“Act­ing is frus­trat­ing but worth it”

Ac­tor Sarah Snook talks about the job that proved the se­cret to her suc­cess – and her spe­cial con­nec­tion with Meryl Streep

Sunday Herald Sun - Stellar - - Contents - In­ter­view by NI­CHOLAS FONSECA Winch­ester is in cin­e­mas from Fe­bru­ary 22.

Ac­tress Sarah Snook tells Stel­lar about her spooky new movie, child­hood com­par­isons to Meryl Streep and why she’s tech­ni­cally home­less.

The ubiq­ui­tous Sarah Snook has worked with some of the big­gest names in the world of film: Naomi Watts, Kate Winslet, Ralph Fi­ennes and Michael Fass­ben­der. But when she came face to face with her lat­est co-star on set in Mel­bourne last March, she was unashamedly starstruck. It was He­len Mir­ren, af­ter all. “Of course I was in­tim­i­dated,” Snook tells Stel­lar. “You could come up with a mil­lion dif­fer­ent ver­sions of what she could be in your head, but she turned out to just be a re­ally chilled, nice woman who’s su­per-young at heart. She has a lot of wit and spark. There’s no wind­ing down with her, which is re­ally in­spir­ing.” The pair ap­pear in Winch­ester, a thriller that

takes loose lib­erty with the real-life story of an Amer­i­can arms heiress whose sprawl­ing Cal­i­for­nia man­sion – now a pop­u­lar tourist at­trac­tion – is fa­bled for its ar­chi­tec­tural odd­i­ties (floor win­dows; stair­cases that lead to nowhere) and dis­qui­et­ing air.

“I still haven’t been there,” Snook, 30, ad­mits. “Al­though when we fin­ished shoot­ing, they sent me a piece of the house – a small bit of cor­nice and a nail – in a frame. It was a strange gift! But I love it.” Winch­ester is all about the pres­ence of ghosts. Are you a be­liever? If we dis­cov­ered, em­phat­i­cally, that ghosts were real, I prob­a­bly wouldn’t be sur­prised. But do I be­lieve that ghosts are real right now? Yeah, I’m a good 60 per cent – in the same way that I don’t be­lieve my grand­mother is watch­ing over me all of the time. Be­cause that would be creepy, and there are things in [my] life I don’t want any­one know­ing that I’m do­ing. It sounds like you have al­ways im­pressed with your act­ing – is it true your Year 6 teacher gave you the Meryl Streep Drama Award? Oh, yeah! That was pri­mary school – like, you grad­u­ate a year and how do you make each child feel spe­cial? Choose some­thing they’re in­ter­ested in or good at, and it’s “You got the award for…” I got the Streep award, which, of course, I took very se­ri­ously at the time. Then I grew up and re­alised it was just a made-up award. [Laughs.] But it’s still prob­a­bly in Mum’s garage some­where. Speak­ing of fam­ily, you’re the youngest of three daugh­ters. Do you act like the baby? I would say no – but isn’t that what the baby of the fam­ily al­ways says? You’d have to ask my sis­ters. Strangely enough, both of them had kids re­cently, and they for­get­fully, ac­ci­den­tally, call their own chil­dren by my nick­name. That’s when I re­alised how much of the baby I re­ally am. You started out as one of those peo­ple who works chil­dren’s par­ties play­ing a fairy. Was it as com­i­cally sad as it sounds? I started do­ing that at 15 and did it through­out high school. Then I moved to Syd­ney to study at NIDA [Na­tional In­sti­tute of Dra­matic Art] and I was like, I don’t know what job I can do. I haven’t worked as a barista… I’ve only been a check­out chick and a fairy. So I fig­ured I would be a fairy – it’s ac­tu­ally the best the­atre train­ing you can find. How so? You’ve got to bring it. It’s the most im­por­tant day of a kid’s year. You have to keep 15 or more of their friends en­gaged. You have to con­trol them in a way that im­presses their mum. If you’re not be­liev­ing it, they won’t. If you don’t make up an­other amaz­ing story they’ll ig­nore you, get bored or go play some­where else. If you don’t learn all their names, you have no hope. Be­cause if you do know all their names, they’re in the palm of your hand. Other­wise they’re just 15 five-year-olds who couldn’t give a sh*t. If you can make it as a chil­dren’s party fairy, you can make it any­where. Act­ing takes you all over the world – you have to be ready to pick up and go at the drop of a hat. But to do your job right, you have to be ex­act­ing and pre­cise. Is that a stress­ful bal­ance? You’ve hit the nail on the head. That’s the con­tin­ual con­flict – mov­ing coun­tries, mov­ing cities, shoot­ing 18 hours one day and three the next, do­ing noth­ing for a week and be­ing full-on. And then be­ing an­chored, some­how, so you don’t lose your mind. It’s what I re­ally like and what can be frus­trat­ing about this job. But I wouldn’t have it any other way. Where are you right now? I’m in New York shoot­ing for a new TV show called Suc­ces­sion. I play the youngest daugh­ter of a me­dia mogul, part of a bil­lion­aire fam­ily. She’s a great char­ac­ter – very kind of con­fi­dent and witty, and dy­namic. Is there a lot of walk­ing around look­ing crisp and pol­ished? She sounds very pol­ished. Yeah, there’s a lot of that. And a lot of, like… what do rich peo­ple wear to a ranch in New Mex­ico? I don’t know. It’s lucky we have the cos­tume de­sign­ers we do. So… you’re in New York now. Then it’s home to Mel­bourne? Well, I’m more adrift than that – I don’t ac­tu­ally have a place of res­i­dence any­more. My part­ner [mu­si­cian An­gus Mcdon­ald] is here in New York with me. But yep, my life is in stor­age. A nice lit­tle garage – that’s all I’ve got.

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