Young talent on the big screen

One to watch: Odessa Young plays the role of Hedvig in The Daughter, which opens in Australian cinemas on March 17.
Nanjing Night Net

Australian movies often find it hard to gain an audience especially small independent ones such as The Daughter.

The plot involves a quiet NSW logging town where a former local returns home from the USfor his father’s wedding. His reminiscencewith oldfriends has a slow burning reaction, which leads to catastrophe. At the centre is a teenager who,as well as going through first love and school-related dilemmas, is involved in family secrets that causielife-changing decisions.

Just turning18, actress Odessa Young plays that teenager role. She has raw talent, poise and screen empowerment. Matching the effect of her high profile co-stars Geoffrey Rush, Sam Neill and Miranda Otto is not easy, However, she shines amongst these legends.

You have a very exotic name, how did your parents come up with Odessa?

It is the town my dad grew up in at Ontario, Canada. He moved over to Australia when he was 12. Idon’t think they had settled on a name by the time Iwas born. Just talking about it then it must have been the first name available to them. Iguess Ibecame Odessa (laughs)

Do you have a middle name?

(Slight pause smiling at me) Ido. Everyone laughs. It’s an old family name, Divine.

Youwere outstanding in a previous film Looking for Grace, then stepped it up several levels in The Daughter. Did you audition?

Yes, Iauditioned twice, almost three times actually because the first time Imet Simon (Stone, the director) was in the preliminary stages of casting so he could hear the actors’ voices. At the time there was no way Icould have played Hedvig as Ithink the characterwas about 12 at the time Iwas 15. It hadn’t crossed my mind so Iwas not even trying to show Simon what Icould do. Maybe a month later Iwas requested to send a self tape due to the age being adjusted and more suitable for me to play. Then Igot a note saying ‘Noit’s not like that at all’. My agent convinced him to see me again thank god. When Igot into a room with Simon and Ewan Leslie (co-star) we did one really intense scene and a nice scene. They saw something they could work with after that.

Are you a method actor, walking around in the school uniform as Hedvig when not shooting?

Not consciously. In saying that the research Ido or mystate of mindduring filming often means Iam accidently walking around as Hedvig.

You delivered multiple powerful moments, did it help acting opposite screen royalty such as Sam Neill, Miranda Ottoor Geoffrey Rush?

Watching them is like an acting class in itself. Seeing them prepare, especially Miranda, was abeautiful internalised processwhich draws out this character. My scenes with Sam were unique. He is a great actor to work with. It’s all about the prompt.

How did you personally draw the heavy emotional levels that you did so often?

It is just going with it, and emotional patterns you have developed around your whole life, say when someone is in your face screaming at you in a car park that’s unnatural not to have a reaction. Then Igave into those moments. The pressure of real life is almost enough to get me into that fraught state to act.

Ewan seemed like a magnificent screen dad, how was he to work with?

Amazing, phenomenal. Our relationship at the start of the film shows how much these two truly love each other and that’s what makes the closing stanza so tragic.

Have you decided on your next project?

I just got a lead in a TV series in the US, set in the 1980s about a kind of devil-worshipping homicide involving an affair with a 17-year-old student and her teacher who get killed together. Iplay the victim’s younger sister. When the Street Lights Go On, is the title and it is directed by Brett Morgen.

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