In new Australian film, “Now Add Honey”, Caroline Morgan (Robyn Butler) is delighted when her sister Beth (Portia de Rossi) brings her movie star daughter Honey Halloway (Lucy Fry) home for a visit. But when Beth is suddenly sent to rehab, Caroline is forced to move Honey in to her suburban home. Honey struggles with life without an entourage and her cousins, Clare and Harriet struggle with a movie star hogging the bathroom. But after Honey leads Caroline to uncover a family secret, Caroline struggles as her life quickly falls apart. Trapped together in the house, a middle-aged woman and a teen starlet must each wrestle with who they really are.
Mandy sat down with Honey herself (Lucy Fry) to talk strong female characters, her “Terminator II” inspiration, filming the new “Wolf Creek” series, and what it was like working with on-screen Mum and fellow Australian in L.A., Portia de Rossi.
I really enjoyed the film, I have to say it was so nice to see so many great female characters. I see a lot of films and it becomes more and more noticeable that most of the female characters are just the girlfriend, or the Mum, and while there were Mum characters in this film they were much more than an archetype, was this attractive to you when you saw the script?
Lucy: Definitely. When I read it the first time I just loved all the women in it. They’re all such power houses of different, beautiful energy. It was so exciting to read something that was all about their stories, about their journey, and this is a film for women, about women, and well, Honey’s a bit extreme [laughs], but apart from Honey they’re all real women. And to get those stories represented – you don’t get to see a lot of that these days.
Yes, and even your character, Honey – the young, beautiful starlet – is usually seen through the male lens, but it’s very much not the case here.
Lucy: Yes it was great that this film gave a chance for that really innocent perspective. That she doesn’t really understand the energy that she’s playing with. It gave that a really honest way to be seen, of this little girl who’s just so lost, and trying to please her Mum and please her agents, please the producers and please everyone without knowing what she’s doing to herself.
And quite sheltered from the real world.
Lucy: Yeah, this little bubble that she lives in, she doesn’t have any reference point to know what anything means really.
There’s a great line in the film when the producer says to your character ‘do you know you’re the only Australian actor who isn’t in L.A.?’
Lucy: [laughs] So true!
Do you find that when you go to L.A.?
Lucy: Yes, there’s a lot of us [laughs]. We have a great community. I’m kind of really grateful that it’s full of Australians because it’s like we’ve got a little Aussie island there.
And hopefully less of the bubble/sheltered aspect.
Lucy: Yeah, it’s a grounded Aussie group there, which is awesome.
Was it nice to be filming in Australia?
Lucy: it’s so good. I’m so happy, I love being out in that rough Australian landscape. Last night we were filming in these cliffs next to a quarry with a fire and looking at the stars and it just felt so good to be home.
You’ve spent quite a bit of time in the U.S. recently?
Lucy: Yes, I’ve been a gypsy but I’ve been in America for about two years. Coming home as much I can, back to Bris to see the family [laughs].
Had you worked with any of the cost of this film before?
Lucy: Yes I had worked with Philippa [Coulthard] before. We did “Lightning Point” together. It was great to work with her because we’ve been really close since we were teenagers. She’s such a gem and such a good friend, and to get the chance to play cousins and be in Melbourne together and hang out, and we could work on scenes together and paint together between scenes. Getting to hang out with my friend every day was so amazing.
And it was work!
Lucy: Yes and it didn’t feel like work for a second.
You had a lot of scenes with Robyn [Butler], and she of course wrote the film, what was she like to work with?
Lucy: She is such an inspiration. Everything about her, her passion for acting and writing and her integrity. To get a story like this out to Australian audiences, and the way that she worked so hard on it for years now, and seeing it through and making it happen against whatever odds came up, I am so in awe of her. She’s also such a wonderful Mum and such a warm loving woman, and to get to be near her energy and feel the love that she brings to everything, and how she embraced me and Philippa so fully, and was a bit of a guide to us, of what we can achieve.
A positive role model.
Lucy: Such a positive role model!
And Portia [de Rossi] playing your Mum, what was she like to work with?
Lucy: She’s wonderful, she’s hilarious. Portia is just a dynamo woman, she’s incredible. She knows that world and I wasn’t so aware of it. She was really great playing the Mum that was pushing Honey around in that world, and she did it with such hilarity, it was so easy to fall into that space. And offscreen as well being able to give me some ideas, and tips about how to negotiate that in real life. It was really really helpful. To have someone to talk to about that before I went to L.A. properly, was really good.
And she’s a Victorian girl herself. It must have been strange to come back to that after all that time in L.A.
Lucy: Yes she is, and yes, I think it was a bit strange for her [laughs].
Filming the ‘Monkey Girl’ scenes, how was that?
Lucy: They were some of my favourite. I loved learning the dance. We had this great dance coach, Nadia, who taught me everything, and whenever I had a day off I’d go and practice the dance with her and it was so much fun leaping around like a chimpanzee. I kind of want to make Monkey Girl [laughs].
It could be a spinoff!
Lucy: Yes but it would ‘Monkey Woman’ now… [laughs]
Apart from the monkey dancing, was there any other scenes that you really enjoyed?
Lucy: I really loved the scene with Philippa where we were talking about boys, and I loved that because it felt so easy and natural and what Pip and I would talk about anyway except this was as our characters with different perspectives. But I just loved that because it was really honest and one of the few moments where Honey gets to just be a teenager. She’s been forced to grow up so fast, and as her I loved that chance to connect to another teenager, and realise ‘oh this is what it is to be young, and have a chance to have a last touch of childhood’.
And you’re filming the “Wolf Creek” TV series at the moment. Just started?
Lucy: Just started, although it feels like it’s been months already [laughs].
I saw on your Instagram you’d posted a Linda Hamilton/Terminator II tribute…
Lucy: [laughs] Yes I’ve been trying, I’m not quite there yet. I’ve got a picture of her next to the make-up mirror and I look at her every morning. One day [laughs]. “Terminator II” is the bomb. It’s one of the first times you see a woman go that far in a strong role like that. She was the Mum but she took it to a whole new level.
Definitely. Can you tell us a little bit about your character?
Lucy: I don’t think I can give that much away but I survive Mick in the very first episode. And then the hunt ensues between the two of us. This one’s a little more psychological. Because it’s a full six episodes it’s more about the psychology of Eve figuring out ‘is he real? Is he my imagination? How do I find him? What’s he done to me?’ It’s all set in this beautiful Australian landscape and it’s really raw and gritty, and some of the shots that I have seen so far have just been incredible. Our DOP Geoff [Hall] is amazing and with Tony [Tilse] there just creating the most exquisite shots, it’s quite beautiful. We’re shooting in Adelaide and we’re going out pretty soon to the rough country.
So this is your break in civilisation?
Lucy: Yes this is my little Melbourne day, Melbourne day with an almond coffee before I go and turn into Linda Hamilton [laughs].
You have quite a few films on the go at the moment, can you tell us a little bit about what’s coming up?
Lucy: We had the premiere for “The Preppie Connection” at the Hamptons International Film Festival two weeks ago and that got a great response. So I’m really excited about it, I hope it gets to Australia. I’m really proud of that film because it’s great characters and it’s really tense. It’s about how things were in private schools in the eighties and it’s a true story about an 18 year old who traffics cocaine from Colombia to his high school.
Quite the entrepreneur!
Lucy: I know! [laughs]. And he eventually gets caught but he had this whole thing going on, supply chains, and it’s just extraordinary that can happen. It’s such a gritty, realistic story and I can’t wait until that comes out. And I just did “11/22/63”, a miniseries about the assassination of JFK and someone from the future going back to 1959 and stalking Lee Harvey Oswald and trying to stop him from killing the President.
So period costumes?
Lucy: Yes I had to wear a girdle. Really not fun. I don’t know how the women in the sixties did it. You can barely breathe in the things. Thank god for women lib [laughs].
Is there a particular type of character you are drawn to when you look at scripts?
Lucy: A lot of the time the characters that I am drawn to, I see something in them that I need to discover or release in myself. I might not quite see myself in them yet, but there’s something about them that I need to get to know in me. So Alex, my character in “The Preppie Connection”, she’s really quite manipulative, really powerful. I was so uncomfortable at first sitting in that power and being able to play the people around me. So to play her and get to understand what it is to know your power and to just be comfortable in it, was such a big stretch for me and then after doing that I kind of felt a little more settled in myself. Even though she uses it in a manipulative way, it was getting to know what it is to be secure in yourself. And same with Marina Oswald who I play in “11/22/63”, she’s a real force of a women in that even though she was in this really toxic relationship with Lee, she loved him and she would fight to keep him sane and to keep herself sane, and in all the madness that was going on she had a really strong voice and would fight with her voice, and that’s something that I’ve been working on, saying what I mean and speaking my truth, which has been a big journey. And so playing her I had a chance to work on that part of me. With Eve in “Wolf Creek” there’s such a huge arc for her. I guess I never really know until I start the journey what’s going to come out and what I’m going to discover. But I’m discovering in Eve a very grounded, fiery strength that I’d forgotten that I had. And now that I’m talking about it I realise what I’m finding is a strength in all of them, a really driving force. There’s quite an intensity to the characters that I’m drawn to. Honey is a bit intense as well [laughs].
She’s got her own strength.
Lucy: She’s finding it. She’s starting the journey.
“Now Add Honey” opens in Australian cinemas 5 November 2015.