Rising Adelaide actor Harrison Gilbertson discusses his latest film My Mistress and working with Scott Hicks on the upcoming young adult blockbuster Fallen.
Rising Adelaide actor Harrison Gilbertson discusses his latest film My Mistress and working with Scott Hicks on the upcoming young adult blockbuster Fallen. Gilbertson is in Adelaide when we speak to the star of Need for Speed and Beneath Hill 60 but admits he doesn’t have a permanent home. “With the way things are going my best bet is to float about and save my money for airfares rather than spending it on rent,” the 21-year-old says. Cut from the same good looking clean-cut cloth as fellow Adelaide actor Xavier Samuel, Gilbertson’s latest role as a teen who develops a relationship with a 50-year-old dominatrix is his bravest to date and showcases that the former teen star of American films such as Accidents Happen and the indie Virginia has dramatic chops. Inspired by actors such as Leonardo DiCaprio, Heath Ledger and River Phoenix, who were able to grow out of their teen phase with dramatic turns in films such as The Basketball Diaries and My Own Private Idaho, Gilbertson is entering an interesting phase of his film career, and his starring role in My Mistress is a great showcase for the young actor to appear in more dramatic roles. With My Mistress, Gilbertson plays Charlie, a 16-year-old student recovering from the sudden death of his father. Lost and rebellious, he finds another lost soul in Maggie (Emmanuelle Beart – 8 Women, Mission: Impossible) a middle-aged S&M mistress. What starts as in inquisitive friendship turns into something deep and dangerous. Written and directed by Stephen Lance, My Mistress is the debut feature film from the Australian director. “When I read it with my dad – we read a lot of things together, he’s my main man in a lot of fields of my life – we both said whoever gets this role is a massive risk taker,” Gilbertson says. “I was very excited by that because it was an opportunity to show a different level, and hopefully that shows in the film, but certainly, for me, it was a good experience to jump in the deep end.” “I had an immense trust in Stephen. There were times on set where I’d be going, ‘What the fuck is he shooting? What is this? What angle is that? What are you showing?’ I was down for it, you know? We sat down at the beginning and said, we are going to do this together, shook hands, had a hug and we jumped in together and it was one of the best collaborative experiences I’ve ever had.” Gilbertson recently starred alongside Aaron Paul in the big screen adaptation of Need for Speed and early next year will be in the spotlight thanks to his role as the fallen angel Cam Briel in Scott Hicks’ adaptation of the gothic romantic young adult series Fallen. This could be Gilbertson’s Twilight, as the Fallen series of books (written by Lauren Kate) are a phenomenon. When casts of popular young adult books are announced, fans can occasionally voice their displeasure online. “Thank god on this one they were nice,” says Gilbertson. “I’ve had it before where they’ve not been kind. I did this TV show called Conspiracy  and there was so much hatred for me not being the kid that was on the original book cover. They said, ‘Why didn’t you cast the kid on the book cover who was a six-foot, long blonde-haired babe’. That was great for my self-esteem. Gilbertson almost looks unrecognisable in the promo pictures as the goth-looking fallen angel. “Apparently I look like a good demon.” Gilbertson explains the Fallen story. “The idea of the book is that they’re fallen angels, so they’ve been around since the fall between God and Lucifer. They had to pick sides but the lead character, Daniel, ‘chose love’ [he says in an amusing deep voice]. He meets this girl every 17 years and they fall in love every time. She dies every time they realise each other’s love but this time things are different. That’s where the book series starts and hopefully where the films start as well. Cam’s a really good character in the first film. He’s kind of the bad guy but as they go on he is a likeable character in the rest of the books and just a bit of a ‘lone wolf’.” There are plans for a series of films? “That’s the goal. It’s a saga piece. You never know with these films, some are popular like Hunger Games and Twilight then there are others like The Mortal Instruments that have not done as well as they hoped. So, I think the plan is to wait and see how the first one goes.” Surprisingly, Oscar-winning Adelaide director Scott Hicks is the director of Fallen. Gilbertson calls him a gentleman. “He’s a really nice, very interesting and intelligent man. He takes his time with everything in life. He listens, he takes things in. That was great to watch. I’d love to get into that world myself one day and to see a director who’s so observant and not blocked in at all. He was always down for a chat but his eyes were always on the prize. “I really admired that he did this [Fallen]. Some people have said, ‘What’s he doing, doing a young adult film? The guy did Shine and these amazing movies.’ But I think it’s really inspirational that as a director he hasn’t just said, ‘These are the movies I make’. He wants to tell different stories and he was really attracted to this one ‘cause it was an eternal classic love story with teenagers – that was how he looked at it. So, he was excited for that challenge. He challenges himself is what I’m trying to say and that’s really inspiring.” My Mistress is in cinemas now *Correction: This article originally said Stephen Lance was the writer of Top of the Lake. Gerard Lee (writer, My Mistress) wrote Top of the Lake with Jane Campion.