The lovely and charming Rose McIver has spent the past few years establishing herself as a young actress on the rise in Hollywood and leaves her poised become a breakout star in 2014. McIver is an incredibly expressive performer who pours her heart and soul into each and every role. She began to turn the heads of fans and critics alike with a high profile role in the multi-award winning Dreamworks film “The Lovely Bones” (directed by Peter Jackson) as ‘Lindsey Salmon’ starring opposite Mark Wahlberg and Rachel Weisz. Showing no signs of slowing down, McIver is part of two of 2013’s brightest breakout series. As “Tinker Bell” on the hit ABC series, “Once Upon A Time,” her beloved character is set to play an integral role in helping resuce Henry from ‘Peter Pan’ before he disappears into ‘Neverland’ forever. In addition, Rose can also be seen in Showtime’s critically acclaimed series “Masters of Sex”, starring opposite Michael Sheen and Lizzy Caplan. Rose plays ‘Vivian’ the daughter of Provost Barton Scully played by Beau Bridges and Alison Janney’s character Margaret. Vivian is a young girl of nineteen who is desperate to become a woman and sets her eyes on a handsome doctor, Dr. Haas Nicholas D’Agosto. Rose is also set to star in the independent film “Brightest Star” as ‘Charlotte,’ the romantic lead opposite Chris Lowell. This beautifully acted film premiered at the Austin Film Festival and is set for a theatrical release on January 31st. Jason Price of Icon Vs. Icon recently caught up with Rose McIver to discuss her blossoming career, the challenges of bringing to life the unique characters she plays and what the future may hold for her in the years to come!
I wanted to start by giving everyone a little background on you, Rose. How did you get started on your journey in the entertainment industry and what made you pursue it as a career?
I sort of stumbled into it myself. When I was very little, my older brother was scouted to be in a couple of commercials and a short film and my Mom, somewhat begrudgingly, let him do it! At some point he needed a younger sister on a short film short. It was basically a baby in a scene. My Mom was there with me anyway, so we did it. I think that is how it first happened. Then it keeps happening intermediately. New Zealand’s film industry is tiny, so we became friends with a lot of the people we were working with. My Mom was very adamant that she wanted us to stay in school and we did. I did little bits and pieces on my holidays and kept enjoying it. It was almost like a hobby, like other people playing tennis or doing ballet. I just kept doing it and towards my final years of school, more or more opportunities were coming up. When I finished school, I just went with it and have been very lucky to stay employed since then!
Who would you cite as your biggest influences as a young actor?
There is a woman in New Zealand named Miranda Harcourt, who an actor and drama coach. She is someone who I always look up to professionally and personally as a mentor. Similarly, when I came out to The States, I was looking for influences along those lines, who I respected in their personal life and their careers. A really good example is Allison Janney, who I worked with recently on both “Brightest Star” and “Masters of Sex.” I idolize her! I really love the way she handles herself. I think she creates amazing work and is really is respectful of the environment she works in and the people she works with. I think that is a really valuable combo!
I couldn’t agree with you more! Speaking of “Brightest Star,” how did you get involved with the project initially?
I met with Maggie Kiley, who directed the film, a few years ago now. I had read the script and we had a little lunch where we talked about it. I just felt like we were really on the same page about who we saw Charlotte to be and the way she would be presented. The story Maggie was telling, I thought was something that being in my early 20s and feeling like I am really forging my own identity, coming across first love and experiencing heartbreak, it felt like something that made sense to me and I was really interested in pursuing. Luckily, she felt the same way! We worked together and I made a beautiful, long-term friendship with her, Chris Lowell and a bunch of other people! I feel really lucky to be a part of that!
When you read the script for the first time, was there something about this character that stood out to you and what do you feel you brought to the character personally?
I think the fact that Charlotte is juggling priorities appealed to me. There is this word, “ambition,” that I know when I was in school always found kind of ugly because it I viewed it as a feeling of discontent or wanting more than you had. I come from such a beautiful family and such a beautiful place that I always felt it was kind of ungrateful to want for anything more. I think Charlotte knows that she has a creative identity that she longs to fulfill. I think part of coming out of high school and finishing your adolescence you do start to ask these questions about what you want out of your life and what you want to look back at the end and feel like you have achieved. Charlotte seems to be in a very real and three dimensional place with the way she looks at those things and still values love and relationships but doesn’t quite know how to marry those ideas with her own personal goals.
What did Maggie Kiley bring to the table as a director and what did you learn from your time on set with her?
Maggie is quietly spoken, incredibly considerate and thoughtful. I think the most valuable thing I learned from Maggie was that she trusts her cast so implicitly. When you have someone putting that much trust in you, you have to deliver! It is not like you feel like you are getting a performance beaten or dragged out of you; someone is coaxing it and bringing their very best to the table, asking you to do the same and believing that you can do the same! She trusted me and gave me great direction when she felt I had misread something. Other than that, she really supported me breathing life into Charlotte the way that I found her. I think we are two very compatible people.
What were some of the challenges you faced on the project and how do you prepare to take on a character like this as an actress?
I think the most challenging thing was shooting out of sequence. You shoot out of sequence anyway but the story is told out of sequence and you are leaping around from college days to five years down the track and where you are at the relationship at the time. When you are working with time constraints that were quite limited, we shot everything over a couple of weeks, you end up really hopping around and trying to make sure you are on the right page on that day and that half an hour where you happen to have that location and are trying to block out a scene. I think making sure that we were all briefed at the start of each location and scene change was really important so we were in the same place chronologically in the story. That was quite challenging but luckily we had some incredible people on hand in the producers and that made it much easier than it would have been if left up to us as actors entirely to keep track!
In addition to film, you have been part of many great projects in the world of television. One of your most exciting roles is that of “Tinker Bell” on “Once Upon A Time.” How did you get involved with this iconic character and what have some of the challenges been when it comes to bringing her to life?
I feel so lucky to be playing Tinker Bell! I am up in Vancouver at the moment working on that. It is something that kind of came out of the blue. I didn’t even know I was auditioning for the role of Tinker Bell. I auditioned to play “a fairy.” I got the call that I had gotten Tinker Bell and I was ecstatic! I think one of the big challenges is not playing her as a caricature and making sure she is grounded. I think we only like to watch character we can relate to on a human level. For me, it was all about finding the humanity in somebody who we have seen depicted in so many cartoons over many, many years now. You have questions about identity and these fundamental human truths you are looking for. Tinker Bell has those just the same way as all the other characters do in the show. It was all about focusing on those, finding the fun elements and being able to tie those in with really, really truthful and honest performance was my focus.
‘Once Upon A Time’ looks like a really fun show to be a part of. What have been some of the most memorable moments from the set or bonding with the cast that spring to mind?
Well, Tinker Bell’s costume doesn’t really lend itself to Vancouver winters! In between takes we all would spend most of our time huddled a gas heater in a little tent. We all got to get to know each other and tell great stories because of that! There are people from all over the world who work on the show. What could have been long miserable nights ended up feeling like school camp! We would laugh at ourselves and thank to very good catering we would have hot chocolates, biscuits and all of the treats that we were after! It was really lucky that we were able to form such camaraderie during the shoots.
Another terrific project you are a part of is “Masters of Sex.” What have been the most challenging and rewarding parts of that cast?
I really enjoy working on things set in other eras for starters. I love that it was set in the 1950s and I love playing with the social norms and nuances of how maybe a teenager might hold herself then and the manner in which she would speak. At the same time, it is about juggling being incredibly honest in that moment of time. I really like the costumes, hair and environments we were filming in which really lent themselves to see that from a different world. But again, just thinking about the fact that Vivian is a nineteen year old girl who is going through the same questions, doubts and insecurities that every girl does and exploring “teenagedom” in another era is something I had a lot of fun with.
Both of the characters are very unique and a lot of fun to watch. Where do you hope to see these characters head in the future?
I think both of them could do with some slightly more successful romances! [laughs] Neither of them has been very successful on that front! It would be nice to see how both characters handle themselves if a more appropriate suitor came their way! Hopefully, something develops in that direction!
You are back on set for “Once Upon A Time.” Can you give us any hints on what we might expect with the new season?
Unfortunately, I don’t know a lot more than you! I did just get back here today and I have only just got scripts but I am getting some big surprises that are obviously big spoilers! I am just excited to be back with the team. I think they have some pretty cool ideas that they are trying to work into the storyline now. Finger crossed, Tinker Bell has a very interesting journey ahead!
You definitely keep yourself busy when it comes to acting. What do you find yourself looking for when it comes to the characters you play?
I think every actor craves diversity and something new. We get to live a million lifetimes in one life and that is definitely what has drawn me to this field of work. Something else that is essential to me is the writing and knowing it has strong intentions and a reason for being written. It has to be incredibly entertaining, incredibly challenging or asks good questions. I like to be surprised! I don’t want to have any idea of my future or career but I definitely want to be telling stories that are meaningful.
Do you have a particular process for bringing a character to life once you have settled on a new role?
I like to listen to listen to music and read source material. I also like to meet the other cast I am going to be working with, ideally. I like to start building organic relationships with those people as it is the lion’s share of the work when you are on set. It is interesting, for things like “Masters of Sex,” my character isn’t involved in the studies at all but I still think knowing about the context of the show, Masters and Johnson, all of their research and the kind of environments her father would have been working in are very interesting and can help dictate what you bring to the show. I like to read around the character as well but on the day, you want to leave that feeling and find a really organic connection with the other people in the scene.
You are just getting started with your blossoming career but I was curious to know how you feel you have evolved as an actor since first starting out?
I would hope I have evolved a lot. I would hope that I am only really beginning for the long run as well! I love what I do and I hope I am able to do this for a very long time! I learn on every job and from every person I work with. There all sorts of different theories, methods and skills to acquire. I hope that I remain open and don’t ever get stuck in my ways and continue to learn from the terrific people around me.
What do you consider your favorite or most challenging role to date?
They have all been really challenging in different ways. I don’t think it would be fair to give one of them that title because I think coasting in any job; you are not really serving the character or story. I think you should always be exploring and looking for new things. Each job provides new challenges and some are more physical or emotional but I think you always have to be breaking down barriers and find new paths for the characters on each and every job.
We are still very early in 2014 at this point. What are you most excited about at this point in the year and what other projects might be on the horizon for you?
I am not entirely certain what is next yet! I just came back from a beautiful month holiday in New Zealand. Ideally, a holiday like that would be working! I would love to work in New Zealand! I am just excited to be surprised by great new scripts, new stories, new people I will be working with and to stay open!
What is the best piece of advice you can pass along to young actors looking to make a career in the entertainment industry?
I think generating you own material is very useful. If you are not being hired, make you own work! I think sitting around waiting for the phone to ring can be one of the most detrimental things to an actor, their performance and confidence. You need to make opportunities to keep educating yourself. I think generating material, putting yourself out there and trying new media are very important tools for success. I think being open and not being too constrained in our ideas or where your outlets will be is very useful. Reading a lot is also very important because I think you want to have things to share with your audience that aren’t just about the particular project you are working on at the moment. You want to be sure you have read around the other subjects and have different influences in your life because they are very useful to bring on screen or onstage. Maintaining diverse interests in what read is a very useful tool.
Are you one who writes their own material and if so, do you have any aspirations to bring a project to life in some capacity other than as an actress?
Yeah! I dabble in writing and I am working on a couple of things at the moment. One isn’t for me to work on as an actor in any capacity, just as a writer. That has been a really great exercise! I have been learning a lot and I am excited about seeing that come to fruition in the next couple of years! I also have this fantasy, in the long term, of writing a novel. It is a long term plan and we will see what happens with it! I would be really psyched if I could get that off the ground!
We definitely look forward to seeing what you come up with there! Are you involved with any charity work we could help spread the word on?
Yeah! I actually I have worked with SAFE (Save Animals From Exploitation) in New Zealand (www.safe.org.nz). I am unfortunately unable to have an animal of my own at the moment because I travel so much for work but I am really looking into how I can work for charity this year in some capacity.
What is the best thing about being Rose McIver these days?
I feel it is still having wonderful friends and family that love me and believe in me no matter where I am or what I am doing. I am also grateful to be able to juggle a career with a happy personal and family life! I couldn’t be more grateful!
Terrific! Where are the best places for people to catch up with you online?
Thank you very much for your time today, Rose! We look forward to catching up with you again very soon! Keep up the tremendous work!
Thank you so much, Jason! It’s my pleasure! Take care!
Jason Price founded the mighty Icon Vs. Icon more than a decade ago. Along the way, he’s assembled an amazing group of like-minded individuals to spread the word on some of the most unique people and projects on the pop culture landscape.