Today: April 22, 2024

Actress Melissa George

The world is full of model/actresses. They’re a cliché, a joke. But you don’t get many actress/inventors. In fact, Melissa George may be the only one, having invented Hemming My Way, an adhesive snap that creates instant hemlines.

The world is full of
model/actresses. They’re a cliché,
a joke. But you don’t get many
actress/inventors. In fact, Melissa
George may be the only one, having invented Hemming My Way, an adhesive snap
that creates instant hemlines.

“I just did a photo-shoot as inventor/actress,” giggles the
Aussie actress. “You get a lot of
model-slash-actress. You don’t get
actress-slash-inventor. It’s a
good slashy.”

Poised and elegant, George’s interest in fashion is hardly
surprising given she was named the new face of L’Oreal’s Melbourne Fashion
Festival and has graced the covers of Vogue and GQ. Currently she’s dressing down, fighting for her life in Rise Of The Footsoldier director Julian
Gilbey’s breathless Brit action thriller A
Lonely Place To Die
.

George plays Alison the leader of a group of climbers,
holidaying in the Scottish Highlands, who find themselves hunted by a pair of
murderous kidnappers after saving a young Eastern European ransom victim. As the group are killed off one by one,
George finds herself in a desperate fight for survival as she battles the
killers and the terrain to get the girl to safety.

“Alison isn’t expecting to have to go through the things she
goes through,” says George. “She’s
independent, she’s got no boyfriend, she doesn’t like guys very much, she’s got
no interest in having a family; it’s all about the mountains for her.

“She’s conquered the mountains many times before but, for
her, the big challenge is to become more maternal, more sympathetic, more
feminine, more of a woman.

“And I think this little girl really brought that out in her
and it was lovely to see that arc from a woman who doesn’t want that kid around
to actually doing anything she can and fighting all evil, all bad, all that
rugged terrain in order to save the life of that little girl so it was actually
wonderful.”

The coldest winter you’ll ever spend is a summer in the
Scottish Highlands and for George, who does most of her own stunts, the
physical nature of the role was punishing.

“It was more than a human being could take. I had to dive
into a Scottish river and still haven’t recovered from it. I was very, very cold, I’m in a
Scottish river with trout and salmon and Julian’s in a boat bone-dry.

“It was so cold he had to beg me to go back in. I was really difficult. I said: I’m not
going back in, I can’t go back in, I’m going to die. I didn’t have a wetsuit. You’re the lead and your in a t-shirt because they wanted to
show arms and all that sort of stuff.
They have all the theory behind how much they have to show.

“When I got into the water I looked around and all the
safety people had three wetsuits on – THREE – and I’m, like, really? I have a t-shirt on and no
protection. Diving in took the
wind right out of me. I should’ve
dipped a toe in first or something.
I was really, really in a bad way.
A t-shirt in a Scottish river, what was I thinking?”

“I’m not doing anymore rock climbing. My arms got so built that I developed
this muscle here. (Points to prominent
upper arm muscle
) Look at
that. Who has that? I go back to New York and people are
like, what is that? That’s from
rock climbing too much.”

The physical changes the role required didn’t just end with
her muscles.

“They dyed my hair dark and made my skin really dark too
because I thought she’s been in the sun, whereas I don’t go in the sun, so to
see me so pale, to be a rock climber just didn’t make sense. So it was nice to be darker, have
darker hair.”

A former star of lunchtime favourite Home And Away, George has come a long way since soapland. Eschewing the panto route of most of
her contemporaries – “Been offered a lotta money to do it but just can’t
sing. I’m like do I want a career
after this or not? I think I
do. Best not sing.” – George has
worked with some of the best directors in Hollywood (Steven Soderbergh, David
Lynch) and has carved out something of a niche as a tough, resilient heroine,
appearing in horror movies like The
Amityville Horror
remake, Paradise Lost,
30 Days of Night
and Triangle as
well as thrillers like Tom Shankland’s WDZ.

“I never expect to do the genre thing but I do love making
these movies, they’re very creative, high impact, everyone’s just come on lets
get in there let’s be dangerous and I like to live on the edge a little
bit.

“I think the common thread is not so much the genre for me
because when I did In Treatment,
which I got the Golden Globe nomination for, that was again a woman who was
still standing at the end, she’s tough, but it’s two people talking in one room
and it’s HBO.

“So I think what I look for, I tend to not look at the
genre, I look at the director and I look at the script. Does it portray a woman in a good
light? I don’t mind being knocked
around or whatever as long as she comes out standing. And if she doesn’t, as long as she had a good journey. So that’s one thing I always try to do
justice for women.

“For an actress its not easy to find good roles. About 10 years ago when they were
casting for Tomb Raider it was out of Angelina and I and I had five screen
tests and she came in at the last minute and she got it and she’s obviously
fantastic but I always thought when I get the opportunity to be an action woman
I’m going to take it. This film
comes along so I take it.

“If I’m getting paid to make a movie I might as well take
one of these kind of roles because I spend most of my year not really doing
these kind of movies. I’m very
urban. I live in New York.”

Almost embarrassed she says: “I’m very sorta ladylike.”

Alex Moss Editor

Alex Moss’ obsession with film began the moment he witnessed the Alien burst forth from John Hurt’s stomach. It was perhaps ill-advised to witness this aged 6 but much like the beast within Hurt, he became infected by a parasite called ‘Movies’. Rarely away from his computer or a big screen, as he muses on Cinematic Deities, Alex is “more machine now than man. His mind is twisted and evil”. Email: alex.moss@filmjuice.com

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