Teresa Palmer Interview – DECEMBER BOYS

     September 9, 2007

While Teresa Palmer is a relatively new face in the acting world, she did manage to do something that no one else has done on screen. What’s that? She managed to land the first love scene with Daniel Radcliffe on screen. Yes “Harry Potter” fans… Teresa got Harry first.

But while that was one subject we covered during our roundtable interview, we also talked about her upcoming work in “Kids in America” and how she still hasn’t watched or read any “Harry Potter” movie or book. Crazy, I know.

As always, you can either read the transcript below or download the audio of the interview as an MP3 here.

“December Boys” opens this Friday in limited release and later this month it’ll go wide.

Question: You were in The Grudge 2, right? Were you one of the schoolgirls?

Teresa: I was the bitchy schoolgirl. The mean one. She gets killed.

That was shot after this?

Teresa: Actually it was. I shot this two years ago when I was 19 and then I went ahead and did Grudge 2 after that; my first American movie.

We hear that when you were cast, Daniel hadn’t been cast yet. So what was your reaction when you found that out?

Teresa: This is going to sound really weird but I actually didn’t know who Daniel was because I hadn’t seen the Harry Potter films and I heard ‘Daniel Radcliffe’ and I was like ‘oh, okay’ and then someone was like ‘Harry Potter, helloooo!’ I was like ‘oh my gosh! I haven’t seen it. I didn’t know. But, everyone around me made such a huge deal about it that I couldn’t help but be really nervous when I first met him. I remember I was like shaking. It was sort of bizarre because I’d never seen him in anything. Too much hype about it but it was sort of great for us. We shot in South Australia where I’m from and we had no celebrities in South Australia at all. For him to choose a little Australian independent film after Harry Potter was just so amazing for an Australian, just so exciting and, obviously, for me personally, it was such a huge thing to have him onboard.

So you don’t like fantasy films? What kinds of movies do you like?

Teresa: I do like fantasy films. I’ve been told that you need like two weeks to sit down and watch all the Harry Potter films and read all the books at the same time and I’ve been just so crazy busy the last few years, I haven’t been able to. But my favorite film, which the girls will understand what I’m talking about, is The Notebook. Everyone loves that. We all cry. [One of the journalists in the room shows her his “Notebook” notebook]. Oh my gosh, The Notebook!

Now you’ll have to give it to her.

Teresa: You’ll have to give it to me now. Thank you.

It has all my notes in it.

Teresa: [laughing]. That’s so great. I love it. But, to watch a film like that, it’s so beautiful and you get wrapped up in the story and you want to have a relationship like that and you want to die together and all these silly things. But, in terms of acting, I like acting in dramas. I like pushing myself and constantly being challenged. The first film I did, actually, I played a rape victim who was pregnant with my brother’s baby. Pretty intense especially for the first time I’d ever acted as well. And then December Boys came along after that. So, I’d say drama for sure to act in.

Before you started the film, did you look at any Potter videos because if you saw the first one you’d freak out because Dan is so young.

Teresa: I thought it would be better if I didn’t because I’d probably watch and become obsessed with the films and get wrapped up with the whole thing so I was like ‘just wait until the movie is over. Then you can watch it’ and I haven’t seen it yet but I will. I promise.

We heard that your prior film was intense and this is a very mature movie too so how do you handle all of that material.

Teresa: I think it’s very easy to get typecast out here and I think that’s something that I tried to steer away from as much as possible by doing some darker films and taking on some darker, grittier characters. I really love the fact that I’ve never seen or heard of a character like Lucy before who was this young flower girl who is very overtly sexual and she uses her body to manipulate men. It was so interesting to play with all of those elements.

What do you draw on to play this very sexual character or the victimized character in the last movie?

Teresa: I think, that was the huge challenge of it all because both of those characters are quite far removed from who I am. I’m naturally quite a bubbly, happy person and I’m not a seductress so it was hard to draw from any personal experiences but I did watch a lot of different movies. I watch Lolita for December Boys. I studied Dominique Swain’s performance. I thought she was really brilliant in that movie. It was her first film and different things like that and with the rape movie, I actually sat down and talked to people who had experienced those sorts of things in their life. I just tried to get as much information as I could and just get it in my head and put something our there and the director kind of directed me and helped me out trying to create and mold the character.

Did you see the Kubrick “Lolita”?

Teresa: I didn’t. I’ve only seen the most recent one, the 1997 one.

Did you get to hang out with the guys or Dan between scenes because it looks like it was pretty isolated?

Teresa: Yeah. I, obviously, shot in South Australia, Adelaide which is my hometown. I’ve lived there my entire life so I had my friends there. I got to stay there. Daniel came and shot there and, obviously, didn’t know anyone so we got to hang out a fair bit in between shooting. But, for the most part, I kind of went home and hung out with my friends. I had been traveling and working on this other film in Sydney so it was actually refreshing to come back home and be able to sleep in my bed and work out of my own place.

What was it like to work with Daniel?

Teresa: Daniel is such a delight to work with. He is so brilliant and talented. At the same time, he has all this amazing success and fame and all these things which, you would think, he would be very affected by it all but he really isn’t. He’s very unaffected and unassuming. Just like a regular 18-year-old guy. I think, he really brought that to set and made the younger boys, who obviously, idolized him, just feel so comfortable. They’re all like brothers hanging out. I felt like the sister. It was so fun. It was such a good experience.

Can you talk about shooting the love scene in it with him?

Teresa: Of course.

What was that like?

Teresa: Obviously a scene of that nature is always going to be very awkward and I was of course a little nervous. I had done a sex scene and kissing scenes before whereas Dan had never done that. I remember him saying ‘I’m a little bit nervous’ and we both kind of admitted it to each other. We laughed about it. That was actually the last scene we shot in the film and we finished shooting it at 4AM in the morning on Christmas Eve and everyone was so tired and by that stage you’re so tired that you’re just on auto-pilot and you didn’t even have time to think about what you’re doing. You’re just like, ‘Ahh, let’s just get this out of the way. Let’s just do it.’ I think Rod Hardy did that especially. He knew that was how it was going to be. The last day of the shoot, we just want to get it done, and we really did and it was absolutely fun.

He said he didn’t. He said that it just worked out that way.

Teresa: What!? Oh that’s funny. I thought he totally planned it out.

You didn’t mention the novel “Lolita” as the inspiration for your character.

Teresa: I actually heard she wasn’t in the novel. Has anyone read the novel?


Teresa: I heard that Lucy wasn’t in the novel, that it was something that they played with the idea of bringing a love interest, one of the boys, obviously the oldest one, like years ago when they first had the idea to do the film. I think she was kind of created from that as far as I know, but I could be wrong. But yes, I didn’t end up reading the book. I was just told that she wasn’t in it.

Did you build a back story then because I didn’t quite get her in your head because they say something about she’s going back to her father’s so you wonder if she comes here every year and do this?

Teresa: Yeah. Exactly. I did build a back story. Rod and I worked together and that’s actually one of the reasons why I got the film was because he asked me before the meeting, he said, ‘Look, I want you to think about the character, tell me your thoughts.’ I came with this elaborate back story starting from when she was 3 and like where she went to school and all these funny things. He was like ‘Whoa! That’s incredible,’ because I had so many of the same ideas for the character. My ideas were that she was really brought up in a very dysfunctional family in a very sexually charged environment. If she is staying in this little caravan with her uncle, this tiny little caravan, you don’t really know what happens to her and I think she’s been subjected to a lot of bad influences. I think she’s actually quite a tragic sort of character and I think that her relationship with Maps, she really gets as much out of it as what he does.

What are you playing in Kids in America?

Teresa: I am playing Tori Frederking who is the dream girl of Topher Grace’s character, Matt Franklin, and it’s an 80’s comedy so I did the 60’s with December Boys, now I did the 80’s with Kids in America and it was really fun. It’s like American Graffiti but for the 80’s. It’s sort of got that Superbad type of feeling to it. It’s so hilarious. I worked with comedic geniuses. It was wonderful. It comes out in March

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What’s the hair and wardrobe like?

Teresa: Ridiculous. It’s like a whole bowl of hairspray everyday. No, it was like sky high. I have these huge big bangs. I had eye make-up drawn right up to my eyebrows. It was great. I had these shoulder pads. I got to wear this vintage Halston gold sparkly dress. They wanted her to be like the golden girl. It was so much fun and the 80s music is the best 80s music in the film as well. I think everyone will really like it.

If it’s an 80s movie and you’re the dream girl, doesn’t that mean he’s going to realize that his best friend was the right one for him all along?

Teresa: Oh my God, that’s so true. [Laughs] Oh, that’s funny. I don’t know.

You mentioned coming to the United States if your career really takes off because you did already Kids.

Teresa: I did. I came out here after I finished December Boys. I got my agent and my publicist and everyone on board. I got my team together and I started auditioning for films and I got a few offers in that first week when I came over here so it was exciting. Everything started moving really fast and I actually did make the move three months ago.

Do you like it here?

Teresa: I do. It’s a big adjustment obviously. It’s very different from where I’m from, but it’s exciting and it’s where you need to be for my career. I’m enjoying it so far. I’ve been really happy with the work that I’ve done. I’ve been reading some amazing scripts lately. I like it. It’s all very exciting.

If you were filming on Christmas Day, it must have been the middle of summer.

Teresa: It was.

It was hot and you had the flies around you.

Teresa: Yeah. Oh my gosh.

You were probably used to it or were you?

Teresa: It’s funny because I used to go camping where we shot when I was a little girl so I had been there before. It was actually such sort of a surreal moment because I remember standing on those rocks and I was looking down, looking at the ocean, and I had my parents there with me and they said to me, ‘It’s just so bizarre thinking that we were here as a family 10 years ago and now we’re standing here, you’re in this big movie, we’re shooting a film at the same spot we came here when you were a little girl. And it was. It was just really amazing. I’m still kind of pinching myself.

The rocks were for real?

Teresa: No, they’re real. They’re that beautiful in real life. They’re amazing.

There’s a story about the rocks because I think your character…

Teresa: I talk about the aliens. The aliens put them there like Stonehenge. Yeah, I talk about that.

There’s a story that people around [there] say about…?

Teresa: Yeah, it’s not about islands. That’s not the story. I don’t really know the heritage. I don’t know what happened and how they got there, but they are really remarkable. Tourists go there all the time. It’s something that I remember seeing when I was so young. I can’t believe we got permission to shoot there, but I’m so glad we did because I think it just looks so magical in the film. I think they really captured that whole presence. There is such a feeling when you stand up there so you can see the whole world. It’s so beautiful and they really captured that in the film.

What scenes are on your reel?

Teresa: On my reel? Gosh, I have a lot of scenes from 2:37 because I was nominated for an award for that. So obviously my manager has taken all my scenes from that and put it together. I actually don’t have anything from December Boys yet because you can’t take the scenes until the film’s been released. I’ve only had two things released so far. I’m the lead girl in Kids in America so I’ll get a whole bunch of footage from that and that’s very different because it’s with an American dialect obviously. I play a 25-year-old in that film which is a bit of a jump.

Did you ever have a little secret place when you were a kid like she has the cave? Did you have any place that you went to think or to meet boys or whatever?

Teresa: I grew up in a beach community and there was a kind of a hangout area where I would go but not like the magic of Lucy’s cave. That is just so wonderful and that is her spot. I never really had that. Because I was an only child, I totally know what she was doing. She was trying to create her own fun and she has to build her own cave. I was kind of like that when I was younger because I had no brothers or sisters so I had to create my own world to occupy myself.

Do you think that’s why you are an actress because you were creating those magical fantasy worlds?

Teresa: I think so. I was trying to figure it out because no one else in my family is an actor and it’s so bizarre. I kind of fell into it and I was like ‘Wow, this is fun. I’ll just keep going with this.’ I was talking to my mom about it and she really thinks that is a big reason to do with it the fact that I’m here doing what I’m doing.

Besides Kids in America, have you done anything else?

Teresa: No. I finished shooting that a few months ago and then I did the big move out here and I’m just reading scripts at the moment and waiting for something really wonderful to come along. I want to do a drama or maybe a period piece so I’m sifting through absolutely everything and trying to find something I could really fall in love with. I might wait until the film comes out before I work again. I’ll just see. I’m just relaxing for the time being.

So what’s the biggest culture shock of moving here? What do you miss most and what has surprised you?

Teresa: I don’t know really to be honest. I think the fact that I lived on the beach in Adelaide was such a beautiful thing for me. I could wake up in the morning and just open my doors and walk along the beach with my dogs and go swimming. Actually I wouldn’t go swimming because there’s so many shark attacks in Australia. It’s really scary. I think here, I live in Beverly Hills, I mean the ocean’s in Santa Monica but you have to drive to get there. I guess that’s kind of what I miss – like the natural beauty of Semaphore Beach where I’m from.

What do you do in your spare time?

Teresa: I’m very much into animal welfare. I’ve just been doing some volunteer work with one of the animal places around here. I’m trying to get my own thing up and running in the next few years like the Animal Welfare League back in Australia. So I’m working on that in the meantime in between films.

Did you bring your puppies with you?

Teresa: No. Chester and Saba are back home. I miss them.

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