Mia Wasikowska Sums Up Adam Driver In One Perfect Sentence

1Photo: REX USA/AGF s.r.l./Rex.
There's something calm and reassuring about Mia Wasikowska. Perhaps it's that she feels familiar, having seen her in Alice in Wonderland, Only Lovers Left Alive, and Maps to the Stars. Or, that I've noticed her casting in Crimson Peak and Alice in Wonderland: Through the Looking Glass in 2015 and 2016, respectively. She's grade-A famous, yet sitting in a room with her is devoid of the overwhelming pomp and circumstance one sometimes encounters in celebrity interviews.
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Indeed, Wasikowska's at once widespread and subtle, instantly recognizable yet unfazed. Where one might lap up the trappings of celebrity, she doesn't allow it to overcome her. I sat down to talk with the actress about her new film, Tracks, where she plays writer Robyn Davidson. Ahead, Wasikowska talks women in film and what it was like working with Adam Driver.
What was it like shooting a film at home in Australia?
“It was nice. I haven’t filmed there since I was 17. We were more of a coast-and-bush family [growing up], and we used to camp around the coast. So, it was nice to be in the desert in Australia. I often feel like it’s such a big continent and a lot of Australians explore the rest of the world before they really know their own country. I was feeling a bit like that until I got to see all those amazing parts of Australia I’d never seen before. Also, the mental benefit of knowing I was in the same time frame as my family and I was close to them was great.”
You had to work with camels a great deal for this particular role. Was there anything surprising you learned about the animal?
“They’re so interesting because they have a sort of bad reputation. They have this sort of growl that they do, which makes them seem intimidating, but they are really sweet and lovely. I think we associate big animals with being unapproachable, but they’re kind of like dogs when you get to know them. It was strange being able to be really tactile with these very, very, big animals.”
Speaking of things that are intimidating, I read in your interview with Glenn Close that you were always frightened by Disney movies. What's that about?
“They just always have the parents die right at the beginning. Even now I watch them and I find it too much. Like in Bambi — the mom dies straight away. It’s instilled this fear in me that something really bad was going to happen to my parents. Same thing with Lion King.”
That’s totally fair. And, speaking of that interview, what was it like being interviewed by another actress, rather than a journalist??
“It’s kind of difficult, because you have a different relationship, obviously, and its also being recorded at the same time. So, you have to be careful that you remember it’s a public conversation and you can’t be too personal. But, it was great. She is so wonderful, Glenn; it was so nice, sort of catching up with her and chatting.”
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2Photo: Courtesy of The Weinstein Company.
Getting back to the film, had you watched Girls before working with Adam Driver?
“I watched the first couple of episodes. I need to catch up on it — it’s great. He’s a great actor, and he's so good in this because he brings a lightness to the film, which I think it really needs. He’s kind of the perfect amount of annoying, because he’s annoying, but very sweet and endearing. He’s really great, very spontaneous.”
Your character offers a different interpretation of female sexuality than we're used to seeing on screen. Was that challenging for you?
“I guess so. It’s not a love story. I was really adamant that it didn’t become that, because I think [love stories] are the safer way to make the movie, which is completely the antithesis of what Robyn stands for, and what the book stands for. It’s a journey of an individual — not a romance.”
What's important to you about the roles you take on?
“That I have some connection to it. You spend a lot of time exploring the role, so you want to make sure you have an emotional reason why.”
How do you feel about the roles available to women today?
“Well, I’ve been really, really lucky. I really liked the people and characters I play; they’re not necessarily always nice. People were saying to me, “Oh, you play a lot of unsympathetic, moody, grumpy people,” and I was like, “Oh…okay.” (laughs) But, when it comes to female roles, there can always be more.
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"We’re always talking about female roles, and whenever it’s male roles, it’s just ‘films.’ But when we always categorize a film with a female as a ‘female film,’ it becomes kind of irritating in a way, because it should just be another film. We always have to define it as being a women’s film. And, it’s not irritating that that’s the way it is, but its irritating that that’s the way that we think about it. I don’t know — maybe we are separate. And, why that still happens and where it comes from, I don’t know. It just seems a little unequal. But then, I’m not a man.”
I’ve also noticed a trend where some actresses prefer to be called actors. Is that something you prefer as well?
“Not really, I don’t mind. When you promote a film, the topic is inevitably ‘women in film,’ and if I remove myself from it, I can see it as a social thing, so yeah.”
embedPhoto: Courtesy of The Weinstein Company.
Have you ever experienced Imposter Syndrome in the film industry?
“Yeah, when I was a bit younger in acting, I felt kind of like that, like maybe I’ll just be found out soon and then never work again. I don’t know what it comes down to, if it's a self-esteem thing, or I don’t know where it comes from. Do you?”
I think its just something that happens to women in the workplace — any workplace. Is that prevalent in the acting biz?
“Yeah, I think so. I’m sure across the board people feel that way. Maybe it’s some kind of anxiety in positions where there’s money and people are kind of hedging their bets on you.”
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As an actress, you have a lot of photo shoots and appearances. Is that something you like? Or, do you just see it as part of the job, and a vehicle for doing the work you love?
“It’s part of the job, and it’s not the reason why I do the films, but it enables me to do films, and that’s a great thing. I can’t complain about it. It’s like the relationship between Robyn and Rick, because it kind of symbolizes everything that she is resentful about. She has to agree to have her trip kind of invaded by him so he can take pictures of her. It’s like the thing that enables you to do what you want maybe takes something away from it. Not that I feel that way explicitly, but it just comes hand in hand.”
Do you ever feel some kind of pressure to adopt certain trends or looks?
“Not pressure, but I do [pick up certain trends] because I don’t often wear my own clothing. I wear loaned clothing or something. So, it’s not that I feel the pressure, but it’s kind of like I’m not actually dressing or really playing myself, I’m just wearing the clothing that’s out right now.”
You've accomplished so much at such a young age. Do you have any goals to hit before you're 30?
“Not necessarily. I want to have a family and kids and stuff like that, but I don’t want to put that pressure on myself in terms of age because I feel like it will inevitably set up anxiety or something. I want to be happy, and that’s something you have to work on, as everyone does. We have so much pressure on ourselves to be doing stuff and achieving things, and it’s very important to just take the pressure off yourself.”
Tracks is in theaters now.
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