Rose McIver is a young actress who is slowly putting a stranglehold on the television world. She stars on two of the hottest Sunday night programs for very different audiences. In Once Upon a Time’s third season, on a small hiatus but set to return on March 9th, McIver plays the iconic Tinker Bell. She also has a recurring role on Showtime’s Masters of Sex, where she portrays Vivian Scully. McIver’s performance as a traditional young woman trying to figure out her own sexual boundaries in a rigid society makes her one of the cable series’ most fascinating characters and has given the New Zealand native a wealth of acclaim.
It has been a long road for McIver, whose first role was in a television commercial at the tender age of two. At three, she garnered a small role as “Angel” in Jane Campion’s Oscar-winning drama The Piano, although American movie audiences likely know her best for her role as Lindsey Salmon, Suzie’s younger sister, in the adaptation of Alice Sebold’s The Lovely Bones. As she balances her roles on two of television’s biggest dramas, she also has time for film. In the new romantic drama Brightest Star, McIver plays Charlotte, a driven college graduate who leaves her boyfriend (played by Chris Lowell) aching at his knees. Not one to give up, he sets out to win her back and rekindle that spark of first love.
Recently, I had the chance to sit down for an exclusive interview with McIver. She spoke about creating onscreen chemistry, the roles that attract her the most and why the characters she portrays in Brightest Star and on Masters of Sex aren’t all that different.
Check it out below and enjoy!
WGTC: When I spoke with [Brightest Star writer/director Maggie Kiley], she told me that when she met with you for the role of Charlotte, she instantly knew you were right for the part. What attracted you to this role and working on this film?
RM: When I read the script, I had been reading for the past few weeks beforehand a bunch of scripts that had this really expository dialogue and I just hadn’t been very inspired by the material I was reading. Then I got Brightest Star, which had a different title at the time. I remember just feeling like I could do all of these things and feel like it was my voice. It was beautifully written. I think a big part of it is the fact that Maggie Kiley is an actor, as well as a director. So that was the immediate draw. And then, just the subject matter, the fact that the story is about these people who think they know what they want and think they know where they’re going and suddenly the ground is pulled out from under them. Becoming an adult changes all of those ideals you think you have. It just felt very resonant and was what I and all of my friends were going through. It made a lot of sense to me.
WGTC: And you could personally relate to the character’s struggles. How much of you is there in Charlotte?
RM: I think a lot of me. I really like the fact that it was in a contemporary time period and playing the age that I was. It definitely eliminates a couple of those elements that can sometimes put filters on the performance. I got to really just engage with as much of me as I could. And Chris Lowell was fantastic in helping to bring that out. He’s somebody who’s also interested in creating a really raw, real chemistry onscreen and building an environment where we’re able to genuinely make each other laugh and genuinely irritate each other so that we don’t have to be manipulating the material.
WGTC: With that sense of chemistry between your characters, when you’re shooting an independent film, you only have so much shooting time to get to know the actor playing the love interest. How did you connect with Chris to create this chemistry and this relationship in such a short amount of time?
RM: Chris and I started an email chain backward and forward between each other for months leading up to the project, which was really helpful. We had talked about the books we like, the films we like, where we grew up and our families, what we might have wanted to do when we were children, all sorts of questions. He then had this wealth of resources to tap into. It helps on set that he knows in-jokes or he knows nicknames that someone used to tease me about when I was little. He kind of drew on that stuff. We worked on doing that a lot. We worked with Maggie in a rehearsal period, particularly in the weeks before production. We spent it talking about the context behind each scene, what we really needed to get out of them and what textures we could find in them as well. We were lucky that although we didn’t a whole lot of time, we had enthusiasm on our side and everybody was invested in trying to tell the best story they could.