Danielle Macdonald found her niche appearing in suburban-themed TV movies and series like “The Rachels,” “The Middle” and “The Valley.” But the Sundance film “Patti Cake$” took the Australian actress out of her comfort zone and challenged her to build up her rapping skills to take on the role of Patricia Dombrowski, an unlikely hip-hop talent.
How did you prepare to play a rap star like Patti Cake$?
It was just time and practice and faking confidence until you somehow just do it. I had to get over my own fears or insecurities because learning a new skill is always difficult, and having to perform that like you’ve been doing it your whole life was intimidating. I think listening to a lot of different songs and just doing them alone in my car or my closet when no one could hear me really helped.
What drew you to the role?
They sent the script through my managers, and [director Jeremy Jasper] said he wanted me to come do the Sundance Directors Lab. I read the script and I was like, ‘Whaa?’ It was really not me at all. So I was appropriately weirded. I was sure I couldn’t do it, and Jeremy weirdly had this faith in me that I could. I really liked the script; it was a fun story that everyone could relate to, but told in a different way. And he just knew what he wanted. He had this vision. It’s really special when you get to work with a director like Jeremy. He’s an actor’s director. He gets you. It’s instinct.
Why did you choose Hollywood over Australia in terms of the acting business?
I didn’t; it chose me. I had agents in Australia; I just never had any auditions. And if you can’t audition, then you can’t work. I studied there; I did classes there; I learned how to act. Growing up there, I discovered my love for acting, but I just wasn’t getting the opportunities to work professionally. I was doing workshops out here [in Hollywood] to learn about the U.S. industry.
When was your first encounter with acting?
My sister, myself and my cousins would put on shows for our parents and charge them to come and watch, apparently. That’s what I’m told. My parents said I knew how to milk it.
What are you interested in that others aren’t aware of?
I have a dartboard in my place, and I play with my friends. I’m very competitive. I’m very honest, too, so I wouldn’t cut anyone down to get ahead. I play fair, but I like to win.
Things you didn’t know about Danielle Macdonald
AGE: 26 BIRTHPLACE: Sydney FAVORITE BOOK SERIES: “Harry Potter” TREND SHE HOPES COMES BACK: Curly hair FAVORITE SMELLS: Frangipani and rain