Lo­gan teenager goes Men­tal

It’s been a crazy act­ing de­but for Lily Sul­li­van, writes

The Gold Coast Bulletin - Play Magazine - - MOVIES -

EN­TAL may be the film that re­united Aus­tralian di­rec­tor PJ Ho­gan with his Muriel’s Wed­ding co-star Toni Col­lette, but it’s also expected to make the ca­reer of Lo­gan teen Lily Sul­li­van.

The Car­brook 18-year-old plays Co­ral, the el­dest of five Moochmore sib­lings who won­der if they aren’t all, per­haps, a lit­tle mad dur­ing a sum­mer ad­ven­ture de­scribed by Ho­gan as The Sound of Mu­sic on acid.

Dad Barry (An­thony LaPaglia) is a lo­cal coun­cil­lor with am­bi­tions to be­come the mayor, mum has been com­mit­ted to a psy­chi­atric unit and the Moochmore daugh­ters have been left in the care of an ec­cen­tric hitcher called Shaz (Toni Col­lette).

Sul­li­van was study­ing drama at high school when she landed the role, her first pro­fes­sional gig.

‘‘My first real job, my first au­di­tion,’’ she laughs. ‘‘I thought I’d have a go to see how the process worked.’’

Sul­li­van had never imag­ined she’d cut her act­ing teeth in a film di­rected by the maker of films in­clud­ing Peter Pan and My Best Friend’s Wed­ding, nor along­side names like Col­lette, LaPaglia and Re­becca Gib­ney.

‘‘Ner­vous? In the early days I’d get so tense my face would twitch when the cam­eras got close,’’ she laughs.

The best les­son she learned from her more ex­pe­ri­enced co-stars was to let go, re­lax and trust in her­self and her di­rec­tor Ho­gan.

‘‘PJ was there with an an­swer to any ques­tion I could come up with, though in cases where there wasn’t a case of se­ri­ous con­fu­sion, he was more likely to of­fer guid­ance and let me fig­ure it out for my­self,’’ she says. ‘‘He takes you to places you don’t think you can go.’’ Sul­li­van is re­fer­ring specif­i­cally to one chal­leng­ing scene, filmed with Col­lette in a car, the char­ac­ters in­volved in a rag­ing row.

‘‘We filmed that scene in the car on my 18th birthday. I mean, how crazy it that?’’ Sul­li­van laughs.

‘‘Work­ing with her was at first just plain in­tim­i­dat­ing. She’s such a strong pres­ence, an ab­so­lutely awe­some woman. She’s also un­be­liev­ably kind – imag­ine some­one with her ex­pe­ri­ence and tal­ent work­ing along­side some­one like me, who is learn­ing on the job as we go along.’’

Awk­ward is an­other un­com­fort­able emo­tion Sul­li­van had to learn to chan­nel for the role.

‘‘It’s not the eas­i­est thing to let your­self go . . . not with­out it look­ing fake or slap­stick,’’ she says.

Nor does the word be­gin to de­scribe the sce­nario that sur­rounded Sul­li­van’s first on-screen kiss, filmed the same day same day she met Neigh­bours favourite Sam Clark. In Men­tal, Clark plays Trout, Co­ral’s gui­tar-play­ing life­saver buddy and love in­ter­est.

‘‘We’re sort of laugh­ing and then we fall back and he’s kiss­ing me,’’ says Sul­li­van. ‘‘He sort of landed on my hair and I was sort of mov­ing to get free. Then he moved, then I head butted him. It must have hurt. It stopped the scene com­pletely.

‘‘Ev­ery­one col­lected them­selves and got ready to go again and then PJ was like: ‘‘I’m sorry to say this guys, but I need you to head­butt in ev­ery take from now on.

‘‘I lost count of how many time we banged heads. Five? More? I don’t know.’’

opens to­day.

Toni Col­lette and Lily Sul­li­van in a scene from

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