Entertainment

Star’s ‘overwhelming’ meteoric rise

Nine Days is both muted and bursting, a story about finding the extraordinary in the mundane – a message that penetrates even deeper now, 18 months into a global pandemic, than it did when the film was made in 2019.The movie is set in a before-life environment, the story of Will, an assessor who decides on the suitability of fresh souls for life on Earth. Beetz plays one of these souls, Emma, a being with no history.Emma’s curiosity and appreciation of every new experience – every smell, every touch, every emotion – reminded Beetz to be connected to the moment.“I’ve never had a character that had no backstory, and that was essentially her backstory, that everything was new,” Beetz told news.com.au from her home in New York City.“Every single take of every scene was trying to keep everything fresh and in a place of discovery. There is a majesty and wonder in the mundane, if you choose to see it and if you choose to acknowledge it and take it in.“It was a good exercise for me to play Emma and to be in this place of continual appreciation – noticing and reflecting on everything around me. For Emma, it was new. For me, it’s not new but I could relearn to appreciate my moments.“It was cool to play somebody who has no story beyond what is happening right now, it’s an almost meditative practice.”Many aspects of Beetz’s life are also “new”, to an extent. The Berlin-born American actor has had a meteoric rise in just a handful of years after first breaking out in 2016, in Donald Glover’s almost-anthropological dramedy about an aspiring music manager, Atlanta.Roles in prominent movies soon followed, in Deadpool 2 as the Rube Goldbergian superhero Domino, as Arthur Fleck’s love interest in Joker, in Steven Soderbergh’s High Flying Bird and soon in The Harder They Fall, a western in which she stars alongside Regina King, Idris Elba and Delroy Lindo.The lightning speed with which Beetz became a household name meant she had to contend with a lot of changes, and she doesn’t get to keep still for very long.“I’ve been so lucky that my career shot off very quickly and a lot of things happened for me in quick succession,” she said, without a hint of hubris. “Sometimes it is a little bit overwhelming in terms of all the shifts and changes.”Among the changes have been luxuries that comes with being a feted celebrity, such as minders tending to your every desire.The extra attention is not something the independent-minded Beetz is very comfortable with.“I don’t want to sound unappreciative but sometimes it feels like a lot of excess – excess things, excess energy, excess services – and I realised I like to just do it by myself.“I think it’s allowed me to really see, ‘Oh, these are the things I really need, and these are the things I really don’t need, these are the things I can incorporate in my life that do add value.“And I try not to accumulate things in my life that I don’t need, whether that’s a thing or a service, or even the way people treat you.”Beetz said she can see how it would be very easy to have an “inflated sense of self” when people are constantly catering to you, but was careful to stress that there are, of course, people in her industry who are much busier than she is.She was also very conscious of what a privilege it is to be in a position to even have the choice of sorting through necessities and excess.“It’s nice to kick back and have things done for you, but I’ve also realised that sometimes if I take the comfortable option, I miss out on other things.“Obviously it’s my privilege that I even have that option, but when I push myself outside of my comfort zone, I generally have the richest experiences.”So, was Nine Days a comfortable or uncomfortable choice?“I guess it was a comfortable choice or at least a very natural choice,” she said.“I love that it was so life-affirming. I love that it explored depression, mental illness and coping, and acknowledged the uncomfortableness within life, and being able to live in it and to hold it and not try to push it away.“That sorrow and pain exist within joy and that you can hold both. It was an exploration of uncomfortableness that I found really resonated with me.“If I’m struggling emotionally with things, a big thing for me is to acknowledge it’s OK that I’m here in this space. It’s a part of life.“People often have this idea that we must always strive for happiness and if you’re not happy then you’re failing, that being happy is the most important thing. It’s one of the things but there are myriad other emotions that all have their place, their importance and we need to learn to be OK with them.“To me, Nine Days is about balance and that is why life is enriching and wonderful, because it is all those things.”Nine Days opens in Sydney cinemas on Monday, October 11Share your movies and TV obsessions | @wenleima

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