She's gave a breakout performance as Dustin Hoffman's daughter in Last Chance Harvey. Now, she's set to star opposite Joshua Jackson in One Week. Liane Balaban takes questions here.
The person who cast me in Definitely Maybe showed my audition tape to [director] Joel Hopkins and apparently he thought I was perfect for the part. I made another audition tape reading the father-daughter scene for Last Chance Harvey. I actually performed it with my father–because he was the only person I could get to read it with me.
He works in computers. He’s totally removed from the world of acting. He was a great reader because his choices–let’s call them–are so original and so unexpected.
I think it helped me because I was doing the scene with my actual father.
He was paternal with me, playing my father. There was also a mentoring role which he took on in small ways. He was really keen on not acting in this movie but being himself. We talked about our own true life experiences and how they overlapped with the characters–my parents are divorced, my dad’s Jewish.
I think aspects of his backstory where he’d felt disappointment in his life. I think he’d always wanted to be a musician. Somehow he felt like he wasn’t good enough to make it as a pro-musician.
What I learned from Dustin and Emma is not to plan anything. The truth of the scene lies within you and then not to expect the scene to go in any certain direction. Why limit yourself to one way of doing it?
Being in London was an exciting experience in itself. One of my favorite moments is when Dustin was giving the speech when he comes back to the wedding scene. When the camera was not in him, he improvised the speech that was about my life.
My boyfriend came to set, and he was there the day we were filming the wedding speech. And Dustin said, ‘Susan, you are my daughter, you are getting married today. You’ve got your husband there. You’ve got your boyfriend over there.'
You never really know, but after I saw the film for the first time I was so blown away by both Dustin and Emma's performances. It felt really good for them to have that recognition.
I play Samantha Pierce she’s engaged to Joshua’s character in the movie. He’s a school teacher who’s diagnosed with late-stage cancer. It’s really a black comedy. Instead of going into chemo right away he decides to go on a motorcycle trip across Canada. The film is really a love letter to Canada. Many bizarre Canadian landmarks are featured like the world’s biggest chair.
Joshua is an incredibly smart and confident and questioning actor. It was great to see the ease that he brings to his character. He’s totally un-neurotic.
I live in Montreal but through the magic of technology I have been able to email my auditions to L.A. The movie New Waterford Girl was my first role. Before that I had done high school plays and I played a dead body in my friend's film. I didn’t even have ambitions to be an actor. Only in the past three years have I committed myself to this seriously.