness... I mean, there's just so much to unpack in Physical. How did that come to you? Were you involved with producing it? What made you want to do it and what's it been like, that experience for you?
[Rose] It came to me, I was shooting Mrs America in Toronto and Annie Wiseman came over who is the writer-creator of the show. And we met and I had read this incredible pilot and was just very compelled by it and drawn to it. And it was very dark and very specific and really funny and weird and all the things I love and and we just talked and just didn't stop talking. And I came on board and came onboard as a producer, which has been exciting just to have a seat at the table in terms of all the decisions down to, you know, casting and episodes and storyline and everything, and edits. So that's been really wonderful. But it was a big deal to sign on to a show knowing how much work it is and being the lead and being in every scene. But it was such a great story that I had never really seen told like this. You know, eating disorders are often the punchline to a joke or they're, you know, not taken incredibly seriously. So this was dealing with it in a way that was, I think I felt was, pushing the story forward, but also exposing a real illness that a lot of women and men, but particularly women, have suffered and do suffer.
[Jenny] Yeah, it's pretty hard to describe without seeing it how you could be dealing with bulimia and be laughing your head off and not feeling bad that you're laughing because...
[Rose] Because you're supposed to laugh.
[Jenny] It has a tone that's really, really unique.
[Rose] It really does. Yeah. And for me, I was very incredibly drawn to that. And having not seen anything like that.
[Jenny] And there's a season three?
[Rose[ Yeah, we got we got picked up for season three, which was a thrill.
[Jenny] Oh good, cause season two ended right on a cliffhanger. And another series now coming up you just mentioned you've just finished [Platonic, 2022].
[Rose] Yes, yes.
[Jenny] So is TV the place you're returning to, that you like for some particular reason? Or just the material?
[Rose] Yeah. I mean, those 2 jobs... We've been trying to make Platonic for many, many years with Seth Rogen and I, but the schedule's been just too hard. But I'm about to do an independent film here in in New York with Bobby actually, which will be really fun. And we start shooting that in a couple of weeks, so that'll be fun to do. I haven't done a film for a while, so it should be fun.
[Jenny] Oh, that's great. Before I wrap up, any advice to anybody here that wants to know some inside guidance on what to do? Like, what would you tell the people that come up to you and say, you know, ‘How do I get started? How do I get into it?’.
[Rose] Oh gosh, that's a big question. I mean, it's such an internal temperature gauge of your own journey and where you're at and the business is a tricky business and a silly business and a great business and all the things. But for me, it's been a slower journey. And I think you just have to run your own race. You really do. You've got to run your own race because you get lost comparing yourself or competing or all that stuff. For me, I found that's just never been a productive way to approach the day-to-day of this business. So just keep your head down and keep shooting, keep shooting the baskets.
[Jenny] Run your own race. I love that. That's great advice. And we're all in for a treat tonight. Seriously Red is a really fantastic film. So I can't wait. We'll be having a whole other conversation after that. So really, thank you so much for your time and your energy and we're so thrilled.
[Rose] Thank you, guys. Thanks for coming.
[Jenny] Thanks, Rose.
[Rose] We did it!