Promising young talent, be it on stage, on television, or on the silver screen, is really a common occurrence in Australia. As an artistic creative country, we thrive on producing successful people often from a young age. Odessa Young is such an actress. The Daughter, a new Australian film based on the popular stage play The Wild Duck, is a story that one will find extremely hard to shake long after the final credits role. Although the ensemble is incredible including legends Sam Neill, Geoffrey Rush & Miranda Otto, it is tween breakout star Odessa Young who stands out like a beacon acting beyond her years as The Daughter, a demanding focussed role. In person she is cool, amusing and one of the nicest people I have ever had the pleasure to meet.
Shane A. Bassett – You have a very exotic name. How did your parents come up with Odessa?
Odessa Young – It is the town my dad grew up in at Ontario Canada. He moved over to Australia when he was 12, I don’t think they had settled on a name by the time I was born. Just talking about it then, it must have been the first name available to them. I guess I became Odessa (laughs).
SAB – Do you have a middle name?
OY – (slight pause smiling at me) I do, everyone laughs. It’s an old family name, Divine.
SAB – You were outstanding in a previous film Looking for Grace, then stepped it up several levels in The Daughter. Did you audition?
OY – Yes I auditioned twice, almost three times actually because the first time I met Simon (director), it was in the preliminary stages of casting so he could hear the actors voices (I was recommended to him by someone?). At the time there was no way I could have played Hedvig as i think the character was about 12 at the time I was 15. It hadn’t crossed my mind so I was not even trying to show Simon what I could do. Maybe a month later, I was requested to send a self tape due to the age being adjusted and more suitable for me to play. Then I got a note saying no, it’s not like that at all. My agent convinced him to see me again thank god. They said she is brilliant, she is just not getting right now but she can do it. When I got into a room with Simon and Ewan Leslie (co-star), we did one really intense scene and a nice scene, they saw something they could work with after that.
SAB – Are you a method actor, walking around in the school uniform as Hedvig when not shooting?
OY – Not consciously. In saying that, the research I do or my state of mind during filming often means I am accidently walking around as Hedvig.
SAB – You delivered multiple powerful moments, did it help acting opposite screen royalty such as Sam Neill, Miranda Otto or Geoffrey Rush?
OY – Watching them is like an acting class in itself. Seeing them prepare, especially Miranda, was a beautiful internalised process which draws out this character. My scenes with Sam were unique – he is a great actor to work with. It’s all about the prompt, he is so into it. It prompts me to be in parlay with him, elegantly natural.
SAB – How did you personally draw the heavy emotional levels that you did so often?
OY – It is just going with it and emotional patterns you have developed around your whole life. Say when someone is in your face screaming at you in a carpark, that’s unnatural not to have a reaction. Then I gave into those moments. The pressure of real life is almost enough to get me into that fraught state to act.
SAB – Ewan seemed like a magnificent screen dad. How was he to work with?
OY – Amazing, phenomenal. Our relationship at the start of the film shows how much these two truly love each other and that’s what makes the closing stanza so tragic. His commitment was incredible, friendship developed.
SAB – I was a little worried meeting today as you looked like a girl who could handle a shotgun in the movie.
OY – Hilarious Shane, yes it was quite powerful and weird holding a real shotgun knowing this thing could do some damage. Our on-set gun handler Tad helped proceedings by lightening the mood.
SAB – What kind of life do you lead outside of acting – sports, reading, go to movies?
OY – No sports, I wish (laughs). I watch tons of movies or TV shows, I read a lot of screenplays or plays, not so much books – it’s been a very long time. Screenplays are my instant satisfaction, i am receiving a few more lately including international.
SAB – Have you decided on your next project?
OY – Just got a lead in a TV series in the US. Set in the 1980s about a kind of devil worshipping homicide involving an affair with a seventeen year old student and her teacher who get killed together. I play the victim’s younger sister. It is a thriller set up but about the people most affected by the murders. I’m excited, When the Street Lights Go On, is the title and directed by Brett Morgen (Montage of Heck).
SAB – Do you have a particular actor you inspire to be like or always enjoy watching?
OY – Very good question, I should have an immediate answer prepared, I absolutely admire Tilda Swinton. Her diverse career, the decisions in roles are really interesting.
SAB – So much drama in your career so far, have you been offered or would consider a comedy?
OY – I did stage comedy in high school, it absolutely interests me but find it intimidating to a point because I do not consider myself naturally funny.
SAB – Are you familiar with my home region of Central Coast?
OY – I lived at Somersby but my parents separated, dad went to Terrigal and Gosford so I know it that lovely area very well.
SAB – It’s only a matter of time before your accolades in the form of awards arrive, your talent excels.
OY – Thank you, much appreciated and so great to talk with you Shane, you’re kind.
Shane A. BassettSydney Unleashed is one of Australia’s premier entertainment publications exploring the latest in lifestyle trends. From Sydney’s finest restaurants, cafes and bars to the hottest in gadgets, products, and home entertainment, Sydney Unleashed is your one-stop lifestyle platform.