STACK spoke with Australian rising star Angourie Rice about her role in Bruce Beresford’s acclaimed period drama Ladies in Black – a performance recently honoured with the AACTA Award for Best Lead Actress.
One of Australia’s most talented young stars, teenager Angourie Rice has held her own against Russell Crowe and Ryan Gosling in The Nice Guys; faced the apocalypse with Nathan Phillips in These Final Hours; and gone to school with Peter Parker in Spider-Man: Homecoming.
More recently, she starred alongside Julia Ormond and Rachael Taylor in Bruce Beresford’s critically acclaimed period drama Ladies in Black, winning the 2018 AACTA Award for Best Lead Actress for her performance as a bookish schoolgirl that takes a holiday job in a prestigious Sydney department store in 1959, where she is awakened to a world of possibilities by her co-workers.
When STACK speaks with Angourie, it’s the morning after the awards ceremony, and congratulations are in order. However, she says that it wasn’t too late a night. “There were two parts to the after-party and I wasn’t allowed into one of them because I’m under 18, so I went home.”
This rising star admits that juggling high school and acting commitments has been tough, and was relieved to graduate last year.
“Education has always been very important to me, so I’m grateful that my teachers supported me and coached me through it,” she says. “My family was incredible as well. I feel great now that I’ve finished school. It’s sad but it’s also exciting because it’s the next chapter – I’m ready for the new things that are going to come my way.”
When it comes to choosing film projects, Angourie says that she’s drawn to “characters that are strong and interesting, have an interesting story arc, and who are dynamic and drive the plot.”
The role of Lisa in Ladies in Black certainly fits the criteria. “Lisa has a real interest in the world around her. She wants to know more about literature and poetry. I really related to that.”
Angourie adds that film’s authentic period and costume design also helped her get into character.
“One of my favourite things about the whole process is trying on costumes from that time – that’s when I really see the character come to life. Costume designer Wendy Cork was incredible to work with. A lot of the dresses were vintage, and a few were specifically made for me, like the New Year’s Eve dress and the black dress I go to work in. Putting on those clothes made me feel like another person.”
Just as the ‘ladies in black’ on the high-fashion floor have a big influence on Lisa, Angouire says that her co-stars were equally welcoming.
“I was the youngest one, but I just felt so comfortable on set. I was excited to go to work every day. It really was just like working in a department store with four incredible women.”
Would she have liked to live during that era?
“I can appreciate the time,” she offers. “One of grandmothers actually came to Australia in 1959 from England, so that gave me a special connection with the story. I’m grateful to tell this story now, in 2018. I think it’s timeless.”
Having appeared in both local and international productions, Angourie says that she loves coming home to make Australian films.
“I’m lucky to have done enough now to be working with the same people, which is fantastic. It’s great to see familiar faces and there’s a real sense of team effort on Australian productions that I love. We’re all in it together. At the same time I do love working overseas. It’s exciting and it’s new experiences. But there’s no place like home.”
To celebrate the home entertainment release of Ladies in Black, a selection of costumes and props from the film will be displayed at Nutcote Cottage in Sydney’s Neutral Bay. From 19 December until early January, Sydneysiders are invited to visit Nutcote, a key location from the film, to view the costumes and visit the cottage where key scenes were filmed. For further information, visit: https://www.facebook.com/LadiesInBlackMovie/