Laura Michelle Kelly & Magda Szubanski Goddess Interview

Laura Michelle Kelly & Magda Szubanski Goddess Interview

Laura Michelle Kelly and Magda Szubanski Goddess Interview

Cast: Laura Michelle Kelly, Ronan Keating, Magda Szubanski, Hugo Johnstone-Burt, Dustin Clare, Pia Miranda, Corinne Grant
Director: Mark Lamprell
Genre: Comedy, Musical, Romance
Rated: PG
Running Time: 104 minutes

When young mum Elspeth Dickens (Laura Michelle Kelly), mother of naughty twin boys, installs a webcam in her kitchen, her funny sink-songs make her a cyber-sensation. While her husband James (Ronan Keating) is off saving the world's whales, Elspeth is offered the chance of a lifetime. But when forced to choose between fame and family, the newly anointed internet goddess almost loses it all.

Release Date
: March 14th, 2013

Interview with Laura Michelle Kelly and Magda Szubanski

Question: How would you describe Goddess?

Laura Michelle Kelly: Goddess is about Elspeth Dickens who is at home with naughty twins; she is lonely and she misses her husband (Ronan Keating) who is off saving the whales. Elspeth starts a web series because her husband gave her a webcam and she can't connect with him and she accidently finds herself on this journey to fame and fortune through Cassandra Wolfe played by Magda Szubanski. They realise it's a choice between family or fame.

Question: What inspired you to audition for your roles in Goddess?

Laura Michelle Kelly: I loved the script, when I read the script in England it was great timing as I needed something new to do and I really wanted something different. Goddess landed on my agents desk and next thing I know skip to screen test and dancing, singing and acting; then I got cast and it was a bit of journey waiting for it to be green lit. I then found out that Mark Lamprell's first choice for Cassandra Wolfe, Magda Szubanski had agreed.

Magda Szubanski: Mark Lamprell wrote the part of Cassandra Wolfe with me in mind so I didn't have to audition which is great because I am a shocking audition. Basically if you expect me to audition for something I will be terrible and I won't get it. Had I had to audition for this you could be certain I wouldn't have got it.

Laura Michelle Kelly: Did you need to be convinced to do the part?

Magda Szubanski: To be honest when I looked at it first I wasn't quite sure if I could make her funny or make it work. Once I got into it, I realised I didn't need to strive to make her funny, I needed to let her be real, we had a great rehearsal period where I could work on that as people expect me to be laugh out loud funny. I said to Mark Lamprell "I really want to make Cassandra Wolfe real and go with whatever humour comes from the situation".

Laura Michelle Kelly: Even though Magda Szubanski is playing this uber corporate bitch she makes people care for her character, there is a real heart to it and the audience is almost on her side, as well.

Magda Szubanski: I really deliberately wanted to do that because I could see her point of view as it was written that way and I think that essentially I am the villain of the piece however the world is way past having simple two-dimensional villain characters. People are much more complex and a lot of the things Cassandra says I agree with. In the real world, especially as you get older you realise compromises have to be made and it's an interesting journey for Cassandra.

Question: It's a different role for you; did you love playing the role of Cassandra Wolfe?

Magda Szubanski: I loved it and it was very empowering as it's a sexy role. Cassandra is a strong character and a strong businesswoman who is incredibly capable. It's a very interesting time that we live in with the role of women and how they manage power; the movie showcases how you manage fame and family but also femininity and questions how much of yourself you lose when you go for your ambition.

Question: I love the red hair. Who's idea was that?

Magda Szubanski : I don't know if that was decided on beforehand but red hair does seem to be an ongoing theme for me, but it works. Everybody keeps saying "dye your hair red". I've had red hair for several characters, that said this is very different from Sharon Strzelecki and Dogwoman (laughs).

Question: Did you meet with Joanna Weinberg prior to filming?

Laura Michelle Kelly: Absolutely! Joanna Weinberg and I actually wrote Tantrum together (singing) overlooking the Harbour from her living room - it was nice to be involved right from the beginning and see the different versions of the script. I liked that I understood her from the beginning and saw how the story evolved, I love that I know where it originated from.

Question: Did you enjoy the difference between filming and performing on stage?

Laura Michelle Kelly: It was actually really challenging, I don't think I've been this challenged in a long time.

Magda Szubanski: Really? Compared to eight shows a week on Broadway?

Laura Michelle Kelly: That's where I grew up and lived. It was a challenge to do a different medium, understand it and know what's happening every day; the pressure of that was tough at times, but in a good way. I learned a lot, it taught me a lot. I want to do another one, I'm ready now!

Magda Szubanski: You've been bitten by the bug, now!

Laura Michelle Kelly: I'd handle it differently now, I'd have the time to think about it and realise what I've learned. You only really learn when you're challenged. It's nice to be comfortable but you're not feeling alive unless you're being challenged.

Question: What did you enjoy most about filming in Tasmania and Sydney?

Laura Michelle Kelly: I loved Tasmania; it was such a beautiful landscape.

Magda Szubanski: Tasmania is stunning and I believe the Australian Tourist Bureau should get on this film because it makes Sydney look amazing too. Goddess is the best I've seen Sydney showcased in a very long time, if ever.

Laura Michelle Kelly: The Australian Government was involved because we used all the big landscapes.

Magda Szubanski: The amazing building that we filmed my song in was the Macquarie Building and it was very hard to get access to. Sydney has stepped up, I believe you can now say 'New York, Paris, London, Sydney' and people don't laugh, Sydney is an international centre. It's credible that a character, like mine, could be taking a character like Laura Michelle Kelly's and launching her internationally; people believe that now, whereas before they wouldn't. After the Sydney Olympics we were really put on the map as credible.

Question: Can you talk about Ronan Keating helped you with your song?

Magda Szubanski: Ronan Keating was nervous about his acting and I was nervous about singing and we mashed them together (laughing) like one perfect human being.

He was really lovely and when we were recording, in the studio he stayed on which was so sweet and more than anything it was his encouragement, he didn't make me feel bad and I flourish when people are nice and supportive to me, as that brings out the best in me and he was incredibly supportive.

Question: His mentoring on The X Factor would have helped with that.

Yes and being on the receiving end of Ronan Keating's mentoring really gave me a lot of confidence especially when you look at his reputation, he has sold more records than Justin Bieber! If someone that huge says 'I love what you're doing' then you feel a lot more confident.

Question: Do you still find yourself singing your song, from the film, around the house?

Magda Szubanski: That is a catchy tune, that one! I love it and I think it's a great song.

Laura Michelle Kelly: I think they should have Magda Szubanski sing her number at an awards ceremony, here in Australia. That would be really fun!

Magda Szubanski: Maybe….

Laura Michelle Kelly: I think when you go through the trauma of four months of hard-core rehearsals, once you're through it you try your hardest to forget, I don't even remember songs from Mary Poppins! As soon as you leave something, you put it away.

Magda Szubanski: She can't even sing Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious!

Laura Michelle Kelly: I forget it! However, I did hear the Goddess songs today, on the radio, and I got right back into it.

Question: Could you relate to your characters?

Laura Michelle Kelly: I could totally relate to the character and I think that's why I felt so comfortable doing this role as a lot of the character is me, in real life. I am clumsy and I do have the challenge of family vs working. I have the challenges that Elspeth Dickens does without the kids. I have a lot of friends that tell me that it's very true to life. I really love that she makes wrong decisions or makes the decisions that most people would make but they could potentially ruin her life. It's easy to tear down, with one hand, what you've spent you whole life living and building and that's what she is doing; can she get back to family life?

Magda Szubanski: Everyone experiences those tensions and what's great is that it was co-written by Joanna Weinberg and Mark Lamprell so you see both sides as you can understand the story from the husband's point of view and the wives. Even with gender differences aside everyone knows the feeling of that burning question 'Can you have it all?' They often ask it of women but it's true about men too because men nowadays don't want to be like the old-fashion fathers who were very distant and remote, who died not knowing their families; men want to have the connection but they want to work, so they have the same dilemma.

Question: Can you talk about how they went about filming the web-cam scenes?

Laura Michelle Kelly: They filmed them with a normal camera but had a very special visual effects team to showcase the web-cam scenes. It was very interesting and extremely clever.

Question: What was it like working with the twin boys?

Laura Michelle Kelly: They were so fun; I miss their cheeky little faces and I can't wait to see them again. They thought they were in a game, they weren't working.

Magda Szubanski: One of the things I hate in films, especially American films is that they make children into little smart-arses that are well beyond their years and they are never 'children' whereas these kids are what kids are really like. To get that naturalistic performance is so refreshing rather than a little adult.

Laura Michelle Kelly: In one scene Ronan Keating's character and I have a spat and because the boys thought they were in a game they were very worried that I had trodden on some glass and instantly they acted worried and we had to refilm. The boys didn't twig and all they needed to know was if Mama Laura was okay! It was often just filming their real life reaction.

Question: Did anything surprise you when you saw the completion?

Magda Szubanski: No, I'd seen bits and pieces including the costumes of parts I wasn't in, so there wasn't anything that particularly surprised me. When I walked through the costume department I'd see the 'Glove Dress' - they did a fabulous job, it was very clever. All the various departments did an amazing job!

Laura Michelle Kelly: It was Shareen Beringer, the Costume Designers idea to have the gloves developing into a dress, from the beginning; she did such an amazing job! I didn't anticipate that but it was interesting to see the development much like the character develops over time, she expresses herself. What the departments bring to the film is incredible.

Magda Szubanski: I didn't have the script for the developments that Laura Michelle Kelly was in and I wasn't and of course the film was all in Mark Lamprell's head but I had no idea that it was going to be such a visual cornucopia because it is a wealth of fabulous design.

I had no idea that my character would look the way she does and that really informed my character, I understood her more as she was relatable to senior arts bureaucrats and people who I have known who have been in advertising circles. Cassandra isn't based on anyone in particular, that I know, but I know that type of women.

Interview by Brooke Hunter

Ronan Keating & Mark Lamprell Goddess Interview


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