BLOOM OF YOUTH

Tak­ing a break from film­ing new su­per­nat­u­ral drama se­ries Bloom, PHOEBE TONKIN talks out­grow­ing fan­tasy roles, the pos­i­tive power of so­cial me­dia and be­com­ing a pro­fes­sional Cin­derella. By GEORGINA SAFE

Harper’s Bazaar (Australia) - - Contents - Pho­tographed by ÉRIC GUILLEMAIN By GEORGINA SAFE

Phoebe Tonkin spreads her wings.

PHOEBE TONKIN is sip­ping a ghee cof­fee and nib­bling a ba­nana muf­fin at The Road­house, a rus­tic cof­fee shop in By­ron Bay, when BAZAAR calls. “My dad lives here and I’m vis­it­ing,” the Los An­ge­les-based Aus­tralian ac­tor says.“i’ve been in Mel­bourne the past cou­ple of weeks and it’s not the great­est weather over there right now, so I wanted to come here to go swim­ming, en­joy some sun and just hang out.”

The re­laxed, sunny vibe of By­ron Bay’s hip­ster whole­foods scene is about as far away as you can get from the project Tonkin has been work­ing on in Mel­bourne: a dark su­per­nat­u­ral drama se­ries called Bloom.the 29-year-old stars along­side two-time Os­car nom­i­nee Jacki Weaver, Bryan Brown and Ryan Corr (Hold­ing the Man, Hack­saw Ridge) in the six-part Stan orig­i­nal.the story is set in a coun­try town, one year af­ter a dev­as­tat­ing flood has killed five lo­cals. Sur­vivors have dis­cov­ered five mys­te­ri­ous plants grow­ing where their neigh­bours drowned, each pro­duc­ing berries that have the power to re­store youth. But there’s a catch. The re­newed vi­tal­ity is fleet­ing, so the town must pro­tect their sup­ply at all costs.tonkin is call­ing it “a grounded, dark fairy­tale”.“even though there is an el­e­ment that is not of this world, ev­ery­thing from the re­tion­ships to the char­ac­ters feels very real and re­lat­able,” she ex­plains.“it’s still very Aus­tralian, but I think it’s some­thing that will also do very well in­ter­na­tion­ally.” Helmed by ac­claimed Amer­i­can di­rec­tor John Cur­ran (Tracks, Chap­paquid­dick, Praise), Bloom taps into the global sci-fi zeit­geist — think se­ries such as Stranger Things, Black

Mir­ror, In­cor­po­rated, Dark and Al­tered Car­bon — mak­ing it one of the most buzzed-about de­buts of the year. “It poses re­ally in­ter­est­ing ques­tions about our de­sires and vi­tal­ity: what are the costs?what would you sac­ri­fice?”tonkin con­tin­ues.“it asks things we need to ask our­selves ev­ery day about the way we con­sume, the way we use so­cial me­dia, the peo­ple we look up to and whether it’s a very su­per­fi­cial world.”

Tonkin and Weaver share a char­ac­ter in Gwen, with Tonkin play­ing her af­ter her youth has been re­stored. Tonkin is just four days into film­ing when she speaks with

BAZAAR. “I haven’t worked with [Weaver] yet, but I have ob­vi­ously watched a lot of her work,” she says. “I come in when Gwen has been re­ju­ve­nated af­ter she eats this mag­i­cal type of berry.there are el­e­ments in her that are [Weaver’s] char­ac­ter and other el­e­ments that are su­per­nat­u­ral. [The plant] has af­fected both Gwen’s body and mind, so she’s not en­tirely the same per­son she was when she was young in the real world.”

Tonkin is no stranger to the su­per­nat­u­ral and fan­tasy gen­res. She first came to our at­ten­tion in 2006 when she played a teenage girl turned mer­maid in the Aus­tralian se­ries She made her US de­but in 2011 as a young witch in the su­per­nat­u­ral drama se­ries In 2012, she joined the cast of

“You get to do all th­ese fun things, then the clock hits mid­night and you’re back to your nor­mal life.”

Di­aries, which led to a role in its spin-off se­ries, The Orig­i­nals. Tonkin broke out of her fan­tasy-char­ac­ter niche this year when she snared a lead role in Safe Har­bour, an SBS drama about asy­lum seek­ers, and then fol­lowed that up with a part in the US drama se­ries The Af­fair.while it still has su­per­nat­u­ral el­e­ments, Bloom is part of Tonkin’s strat­egy to trans­form per­cep­tions and es­tab­lish her­self as a se­ri­ous ac­tor at home and abroad. “When you do a show like Vam­pire Di­aries for that long, [you’re in] a cer­tain de­mo­graphic,” she says.“it was amaz­ing and I am grate­ful, but now I’m ex­cited to do some­thing dif­fer­ent.i need to flex dif­fer­ent mus­cles,be chal­lenged and have a new ex­pe­ri­ence as an ac­tor. I want to do some­thing out of the box — not to prove any­thing, but be­cause that’s just what I grav­i­tate to­wards when I’m choos­ing some­thing to watch for my­self.”

Tonkin’s love of film blos­somed while she was grow­ing up in Mos­man on Syd­ney’s north shore; she and her fam­ily went to the cin­ema ev­ery Thurs­day night. “I loved the movies, but I also loved the at­mos­phere and the rit­ual of go­ing to the cin­ema,” she says. “The mem­o­ries of get­ting there and get­ting home and talk­ing about the film af­ter­wards — it’s some­thing we all bonded over and re­ally en­joyed.” At the age of 12, she found respite from shy­ness by con­nect­ing with other creative chil­dren at the Aus­tralian Theatre fory­oung Peo­ple.“it was this nice lit­tle se­cret com­mu­nity of kids who weren’t from my school,” Tonkin re­calls.“it was just a place to go to es­cape and be­come some­one else and learn about some­thing that wasn’t in the cur­ricu­lum. I loved the com­mu­nity it cre­ated.” To­day,tonkin’s tribe in LA in­cludes close friends and fel­low Aussies Lara Wor­thing­ton, Bella Heath­cote, Mar­got Rob­bie and Teresa Palmer. “I like be­ing around lots of peo­ple be­ing creative and in­spir­ing each other,”tonkin says,“but with in­dus­try friends, I try not to talk about work, jobs or au­di­tions.we talk about ev­ery­thing else in­stead, and I try to have lots of peo­ple over to my house or take trips to north­ern Cal­i­for­nia spots like Ojai.” Tonkin chron­i­cles those trips on In­sta­gram, where you’ll see snaps of her on the beach with her bestie, Matteau de­signer Ilona Hamer (Tonkin has fronted the swimwear brand since 2015); at the Chanel show in Paris (Tonkin is an am­bas­sador for the French lux­ury brand); on the red car­pet or on set. But among the glitzy shots, her grid is pep­pered with ex­hor­ta­tions about­time’s Up,gun con­trol,#black­lives­mat­ter and im­mi­grant rights. “If the younger girls and boys who fol­low me are con­sum­ing the me­dia I’m try­ing to sell them about the shows I’m in, I think it’s only fair to share an­other side of the world with them, and maybe get ex­cited and in­spired about some­thing else as well,” Tonkin ex­plains.

She is also out­spo­ken about the pres­sures women face when it comes to body im­age, and how so­cial me­dia can pro­mote ex­treme clean eat­ing and or­thorexia: ob­ses­sive avoid­ance of food the suf­ferer con­sid­ers harm­ful.“i think peo­ple can re­ally mis­use the word‘healthy’,” she says.“peo­ple look at ac­tresses on so­cial me­dia and think,

Oh, she’s so healthy, I wish I was like that. It’s all very well to look af­ter your­self — and I love good food in my body — but I also like to bal­ance that with wine with my friends.the word ‘healthy’ means com­fort and hap­pi­ness more than just green juices and yoga, and there’s an­other part of health which is about con­nect­ing with na­ture, be­ing aware of our en­vi­ron­men­tal foot­print and med­i­tat­ing, which is some­thing I’ve just started to do. In terms of body im­age, I try not to be some holy grail of health and well­ness — that’s why I try not to talk about the way I eat. But with some­thing like med­i­ta­tion cour­ses, that, to me, is help­ful to talk about. Af­ter I posted about [med­i­ta­tion coach] Laura Poole, lots of peo­ple with de­pres­sion reached out to her want­ing to learn more about med­i­ta­tion.that’s the way I think I can in­spire peo­ple, rather than just tak­ing a selfie with a smoothie.”

In the 1999 film Girl, In­ter­rupted,an­gelina Jolie’s char­ac­ter, Lisa, says,“if I could have any job in the world, I’d be a pro­fes­sional Cin­derella.”the fan­tasy job ti­tle res­onated with Tonkin so much she’s ap­pro­pri­ated it for her In­sta­gram bio to de­scribe her life­style’s sur­real mix of glam­our and grit.“it to­tally does de­scribe my life some­times,” she says.“a cou­ple of weeks ago I had the most amaz­ing trip with my girl­friends, stay­ing at an amaz­ing house do­ing all th­ese amaz­ing things, then the next night, I was stay­ing in a hos­tel in Barcelona by my­self.you get to do all th­ese fun things, then the clock hits mid­night and you’re back to your nor­mal life.”

And with that, she’s off to en­joy a nor­mal af­ter­noon in By­ron Bay.“i’m go­ing to lie on the beach, then walk home and Dad is tak­ing me out to din­ner,” she says.

Phoebe Tonkin wears Chanel top, $3180, beret, $1095, with brooches, clock­wise from top left, $760, $1060 and $925, and bracelets, $1615 (on her left arm) and $6755. Styled by NAOMI SMITH

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