Teresa Palmer: The Zombie’s Lady Love
By: Lynn Barker
In the dark comedy/romance Warm Bodies based upon the best-selling novel, teen zombie “R” falls for human survivalist Julie and her love brings him back to life. Teresa Palmer, whom you may have seen in I Am Number Four, The Sorcerer’s Apprentice and, early in her career as Daniel Radcliffe’s crush in December Boys, had a blast on set and loved working with cute co-star Nicholas Hoult.
At our interview, Teresa let us in on her less-than awesome school days and what she feels this film is really about. Picture the pretty blonde in a gorgeous black and white lace dress by Oscar de la Renta.
Kidzworld: Warm Bodies is about alienation as well as love. Whether you’re a zombie or not, teens and 20-somethings feel alienated. Did you have the feeling growing up that people around you just didn’t get you?
- Teresa: Oh yeah. I was socks and sandals girl. That’s what I used to get called at school. I thought that was a really great thing to wear but apparently not.
Walking with zombies
Kidzworld: Yikes! Were you trying to start your own fashion trend?
- Teresa: I was (she laughs). Didn’t happen. My mom had me in these little frilled socks and a big pink ribbon in my hair and I used to wear Jesus necklaces. Kids are really cruel. I definitely felt alienated for a while but I think we all feel like that at times in your life. There are peaks and valleys and sometimes you feel completely alone even in a crowded room.
Kidzworld: Since Valentine’s Day is coming up, let’s get your take on the love story in the movie.
- Teresa: Well, for me, the core of this story is the idea that love breathes life back into people. I connect to that so much; the idea of human connection saving us, being warm to each other and just being loving is the most important thing. You can see people’s spirits reignite and you can also see when people have those lights dimmed inside them. When they fall in love, everything gets bright and the world is shaded in a much brighter color for them. So, that’s what I think the movie is about.
Teresa glammed up
Kidzworld: “R” manages to woo your character Julie with music, some classic ‘80’s stuff on vinyl none-the-less. Have guys wooed you with music in the past? (Teresa has dated cute actors Zac Efron and Scott Speedman).
- Teresa: I think so. You always have a love playlist when you’re falling for a guy and you share music. That’s always a really interesting thing. I think, for me anyway, music and film is where you can really transport yourself to another universe. You can really escape reality and get lost up in music. I feel so romantic when I listen to particular music like for instance “Florence and the Machine”. I love it so much and get such a burst of life and I have American gangster rap that I listen to and I feel much cooler and edgier. The power that it has to transform you is quite incredible.
Teresa as Julie worries about zombie R
Kidzworld: You’ve gone back and forth from the states back home to Australia in your career. Did you feel alienated in L.A. when you first came here?
- Teresa: Yeah. I really didn’t know anyone here. I was 19 years old. I had these American agents who were like “Come to America and be a movie star”. I was so scared by that idea but, at the same time, it was enthralling and exciting but I was very overwhelmed. It was going too fast and I had my little life back in Adelaide and I wasn’t sure if this was really what I wanted to be doing. I didn’t know how to do my own washing. I didn’t know how to cook. I didn’t really know how to look after myself.
Kidzworld: Was your mother doing that for you until then?
- Teresa: Yeah. Up until about 18. I’d just moved out of the house and then was thrust into Los Angeles. It was so scary. The first year I was miserable. I was working a little bit. I shot “Take Me Home Tonight” which just came out, in 2007 but I just kept flying back home. I just wanted to stay there and be a primary school teacher, then a drama teacher.
Kidzworld: How was working with Nick (Nicholas Hoult)? Some of his expressions were funny.
- Teresa: Hilarious. Nick is fantastic. What a great challenge for him to have to express so much without having the liberty of actually talking (much) in the movie. He has groans and grunts but he managed to emote so much through his eyes. I felt I was getting so much from him even though I was doing all the talking. He is a humble, bright guy who has been really well brought up by his beautiful parents who I met. He’s just a gentleman. He will go so far in his career because, yes he’s an amazingly nuanced, gifted actor but his personality really matches that too.
Nick Hoult and Teresa on set
Kidzworld: Did you and Nick hang out between takes?
- Teresa: Yeah, we all did actually. It ended up becoming this beautiful little family. We were each other’s comrades and had fun always laughing. It was really nice. It’s not always a family atmosphere on set but in this one it was. I think it’s important to feel that connection.
Kidzworld: Did you go out to eat in Montreal or to hear some music?
- Teresa: Yeah, we’d all plan to go out and eat. Today all of us are here (at the hotel for the press day) and we’re planning to have lunch together because that’s what we would do when we were working. It's nice to see everyone again.
Kidzworld: When did you know you wanted to act? Nick started at age 5.
- Teresa: He did. I didn’t do any of this until I finished high school which I think is a God-send. I can’t imagine I’d want my children acting whilst at school so I really had a normal upbringing. But, I was really obsessed with being an actress when I was younger. When I was 16 I decided that I wanted to Google the American acting agencies so I looked up “Nicole Kidman’s agent” and this list came out and one of the names was the William Morris Agency.
- I would e-mail from Adelaide, South Australia, the William Morris Agency and say “I would like to be an actress. I’m 16 and I think I’d be good at this”. Of course I never heard anything back. It’s just amazing to think that now I’m signed by the William Morris Agency and it’s something that I must have always dreamed of. I just didn’t think it could be a reality.
Teresa in action in I Am Number 4
Kidzworld: I understand a childhood friend from Australia is with you here today.
- Teresa: Yeah. My best friend of 20 years Kathryn Mason is here with me on this junket. She’s never been to America. She’s like a farm girl paramedic. This is all so new to her. She’s taking so many photos of me in this dress and getting my hair and make-up done. It’s crazy but that keeps me so grounded to have her here and us reminiscing about being on the farm at 9-years-old and now we’re in the 4 Seasons Hotel and my picture is on a poster. It’s just amazing. I know that I need to go back to Australia as much as I can and incorporate my life back there into my life here.
Kidzworld: How cool was it to have the great actor John Malkovich play your dad in this?
- Teresa: It was amazing. My parents don’t really watch movies at all. The only reason I’d heard of John Malkovich was from the movie “Being John Malkovich”. John was great the first time I met him. He was wearing a bright-colored shirt with umbrellas on it and I knew “Okay, I didn’t need to be intimidated”. He was humble and so kind. We really created this real father/daughter like bond on set which is amazing. I think it translates on film. I can just feel that. He’s such a gifted man.
Kidzworld: Aren’t you producing and starring in a new movie?
- Teresa: I am. We’re going to be shooting in Adelaide, South Australia where I grew up. It’s a drama about a married couple dealing with their 5-year-old. It’s actually the breakdown of a marriage so it’s a little sad but it’s good. I get to play a mom for the first time. Exciting.
Poster featuring Teresa
Catch Warm Bodies in theaters starting February 1st.