Interviews

Mia Wasikowska: Old soul

By Wang Dexian from SeoulMovies - 04 March 2013 9:00 AM | Updated 05 March 2013

Mia Wasikowska: Old soul

With her blonde bangs, Mia Wasikowska looks almost nothing like the dark haired evil looking girl she plays in her new picture ‘Stoker’. If I had told her that, I'm fairly certain she would have taken that as a compliment.

Stoker
Mia Wasikowska signing autographs at the 'Stoker' premiere in Seoul

Unlike many other starlets her age who are frequently in the tabloids over their latest romance or club incident, Wasikowska seems to be a grounded young woman content to immerse herself in the characters she plays and nothing more.

Famously described by Tim Burton as an “old soul” before the release of ‘Alice In Wonderland’, it was pretty easy to see just why during the press conference. After thanking various people, she revealed that she was looking forward to checking out the galleries and the traditional area of Seoul, and, “Oh, the ice skating rink just outside the hotel.”

Just like her character, India, in the movie, it would seem that Wasikowska herself has a duality; she carries herself with the maturity poise of an adult that'll make you forget that she's only 23... yet once in a while, you'll catch a glimmer of playful childlike innocence from her to remind you of her age.

A former ballerina who started training at the age of nine, Wasikowska eventually lost interest in the art form and quit at the age of fourteen. Having been exposed to Australian and European cinema at a young age, she turned her eye to acting.

What follows is absolutely insane yet inspiring; despite no previous acting experience, she searched up twelve Australian talent agencies through Google, receiving only a single reply. After some persistent calling, she managed to secure a meeting with them. It would seem that this type of dogged determination isn't exactly a one time thing with her.

When I quizzed her about one of her favourite scenes in the movie, a crazy piano scene in the film which she has a piano duel with Matthew Goode's Uncle Charlie character, she revealed this: “It was so cool. I hadn't played the piano before so I did two or so months of intensive training for that scene. And it was amazing because I have enough of an obsessive personality to really learn different chords. But because I've been traveling so much, it's hard to have consistent lessons and there's nothing quite like having to learn it for a film where you have no choice but to learn it.”

That very same obsessive trait would seem to have served her well in her film career thus far, where she has taken on a very wide variety of roles. The role of India Stoker is her darkest so far and she approached it with enthusiasm. “I was so excited because I'm not well known for playing more innocent characters, so it was exciting to be able to change that. I've always wanted to do things that are different and this presented such a different character for me so I was very excited.”

It appears that her diverse slate of roles emerged from a desire not to be pencilled into something. To which she replied, “I like something that gives me the opportunity to do something different that I haven't played before. I like to disappear into the role. And there's nothing I would rule out, I'm open to every kind or type of cinema and character.”

Her list of collaborators over the past 3 years are a list of who's who in the entertainment business: Tim Burton for ‘Alice In Wonderland’, Liso Cholodenko for ‘The Kids Are Alright’, Cary Fukunaga for ‘Jane Eyre’, Gus Van Sant for ‘Restless’, Rodrigo Garcia for ‘Albert Nobbs’, John Hillcoat for ‘Lawless’ and even comedian Richard Ayoade for the upcoming comedy ‘The Double’.

Given that all that talent she's worked with, she was bound to have picked up a little something along the way for her upcoming directorial debut, a short segment on the film adaptation of ‘The Turning’, an adaptation of short stories by esteemed Australian author Tim Winton.

“Probably the most useful thing I've learnt is that they all have very different techniques and it's really important that you find your own way of doing things because there's no one set way of making a good film. Everybody has a different method for creating a good film and in realising their individual vision, like something that works for one of those directors wouldn't work for another,” she says.

An avid photographer as well, she often captures her travels on film sets with her trusty Rolliflex camera. In fact, one of her on-set images on ‘Jane Eyre’, featuring director Fukunaga and co-star Jamie Bell, was selected as a finalist in the 2011 National Photographic Portrait Prize hosted by Australia's National Portrait Gallery, a competition her mother was also selected for.

Stoker
Mia Wasikowska in Seoul

Despite all that she has her feet planted firmly on the ground. Upon receiving word from me that she was one of the highest grossing actors of 2010 rated by Forbes, tied second with ‘Alice’ co-star Johnny Depp with US$1.03 billion that year, she responded, “I don't think I would typically be on anything like that or think of myself in that way, so it's always very surreal to get feedback like that.”

The actress chooses to make her home outside of Hollywood, having just moved into a new apartment in Sydney. She says, “It's always good to go home to Australia and get a perspective on it. For films not to be the most important thing in my life, it's really essential that I live outside of Los Angeles. It's more important for me to have a mix of balanced life and also be able to enjoy dipping in and out of filmmaking.”

Now that I've met you, all I'll say is: “Dear Mia Wasikowska, never ever change.”

‘Stoker’ opens nationwide in theatres on 7 March 2013