Covering our Summer issue, Rice takes us from landing the role in HBO’S Mare of Easttown and working with Winslet through to filming during the pandemic.
Taken from the Summer 21 issue. Pre-order your copy now.
At just six-years-old – when most of us were still twiddling our thumbs in the school playground – Angourie Rice began her ascent towards Hollywood’s glistening hills. “We were friends with an agent who offered to represent me. My parents worked in theatre so I was always around performers, I’d go home and revise lines I’d heard in the theatre or on TV. I just loved it!” she shares from her home in Australia. We’re speaking over Zoom with a nine-hour time difference, 10,000 miles, and a computer screen between us. Even so, Rice’s vivacious energy is immediately contagious – and it’s clear the dreams of an on-screen career had the same infectious effect on her. But luckily, from a young age, her parents made sure she understood the industry’s fickle nature. “My family around me were always supportive, but also wary that it’s a really hard business,” she continues. “I was just very fortunate that I loved it so much, and I didn’t mind the sacrifices I had to make later on.” Now 20-years-old, Rice has started to reap its rewards. With powerful roles in the Spider-Man franchise and Black Mirror already under her belt, the actor’s latest performance in HBO’s series, Mare of Easttown, is undoubtedly her most exciting – and enriching – payoff yet.
HBO’s Mare of Easttown is a dark murder mystery following the brash detective Mare Sheehan as she investigates a brutal small-town homicide. The cast is loaded with Hollywood heavyweights, starring the BAFTA-winning actress Kate Winslet and American Horror Story’s Evan Peters. “It was fantastic to work with Kate!” Rice enthuses, recalling the humbling experience of being on set with the stars. “She’s amazingly delightful, generous with her time, and welcoming. Although it’s scary to work with someone of that calibre, I just wanted to impress everyone!” And despite being a relative newcomer to the industry, Rice effortlessly holds her own as Mare Sheehan’s tenacious daughter, Siobhan. Speaking about how she landed the role, Rice admits it came as a welcome surprise. “I loved this character, I loved this script, but I didn’t have high hopes,” she candidly shares. “I didn’t think I was going to get Siobhan because I had auditioned for similar-ish roles previously, and been told I looked too nice. I tried to make myself look cool because, in the script, she had one side of her head shaved. So, when they offered me the job I was so shocked!”
It wasn’t just the character’s edgy nature that piqued her interest in Mare of Easttown, but the film’s fascinating commentary on female relationships and family dynamics. “I love female-led stories,” she says gleefully. “Looking at the dynamic of three generations of women living in the same house was intriguing to me. Both of my grandmothers died before I was born, so I never got to know them. So, seeing the dynamic of those different generations drew me in,” she continues. “I was so intrigued by the mystery that I couldn’t put the script down. With this series, you come for the mystery, but stay for the family!”
Mare of Easttown might have just premiered, but filming for the show began way back in 2019. With a worldwide pandemic to contend with, it was subsequently postponed until late 2020. So when Rice returned after a six-month filming break, she needed to re-immerse herself in Siobhan’s character once again. And for her, this was a visual process: “A lot of it comes through in the costume, hair, and make-up, especially for Siobhan as her style is so distinctive. When I came home for lockdown, my hair grew out, and when I went back, it was chopped off again. Seeing the whole look come together definitely helped me, particularly because the hair, make-up, and costume teams on Mare of Easttown were so creative. I looked in the mirror, and I didn’t look like myself.” This break in development didn’t just impact her character development, it heightened the emotional impact of shooting such a dark show. “The characters go through trauma, so it’s hard to keep that in you and feel the need to hold onto it,” she describes. “It was quite a relief to let Siobhan go after so long.” So how did she navigate not letting the emotional trauma affect her off-screen? “I learnt you have to leave the character on stage,” she explains, recalling how previous roles have left her emotionally wrought. “Not on this job, but when I was younger, some other young girls and I were quite distressed after filming a particular scene. So, my chaperone got us to do this silly exercise where we shook out our limbs, jumped around, and fake laughed until we really laughed. If it gets really bad, I sometimes still do that.”
Despite her flourishing acting career, Rice’s love of stories didn’t start with films; it began with books. To channel this passion, Rice runs a literary-orientated podcast dubbed The Community Library, which she views as a self-education project – showcasing reading’s accessibility – and encouraging young people to invest their time in stories. “I’ve encountered people who feel they aren’t smart enough to read books, but that’s not the case! It made me realise this whole world of stories feels closed off to so many people because they don’t feel they have the skills to access it,” Rice sympathetically explains. “Whatever you want to read, whether that’s a comic book or anything, it’s always worth analysing, reading, and discussing because the stories we tell are important to who we are. One book that had a huge impact on me as a kid was Markus Zusak’s The Book Thief because it’s so thoughtful in how it tackles death, war, violence, and love.” The keen reader also addresses how her love of books translates to film: “I also love the film Clueless and reading Emma by Jane Austen, which Clueless is based on. The same goes for 10 Things I Hate About You, which is based on Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew. Those teen adaptations helped me understand the classic texts more and helped me apply them to the stories we want to share today.”
One story Rice is passionate about advocating and addressing is the climate crisis – a cause she continually fights for. “On a personal level, I’m vegetarian, and I’m interested in combating fast fashion. Especially considering premieres and press, which are quite invested in fast fashion.” But Rice is more than aware that it’s not so simple for everyone to make those simple changes. “When talking about changes on a personal level, it’s also a lot to do with privilege and having the time and money to do that. I’m never going to say, ‘You should never buy fast fashion, and anyone who does is bad.’ I think that’s the wrong way to go about it,” she protests. With that impassioned attitude, she took the opportunity in 2020 to collaborate with Greenpeace in addressing Australia’s government. “It’s important to use my digital platform to spread awareness online. It provides direct access to political representatives, and the biggest changes come from what the government invests their money in,” she shares. “So, when I collaborated with Greenpeace, it was a call to action to our Prime Minister during the bushfires to tackle the climate crisis.”
Empowering, humble, and self-aware, what we’ve already witnessed of Rice’s acting prowess is just a teaser of what’s to come. So on the meteoric rise of Angourie Rice, in her own words: “watch this space.”