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:: Spotlight :: Wolf Creek Interview - Cassandra Magrath and Kestie Morassi

By: Catherine Naghten

With their relaxed smiles and excited chatter, Cassandra Magrath and Kestie Morassi are almost unrecognisable as the tormented backpackers from Wolf Creek, yet the emotion and fear they portrayed in their roles will stay with audiences for a very long time. Catherine Naghten chatted to them about their experience.

When did you see the final cut?

Kestie- I saw it at Sundance for the first time. I’d seen a cut of it in Greg’s lounge-room on the small screen but it had nowhere near the impact, obviously, compared to a bloody big cinema screen. It was awesome, and the audience were amazing. They laughed in all the right bits and gasped in all the right bits.

Cassandra- …and asked such great questions at the end. Really intelligent moviegoers. That was fascinating for me.

Are either of you big horror fans?

Kestie- Not particularly. I appreciate the genre but I don’t go out and try to watch horror films. I’m always too much of a scaredy cat.

Cassandra- I’m too scared. I cry if there’s too much violence. I’m like, “why, why aren’t there more bunnies?”

Kestie- (laughing) I’ve been watching more horror films since I’ve made Wolf Creek because I just want to see if anything comes close, and it just doesn’t.

Cassandra- I thought it might help me watch them but I watched- well started watching- Switchblade Romance the other day. The first tiny bit of horror and I just actually went into the kitchen and was like “whoa, I really can’t handle it.” I know its not real but it just unlocks this universal sense of all the horrible things that go on in the world and I start thinking about the people its happening to right now.

Was it difficult to let go of that emotion at the end of a day’s shooting?

Cassandra- Good question. Acting as a job…you don’t need anything but yourself so you’re kind of thinking about yourself and what you’re going to do, how you’re going to project this and that. I just get drained. Everything’s so internal. Especially when you finish a job like this, you just want to think about everything else except for how you’re going to project this emotion. It’s exhausting anyway but this particular film, with all the things we had to do, it was even more so. Kestie and I fell in massive heaps when we finished this film. We got so sick, both of us. I was bruised and sick, but happy as anything.

Kestie- I felt so satisfied after every day knowing that we’d gotten through it, knowing that Greg was happy, knowing that Will Gibson (Director of Photography) was happy and everyone just seemed to feel like we’d gotten something really good out of the day. So every day I was exhausted but really, really satisfied. And that’s how I felt after the whole shoot. “Pat on the back everyone, job well done.”

Is Wolf Creek still scary for you guys?

Kestie- I find it really hard not to watch the technical side of movies. I very rarely forget that I’m watching a movie and just be taken along for the ride. I think the last one that did that to me was Requiem for a Dream. Even though it was so stylistic and stuff I just forgot I was watching a movie and it was just this roller coaster and it took me right to the end. And only then did I kind of sit back and after the shock I started to analyse it but…

Cassandra- That film broke my heart. It broke my heart into a million pieces.

Kestie- but with Wolf Creek the first time I was nit picking every little single thing about my own performance and the second time was like “Wow, Greg’s a genius, what an amazingly crafted film”. Then the third time I was allowed to lose myself in it and yeah, I was scared even though I knew what was going to happen.

What was Greg McLean like to work with?

Cassandra- He’s awesome. He’s already a star. Greg, my gosh… mega talented, super brain, all round great guy, totally hilarious and so the opposite person that I though I’d meet. I had pictured the director of this film to be like the guy on The Simpsons who owns the comic book store, and Greg’s this intellectual, really hilarious guy and quite gentle. It made me feel better that he was like that, like he’s doing this for all the right reasons.

How did you both come to acting?

Cassandra- I got my first job when I was 11 and had auditioned for the agency a week earlier. I was very particular about which drama classes I went to. I went to one and went "they’re not good enough there, I want a different drama class. These kids are just not up to my level” (laughs). So my mum saw this thing in the paper for an agency for kids and she said “do you want audition” and I said, “yeah I’d love to”. My brother and sister auditioned as well, we all got in, and we all got the first job we went for.

Kestie- Wow, that’s awesome.

Cassandra- Yeah. So my brother and sister worked as well but they didn’t love it as much as me. I had the real passion for it and whereas they wouldn’t learn their lines straight away, I’d get the thing straight away and read it. It’s such a perfect thing, I thought would be good for me to do and it’s just carried into my adult life as well.

Kestie- I did a school musical when I was fifteen called Braces and Bows. My drama teacher had written it herself and the music teacher was Mary…who’s that Australian musician? Paul Kelly! It was Mary Kelly, his sister. She ran the music program and it was an all girls’ school so my drama teacher wrote a musical about a drama camp for girls and I was just absolutely hooked at that moment. I loved drama at school. I left school three months before I did my VCE and because my teachers were so amazing and they were worried about me I just said look, “it’s fine, I’m going to audition for VCA or something. I’ll be an actor, it’s cool.” The more I work, the more I know that this is something that I really love to do. And I hope it opens up other avenues for me because I want to make music and I love to do artwork. Acting’s really good because it gives you time to do all these things, as well as money and exposure so you can do these things. I love writing songs and jamming with friends. I’ve just gotten into painting and collage and I love a bit of photography so that’s a definite passion of mine.

Cassandra- I like doing all those things too but I just don’t do them. Kestie’s really talented and an amazing painter. I love painting and taking photos and all that stuff except for music but I am just not very good at it. It will never stop me from doing it. I just haven’t gotten around to it yet.

How do you prepare to act as three best mates?

Cassandra- Kestie and Nathan had worked together before and Kestie and I had worked together before. I’d never met Nathan before. I met him on the plane over to Adelaide and I thought it was really important that we hung out together and do things together. Why forge a friendship on screen without trying to have a shot at a real one? I’d be angry if either of them decided that they were going to forge friendships on screen without trying to establish a true one. It’s just better for everyone in the end.

Kestie- We all pretty much clicked in the beginning didn’t we? It was a pretty dynamic trio to begin with. We didn’t only function as a trio, we’ve all got our own relationships with each other so that was good too.

Cassandra-And you know, we all hate John (laughs).

How was it working with John?

Cassandra- Wicked, yeah beautiful.

Is he anything like his character?

Cassandra- He’s the complete opposite. John was amazing. He’s an amazing actor who’s done a million and one films. He’s an awesome storyteller, very gentle, and into his family.

Did you learn from him?

Kestie- I did, yeah.

Cassandra- I learned to be f**king scared of him! (Laughs) Yeah. It’s really interesting. I’ve worked with so many actors and every now and then there’s one that you’re standing in front of that you just go, “My god, even when I’m acting myself I’m still looking at you just going wow.” And there were heaps of moments I had like that with John. Me on the inside was thinking “nice one”. He’s a true actor. He is very, very good at what he does, which is awful for him now because people are scared of him. I really want him to play god now.

So people can see his nice side…

Cassandra- Yeah, he needs to be in a white suit and play god, ’cause he’d be brilliant at that too.