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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."
The Verge: Teresa Palmer

It can’t be argued that Australian men are having a bit of a moment in Hollywood — just ask actors like Ryan Kwanten or the Hemsworth brothers, tapped to play roles that America’s slender man-boys can’t quite muster up the strength for — but what of the Australian actresses who’ll follow in the footsteps of Nicole Kidman or Naomi Watts? Enter Teresa Palmer. The 24-year-old Adelaide native has appeared in productions like December Boys and Bedtime Stories, but things are about to ramp up considerably; next month, she’ll be seen as Jay Baruchel’s love interest in The Sorcerer’s Apprentice, then she’s primed for a big action moment in the alien adventure I Am Number Four, where she’ll star alongside other rising stars like Alex Pettyfer and Glee’s Dianna Agron.

Palmer called up Movieline last week to chat about the crazy training regimen she’s currently undertaking for Number Four, the big movie she swears she isn’t actually attached to (no matter what IMDb says), and how the swerves of her early career have made her stronger.

So Teresa, you’ve got some big films in the works. I know you’ve been acting a while, but does it feel to you like things have been kicked up a notch lately?
You know, I think that for me, you never really get to the point where you think “I’ve got it!” or “This is it!” I’m still building my career and really auditioning hard and fighting it out with the other actresses to get great roles. It’s a challenging industry to be a part of. I’ve had a good last year and that’s great, but there are really no guarantees in this industry, so I’m not getting too excited just yet.

So let’s talk about The Sorcerer’s Apprentice. Do you get to take part in all the special-effects-heavy sequences?
I get to dabble in the magic side of it, and I get kidnapped and get to help in saving the world, but in terms of having magical powers and the CG and special effects, that’s all happening to me for the first time on the film I’m shooting now, I Am Number Four. My character in that has alien powers like invisibility and she can walk through fire, so it’s a very cool thing. I’ve been in stunt training for the past few weeks, learning backflips, front-flips, choreography for swordfighting, wirework, the whole experience. I’m very excited to be in a physical role like that. It’s challenging, but it’s so rewarding because I’ve never pushed myself that hard for a role.

In that film, you’re playing Number Six, another alien. What is she like?
She’s one of nine aliens who are hiding out on Earth because our planet’s been destroyed. She’s a kick-butt alien, highly skilled in martial arts, and she rides around on her Ducati. She doesn’t take crap from anybody and she’s definitely a very strong figure and a dark character. She’s always on the run from the aliens who are trying to kill our species, so she’s had a turbulent life so far and puts on kind of a tough facade.

Number Six might know how to ride a Ducati and do martial arts, but did Teresa Palmer before this?
The balance on a two-wheel bike is like a whole other thing. I’ve had to learn from scratch, basically. We started on a regular bike and then moved up slowly to a more powerful bike, and then I finally got on the Ducati last week. It’s cool! I definitely feel like a very cool chick.

I know that the book it comes from is supposed to be the first part of a six-part series. Did they plan ahead and sign you for those?
I mean, there are no guarantees to whether or not it’ll become a franchise. People believe in the film and we hope it’ll be successful. I signed on for three movies, and I think that’s where we’ll start. We’ve all got our fingers crossed, and from what we’ve heard so far, they’re very happy with the dailies.

Let’s talk about George Miller’s Mad Max reboot. I heard you were cast in that…
You know, I’m not allowed to talk about that, like, at all. I’m so sorry. I know it’s on IMDb, but I don’t know where they got my name from or that I’m attached to it. I haven’t signed on to anything, so.. [Laughs]

Maybe your name was tossed around because you were supposed to work with George on the scuttled Justice League of America?
Yeah, I was involved in Justice League, so I think that’s where the rumors must have came from. Since I have that relationship with George, it got put on the internet that I was involved in Mad Max.

So it was never in the works at all?
You know, there were some discussions, but I’m shooting I Am Number Four at the moment, which sort of goes into when I believe they plan on shooting Mad Max. I don’t know how it got stuck on the IMDb. I was like, “Oh, that’s interesting!” [Laughs]

When something like Justice League falls apart, or the makers of Jumper cast you and Tom Sturridge and then abruptly replace you with Rachel Bilson and Hayden Christensen, is that something you’re able to get over? Or is it something that’s in the back of your mind when you get excited about future projects?
I think when you go through some of the experiences I’ve gone through in the short amount of time I’ve been out here, it does throw a spanner in the works — it shakes you up a little, which can be a good thing because it keeps me on my toes. Obviously, with Jumper, me and Tom Sturridge were recast and the roles were aged up and we lost our roles. At the time, I was totally devastated. I thought I would never work again! I was so embarrassed, even though it wasn’t our fault. It was an external circumstance that affected us, but it was a tough, dark time for me. I went back to Adelaide and I thought, “This is it. No more! There is no way I can keep acting, I can’t handle this.”

So how did you get over it?
I had to brush myself off and pick myself up and think, “Oh well, give it another go.” My agents in Australia gave me some encouraging words and my manager in America was like, “Come back out here. This doesn’t always happen!” And then, sure enough, Justice League of America fell apart, too, and there was another film I was going to do last year that fell apart. You eventually realize that it’s the reality of Hollywood. There are peaks and valleys in every career, and I feel like I’ve been through both. It can only make you stronger.

I know you were also in the Topher Grace film Young Americans, which feels like it was shot years ago. Is it ever coming out? What’s the holdup?
I’m so excited, because it’s finally coming out in January. Relativity is bringing it out. Basically, it got held up from being released because there were a few issues with it that they had to figure out. That project is so dear to my heart and I made so many good friends on that film. I thoroughly enjoyed it; it reminded me of a John Hughes movie. It’s been sort of reworked and reedited now — actually, we just did some reshoots for it just recently. It’s looking really strong, and they’re going to do a massive media campaign, so I’m so happy. In circumstances like those, I think the best way to look at it is to say to yourself, “OK, this film might never come out or get a release, but it was an incredible experience.” And now, three years on, it’s come out of the woodwork. I’m really excited about it again!

When you’re living and working in Australia, do you always hope that making films in Hollywood will be part of the plan? How do you know when to make that leap?
I can’t speak for anyone else, but in my case, I sort of fell into acting. I was thrown in the deep end at 18 when I got cast in a movie that I didn’t audition for. The director just sort of found me and put me in a film, so the decision was really made for me. I had no intention at that point to go to America and try to make it big in Hollywood — I was just focused on trying not to get fired! That movie ended up premiering at the Cannes film festival, and there were American agents there and my manager plucked me from Cannes and took me back to America, and it’s just been such a whirlwind. I haven’t been back to Australia since then.

Then again, I read that you were recently named the number-one ticketholder for Port Adelaide Football Club, so you must have been back to catch a few of those games…
[Laughs] My dad was very heavily involved in Port Adelaide Football Club, so I grew up watching Aussie rules football. Since I was about five or six, I would go along to see them with my dad, and I got to meet the players. Just recently last year, they asked me to be the number-one ticket holder, which is great! It’s really exciting, because I get to go along on some of their games, speak at their functions…I got to do the coin toss! By the way, this is way more exciting for my dad than anything I’ve ever done before. He’s like, “Stop the movies, my daughter gets to do the coin toss at football!” That’s all he really cares about.