Rose Byrne should be the last actress on earth feeling self-doubt right now, what with her brilliant performance in Bridesmaids and a starring role in an uproarious new rom-com, I Give it a Year. So why is she?
Rose Byrne is perched on the edge of a sofa in the middle of a hotel suite in central London. She looks very young, far younger than her 33 years, and she seems rather nervous. She is tiny, very slim, all coltish legs, gamine and fresh faced.
She spends a lot of time playing with her hair, which is cut into a thick brown bob with a full fringe. She jumps up when I walk into the room, and as good as blushes.
‘I’m not happy talking about myself,’ she says, fiddling with her leather skirt and attempting to pull the hem down (an impossible task as it is tiny and rides up every time she squirms in her seat).
‘I just… I’m happy talking about my work but I’m not really into revealing everything about me.’ She gives a short laugh and a grin. ‘There’s not much to know about me, anyway.’
I’m not sure that’s strictly true. It might well be the case that this Australian actress has somehow stealthily slipped under the radar, despite being in blockbusters such as Troy (she played Briseis) and X-Men: First Class.
All that has changed, however, since Byrne appeared in the huge box-office hit Bridesmaids. The success of that film was so stratospheric that there is now no avoiding the public eye.
She starred as the uptight, beautiful Helen, a woman so studiedly perfect that every female filmgoer shuddered as soon as she came on the screen.
She is the nemesis of the main character, Annie, played by Kristen Wiig (who also wrote the film). Helen glides in, all flawless skin, pearly teeth and just-so hair, before embarking on a systematic and ultimately desperate campaign to win over Annie’s best friend by showering her with gifts and praise.
It’s pretty hard to warm to Helen, I say to Byrne. ‘I know,’ she says, rocking back on the sofa, hands going to her face.
‘When I read for Helen in my audition I knew I wanted to play her because she’s just so kind of awful, but then… you end up feeling sorry for her.’ Of course, the point of Helen is that she isn’t perfect.
‘No!’ says Byrne, laughing. ‘She’s actually quite sad in some ways.’
But Bridesmaids was a comedy and, as such, a departure for Byrne. Beforehand she was best known for her role in the tough and hard-hitting long-running television series Damages alongside Glenn Close.
It couldn’t be more different from Bridesmaids. ‘I’ve always wanted to do comedy,’ insists Byrne.
‘I find myself drawn to things that make me laugh and it was such a great opportunity. When I was young that’s what I imagined I would do, be in comedies and hopefully make people laugh. I really enjoyed being in something that was genuinely funny.’
Her star turn as Helen brought her to the attention of the British director Dan Mazer, who has cast her in his new romantic comedy I Give It a Year. Byrne plays Nat, the newly married wife of Rafe Spall’s Josh.
They have, essentially, married in haste and to the wrong people. Nat is beautiful, dynamic, focused and go-ahead. Josh is a homebody and a bit of a hippie at heart. They both want very different lives.
‘What’s really happened with this film is that Dan has subverted the romantic comedy so that it plays in reverse,’ says Byrne. ‘Rafe and I have just got married, but we’ve got together for the wrong reasons.
‘My character is glossy and sophisticated and she is looking for stability, which she finds in Rafe’s character, but he’s not the one for her and vice versa.’
It’s a hard trick to pull off, to build a film around the disintegration of a once-romantic relationship rather than the traditional uplifting tale of boy-meets-girl.
‘It was certainly difficult when two people get on as well as Rafe and I do,’ she says, laughing. ‘It was actually really hard to play someone who was falling out of love with a person I really, really like.
‘We had such a great time together, I think Dan was worried. We had to pull off something difficult – the viewer has to root for the failure of their relationship. And it had to be funny!’
There is light at the end of the tunnel, though. ‘Well,’ she says, ‘it’s a comedy, so there are two other people who are better suited to Nat and Josh.’
One of them is played by Simon Baker (of The Devil Wears Prada and The Mentalist fame). ‘He is so good-looking, isn’t he?’ says Byrne, widening her eyes. ‘They are much better suited and I had a great time with him, too.’
Earlier on, before I met Byrne, Mazer told me she was his first choice for the film.
‘I saw her in Bridesmaids,’ he said, ‘and I was told that in the scene where she and Kristen Wiig are outbidding each other to be the bride’s best friend [Annie and Helen take turns leaping on to the stage with ever more gushing speeches about the bride at a party], Rose had improvised most of it.
‘She has a real comic touch. I was delighted when she read the script and said she was interested in playing Nat. She’s so good in it – beautiful, cool and very funny.’
Byrne reserves her own praise for the formidable Glenn Close, her television co-star. ‘Glenn is amazing,’ she says. ‘She is a very strong woman and a very strong actress.’
Apparently, Close refused to relocate for the filming of Damages: she lives in New York, and so that’s where the series was shot.
‘I was amazed that an actress could feel that power. I learnt a lot from that. Also, the whole show was really about female empowerment, so that was pretty good!’
The show recently ended. ‘We did five series, which was great. Glenn always said, “Never listen to people when they tell you TV ends your career. It doesn’t.”
‘And she’s right. Years ago no one did TV. I think it was considered the second cousin to acting in films, the poor relation, but now it’s where some great stuff is being made, especially in America.’
She suddenly frowns and then says, ‘I’ve always worried about these things. I was a born worrier. I get very intense about things, especially work, but I’m trying not to. My mother tells me I must try to relax more.’
Byrne grew up in Sydney, in a suburb called Balmain. Her parents, Jane, a primary-school teacher, and Robin, a statistician, lived what Byrne calls ‘an ordinary life’.
‘I had a great childhood,’ she says. ‘We all hung out and it was very relaxed and easy-going.’ No one in her family acted, though. Where did she get the bug from?
She thinks for a second. ‘I don’t know. I was always into it.’ Maybe she was a little bit of a show-off? One of those girls who performed in front of their relations at Christmas?
She laughs. ‘It wasn’t that, really. I think it was because I was the youngest of four children and I wanted people to notice me.’ She says she was fortunate that her parents were supportive of her choice to be an actress.
‘It was all very new [to them] but they were happy for me to do it. It makes such a difference when that happens. I’ve met people whose parents weren’t supportive and it’s debilitating.’
Byrne started acting when she was eight, starring in a film called Dallas Doll at 13. ‘I think that was the turning-point,’ she says. ‘I got a lot of interest after that.’
But she was still very young. It took a film called Two Hands to really put her on the map. ‘I acted with Heath Ledger.’ She looks sad when she says his name.
After that there was a small role in Star Wars: Episode II, playing Natalie Portman’s handmaiden, and then Troy.
It was her first real blockbuster experience. ‘I did do Star Wars, but Troy was something else. There were so many of us – and the budget! It was really wild!’
She also had a love scene with Brad Pitt (as Achilles). She laughs. ‘It was a long time ago.’
Byrne is obviously a very private person. She remains pretty much silent about her love life. She was in a long relationship with the Australian writer and director Brendan Cowell, but they parted in 2010. Now she lives in New York.
‘I just enjoy my life,’ she says. ‘That’s my new challenge.’
Does she want to do more comedy? ‘Absolutely!’ she says. Playing Helen meant joining a group of women who already knew each other and had worked together before on the television comedy programme Saturday Night Live.
Was it a daunting task to step into a pre-established group of funny women? ‘No,’ she says. ‘They were all really welcoming. I learnt a lot from everyone on that set. We did a lot of laughing.’
Her aim now is to take more time out for herself. ‘I may have to!’ she says. ‘I don’t have anything on the horizon right now.’ That may well be a blessing.
‘I am very determined. I do have fun, but a lot of my adult life has been about work. I know that needs to change. I need to feel less intense about it so… we’ll see what happens!’
Sourcer: The Telegraph
Rose Byrne made her name as lawyer Ellen Parsons alongside Glenn Close in the long-running TV series Damages.
Now the 33-year-old Aussie – a star of films such as Bridesmaids, Insidious and X-Men: First Class – has a lead role in British rom-com I Give It A Year.
Here Rose talks to Garth Pearce about what she learned from her mother.
My mum, Jane, taught me that what counts about people is what’s on the inside, not the outside.
She was totally right — in relationships, beauty should be in the eye of the beholder.
There are so many factors — humour, kindness, warmth and someone who will stick by you in tough times.
As an actor, I work in an industry which is obsessed with looks so I can tell you that some of the world’s best-looking men are as dull as doorknobs.
Actors even have whole conversations with themselves while looking in a mirror. I have chosen to work in this business, so I accept it. But is it sexy? No.
I can’t say I’ve fallen in love at first sight — more like lust. I fancy people at first sight.
I think I’m more practical than romantic. I have only had a few serious relationships, but not with actors.
I can’t say I have avoided them — it’s just how it’s happened.
I had love scenes with Brad Pitt in Troy, who was then rated as the world’s sexiest man. He was an incredible guy to work with, but nothing more.
I also worked with Heath Ledger when I was 18 (in Two Hands), Josh Hartnett (in Wicker Park) and Patrick Wilson (Insidious), who is gorgeous.
I get on very well with actors on film sets. In I Give It A Year, Rafe Spall was hilarious. We just clicked and became good friends. There was also Simon Baker, who had to play a character who was keen on me.
Film sets are unreal settings for real romance. That’s my own opinion, rather than anything I’ve experienced, because relationships start on sets all the time.
My mum is a teacher in Sydney and has always dealt with the realities of life. She’s been in some tough jobs and has dealt with tough kids, too. That is REAL work.
I’m the youngest of four and mum went back to work when I was about five or six. But when she knew I wanted to be an actress, she never said, “Get a proper job”. I have been fortunate with my mum and dad, Robin, as they are still together.
So many actors seem to have parents who are split or who don’t support them. By the time I was 18, I was fairly on the mark, in the sense that we travelled a lot as a family and I was given sound advice.
It took me a long time to become confident, though. I was quite a shy person and that’s the reason, I think, that I enjoyed pretending to be other people.
I was a typical Australian kid. I was given Jason Donovan’s debut album and the first record I ever bought was Kylie’s Locomotion.
I met Kylie, socially, later in life. She is down to earth and so sweet but I felt, instantly, like a 12-year-old girl again in her company.
Mum would never interfere with my life. She would never say, for example, “You are 33 now, isn’t it time you married or had children?” I’ve never had a proposal.
I am also never keen to rush in to anything. Couples can be together for ten years, marry and then split after a year.
Mum allowed me to follow my own dreams. I moved to London for a time and bought a place with my sister in Hackney.
Though I now live in New York — I moved there for Damages — I still have the Hackney home and rent it out.
London is a brilliant city, the forefront of fashion, art, history, music and theatre. I have learnt that cities can be like people. There are more beautiful cities than London, but if you start to look on the inside it’s amazing what you can discover. So thanks, Mum.
Source: The Sun
With the broadcast networks having ordered about 90 comedy and drama pilots for the 2013-14 season, the race is on to cast hundreds of roles before the end of March. Casting directors now find themselves in the annual scramble to lure stars who are big enough to add cachet to a project but who are both available and — this is the key qualification — willing to step into what could be a six-or seven-year commitment to a network series.
NBC’s Awake might not have lived to see a second season, but the dual-universe drama has helped rocket Jason Isaacs to the top of pilot season’s wish list. Isaacs joins perennially in-demand actress Rose Byrne, who for the second year in a row continues to receive offers for both comedy and drama. She passed on everything last year, but sources say she is actively reading material and is more likely to say yes this season.
“Every year there are pilot darlings, usually one male and one female,” a top manager says. “Everyone wants them because they are actors that feel like a real ‘get’ from the feature world that will now do television or have come off another popular show and are available.”
Last year, Kevin Bacon’s willingness to topline his first TV series, Fox’s The Following, turned that project into a hot commodity. And this season, Anna Faris’ casting as the lead in Chuck Lorre’s single-mother sitcom Mom and Robin Williams’ attachment to CBS’ David E. Kelley comedy Crazy Ones have upped their likelihood of pickups.
Isaacs, meanwhile, has at least four drama offers (including cable). Other actors in high demand include Zero Dark Thirty star Jason Clarke — Isaacs and Clarke starred together in Showtime’s drama Brotherhood — and The Office’s John Krasinski, though both have film careers and are considered unlikely to jump at a series.
Same goes for Tim Robbins, Paul Giamatti, David Arquette and Ian McShane, the latter of whom has multiple offers for dramas. John Cusack, who has been attracting big-swing drama pitches from established showrunners, is considered more likely to accept an offer, as is Luke Wilson, who is a regular this season on HBO’s Enlightened, and Mike O’Malley.
On the female side, 30 Rock’s Jane Krakowski is being courted for several comedy projects, as is Desperate Housewives’ Felicity Huffman, The Hunger Games co-star Elizabeth Banks, Jessica Alba and Kate Hudson, who is expected to head to a regular small-screen gig after a multiepisode arc on Glee this season. After its cancellation, Ben and Kate’s Lucy Punch is drawing first-round comedy offers. Pitch Perfect’s Anna Kendrick, who like Byrne was hot last season but focused on film instead, is being courted again. Ari Graynor, after a co-starring role in Celeste and Jesse Forever, also is drawing multiple offers for high-profile comedies.
“This year, every network wants to get the hottest stars on their pilots,” one TV agent says, though star vehicles have had mixed ratings results this TV season. Bacon’s Following is a bona fide hit, but new shows with proven stars Matthew Perry (NBC’s Go On) and Connie Britton (ABC’s Nashville) have underperformed.
Still, the agent says, “The network world is changing, and the only way to almost guarantee a series order is to nab that big name for the lead.”
Source: Hollywood Reporter
Bridesmaids star Rose Byrne has claimed that she rarely gets recognised in public and insists that she is happy to remain anonymous.
Speaking to Esquire magazine, the 33-year-old actresss said: ”If people recognise me, it’s from Bridesmaids. But I’m a pretty anonymous person. I live in New York, so I don’t get recognised much. I look quite different from all my characters. They always wear a dress, get a manicure. I’m in trainers and jeans every day.”
The I Give it a Year star further explained that she has yet to relate to a character that she plays, adding: ”In Bridesmaids and I Give It A Year they’re both really highly strung women with lists of what they want, what’s right and what’s required of them.
”I’m more relaxed in my nature. I’ve never had a list. I keep things sweet, follow what I feel is right rather than run my life.
”I’m pretty down-to-earth.”