Logan teenager goes Mental
It’s been a crazy acting debut for Lily Sullivan, writes
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.’’
Toni Collette and Lily Sullivan in a scene from