Close-up: An Interview With Christie Lee-Britten

Australian-born actor, presenter and model Christie Lee-Britten is still on a high following her thrilling breakout lead performance in Chris Sun’s creature feature Boar.

Close-up Culture’s James Prestridge caught up with the charming young talent to talk in-depth about Boar, moving to Canada, her passion for entertainment and much more.

Q: ‘Boar’ has been a big hit and looks destined to be horror cult classic. How fun was it to be involved in this project and to now see it doing so well?

A: Yes, Boar has been a really big hit so far in Australia and already internationally. With Universal Pictures Australia involved as distributer, it’s currently the 5th best-selling horror film in Australia this year. It has beat out some huge studios and films which is very exciting. I believe it will be a horror classic. Chris Sun’s last film, Charlie’s Farm, gained a cult following with his loyal fans and I believe Boar will do so as well.

It was extremely fun and rewarding to be involved in this film. I had the time of my life playing such an amazing lead role and working with a star-studded cast in our beautiful nation of Australia – what more could I want? We all worked so hard on this film and poured out hearts and souls into it, so it’s great to see it doing well and watching it come out in so many countries with some exciting release dates being announced soon.

Q: I imagine playing Ella would be an intense and draining role. How did you enjoy playing her and being hunted by a giant wild boar?

A: Playing the role of Ella was perfect because I got to really go to town in terms of emotions, action and being a really strong female character.

When I read the script I knew it was going to be a physical role, so I started spending more time in the gym to get in top shape for the shoot. It was quite a draining role due to the long night shoots, a lot of running, crying, screaming, swimming, climbing hills and some stunt work. By the end of filming I think I slept for an entire week (laughs), but I wouldn’t have it any other way.

I enjoyed playing Ella and being the daughter of Simone Buchanan – who is an Australian icon and now directs iconic Aussie soap opera series Neighbours. We really had a great relationship in the film and had a lot of laughs together on set.

Being hunted by the boar was a little scary on late night shoots in the middle of the bush with spiders, leeches and god knows what else lurking around. However, the boar was incredible as we had it on set with us for most of the shoot and acting opposite this giant beast was really a once in a lifetime opportunity.

It’s not everyday an actor gets to be in a creature feature, so I was very grateful to Chris Sun. Standing on set with the fog, long grass and the boar in front of me was something I just took in and thought: ‘how cool is this.’

Q: ‘Boar’ has a really fun cast, including Nathan Jones (who plays Uncle Bernie) who many people will recognise from ‘Mad Max: Fury Road’ and his time as a wrestler for WWE. What was the atmosphere like during filming?

A: We really got lucky having such an amazing and talented cast. Everyone is really well-known in Australia for what they do.

Nathan Jones plays my uncle Bernie and he is such a great guy. A gentle giant I call him. He is quite well-known for the time he spent in the WWE ring as well as his role in Mad Max: Fury Road.

The atmosphere on set was great with everyone, we all had fun out in the bush. There is a scene where Nathan picks me up and throws me over his shoulder and I was a bit nervous about that as he is so tall. I said whatever you do please don’t drop me on my head – thankfully the scene went perfectly.

Simone Buchanan is such a wealth of knowledge having worked in film and TV since she was young. It was great to work opposite her and learn from her knowledge of the industry. Simone and myself had a lot of fun sitting in our trailers, mucking around in the wardrobe truck, laughing at how silly we looked covered in blood, dirt and tears. We worked really well together as mother and daughter, and created some really great emotional work.

The three-time Logie winning actor Hugh Sheridan played my hunky boyfriend, which I did not complain about! He is another fantastic actor I got to work with and had a good laugh at some of the scenes we filmed together.

Horror actor Bill Moseley – most known for his role in Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 – played the role of my step father. He flew over from LA for the role and was a funny guy to have on set.

As a cast we all stayed in these cute villa townhouses on a golf course up in the small town of Gympie. We would go out to town for dinner and there was maybe three restaurants to choose from (laughs). One night we went ghost hunting – which was a little scary – and we watched some movies another night, but other than that we would just try to get some sleep in before the next days shoot.

Christie filming ‘Boar’ with Simone and Nathan

Q: I believe you are now based out of Vancouver, Canada. What prompted your move and how are you adapting to the change?

A: Yes, I am now based out of Vancouver. It is a beautiful place, but you still need to learn how to deal with the rain as it can rain for weeks at a time. My move was prompted by work opportunities on international productions. I signed with my agent, Trudy Aronson, in Canada and started auditioning from Australia before I made the move. I wanted to work on a more international scale on some of the amazing shows they film over here.

I have adapted great, thank you. I have been lucky to work on some great shows and commercials. The first thing I did to adapt was buy rain gear, gumboots, multiple umbrellas and huge warm jackets (laughs).

Q: What work and projects are you up to in North America?

A: Since moving to Vancouver, I have been lucky to keep busy working on a number of commercials for worldwide brands such as Fitbit, Bose, Healthy Choice, Canadian Tyre, Duracell and Paypal – to name a few. Working on the well-known series The X-Files before it wrapped was a highlight, even though it was freezing filming in a nightgown and slippers in the middle of winter (laughs).

I have been lucky to work on a couple of Hallmark Christmas films, which are always really cute and filled with Christmas spirit. During filming they have the sweetest set design with fairy lights, fake snow and Christmas trees – I just love them!

I worked with Lacey Chabert on The Sweetest Christmas. Lacey rose to fame playing Gretchen on the hit movie Mean Girls, she was such a down to earth woman and an amazing actress, so that was a nice job. I also worked on The Christmas Train, another Hallmark film where I play the role of a Seattle police officer.

I loved my episode on the TV series Zoo as we filmed in a cool underground lab and the episode had a lot going on – blood, chaos and drama as we had been attacked by out of control animals. I always love roles where I get to be covered in blood with fun make-up effects. I filmed a small role in the History channel series Six which follows a navy seals team on a mission to take down a Taliban leader. It is a more gritty drama-filled show.

I have worked on set for a few Netflix original movies such as Game Over Man and To All The Boys I Loved Before. I worked opposite Jason Alexander from hit show Seinfeld on his latest series Hit The Road. Most recently, I worked on a flashback scene for blockbuster Welcome to Marwen – which stars Steve Carrell. I filmed quite frequently this yeah in the Studios and on location for the last season of Once Upon A Time just before the show wrapped their final season.

Christie filming ‘Boar’ with Hugh Sheridan

Q: You started off modelling before transitioning into acting. What memories do you have from your time as a model and what led you to take up acting?

A: Yes, I did start off modelling. I also helped teach junior modelling and deportment classes with one of Australia’s most renowned model agencies. I then won a modelling competition – Miss Gold Coast Show Teen – and with that title came a lot of media and press commitments, which I really loved.

I love modelling, it’s a fun industry to be in. I mean, what girl doesn’t love getting their hair and make-up done while parading around in gorgeous clothes all day (laughs). I also loved the creative designers, photographers and other models I met on my jobs.

I have always been creative and did theatre all throughout school, so it was a natural progression to go into film and TV.

I have always loved the way we as humans spend so much time watching movies, TV shows and online web-series. I love creating characters that are different from my regular self. I love the entire process from the casting and the script, to make-up, wardrobe and being on set to create magic that people can enjoy. I love knowing that I am creating something that will make people feel a certain way; whether it helps them through tough times, gives them clarity with their life or maybe just gives them some weekly entertainment.

We all watch things for different reasons and watching actors bring characters to life can give you an escape from reality for two hours when you just to sit back and enjoy.

I love how watching a film can make me cry, laugh or be terrified – and I have always wanted to bring that to others lives through my craft. When you are truly believable that’s when the magic happens. All of these thoughts are what lead me to acting.

Q: What does acting mean to you and what has it brought to your life?

A: Acting has brought many great adventures to my life. I get to travel to so many amazing places I may have never gone if I was not working in the entertainment industry. I get to see some amazing sunrises if it’s an early morning shoot and some beautiful starry nights when we do night shoots. I have met some amazing people in my journey.

It has also taught me some great life lessons as it’s a tough industry. You learn a lot from the many highs and lows along the way.

I also love theatre. I performed in three musicals all with lead acting, singing and dancing roles. I have been to New York a few times and always watch as many Broadway shows as I can. I just love seeing people’s reactions and making them feel something inside.

I love getting messages from people all over the world saying they loved my work in Boar. That is another reason to be thankful for being able to do what I do. Being in this industry, you meet the most interesting, cool and creative people. I believe you have to be in the business for the right reasons and stay grounded.

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Q: ‘Boar’ was a great showcase and lead role for you. What kind of roles and projects do you hope to work on in the future?

A: Yes, Boar was a great role for me. It allowed me to be a leading lady opposite some big stars and alongside a strong female cast.

I have a few big network shows I would love to be involved in that film here in the city. I really want to play a strong role as a cop, lawyer or soldier – something gritty. And, on the other hand, I always love playing characters with the most amazing fashion, hair and make-up like they have on CW show Dynasty.

As I love this industry, I will always work on any project if I love the role. I hope to also work with E! Entertainment and show off my presenting work by interviewing on the red carpet and all the big events over in Hollywood.

I hope to be flying between Australia, Canada, LA and Atlanta in the near future for work – and maybe Broadway too in the future. You can never dream too big!

Q: Where can we see ‘Boar’?

A: Boar premiered in Australia and screened first in Australian cinemas. It then went to pay-on-demand TV on Foxtel so you could watch it from the comfort of home, which was fun. It’s now out on DVD, Blu-ray and in selected stores in Australia such as JB Hi-FI, Big W, Kmart, Itunes, Amazon, Microsoft store, X-Box store, Playstation store and Sanity – to name a few.

Boar is now being released in so many countries around the world, so keep an eye out for the international release dates. It will be in the USA sometime in 2019, which is exciting as the Americans love Chris Sun’s work and a lot of horror fans in the US can’t wait to see it.

It has also been chosen for some of the biggest horror genre film festivals in the world. It has recently screened at the famous Sitges Film Festival in Spain, Hardline Festival in Germany, Fractured Visions in Wales, Slash Film Festival in Austria, Frightfest in London and Bifan Bucheon International Film Festival in South Korea with many more to come!

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