Name: Lily Sullivan
Born and raised: “I grew up in Queensland, out in the bush in a place called Carbrook. My local school had alpaca, sheep and a veggie patch. It was silly and ridiculous. I think my first kiss was next to a cow-feeding trough, after we drove out on little motorbikes.”
Notable past credits: The Australian actress broke out in the 2012 film “Mental,” costarring Toni Colette, Liev Schreiber and Anthony LaPaglia, which she booked off an open casting call within two weeks of her drama school program. “From that moment, I’ve literally been making it up and felt like a total fraud, in the best way,” she says. She then went on to star in “Picnic at Hanging Rock.”
Up next: Sullivan is fresh off premiering two films at SXSW, “Monolith” and “Evil Dead Rise.” In the first she is the sole actor onscreen, and in the second, which is the fifth film in the “Evil Dead” franchise and which is out on April 21, she plays the lead role.
“I really didn’t get put through the ringer until I arrived on set, and then I was tortured and traumatized,” she says of “Evil Dead.” “Spending three months in an energy space where you are in fight or flight and your character’s fighting for survival…there’s no cute coffee break in the morning when the character wakes up. It’s this relentless ‘Evil Dead’ film. I feel like your body doesn’t know the difference, and it became this insane body work, where acting almost became more like dancing and physical exercise. And at one point in the movie, it’s like your heart rate’s got to be at 180 beats per minute and audiences can smell the belief — or lack of. So it just became super physical and I was covered in blood, which was sticky and became a torture chamber in itself. It was amazing, but challenging in a way that I would never have expected.”
Coping with the “Evil Dead” grind: “As soon as I finished a scene, I would burst into laughter. I was working with a 9-year-old as well, so her nervous system kept us both from tipping over the edge. It would almost be like you would just have to tell the body that it’s OK by bursting out in laughter. We looked absolutely nuts.
“And when I got back home, it was always magnesium, lavender bath oil, just bath, bath, bath. And exercise to just be able to maintain the three-month shoot, and tell the body that it’s not about to die. It’s not, actually, about to die.”
On “Monolith,” a sci-fi thriller about a journalist investigating an alien conspiracy: “It was almost like a palette cleanse of ‘Evil Dead.’ We just wanted to clean the slate. It was dialogue heavy, a one-woman show, a total challenge of a lifetime. We shot the movie in 15 days, so it was intense.”
Future Plans: “Auditioning, meeting with directors. But I’m just in this really nice space of calmness, stillness and enjoying the moment where I can allow something to be revealed. As opposed to just hopping on something now before the films have come out. For me, I’m enjoying being really picky right now, which doesn’t usually happen in this industry. And isn’t that fun?”