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a word from teresa

"I have to not take myself too seriously and I have to realise that if it is meant to be, it will be."
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VS MAGAZINE – Teresa Palmer is living the dream. At her 2013 wedding to actor/ director Mark Webber, the couple read emails they had written to each other in the 40 days leading up to their first meeting. The exchange was initiated after the Australian actress tweeted on Webber’s film about single parenthood, The End of Love. “We got to know each other’s spirits and hearts rather than it being something physical. It felt really old school in an ironic way – like modern day love letters.”

Not everything went off without a hitch. There was that awkward first date, in which Webber left the roses he’d bought in the car, and was fidgeting, sweating and stuttering. The former model’s reaction was equally fretful. “It was so overwhelming because I knew he was my guy.”

Out of those courting emails came the idea of writing a film together, The Ever After. “It’s about what can happen when communication breaks down in a marriage. We were getting married and it was a juxtaposition of what we were going through.”

The 28-year-old’s career is on a rapid ascent. She plays a stripper in Terence Malick’s Knight of Cups, a role tailor made for Palmer by the director himself. “I was only supposed to do one scene but at the end of the day Terry asked me if I’d come back the next day. This happened for about 8 days. It was a character that wasn’t in the script and everything was ad-libbed.” She also stars alongside Simon Pegg in Australian indie comedy Kill Me Three Times. Webber nearly foiled that one though, by getting the actress pregnant. “When I called to drop out, they said they’d shoot around the bump, so I was playing an awful, murderous human being while six months pregnant.”

She thought it would be her last film for some time, but since giving birth she’s made three films without ever missing an evening with her son. It’s a testament to her dedication to her child as well as a sign that the industry is becoming more attuned to the work/home balance for actresses. Palmer’s forthcoming films are diverse: John Hillcoat’s police thriller Triple Nine, (“That was the first role I did after the birth of my child, I play Casey Affleck’s wife and he’s a cop who gets involved in some corruption”), a Nicholas Sparks-penned romantic tale The Choice, (“I was so excited by the notebook and I remember praying and praying that one day I’ll get to play a character like Allie Hamilton and this landed on my lap”) and the highly anticipated remake of Point Break (“It’s a reinterpretation of the story – it focuses on a group of eco- terrorists. Because I’m a gung-ho vegetarian in real life, the part really spoke to me. I love the idea of people taking from big corporations and pumping it into worthwhile things.”)

As with her personal life, Palmer has taken control of her career and returned to her acting roots. “I started in this industry with 2:37 – this gritty Australian drama where I play this rape victim who is pregnant with my brother’s baby. Then I got to L.A. and was suddenly cast as the love interest in all the films. It wasn’t until the last couple of years that I made the point of playing characters that have more substance, meaningful purpose and something to say. When I was younger, I just wanted to work, make money and be in L.A.”

Still, Palmer is no stranger to scandal. When the actress posted a selfie in which she is breastfeeding her son Bodhi, she got trolled on Twitter. “There are billboards around the world that have a bra showing cleavage and that is totally appreciated and celebrated but breast feeding becomes so sexualized. I’m actually shocked by it. I’m not trying to make a big statement, it’s just unfortunate that there are such double standards.”

Clearly for Palmer it’s family first, and that doesn’t only apply to her husband and baby. Her mother-in-law is Green Party politician Cheri Lynn Honkala, a woman the actress deeply admires. “She campaigns for rights for the poor in Philadelphia. She lives in a tiny house and spends every day with her 12-year- old son, my brother-in-law, and they do various things, take over abandoned houses and look after families that have been kicked out and become poor. She’s had a lot of hardship in her life and channeled that into her work.”

Her admiration for Honkala may come from an ability to relate – Palmer grew up in public housing with her mother in Adelaide after her parents divorced. “I came from such a turbulent upbringing with my mom, it really makes me realize how blessed I am and how integral it is that I use my position to help others.”

Perhaps Palmer is channelling her mother in our forthcoming Vs. film, in which she plays a single mom alone with her child in undesirable living conditions (a trailer park – similar to the one in which Honkala raised Webber). Unsurprisingly, the script was penned by the actress and her husband.

It’s a far cry from the idyllic lives the two have built for themselves. But still, Palmer is not done dreaming. “I would love to live on a sustainable farm, have a bunch of kids, 6 or 7, and spend our time trying to bring about change. That’s my dream.”


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