Melissa George longs to have it all. With two films opening a few weeks of each other here in the US, a new TV series on cable beginning in January, and another film about to begin, it seems George is the busiest Australian actress working in Hollywood.
Yet she lives in Buenos Aires with her husband, director Claudio Dabed, and says she has no problem balancing marriage and career. “So far, it’s been good. My husband is doing incredibly well as a filmmaker, comes with me to my locations, so we just sort of balance it. When he makes a movie, I go with him and when I make one, he comes with me”
When asked of her aspirations to start a family, she laughingly exclaims “Yes, immediately,” adding she has every intention to try and have children, sustain a marriage, and make three or four movies a year. “You’ve got to do it, because you can’t deny yourself the best thing in life, which is family. But also I don’t want to deny myself what makes me the happiest, which is making movies, because I have kids, which would be terrible.”
George shows off very distinct sides of her acting with roles in two disparate films. In the New Zealand-shot Hollywood horror film 30 Days of Night, George plays Stella, an estranged sheriff’s wife in a small Alaskan town suddenly being overrun by vampires. Josh Hartnett plays the sheriff in this adaptation of the graphic novel. “I wanted her to have an emotional balance in the movie and to show her with such spunk. I didn’t want her to be bitter because she hadn’t seen her husband for nine months and I wanted her to be sort of touching, sort of emotional and real. I really want her to be the representative of the audience seeing the movie, so I wanted the audience to sort of see the film through Stella’s eyes,” George says.
Not a specific fan of the genre, George says she didn’t want to approach doing 30 Days simply as a horror film. “When this came along, I paused and thought, ‘Well, it’s horror,’ but then I thought, ‘No, no, no, that’s just the world saying that they love to pour movies into a genre, so why not look at it based on scripts?’ So this whole genre thing didn’t bother me, because I knew it was Sam Raimi, Sony Pictures, big budget, Josh Hartnett, and a great graphic novel so it was a no brainer.”
George also crops up in the true story of Richard Pimentel, a deaf Vietnam vet who ultimately uses his disability as a means to change America’s perceptions of the disabled. George plays his often unconventional girlfriend Christine, and sees the part as being more than just a tokern girlfriend role. ” I also knew that Christine’s a true character, and the woman responsible for Richard Pimentel’s sort of success in a way. She was the driving force behind him and behind every good man is a good woman, and Christine was that woman. So I could have just been the girl sort of walking in the street and not saying much, but she had a great part. Also, it sort of gave the film some of the humour. I saw her as being very free and loving just a libertine. It was just a lot of fun.”
George says that while the film is set predominantly in the 60s it has messages that resonate today. “We’re going to have a lot of wounded men and women coming back from Iraq that are going to need our love and support, so hopefully this movie triggers a little bit more respect, and when people see somebody that’s not like them, they will go out of their way to make their life easier and see people with disabilities in a different light.”
George will also be seen on the small screen come January with a recurring role on HBO’s In Treatment, opposite Gabriel Byrne. “I play a patient in therapy, Gabriel plays my therapist and we’ve already shot a whole season. I’ve been doing that this year, in between so I’ve been flying back every week to shoot HBO. She’s a doctor, and is in therapy because she has sex addiction and relationship problems. But she’s also very, very humorous and funny.” This is definitely not a character she could relate to on a personal level. “No, of course not, because I’m a good girl,” she says laughingly. But she’s really in therapy for a year because she finds it hard to deal within a non-sexual place and her therapist is trying to help her with it.”
If that’s not enough, George is about to shoot an action film for director Jan De Bont, starring opposite John Cusack. “I play the young lover of John Cusack who takes me on a European vacation to Berlin after two years of being together. We’re there for holiday and he decides to bring his 16 year old daughter with us whom I never even knew about. She gets kidnapped and we go on a high speed chase to try and find her in real time, so it’s gonna be a real time high speed chase.”
The actress also hopes to return to Australia in the near future. “There are two projects that I’m waiting one. One’s called Red Dog, and another one’s called The Fourth Knot. No wonder George sees this as ther happiest time of her life. “This is definitely the happiest point in my life.”