Close-up: An Interview With Rylee Mackintosh

Australian actor Rylee Mackintosh joins us on Close-up Culture for a fun chat about her adventurous upbringing, being on the set of Thor: Ragnarock, the actor’s lifestyle, and much more.

Q: I’ve read some interesting things about your adventurous upbringing in the suburbs of Brisbane. Can you tell us about that and how it shaped your outlook on life?

A: I was one of those strange kids that never wanted to grow up. I wanted to remain a kid forever, like Peter Pan in Neverland (laughs)! As kids we were always so curious and adventurous, to the extent of it being dangerous, and I’d like to think that I have and will continue to carry that aspect of my inner child with me. I mean life’s more fun when there’s the prospect of danger! Right?

In saying that, I have grown up in a household that always values experiences over possessions and I’ve come to adopt that ideology throughout my whole life thus far. This mindset has lead me to a few adventures that others might call insane, such as; skydiving; which heads-up, bring a few extra layers because once you are up in the air, it feels like you could get frostbite, diving with sharks (also freezing), free falling 10 meters onto a big blow up pillow and quad biking; which I accidently went off route, crashed into the bushes and wasn’t allowed back on, but hey! I was young… round 2?

My outlook on life has always been to have fun and FEEL things, we’ve only got one life, so why not have a job that does just that. Side note: Call me crazy but I love feeling (laughs)! Weird right? I know. Whether it be pain, joy, heartbreak, excitement; I love to feel it all, because even as cliché as it sounds, it makes me feel human. I believe THIS is why I love acting, and why it’s my biggest and most addictive adventure to date, giving me the adrenaline rush I crave and it’s widely unpredictable.

Q: I imagine that experience of getting out of your comfort zone helped when you tried acting. When did you fall in love with acting and decide to pursue it as a career?

A: Of course! Although when I’m acting, I don’t feel like I am out of my comfort zone, maybe my character is, but not me personally, as I seem to flick a switch if you will, and I become someone else, my character. I view it as if it I have a mask on and no one can tell it’s me underneath. However, it’s the moment before I act, where it’s just me, about to give it my everything that puts me out of my comfort zone, which is where I think my experiences have helped. They taught me to put myself out there and just leap.

As far as deciding to pursue acting as a career, I actually resisted for a long time. Since I was one year old I loved performing! I would put on shows for my family, and was cast as Goldilocks in my primary school production, as well as doing drama all throughout high school.

There was always a part of me that was curious and fascinated by the acting world and I found myself always watching the ‘behind the scenes’ of my favourite films, yet whenever the thought of becoming an actor arose, I always just thought I was too shy and it was never going to happen. It wasn’t until 2015 when I travelled to LA and walked on the Warner Brothers Studio sets (which was at the top of my bucket list) that I saw my path in life and I decided from then on, that I can and I will do this, and I finally gave in to my passion for acting.

Rylee on the set of ‘Honeybee’

Q: You’ve been on huge sets for ‘Aquaman’ and ‘Thor: Ragnarok’. What did you take away from those experiences? Any stories to tell?

A: Oh, it was incredible! I was only 16 at the time of filming Thor and it was one of my very first jobs. It was all very last minute with someone dropping out, a replacement was needed, so they called me while I was at school and just said; “we need you at the Gold Coast right now for a fitting”. So from that moment on I realised how fast paced the acting scene is and how things can change at the drop of a hat.

I remember when filming Thor, I was so excited when I heard them first yell ‘ACTION!’ That night, as soon as I saw my parents, I was like “They said ACTION!” (Hysterically laughing!) It was just surreal being on a production that big and being lucky enough to be in the same scenes as Chris Hemsworth, Jeff Goldblum, and Mark Ruffalo, and then seeing myself on the big screen (of course I took a screenshot!). Watching them having so much fun between takes, and then switch into character and be 100% professional was awe-inspiring.

One of the funniest things I remember from being on Thor was when we were filming a scene at the Hulk Festival and there was green powder being thrown everywhere, I’m wearing a wig and surrounded by so many other people and I honestly couldn’t see a thing! In the middle of the scene as I’m uncoordinatedly dancing, I hit something really hard and I look up to realise I just ran smack bang into the back of Chris Hemsworth. The cameras kept rolling and it was as if nothing ever happened, but I don’t think I’ve ever danced away so fast in my entire life (laughs)!

Q: You also have a couple of short film roles this year with ‘Blood Ties’ and ‘Melon Slicer’. Can you tell us about the projects and your experience working on them?

A: We just wrapped on Jesse Seeley’s short film, Blood Ties, and I think it was actually my most challenging short film to date. Upon reading the script I could see that it required a lot of emotionally draining scenes, yet if anything, that’s what made me what to do it even more. I hadn’t done a film with the intensity this film had so it was all very new to me. I realised I was putting so much pressure on myself to get it ‘right’, I just had to step back, and let the circumstance take over and truly make myself present in the scene which really helped.

Between takes there were plenty of giggles and so many hilarious moments when a take didn’t exactly go according to plan which helped to lighten the mood when tackling such a heavy subject. Blood Ties will be screening later in the year and heading to festivals and with Jesse to Los Angeles! All very exciting!

Melon Slicer was actually a short film produced by Rachel Livero, who I did my very first short film with, Honeybee. Honeybee was such an incredible experience where by the end of the day I was absolutely covered head to toe in honey! When Melon Slicer came up she told me she wrote a character for me and I was thrilled to be a part of another production working with Rachel. To get into the mood for one of the scenes we had the Legally Blonde soundtrack playing and I was dancing around! Always fun when working with such a lively and hilarious crew and of course I had the song Perfect Day stuck in my head the whole car ride home!

Q: We touched on your adventurous spirit earlier. How are you finding the actor’s lifestyle?

A: Thrilling! Hahah. You never know what’s around the corner or what opportunities are going to present themselves next. The unknown is all very exhilarating and makes you push yourself even harder to stay above the water. In saying that, it’s still the same lifestyle I’ve always lived. I have family games nights, dance when no one’s watching and work at my local General Store to pay my bills and put down self-tapes constantly, whether for an audition or just for fun. It’s all very humbling.

Rylee on the set of ‘Honeybee’

Q: I saw you recently took part in Tom McSweeney’s acting workshop. What have been some of the biggest lessons you’ve picked up in your career so far?

A: YES! I always manage to keep coming back to Tom McSweeney’s courses. They are just so grounding and I can’t express how much I love becoming a new character each week. I get to live so many lives and bring them to life in front of the camera amongst so many other incredible actors. I usually never stay at a course for too long as I love to explore and learn from a variety of different teachers as they all have different methods and advice, and this way I can just pick and choose what relates to me from all the teachings. I have actually just booked in another term with Tom after taking a course somewhere else.

I think the biggest lesson I have learnt from Tom is, whenever you’re in a scene and you start to get caught up in your head, just focus all your attention on listening to the other person, it brings you back to the moment.

Another lesson I’ve learnt from this career/lifestyle is to go with the flow. I’ve always been someone who likes to be overly organised and arrange everything so far in advance, so when I started acting I realised I had to change my mindset and just go with the flow or I’ll get to caught up in trying to make everything work. I’ve realised I can’t control everything, I just have to put everything I’ve got into what I can control. I fully believe everything happens for a reason. It’s been proven to me time and time again that what you put out in the world, you receive back.

Q: I’ve seen a video featuring your impressive American accent. Do you have plans to work abroad? What type of projects are you looking for?

A: Just to be a working actor! And thank you! That’s the dream! I love speaking in an American Accent and I actually find some words easier to say in the American accent then the Australian accent. Some words just roll off the tongue better! I find the accent helps me get into character and I find myself casually talking to myself in an American accent.

I have big dreams to work abroad and it is definitely a plan of mine. I’m taking everything one step at a time and creating a name for myself in Australia, although if the opportunity to work abroad came up, I would jump on the first flight out!

In regards to types of projects I’m looking for, as much as theatre intrigues me, I’ve always had a love for film and TV. As far as the projects go, I look for ones that intrigue me and leave me curious about the character and that I can relate to, even if in a roundabout way. Whether I am like the character in more ways than one, or completely different, I love to explore the different ranges of a character.

Q: What is next for you? Any ambitions or plans to share with us?

A: Who knows! I have so many plans and ambitions I am currently working towards and I have a few big opportunities coming up. Next in the works I would be striving for a regular role in an Australian soap and working on getting US representation for more job opportunities abroad. I’m excited to see where everything takes me and what new learning experiences I will encounter. Here’s to the hustle!

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