For Australian actress Elizabeth Debicki, who appeared in “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2” and Netflix’s surprise release “The Cloverfield Paradox,” theater and film are two sides of the same coin. On one hand, she loves the immediacy and rigor of theater and believes the medium is a pressure cooker that creates refined actors. But she also finds the permanence of film quite appealing. “If I could do one play and one film a year, that would balance me out creatively,” she says. The actress will appear in the Steve McQueen-directed “Widows” later this year, and supplies one of the voices of Mopsy in the current “Peter Rabbit.”
What inspired you to start acting?
My parents are ex-ballet dancers, so we grew up with theater and dance. The first time I saw a play with words, I was watching a production of “The Seagull.” I thought I was going to be a dancer — it was kind of the family trade — but then I realized what I loved was theater and language. One of my earliest memories of a film being very poignant and deeply moving was “Leon: The Professional.” At that point I didn’t think I was going to be an actor; I just remember that film having a massive influence on me.
Why is dance so appealing?
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There’s a purity to dance. I was a dancer and I wanted words, but words can get in the way sometimes. Dance can be such a pure expression without the ambiguity of language. It can be really transporting for an audience, and for me doing it, it’s a massive relief. People dance at clubs and at weddings as emotional relief. That’s the kind of payoff as a dancer.
Six foot three is pretty tall. Has your height been a help or a hindrance?
It’s been both. It’s been a huge help because I think it can be extremely graphic on-screen. When I think of the role I played in “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2” and how the director and I decided we would make Ayesha taller, it made her even more graphic and alien. If I’ve missed out on a part because I’m tall, that’s not the excuse my agent is going to use, whether or not that’s happened in the past. There’s nothing I can do about that. You are the way you are, and you have to embrace that and love that about yourself.
Things You Didn’t Know About Elizabeth Debicki
AGE: 27 BORN: Paris RAISED: Melbourne FAVORITE SUPERHERO: Wonder Woman COMFORT FOOD: Vegetable soup GUILTY PLEASURE: Glass of wine in the bathtub MOST POWERFUL BOOK SHE’S READ: “To the Lighthouse,” by Virginia Woolf