Teresa Palmer talks about first kisses, Daniel Radcliffe, and living in Australia.
I assure you, if there's one reason to get off the couch and go to the Cineplex now that summer is over, it's to see Teresa Palmer in December Boys. She brings one of the sexiest, most sensual performances to the screen seen in the last couple of years. You won't want to miss it.
Based on the classic Michael Noonan novel, DECEMBER BOYS is the story of four orphan teenagers growing up behind the closed doors of a Catholic convent in Australia during the 1960s. When the convent sends the boys to visit the seaside one summer, they meet a young couple unable to have children. The two newlyweds decide that they would like to adopt one of the young boys, which causes a rift in the group.
Teresa Palmer plays Lucy, a beautiful girl from down the coast. In the film, she seduces the oldest boy, Maps (played by Harry Potter himself, Daniel Radcliffe). And then she leaves unexpectedly, breaking his heart. Palmer gives a standout performance that solidifies her as a breakout star. I know you hear this all the time, but she is going to be a major player in the world of cinema within the next few years. She's incredible.
Last Thursday, Teresa was unfortunate enough to get stuck in a room, alone, with me for fifteen minutes. Here is our conversation:
It's weird, I've never had them leave me in here without someone else standing around, like the publicist, or something.
Teresa Palmer: I know. How bizarre. This is so intimate. The room is so big, and we're like, all smooshed to the side.
I had all these questions I was afraid I wouldn't get to ask. Not now...Let's see, a major theme of this film, at least for Daniel Radcliff's character, is the first kiss. When you were talking downstairs earlier, you said that you were voted worst kisser in your high school?
Teresa Palmer: Yeah. I hadn't kissed anyone before. I didn't know what to do. Then the boy dumped me, and said I was a really bad kisser. I've never forgotten it. He knows who he is.
He just went around the school telling everyone your were a bad kisser?
Teresa Palmer: No, he told his friend. Then this rumor spread that I was a bad kisser. It was so embarrassing. Especially for someone who is so young, and its their first time kissing someone. I still remember. I'm still bitter over it.
Well, it couldn't have been that long ago, right?
Teresa Palmer: I was like, fifteen, or something. However old you are when you have your first kiss.
Now, am I an idiot for not knowing that the December Boys is taking place during summer vacation? I see its December 23rd, which is winter time here, so I just assumed that they were on their winter break.
Teresa Palmer: Christmas time is summer in Australia. You are not an idiot. People in America think of December, and they think of snow, and the winter. In Australia, Christmas is so sunny. It comes right in the middle of our summer.
Have you heard of this sexy walk controversy that is going on?
Teresa Palmer: Sexy walk?
Yeah, they did this scientific study to see who had the sexiest walk.
Teresa Palmer: No, I haven't heard of that. It sounds ridiculous.
Well, that's what I was going to ask you about. You bring one of the sexiest performances to the screen that I've seen in quite some time.
Teresa Palmer: Really?
Yeah, and you were not included in this survey. So, do you think that sexiness is scientific? Or do you think its something else? Where do you think sexiness comes from? Where do you find the ability to pull that off on screen?
Teresa Palmer: Thank you for your compliment.
I hope I didn't turn red when I started asking that question.
Teresa Palmer: No. I'm like, "Yeah! I'm sexy!" That was really challenging, for me to do that. I'm not as overtly sexual as Lucy is. But I think that sexiness comes from within. The way you are. Your confidence. I think the thing about Lucy is that she really uses her body, and the way she moves, to lure Maps into her little world. I think the sexiest people in the world, like Scarlett Johansen...
She didn't make the list.
Teresa Palmer: Didn't she? She is very sexy.
The top sexy walker was Jessica Alba.
Teresa Palmer: Hands down.
Then Angelina Jolie, and Kate Moss. Marilyn Monroe was fourth, and she's dead. So, I don't know.
Teresa Palmer: Oh, really? I would totally agree with Jessica Alba. She is at the top of my list of most beautiful women in Hollywood. She is also very sexy, and I think personality is what makes a lot of these people attractive. They all seem very approachable. I think Lucy is very approachable. I couldn't really pinpoint what it was. To get that performance, I was watching Lolita. I think Dominique Swain was phenomenal. It was one of the best performances I've seen in a very long time. I watched that many, many times. I saw what she did, and she was very about her body and her eye contact. That's kind of what I tried to do.
Now, she leaves Daniel at the end of the movie without telling him that she is going away. What is your take on why Lucy did that? This girl completely destroys Daniel's character.
Teresa Palmer: I think its because their relationship is such a sacred thing. It's so important to her. I think it's just as important to her as it is to him. I think she would have ruined the special moments they have by saying she's leaving, because she would have put a damper on their time together. They would have constantly been thinking about when she would be leaving. I think she did it in the best possible way. I think she was caught off guard. I don't think she knew she was going to start feeling the feelings she did for him. She'd never been exposed to someone that cares about her in the way that Maps does. It was very bittersweet. I think she would have been just as torn up about it as Maps was.
After you break his heart, Maps runs off and becomes a priest. Do you think that's because Lucy is the best he's ever going to have? Or do you think you scared him so completely, his only other recourse was to take up a life of celibacy?
Teresa Palmer: Maybe the sexual experience was so horrific, he never wants to get laid again. And he wants to become a priest. I actually don't know. You'd have to ask the director about the reason he became a priest. He was actually meant to become a soldier and die in the war. I don't know where they kind of changed that up. I certainly hope it's not because of the sexual experience they had together. I think it's so beautiful.
Him being a soldier, did that come from the book? I understand that you're not even in the book? I've never seen this book
Teresa Palmer: Nor have I. I'm not sure I should go on the record saying that. But from what I heard, Lucy is not in the book. I haven't read it. But from the first script, I remember he always died in the war. Last night was the first time I'd heard that he was a priest. I was watching a different cut of the film. The final cut. And I was like, "What? He became a priest? Oh, my God!"
So, you didn't even know that they changed it until you saw the film?
Teresa Palmer: Neither did Dan. He was completely caught off guard in an interview today as well. He was like, "When did I become a priest? I don't know!" I'm really going to have ask Rod Hardy (the director) that. I'd be interested to know.
I Guess we should have asked him that. That's something that never came up in our interview. Now, you didn't know Daniel as Harry Potter, because you've never seen any of those films. Do you think that was easier for him as far as your working relationship?
Teresa Palmer: Yeah. I think it would have been a little unnerving. You are in a sex scene together, and if he was with a girl that was all jittery and excited that he was Harry Potter, I think it would have been pretty off putting for him. I didn't really care about that whole thing. I just thought he was a wonderful, great guy. Still, having said that, if I had seen him as Harry Potter before acting with him, I would have been affected by it. I would have been affected by his fame. He is so wonderfully talented, for me he was Maps. That really worked for us, and the scenes that we had to do together. I just totally believed him as that character. His nervousness, he really pulls that off in the film.
You've said that you are known for staying in character while filming.
Teresa Palmer: I do that as often as I can.
I know it was hard on this film, because you are from Australia. And you were constantly around your family and friends. What I'm wondering is, did you come up with a back-story for your character? Did you think about what her life was like back home with her dad? This girl seemed quite experienced.
Teresa Palmer: I totally came up with a back-story. I came up with a back-story before I even got the role. And it was this epic essay. I wrote five hundred words. When I met with Rod Hardy to discuss the character, I had my pieces of paper with me, and I started reading about her life. He was like, "Whoa, hang on a second." He would have asked just one question about my back-story. He wanted to hear just one sentence, but here I was reading out my whole essay. I had the back-story that she came from a very dysfunctional family. She's been brought up in a very sexually charged environment. Her mother was somewhat of a hippy. And her father's not around. Rod and I came up with the idea that she had been sexually abused. That she had been for many, many years. That's kind of the only thing she knows. She's a tragic sort of figure. She is like her mother, in that her mother sort of sleeps around her whole life. That's what I mean by a sexually charged environment. That's all she knows. When she meets Maps, she is using her body and is so inadvertently sexual. Then he brings out this whole other side to her that she didn't know she could feel. I think you can really sense that in the scene where she tells Maps, "I always want you to remember me as your first." It's a really touching moment. I'm glad that I got to show another side of Lucy as well, and the influence that Maps had on her.
When you do have a back story, do you ever bring up these images that you've created in your head, while you are doing a scene?
Teresa Palmer: Well, there are a lot of other things you have to think about. Like camera placement, and hitting your mark. I don't usually do it during a scene, while I'm acting. I do it right before. I'll get in a zone. I'll have my headphones in. I'll be listening to my Ipod. And I try to relive things that she may have gone through. I tried to do that as much as I could with this film. I was very new to acting, though. It was easy to get distracted. I'd be in my zone, then suddenly someone would start talking to me about continuity. I would lose it again. But, I do that more so now. I will totally zone out. I wont let anyone talk to me, I'll just get into my head. I will go straight into it without any distractions. Back then, it was all so exciting. I was like, "Whee!" I was jumping off the walls.
I wanted to ask about Lucy's outfit. It seemed to me that she only had one outfit in the entire movie.
Teresa Palmer: (Laughs) No. She had two. She had her Christmas outfit. And she had another one. But Lucy came from a very underprivileged family. She had no money. Her parents didn't really have any money. So, she probably only had three outfits. Those cute little hot pants. Those blue little shorts that she wears, with her little butt sticking out. It is so bad. There is a shot in the film where I lean in to kiss Daniel. The camera is right on my bottom. It's the money shot. It's the worst. It's so embarrassing. But, yeah, she really doesn't have that many clothes.
It was interesting, because that shirt she had looked Scandinavian. I'm wondering where the idea for that outfit came from
Teresa Palmer: The idea? The outfits? We had this wonderful costume designer, and the film was obviously set in the Sixties. We wanted to try and capture that whole Sixties environment. We just up-shopped. Do you have Up Shops? They're secondhand stores. People from the Seventies would actually bring their clothes there. The clothes I wore were actually from the Sixties that we managed to find. We fit them to my body. They do look sort of Scandinavian, but she is a flower child. She has been brought up around that whole thing. I love what I wore in the film. It is so cute.
Yeah, that outfit is pretty awesome.
Teresa Palmer: The guy is like, "Oh, yeah! I like those shorts short!" Even the way they did my hair with the pigtails, it really created a character. Without me having to say anything, you can just look at her and tell who she is. From her make-up, and her hair, and her little outfit. It is such a collaborative process. You have to get all of those things right before you can get a spot on performance.
Being from Australia, have you ever had to work in Coober Pedy, where they shot The Road Warrior? I just heard something about that. That it's an underground city. It sounded so crazy.
Teresa Palmer: I don't know too much about Coober Pedy. But I have a few friends that have been there. It's a place that so few tourists go. I am planning on doing a huge road trip around Australia next year. I am going to take some time off, and get a camper van. I am going to drive through the whole of Australia for about four weeks. And I am planning on going there. To Coober Pedy. But I don't really know enough to talk about it. It is a place of interest, and I know a few people who have been there. My dad has been there a fair bit. I'm going to try and get there.
With you being from Australia, did these kids sort of look up to you? Did they use you as a tour guide? Or did you even hang out with these kids?
Teresa Palmer: I did. I loved them. They are so amazing. They are little talented great guys. I guess they are like men now. They are growing up so fast.
I heard the one kid retired. Lee Cormie, the little guy that plays Misty.
Teresa Palmer: It was so funny. He came out of retirement to do December Boys, then he went back into retirement.
That cracks me up, especially when I think of that kid. He has such an old soul.
Teresa Palmer: It's so funny. Him with his little glasses. He is so funny. He is wonderful, Lee Cormie. We all hung out. All of us. We got to know each other before we did the film. That really helped. When we got on set, we were all one big family. We would eat our lunch together, and hang out, and gossip. We'd chat. It was fun. I didn't really show off the fact that I was from South Australia. The whole crew was South Australia. I wasn't the only one. Everyone on the set was from Adelaide, too.
Was it ever hard for the director to coral those kids from playing around on the beach?
Teresa Palmer: No. The boys just did that naturally. I remember being there when they were fighting. They had natural fights all the time on the set. There would be little bickerings going on, and Rod would have to come in and break it up. One day, one of them would be in a bad mood and he would have his arms crossed. Another day, another one would have his arms crossed about something. I remember, Dan was like the mediator. He'd be, "Alright, guys! Come on! We've got work to do." He was like their big brother, and they absolutely idolized him. To everything he said, they were like, "Yes, Dan, okay." It was so wonderful. It was fun to see Dan really take on that fatherly role with them.
Okay, well...That's my time. Thank you so much.
Teresa Palmer: It was nice meeting you.
December Boys opens September 14th, 2007.