First published on 28 May 2012.
Unless you’re an avid theatregoer, or caught her AACTA-winning performance in the ABC telemovie Sisters of War, you probably have little notion of who Sarah Snook might be. Hollywood’s casting fraternity have one up on you in that case. Adelaide-born Snook was one of five actors who made the final round of auditions for the title role in David Fincher’s The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo – the part that went to Rooney Mara.
“Daniel Craig was only available for five hours on this one day,” Snook recalls. “So they flew me over [to LA] for a chemistry test with him, and all the girls went through one after the other doing the two scenes with him. It was a strange experience because it was five of us wearing the same outfit."
Five mohawked-and-pierced Lisbeth Salanders standing around practising their Swedish accents is one of several unlikely scenarios that Snook, 25, has found herself in lately. She is speaking to Time Out from the Wilmington, North Carolina set of Jessabelle – a psychological horror piece from the director of Saw 3-D in which Snook stars as a crippled girl hounded by a vengeful ghost. “It’s a bit of a shock,” she says of starring in her first US production: “A pinch-yourself kind of moment.”
Her first major Australian film role hits cinemas this July. In Not Suitable for Children, True Blood's Ryan Kwanten is Jonah, a Sydney party animal whose rigorous routine of sleeping around comes to a halt when he’s diagnosed with testicular cancer and informed that once the testicle is removed he won’t be able to have children.
Jonah decides he needs to become a father immediately, and starts canvassing his former conquests. Snook plays his child-averse housemate Stevie, who takes the bull by the horns and sets up a series of blind dates for Jonah with single women who want babies. “Stevie is very pragmatic about things and not the dreamer Jonah is, so she steps in to help him.”
While at first the film is about Jonah’s journey from hedonist to wannabe dad, Snook gradually starts to dominate, as her character’s emotional journey becomes the heart of the story. A milky-skinned redhead, Snook has the comedic skills of an Emma Stone, but soon reveals the dramatic chops of a Blanchett.
“In the edit the film changed to focus on Stevie a little more,” Snook admits. “They liked what I brought to the table, I guess.” She heaps praise on the screenplay by Offspring scribe Michael Lucas, and director Peter Templeton’s focus on truthfulness. “It is a romantic comedy, and the audience will relish that, but Pete really made sure that everything that happens feels real for the characters.”
Verisimilitude is certainly one of the movie’s strengths. Jonah, Steve and Gus (Ryan Corr) live in a sharehouse and hold huge parties every weekend – the shoot utilised an actual Newtown house notorious for its wild shindigs. “It’s on Young Street – a big, blue house falling apart. The house was a character in the film with its own history. The legend is that there were seven lesbians living there before we got there who skipped out because they couldn’t pay the rent.”
Not Suitable For Children screens from Thu 12 Jul.