The Method Lucy Fry Swears by to Prep for an Audition in a Time Crunch

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Photo Source: Nathan Arizona

Australian actor Lucy Fry has played her fair share of supernatural characters: an elf in the Netflix film “Bright,” a mermaid on the Australian TV show “Mako Mermaids,” and now a vampire in another Netflix feature, “Night Teeth.” (She does also take on human roles, including mob boss daughter Stella on Epix’s “Godfather of Harlem.”) Here, she discusses the importance of grounding every character in reality and the joys of working on Netflix productions. 

What advice would you give your younger self?
When I was a little younger, it was about [asking]: Where am I going to get? how am I going to get there? It always seemed so hard and so far. Being in a place now where I’m working consistently, I wish I could just tell her, “It’s OK. Enjoy it. Enjoy the struggle, enjoy the breakthroughs, and don’t think about it too much. Just be in your life now.” 

What is your worst audition horror story?
I had just done a film that was quite intense, and a bit of intense life stuff [was] happening at the same time. You know [how] when big stuff has happened, you can feel a little shocked and out of your body? I was in the audition and the scene was: She’s finding out she has cancer, and she’s crying about dying. In the scene, I was in so much shock that I didn’t get any of the beats, and there was zero emotion. And then they said cut, and I started crying after. I was so embarrassed.

What’s the wildest thing you ever did to get a role?
I do remember for “Bright,” I had always wanted to play an elf, and that was the first time I got to audition for an elf. It was a dream of mine when I saw “Lord of the Rings” as a kid. I auditioned four or five times and wrote to [director] David Ayer. And every time I went into the audition room, I just left everything on the floor. There was one time I really wanted a part, and I did a painting for the director [of] how I thought the characters in the world felt. I can’t believe I still didn’t get that part! It’s a bold move, and it didn’t work.

“When you’re auditioning, you don’t have that much time to get to know the character. So I just try to bring as much of myself into it as I can, make it as real as possible.”

Tell us about your first day on a professional set.
My first day on a professional set was a job called “Lightning Point” in Australia. I was playing a surf-crazed alien with two girls who are two of my closest friends now. I remember we were filming in these cornfields in Queensland and [feeling] the excitement of doing it professionally for the first time, doing something that I had trained for years in, and being paid to do what I love. I felt so much pressure to do a good job. It was just a nothing scene—walking into a cornfield on a kids’ show—but I remember feeling so thrilled.

What performance should every actor see and why?
I went to Lincoln Center years ago because you can watch archives of plays there. I watched “Jerusalem” with Mark Rylance. His performance in that was really deep and inspiring; and the ending of it, where he plays this drum, it gets into your bones, even watching it on a recording in a library. That kind of depth that can translate through a screen—I can’t imagine how it would’ve felt in the audience. I feel like he channels an energy that’s greater than himself. 

When was the moment you decided you wanted to be an actor?
When I was really young, like 7 or 8, I was so shy that I found it really hard to speak. That’s how I started going to speech and drama classes, to just get enough confidence to articulate and communicate. Even then, I found there was something in the art of acting that was deeply soul-fulfilling, in terms of learning to connect to others and express yourself and listen. Then when I was 14, I started [training with] this physical theater company called Zen Zen Zo in Australia. It was just so thrilling and exciting and all about energy and presence. It was very experimental theater. When I started doing that training, I was like, This is what I want to do with my life. 

What about the physicality of acting speaks to you?
Being in your body, being present, listening with your whole body to the other actor in the moment is the most exciting thing about acting. I think that’s taught me so much about how to be present in my life and how to express myself in my life. I feel like every character, embodying them teaches me something about a new energy that maybe I can access in day-to-day life or don’t want to access in day-to-day life. I feel like my best work comes when it’s kinesthetic and just about being in my body and not in my mind.

How do you typically prepare for an audition?
It’s different for every character. I would just be really familiar with the material, with the scenes, the beats. What are they going for in the scene? I use the Ivana Chubbuck method most of the time for auditions, because I feel like it’s really effective to bring that personalization in an audition. When I’m doing auditions, I try to bring as much of my heart into it as I can. I feel like Ivana Chubbuck’s techniques help me to do that. Whenever I’m auditioning, I’ll do her substitutions and her technique to get that motivation in the scenes. Also, when you’re auditioning, you don’t have that much time to get to know the character. Whenever I’m working on a project, I will do so much prep into the character’s backstory, into their physicality, into their thought process, into their voice, the accent, historical context—all of it. You can’t do all of that work for every audition. So I just try to bring as much of myself into it as I can, make it as real as possible. 

READ: 5 Tips for Last-Minute Audition Prep

Do you think it’s been helpful for you to add your personal experience and realism when you play fantastical characters like vampires, mermaids, and elves? 
I think so. I think it happens naturally. I really like to get to know the character as a separate entity to myself and to channel them and have a ritual to separate my own energy from their energy. When I treat the character with that respect, as if they’re a friend, and make space for them—in the scenes, in the story, on the set—to fully exist, it becomes real, even though they might be an elf or a vampire or a mermaid. It doesn’t matter anymore. It’s investing in their reality, in what’s real for them. With the vampire I’m playing in “Night Teeth,” it was her desire for blood and letting myself really feel that craving, as if it’s just food and really wanting that—it seems absurd, but letting it be real and suspending the disbelief for it. 

What has playing Zoe in “Night Teeth” added to your acting skills?
I learned a lot about spontaneity and letting go. This character has a very wild and fiery, volatile temperament, and I really loved how that pushed me as an actor—to never know what I was going to do, to let myself find it. It became so freeing. I noticed that even in my own life, I started to have a little bit of that different energy where I wasn’t so tight in day-to-day life and was thinking less about what I was going to say, just relaxing more into the moment. I loved that, because I’d never played a character as wild as her before. It was so fun to access that energy. 

This is your second Netflix film. How does working for a streaming platform differ from some of the other projects you’ve done?
Working for Netflix, in particular, they give the filmmaker so much freedom to make the film they want to make. [Director] Adam Randall is such a brilliant director, and he was very clear about the kind of film he wanted “Night Teeth” to be. I loved that Netflix supported Adam, even in the way he designed the color scheme and the way he let us be really free with the dialogue and add moments and take moments away that we weren’t really vibing with. I noticed that on “Bright,” as well. Netflix really supported [director] David Ayer to make the film he wanted it to be. When I did “Vampire Academy” way back in the day, I remember on that set there were a lot more cooks in the kitchen and that the director wasn’t as free. He wanted to make it more like “Mean Girls,” and I think that would’ve been really great, but there were so many different perspectives. I really appreciate how Netflix gives the artists more creative control.

This story originally appeared in the Oct. 14 issue of Backstage Magazine. Subscribe here.

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