Tomorrow, When The War Began - Rachel Hurd-Wood interview
Interview by Rob Carnevale
ENGLISH actress Rachel Hurd-Wood talks about heading Down Under to make Tomorrow, When The War Began and getting to bond with her Australian co-stars by climbing Sydney Harbour Bridge and going paint-balling.
She also talks about her career to date and her plans for the future.
Q. Did you ever imagine in 2002, while reading John Marsden’s books, as you were shooting Peter Pan in Australia that you’d end up being in the film version of them?
Rachel Hurd-Wood: Funnily enough, no! But it was quite bizarre… unexpected. But I’m very grateful for the fact that I got the opportunity to be in it because I just loved the books.
Q. Did you see yourself as a potential Corrie when you were reading them?
Rachel Hurd-Wood: Not really. I could say ‘yes’, but I’d be lying. But ultimately, when I read the script I thought I could definitely play this girl.
Q. And what did you like about her?
Rachel Hurd-Wood: She is very loyal and she’s a really good friend and she has a real inner strength to her that you don’t really know about. I really respect people… I just talk all the time and I can’t keep a secret, even my own. But she’s somebody who is more introverted and doesn’t chatter as much as I do. I always respect that about anyone.
Q. What did you like about the books?
Rachel Hurd-Wood: The fact that they really draw you in… there’s so many different aspects to them and there’s so much going on. They make you think, they make you laugh and make you cry and all that sort of stuff. I’m not dismissing it. I just don’t want to sound boring.
Q. How long did you have to go to Australia for to film it?
Rachel Hurd-Wood: I was there for three and a half months.
Q. Is it tough being away from home for so long? Especially when going into an all-Australian environment as the only Brit?
Rachel Hurd-Wood: I’m quite good at going away from home. I don’t live with my parents or anything. But it is tough when you’re so far away from everyone. Some of the others were from Sydney and some of them were just an hour away from home, or whatever, but I was miles away and that was quite tough. But I had such lovely people around me. We all got on so well, so I had a big group of people that I could rely on to be with.
Q. And how was conquering the Australian accent, which is very convincing?
Rachel Hurd-Wood: Oh thank you. Well, I sort of could do it a bit anyway, because I was there for nine months when I was doing Peter Pan when I was 12, so I had a bit of it. But I had really good accent coaching and being immersed in the country and being surrounded by people with the Australian accent meant that I found it a lot easier to take to than if I was trying to learn something that was really removed from where I was.
Q. How was the team building beforehand? I gather you went on adventures together before filming, including climbing Sydney Harbour Bridge?
Rachel Hurd-Wood: We did! We went paint-balling and we climbed Sydney Harbour Bridge. That was the day after I got there, so I’d just met them all. But it was very bonding and everyone sort of fell into their different character roles, which was quite interesting. It was really cool seeing people being like their character off-set, so we did a lot of that kind of stuff which was really good. And it helped because it means that you have shared experiences.
Q. And how much of an amazing experience was it to climb the bridge?
Rachel Hurd-Wood: It was unbelievable. At the top, it was fine because it’s quite spread out. But going up, you have to climb up these ladders and there were so many points at which I just thought my legs were just going to stop and I had to sort of will myself to keep moving. It was kind of rickety. And then Deniz [Akdenz], who plays Homer, was shaking it to wind me up. I was like: “This isn’t a laugh! This isn’t funny… it’s like my life is on the line right now!” [Laughs]
Q. How was getting to do the more physical stuff in the film, such as riding dirt bikes?
Rachel Hurd-Wood: So cool! I’d always wanted to do something modern, so the fact that this was not only modern but in Australia, so I could have a bit more of a tan, meant that it was so completely different and contemporary. I found that really refreshing and exciting to do that, so I absolutely loved it.
Q. What was the most difficult stunt for you? Did you pick up any bruises?
Rachel Hurd-Wood: Not really… I think just riding the dirt bike was quite hard because I had less training than everyone else. I don’t want to sound whining, but that was quite hard. I can’t drive or anything, so I had no idea going into it.
Q. How was working with Stuart Beattie, the director?
Rachel Hurd-Wood: He’s fantastic, a really lovely man. He’s such a good person, a brilliant director and he was always there for us. He also knew exactly what he was doing and was so organised and technically brilliant.
Q. Was he open to your ideas about the character?
Rachel Hurd-Wood: Completely, yes. I felt like it was a very collaborative effort in that I could talk to him about things. Some of the ideas he liked, some he wouldn’t and ultimately it is up to him, but he was very open to our suggestions.
Q. How long did you get to bond with Caitlin Stasey, because the chemistry between the two of you as best friends is very believable?
Rachel Hurd-Wood: Good, because we are really good friends. She might not agree [laughs] but I think we are! Well, we had all the time during production but we just got on straight away. We were on the same wave-length and she’s a really talented, brilliant girl and I love her to bits. It was easy to act like I liked her.
Q. How are you enjoying your acting at the moment because I’ve read that you don’t intend to necessarily continue doing it? You’ve mentioned teaching as an alternative…
Rachel Hurd-Wood: I’m really focused and committed to doing it now. Maybe when I’m about 30, which is in 10 years, I would like to consider doing something like speech therapy. That’s what I really would like to do. I could go and do that now but it’s not my drive at the moment. My drive is acting right now.
Q. I gather you have The Last Furlong coming next?
Rachel Hurd-Wood: Yes, it’s now called The Hideaways… I don’t know why. But that is premiering at the Tribeca Film Festival. I’m not sure when it’s going to be released.
Q. Can you talk a little bit about that?
Rachel Hurd-Wood: It’s kind of an Irish fairytale… a love story. It has kind of a magic element to it and I absolutely fell in love with the character and the story, so I was really keen to play that girl and very lucky that I got to.
Q. Obviously, you’ve had an amazing career to date and have worked with some amazing people already, such as Donald Sutherland (in An American Haunting), Ben Whishaw and Alan Rickman (Perfume: The Story of a Murderer). How much do you take away from being with people like that as a young actress?
Rachel Hurd-Wood: You learn a lot. I’ve been very lucky in that I’ve only worked with very gracious, very giving actors and actresses who are very patient and generous and give you tips and not steal scenes. They’re some really, really wonderful people who have given me advice.
Q. Finally, what’s the most pleasing or surprising response you’ve had to Tomorrow, When The War Began so far?
Rachel Hurd-Wood: When the audience is surprised to find out that I’m actually English. That’s a big compliment because it means that I was convincing and that they weren’t distracted by a poor accent.