Please explain what just happened.
My husband and I just drove to Sydney to a mate’s place and discovered that the cat we gave them had suddenly died. We reversed down their driveway to discover our friends in tears and a freshly dug hole in the backyard. We just had a little ceremony to commit little “Zephyr” to the earth.
What is your earliest memory?
Having a tea party with my teddy bears in the backyard in London. When my friends couldn’t make it I’d invite all my toys. I used to have such a lovely time out there, talking and pouring them cups of tea in my favorite little white tea set.
If you weren’t an actor, what other profession would you choose?
An international spy. Or a gardener. Maybe I could combine the two. The latter could be my cover.
Describe a typical work day.
I don’t seem to have a typical work day—I never know where or when I’m working. In fact, I have had typical work day envy where I walk past a hair salon or a bank and think: It must be nice to have such a structured, routine to a day. You know, where you work with the same people everyday for years and have your own little desk.
Is there a time you wish you’d lied?
I don’t know about lying, but I’m always trying to get it right. Intellectually I know it’s an utterly futile exercise, but it doesn’t stop me trying.
What would you say to yourself if you could go back in time and have a conversation with yourself at age thirteen?
Don’t memorize the entire science book. You’ll never use the info you learn anyway. And Murray is going to come out as gay later in the year, so find someone else to be in love with.
If you could have only one album to get you through a breakup, what would it be?
Underworld: Everything Everything. I’d train my way out of depression.
What are three websites—other than your email—that you check on a daily basis?
From what or whom do you derive your greatest inspiration?
Everydayness. I love listening to other people’s conversations when I’m out. The vernacular and the little window into the relationship. But what I love most is the accidental subtext.
Name three books that have impacted your life.
The teacher series of books at primary school (my teachers learnt I couldn’t read on them, then taught me to read). The Gormenghast trilogy. Music and Silence, by Rose Tremain.
If you could relive one moment over and over again, what would it be?
I wouldn’t. I think I’m living in Groundhog Day as it is.
How are you six degrees from Kevin Bacon?
In 2005, I was in Derailed with Reese Foster who was in Stir of Echoes with Kevin Bacon.
What makes you feel most guilty?
I love the idea of guilt. That it’s an emotion we run on ourselves to prove we’re good. You know, you do something then beat yourself up about it so it doesn’t count … And it doesn’t work as a way to change ourselves, does it? (She says, thinking of all the past diet failures.) Having said that, it’s worked for the Catholic Church for centuries.
How do you incorporate the work of other artists into your own?
I think that happens naturally while I’m working. As an actor I never feel proprietorial about characters or the work, and I never feel as though I know the answer. Everything is up for grabs. External influences happen all the way through rehearsal and into shooting. Although, the most important influence is always the actor opposite me.
Please explain the motivation/inspiration behind your role as Clara in Sleeping Beauty.
I’d just got back to Australia from The U.K., and I was really keen to work in Oz again. It was such a radically different film to anything I’d been involved in before and so beautifully written. Part of me was a bit scared of how obviously contentious it was, and that served as the final magnet for me.
What is the best advice you’ve ever given to someone else?
I was recording a series of documentary narrations in Beijing, and I told the director I was working with to “stay away from the Korean hot pot.” My husband had tried one with Tripe and congealed blood (a delicacy there) the night before, and it hit with velocity at 3 a.m.
List your favorite in the following categories: Comedian, Musician, Author, Actor.
Eddie Izzard—always makes me laugh.
Kruder and Dorfmeister—The K&D Sessions is about ten years old now but seems to be timeless.
Rose Tremain—I’ll read anything she writes.
Javier Bardem—such an easy, gentle presence.
If you had complete creative license and an unlimited budget, what would your next project be?
Something set in space. Like really. In. Space.
What do you want to know?
What are the tiny yellow insects on the back of the leaves on my brussel sprouts?
What would you like your last words to be?
God, that was funny.
Please explain what will happen.
I’ll finish this, then go and have a little lie-down. We had a blackout yesterday that went for nine hours, and without discussing it, we all sat in the dark together and got rather collectively smashed. Fun, but I do feel a liiiittle bit worse for wear.