It has recently dawned on Camila Morrone what an odd and challenging thing it is to be a photographer. "You're just a fly on the wall, capturing that moment in time, and you just have one second to get your shot and not affect the subject," she tells Refinery29 Somos. Throughout her career, Morrone has been the photographer’s subject, first modeling for the likes of Vogue, Loewe, and Coach and now as an actor. "Every photograph in history starts with this, and the photos are what remains of those moments in time," she continues.
Morrone, 25, reached this conclusion as she wrapped production of the Amazon Prime Video's miniseries Daisy Jones & The Six, the screen adaptation of Taylor Jenkins Reid's bestselling novel set in the 1960s and ‘70s about the rise and fall of a fictional rock band through a documentary style of interviews. In it, Morrone plays Camila Dunne, a photographer and wife to band frontman Billy Dunne (Sam Claflin).
This starring role was educational and transformative for Morrone, an Argentine-American actor with only a handful of small film credits under her belt. The part required her to understand the need to balance being both inside the scene and outside of it, fully living it and yet constantly visualizing it elsewhere, not only as a photographer but as a romantic partner.
In the series, Dunne's photos immortalize some of the band's most pivotal moments, like their Aurora album cover, but it is implied that her career never fully blooms. Morrone explains that Dunne is "very serene, and that's her approach as a photographer, but her self-doubt gets the best of her sometimes."
"It's easy to write her off as the passive rockstar wife who stays home, but the point is to find the humanity in these characters. ... It's also important that while we find her humanity, we also find her agency."
The character is often considered the sixth band member who spends a lifetime chasing safe and tender intimacy in her partnership, but she knows she might never get it and wants to grow as a photographer. Dunne, a Latina who often speaks in Spanglish, goes through life-altering shift after life-altering shift: going on the road with Billy instead of staying with her family and going to college, an unexpected pregnancy, Billy's substance abuse and recovery, infidelity, and an illness. "It's easy to write her off as the passive rockstar wife who stays home, but the point is to find the humanity in these characters," she says, adding that "it's also important that while we find her humanity, we also find her agency."
In so many ways, Dunne subverts the subservient rockstar wife fantasy of the time, allowing her to stand out and show that "relationships can be messy and painful." In several scenes, like when she's in the audience at the band's last concert instead of backstage, she communicates precisely who she is and why she's there: you will miss her when she's gone.
This self-assuredness and quiet power is why Morrone ultimately resonated most with the character of Camila while reading the book, even after initially gravitating toward the flashier Daisy.
Morrone prides herself in giving a "clear yes or no" whenever she receives a script. And when she saw the series' script, she had an inkling that there was something there, so she relied on her instincts to affirm her choice. Part of the draw, she admits, was Reese Witherspoon. "It wasn't just a good script; I felt I could trust Reese and Hello Sunshine. Her projects empower women and show their complexity," she says.
The soul-searching that followed helped Morrone hone and appreciate her "very good maternal instincts" even more. "I have young siblings who I've participated in raising, and that maternal element felt like it was very within me. I've always felt very attached to motherhood, and it's something that I cannot wait to do," Morrone shares about what helped her unlock a crucial aspect of Camila Dunne.
She also wanted her name twin to have the fierceness, heaviness, and disappointment many mothers experience at some point in their lives because she understands how challenging parenting can be. Though she confesses the weight of a character like Dunne was daunting at first, being open to vulnerability in the face of chaos has given her some emotional clarity.
"It was such an overwhelming feeling that I'd been waiting for my whole life. There's no way back."
Despite the very emotional and complicated rollercoaster that is acting, Morrone has long known it’s what she wanted to do, though she was scared to pursue it at first. In her youth, she put on "shows for dinner parties" and always wanted to "be silly and comedic and get people to laugh." But she wasn’t sure she had what it takes to make it in Hollywood.
"I started acting around 19, which is quite late compared to all the child actors out there who have had a lot more experience than me, and that was something that I held back from myself in fear of not succeeding at it. And part of the horrible fear that I would try and fail," she says.
Morrone acknowledges she feels “more comfortable now,” and the knowledge that Daisy Jones & The Six has been so well-received by audiences and critics alike has undoubtedly helped.
So have trusting her instincts and nurturing the relationships that matter most to her. It's why Camila Dunne's duality makes sense in Morrone's hands. It’s also why the rising actor can’t imagine herself doing anything else. "It was such an overwhelming feeling that I'd been waiting for my whole life. There's no way back," she says.