You spend a lot of time onscreen [in Tracks] with camels. Are they really as bad tempered as people say?
No! They’re so lovely. We had the sweetest camels. The wild ones, you don’t want to encounter the wild ones. But the ones we used in the film were so beautiful and we’re so used to big animals being kind of unapproachable, but they’re really personable and sort of like big dogs. I didn’t get spit on once! They’re the most obliging film animals.
You are off to shoot Madame Bovary soon. Do you enjoy doing period dramas?
I don’t really mean to do them. They just tend to be...good characters that I’m offered tend to be in period times so I end up doing period films but I wouldn’t say I’m seeking period films specifically. In fact I hate that aspect of them because it’s so uncomfortable. I am a very comfort-centred person and to be locked into a corset and to be in puffy dresses for months on end is not desirable. Jane Eyre and Madame Bovary are just fantastic roles and I really love those characters.
Mia Wasikowska: Falling for her camel co-stars
Compared with the days before she broke out in the TV series In Treatment and in the pic The Kids Are All Right, she herself is finding more freedom when it comes to choosing work. “When you’re an actor you’re very much a warm prop. When you start young you’re so thrilled to be there you’d do anything, but as you get older you have to learn how to say no.”
So will she say no to an Alice In Wonderland sequel? “I’m contractually obligated, but it’s hard to say. Everything changes every three days,” she says carefully. Then she jokes, “I’ll read the script and then decide if I want to get pregnant or not.”
If she had her choice, she’d work with Werner Herzog, Jane Campion, Wim Wenders or one of our own homegrown talents. “I’d love to collaborate with Sarah Polley. She’s amazing.”
Actor talks about deserts, camels and dream directors
As she walked across a sweltering desert with unshaven legs, sunburnt skin and unwashed hair streaked with dirt, Mia Wasikowska felt like she was in her element. Over the weeks spent in the Australian desert filming Tracks, the petite, soft-spoken actress embraced her character’s love of the harsh but awe-inspiring landscape.
“It was really freeing,” she said of the experience. “It was actually quite a relief to be able to just sit on the floor or roll around with the dogs and go and play with the camels and to have no one coming up and say ‘be careful.’ ”
Tracks tells the true story of Robyn Davidson, who captured the world’s attention after trekking an unforgiving 3,200 kilometres by foot across Australia with just four camels and a dog for company most of the way. The 1977 journey which ended at the sands of the Indian Ocean led Davidson to recount her experiences in a book, which Wasikowska is now bringing to life on the big screen.
“I really loved Robyn’s character. I liked her kind of prickly, reserved nature,” said Wasikowska, who got to meet the woman she portrayed in the film.
Playing lead in desert trek film Tracks was "freeing"
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