Exclusive: Rose McIver Discusses BRIGHTEST STAR, Her Accent and More
I enjoy doing interviews. As a kid, I would often pretend to have a radio show interviewing guests. Eventually in my time in college, I was able to get my own radio show, interviewing local music groups. But it’s not every day I get to interview a movie star, so I was thrilled at the chance to interview Rose McIver.
Rose has been acting since she was two years old. You might know her as Tinkerbell from ABC’s Once Upon a Time, Lindsey from The Lovely Bones, or two completely opposite roles: The Yellow Ranger from Power Rangers R.P.M or Vivian Scully from Masters of Sex. Rose recently finished her newest movie, Brightest Star, which is due out on January 31. I got to talk to her about the new movie, her accent and all sorts of other good stuff. Check it out:
Hello Rose! How are you?
I’m great. I’ve lost my voice a little bit, so you’ll have to bear with me.
That’s ok! We’ll start with your voice, actually. You’re from New Zealand, but use an American accent for a lot of your films, including Brightest Star. How did you go about creating such an amazing American accent?
Well, I think growing up in New Zealand all of our film and television was really American or British — like we had a little bit of local film and TV. My brother and I, that’s an older brother, we both kind of had a natural ear and realized it would be useful. The music we listened to had singers with American accents, too.
How difficult is it to switch back and forth from one to the other?
It’s natural, like riding a bike. You sort of get used to it.
In between takes, do you go back to New Zealand accent?
Yeah, I go back to my New Zealand accent. Some people try to keep the same the whole time, but that’s never really worked for me. I feel like I’m posing.
Speaking of accents, I just watched a great video from BriTANick called “Dinner Party” where you surprise everyone by switching accents from American to New Zealand. First of all, I just thought it was hilarious. Second, how did you get involved in a project like that?
Actually Chris Lowell, who I worked with on Brightest Star, is really really good friends with the BriTANick guys. They were in LA and asked if I would be a part of it and I, of course, was thrilled to.
You’ve been acting since you were 2, so I’m guessing you’ve been in some pretty odd things. What’s the strangest thing you’ve ever been in?
I’ve done some of those 48 hour films, and some have been completely bizarre. I did one and it didn’t even have a narrative … it didn’t even have a title! It was just thrown together over a weekend, just very unusual.
Is there a particular point in your career where you thought “Wow, I’ve really made it?”
I don’t know. I feel lucky to be able to do what I do. And each time I get a part I think “great, I hope that keeps happening”. I think when you start to feel on top of the world too much you stop doing good work, and stop enjoying it.
I saw an interview where you said you went into the Tinkerbell interview not knowing what the part was, just that it was a fairy. What was it like to find out what the part really was?
Oh, it was great news! It’s fantastic to know you’re going to be playing somebody who’s already idealized and who children love, and who you love. It also means there was a lot of material I could look at. And it was a good challenge, so I was thrilled.
Does that sort of thing happen often, where the part people audition for is actually much bigger than advertised?
Sometimes. Sometimes they’ll give you like a fake script rather than the real script just to protect the project. So you don’t always know the material, but this was a particularly unusual case.
I met with Maggie Kiley, the filmmaker, in LA — actually, the day I was due to go back to New Zealand. I had been away for 3 months and had read the script the night before and said I loved it, and I asked if there was a chance I could meet tomorrow. And we managed to make it all work. We met up for lunch and were just completely on the same page with the character, and the story, and the reason the whole story was being told. And I flew back home and went over the audition scenes, and it all went from there!
What kind of things did you do to create that character of Charlotte?
Well a lot of it … I emailed Chris Lowell a lot. We emailed back and forth to try to build a relationship, since we’d only a few days to actually do that in rehearsal time. So we just spent like, a month, emailing once a week or so building this relationship that we could draw from on script, and that kind of kept going until the end of the script. So from emailing back and forth we had a bit of jokes, kind of a familiarity around each other… I think that was a very useful resource.
What’s it like working with Chris Lowell?
He’s great. He’s hilarious — he’s a really good friend of mine now. He’s professional and always has his lines learned, but has a good time with it.
Without giving too much away, what’s your favorite scene from the movie?
The mac and cheese scene.
The mac and cheese scene? I look forward to seeing that!
*Laughs* Yes, that’s what it became known as from us.
I noticed on everything I could find on the movie, his character is just listed as “The Boy.” Does he have an actual name in the movie?
No, he doesn’t. He’s supposed to be universal, like more than just one person… what we go through. Or for me that’s how I interpreted it anyway. So they didn’t tie it down to a name in particular, just kind of the voice of the audience.
That’s really cool! Are you doing anything to celebrate the release?
I’m really looking forward to getting back with everyone for the dinner and premier. It will be wonderful!
Anything else you want to share about the movie?
Just that I’m so excited for it to be coming out. I’m so proud of Maggie. I think she’s a very sensitive filmmaker and has beautiful quiet energy that you feel through the film, and I’m just excited for her that this is getting in the cinemas now!
Awesome. Okay, I’ll end with a couple completely random questions. First, when people find out you’re from New Zealand, how often do they ask if you like Lord of the Rings?
Probably 9 times out of 10, and the other time will be asking about Flight of the Conchords.
My next question was going to be “what’s your 4th favorite New Zealand guitar-based digi-bongo acapella-rap-funk-comedy folk duo?” but I guess you beat me to it!
Have you ever done anything with the guys from Flight of the Conchords?
Yeah, I have. Jermaine and I were in a film together a few years ago called Predicament. Maybe 4 or 5 years ago … and we had a lot of fun on that. He’s a great friend, and it was a wonderful meeting. I’m a huge fan!
Okay, last question. Is there a question you hope someone would ask in an interview but no one does?
Oh gosh… that’s such a clever question! And I don’t have an answer for it … one day I’ll think of something!
Alright! Well, thanks again for taking the time to talk, and we’ll be looking forward to Brightest Star when it comes out on January 31.