Sarah Snook at the private Parliamentary screening of n film The Dressmaker. Photo: Melissa Adams Sarah Snook (centre) alongside co-stars Judy Davis and Kate Winslet after her character’s “classic ugly duckling to swan” transformation in The Dressmaker. Photo: Supplied
Rosalie Ham’s surreal moment
“The ubiquitous Sarah Snook” was how the actor was introduced at a private parliamentary screening of her latest film The Dressmaker.
And it’s easy to see why.
In recent months it seems like she’s everywhere.
In August there was the film adaption of novel Holding the Man, this month she’ll be seen in ABC TV mini-series The Beautiful Lie and in November will return to the big screen in the much-anticipated biopic Steve Jobs.
The night before the Canberra screening, ahead of the film’s October cinema release, she’d been at the Sydney premiere of family film Oddball alongside one of her co-stars from The Dressmaker, Shane Jacobson.
All the roles seem worlds apart but, despite the genre-hopping, Snook says all have the same thing at their core – great acting ensembles.
“It’s a strange kind of time because it’s 18 months of work that’s all coming out at the same time and usually that doesn’t happen” she says.
In The Dressmaker, Snook shares the screen with Kate Winslet and Judy Davis among a cast that reads like the who’s who of n film and TV including Hugo Weaving and Liam Hemsworth.
While she admits working alongside the screen giants was daunting at times, it was also a valuable learning experience.
“It’s an amazing n cast and working with and meeting Kate was really wonderful,” she says.
Likewise the talent behind the scenes, including writer-director Jocelyn Moorhouse, co-writer P.J. Hogan, and cinematographer Don McAlpine, have had a hand in some of ‘s most iconic films including Muriel’s Wedding and Moulin Rouge!.
Snook believes The Dressmaker has the potential to join them.
Adapted from Rosalie Ham’s 2000 novel, the film follows Tilly Dunnage’s (Winslet) return to the dusty fictional outback town of Dungatar where she spent her childhood, far from the fashion houses of Paris where she has carved out a career as a dressmaker.
She’s there to look after her elderly mother Molly (Davis) and find out the truth about her past, but soon finds herself an in demand fashion designer for the local ladies.
As you would expect from a film with 1950s couture at its heart, the costumes are almost another character in themselves.
Snook likens the unlikely mix of flamboyant frocks in a quintessentially n landscape to The Adventures of Priscilla Queen of the Desert.
“It’s delicious to wear all those gowns … I think my favourite outfit was the wedding dress because I got to throw myself around in it, rolling down hills and jumping out windows and throwing myself off things, it was very fun,” she says.
But wearing a dress, corset, stockings and all the trappings on a shoot in central Victoria had its downside as summer neared.
“Kate [Winslet] was probably more under pressure because she was wearing all of that and also in the middle of a football field having to look glamorous,” Snook says.
“She does make it look easy though.”
Snook says her character Gertrude Pratt undergoes a “classic ugly-duckling-to-swan moment” when with the help of Tilly’s dressmaking transforms from a “dowdy much-overlooked store owner’s daughter” to attract the attention of the most eligible bachelor in town.
But there’s a twist on the old tale.
“What’s great with Gertrude is she doesn’t remain humble or remain true to her previous self, she turns out to be just as bad and greedy and foul as the other townsfolk,” Snook says with a laugh.
While she admits it can be hard to play a book character on screen, mostly she focused on making sure Gertrude fitted in with the ensemble.
“[She] is a little bit crazier in the book than in the screenplay so I tried to infuse a little bit of that into the film,” she says.
After The Dressmaker hits the screen, the Melbourne-based actor will be next seen in Steve Jobs.
She hopes it brings more opportunities in the US.
“I’m not sure about moving [there], but if I need to I will,” she says.
“I’m just trying to balance my time with here and over there at the moment.
“It’s just about building relationships in both countries and challenging myself to take some risks.”
In the meantime she’ll round out the year in a play at the Old Vic Theatre in Britain.
“I haven’t done stage for a couple of years and it’s been something I’ve wanted to get back to for a while,” she says.
“It’s so daunting but that’s part of the excitement as well.”