ANGOURIE Rice was just 11 years old when she was plunged into the gruesome, nihilistic world of Zak Hildithch’s Australian apocalypse horror These Final Hours.
Surrounded by acts of sexual impetuosity and reckless violence, Rice’s character (Rose) and her unlikely partner – 30-something anti-hero James (Nathan Phillips) – traverse this crumbling landscape in search of a meaningful family connection before the world comes to an end.
At one point, Rose is drugged by a distraught woman who believes the youngster to be her daughter and is taken into a swimming pool to be drowned. An innocence-corrupting sequence that is almost too hard to watch (how could they do anything this cruel such an adorable young girl?) as it inches towards an unthinkable conclusion.
The chaos of the These Final Hours was probably a fitting introduction for Rice to an industry – and accompanying press – that has been known to treat its young stars with the type of ruthless moral abandonment found in apocalypse flicks. The sacrificial public drowning of once beloved and fresh-faced child stars, often corrupted by intoxicants like Rose, is an all too common tale.
Yet six years on from Hildithch’s film, Rice appears to have navigated such precarious ground with a composure of choices that would make Rose proud.
Now 17, Rice shines front-and-centre in the lead role of Michael Sucsy’s teen fantasy-romance Every Day. A film that follows charming high-schooler Rhiannon (Rice) as she falls in love with the soul of a person that enters a new body every day.
Every Day (read our review) is teen romance at its sparkling best. In it, Rice is given a platform to show off her effervescent skill up against a diverse selection of actors who carry the voice of Rhiannon’s love-interest – A. Rice gives a genial and honest core to the film that ensures this difficult book-to-film project works – and retains a charm many adaptations lose somewhere along the way.
Those who saw Rice in 2016’s The Nice Guys will not be surprised. In Shane Black’s film the Aussie teen held her own with Hollywood big-hitters Ryan Gosling and Russell Crowe, bringing a wise-cracking charisma to steal every scene she popped up in.
Off the back of this impressive performance, The Guardians’ Peter Bradshaw even predicted she would be playing a Marvel superheroine in the next few years. Not yet – although did appear in Spider-Man: Homecoming last year – but you can certainly see Bradshaw’s prediction coming true in the near future. Rice has a talent for smart mouth material that would see slot her nicely into the Marvel Universe post-Infinity Wars.
Also in 2017, Rice took a role in the remake of Don Siegel’s 1971 film The Beguiled. This gave her an opportunity to work with fellow young female actors such as Oona Lawrence and Elle Fanning, while being around the wiser heads of Sofia Coppola, Kirsten Dunst and fellow Aussie Nicole Kidman. An experience that should be invaluable in steering Rice down the right path – both in front of and behind the camera.
We can only hope that child actors transition successfully and safely into adulthood. Especially an actor like Rice who seems to have avoided tabloid exploitation and has instead been able to blossom as a performer with the kind of endearing vibrancy she displays in Every Day.
The early signs are promising. I, for one, predict Rice will not only keep her head above water in Hollywood’s difficult landscape, but thrive as one of her generation’s best actors.
Every Day arrives in UK cinemas Friday April 20.