“Collaboration makes me really happy,” Thomasin McKenzie tells us. “I just finished a production and the relationship I had with the director and the entire crew and cast was so joyful and loving and collaborative. That made me so happy because it’s what I love the most.”
We’re meeting the New Zealand actress in London as she prepares to promote her lead role in the upcoming Edgar Wright thriller, Last Night in Soho – so where more fitting for our interview and shoot than that same energetic London neighbourhood? After effortlessly waltzing her way through a series of photos at the Parisian restaurant Brasserie Zédel, we’re now comfortably ensconced in the luxury of the Hotel Café Royal, one of Soho’s longest-established mainstays.
McKenzie is arguably best-known for her supporting roles in the award-winning Jojo Rabbit and the action-packed True History of the Kelly Gang, as well as her breakout appearance in in Debra Granik’s 2018 drama Leave No Trace, for which she received much critical acclaim. It’s her quietly captivating, chameleon-like qualities as an actor which allows for her to take on such varying roles with an ease that belies her 21 years.
“The best career advice I’ve ever received is a piece of advice from my mum,” she explains. “It was life advice, but now I take it as career advice, and that is to be like water in a stream – flowing freely and easily past obstacles or ‘rocks’ – and just not being too taken aback or stopped in your tracks by things, but being able to move around them and continue on with your life.”
That concept of fluidity and flexibility is clearly something that appeals to McKenzie, who describes her idea of self-care as “stillness, and not feeling the pressure of time”, and says that her ideal superpower would be “the ability to transform into absolutely anything”.
“With that power, you basically have all the powers,” she points out. “You could be a bird, you could be a fish, you could be a chameleon, you could be an elf. I could live out my dream of being a fairy.”
So, with Last Night in Soho garnering huge levels of press and attention ahead of its release, putting her firmly on the map as an in-demand leading lady, what would advice would she give her younger self, who was just starting out as an emerging teenage actress?
“Just not to care so much, and to be gentler on myself,” she says, thoughtfully. “Because life is joyful and not everything is such a big deal. You’ll survive.”
Watch our full video interview with McKenzie above, in which she reveals what makes her happiest, her unusual party trick, the most luxurious purchases she’s ever made, and the job that changed her life.
Last Night in Soho is out in UK cinemas now.
Photography by Rachel Louise Brown, video by Eleonora Cristin, styling by Tilly Wheating, hair by Carlos Ferraz, make-up by Alex Babsky, casting by Tom Macklin.
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