Yesterday morning I got to have my morning coffee over the phone with the sweet and witty Australian actress Rose Byrne. When I lived in LA I’d seen her out and about in Los Feliz—she’s petite and impossibly slender, with porcelain skin and wide brown doe eyes. In other words, she’s ridiculously beautiful. Sometimes, just as Hollywood itself does, I assume beautiful people can’t be terribly funny or unselfconscious either. Starting today, with the release of the Judd Apatow production Get Him to the Greek, Rose proves me all wrong. Before starring as the narcissistic and gleefully raunchy Jackie Q, girlfriend of Aldous Snow (a return to Russell Brand‘s character in Forgetting Sarah Marshall), the actress was known for her more somber, quieter roles. Some films of note were Troy, Star Wars II: Attack of the Clones, Wicker Park, and one of my personal favorites, I Capture the Castle. Of course she’s made the biggest impression as Ellen Parsons opposite Glenn Close on Damages, a show she’s “very proud of,” she notes. But while that courtroom drama’s taking a perhaps permanent recess, the actress is happily letting her hair down, and she more than holds her own opposite comedy kings Russell and Jonah Hill. Rose describes Jackie as “the female version of Aldous,” and if you’ll recall, he’s a drug addled, larger than life, sex-obsessed narcissist.
We talk a little about dating musicians in real life—she never has, and I tell her she can skip it. Dating Aldous in the film will suffice and she admits Jackie would be “quite a handful to date herself.” I asked her how hard it was to keep a straight face around Jonah and Russell as they adlibbed during scenes, and she tells me that “some days were easier than others.” Her first day, as luck would have it, was the hardest. “I showed up to set to shoot the “Baby Jesus” video and Russell was swaddled in a manger and I was dressed like Mary Magdalene, so that was hard,” she laughs.” Another video shoot, though, for “African Child,” (which isn’t in the film but will be on the DVD) was a more stressful situation and Rose found it easy to keep a straight face, as it was a boiling hot day, and the diminutive star was wearing nothing but a “tiny monokini and ridiculously tall stilettos.” Rose says her experience as Jackie has earned her newfound respect for real pop stars. “There’s no comedy in a Lady Gaga or Britney Spears video,” she said. “And it’s hard work, the pop star process—from writing to singing to recording.” While she had sung casually before landing the role, for the film she had a voice teacher and was in and out of the studio.
Rose also says, of her first big budget comedy with the potential to rival the success of last summer’s comedy hit The Hangover, that she’s got a new perspective on the genre. While she wanted to do comedy for a while and has done some in her native Australia as well as “little ones” in England, snagging Jackie Q marks her American comedic entrance, and she doesn’t want to stop anytime soon. Next week the 30-year-old actress begins filming a currently untitled Kristen Wiig project, also under the Judd Apatow umbrella. Rose says she’s honored to be working with Judd again but “totally geeked out” to be working with Kristen Wiig, whom Rose loves from SNL.”I can’t wait,” she says. And neither can we. Until then, get thee to the Greek!!