Where is your favourite vacation spot and why?
Fiji or Thailand were my two favourites. What's not to love? Thai people are wonderful, Fijians are wonderful and mostly just really nice people and very relaxed culture and lots of nature, nature, nature.
Do you have a travel tip?
Pack less. It always makes me happier when I pack less and when I look in my suitcase and have worn every single thing I came with and had to wash them once, that makes me happy.
Is there something you never leave home without?
I'm big with books. I love books so I never leave home without books, mostly fiction. I like to sit on a beach and read a book or be in a boat and read a book.
Do you have an ultimate travel destination?
Well, the place that I've always wanted to go and I've never been to is Africa. I've been to Egypt, which I guess counts as Africa, but I've never been to East Africa or West Africa.
What's your favourite city?
Rome would be my favourite city in the whole world.
What do you love about Rome?
Besides the food, which is probably my number one thing, I love just walking around. Especially if I have jetlag at night, I'll just walk around all night. I just walk everywhere and I think that's the best way to see a city.
I know you filmed Nim's Island in Australia, did you get to do much travelling while you were here?
It was so much fun shooting Nim's Island
in Australia. Not only did I get to come to Australia, but we got to go to Hinchinbrook Island, which is this wonderful nature reserve island, enormous island. Most Australians know all about it, it's off the coast near the Great Barrier Reef and, you know, white sand beaches and beautiful estuaries and just bush forever. Apparently there's some crocodiles that still live there and some snakes and some wild boars. I didn't see any but I was definitely looking over my shoulder. There were a lot of those big kind of iguana lizard things that hang out of the trees and just look at you and scare you [goannas!].
Have you done much travelling around Australia or just Queensland?
The only places I've been in Australia are Sydney and Queensland but I've also made a movie in New Zealand once so I got to go to New Zealand and travel around there.
Is there anywhere in Australia that you would like to go to?
I'd love to go to Melbourne because I hear that is the fun city to go to. I'd love to go to the other coast and see how that is. I'd love to see the central parts where it's completely desolate and you don't see anything. Every part of Australia fascinates me, I think because it's so untouched, there's so few people compared to the amount of land mass and types of geography that we've never seen before. But I have to say I would like to go back to northern Queensland. I'd like to go further north than I was.
You took your children with you on location, did they enjoy it?
Yeah, the kids came to the Gold Coast and they had so much fun, you know. They got to see all those nature reserve things and touch the koalas and the kangaroos and hang around emus and do all that stuff; but they also got to play putt-putt golf and go to the wax museum and all those fun things that you find on the Gold Coast.
Now to the movie: compared to Silence of the Lambs it was a very different genre for you. Did you enjoy doing a more lighthearted, comedy-style film?
This is definitely a very different genre than what I'm used to. I'm usually the dark drama person and I have just been dying to do something that showed a lighter side to myself, where I got to explore that part. I did a movie called Maverick
15 years ago and it was so much fun, I said I've got to find another movie that has this light touch to it and it's taken me all this time to finally find Nim's Island
. I think the best part about it is that my kids are going to be able to come to the premiere and they're finally going to be able to get to see a film of mine. They've never got to see a film of mine projected and that's a real family experience for all of us.
So what was the best thing about making Nim's Island?
The best thing about making Nim's Island
was just being in nature and hanging out at all those beaches and working with the animals and having the shooting really be about a natural environment. Even the message of the movie being about being a steward of the planet. So I got to do things like dive into a tank of water and get kissed by a sea lion, stuff that's adventurous for me.
What was it like working with Abigail and Gerard?
Abigail Breslin is a wonderful young actress who was in Little Miss Sunshine
and she's just funny and incredibly mature and professional. She has a great head on her shoulders and I think just has this tremendous kind of well of emotion that she's able to tap into. She's really born to be an actress and I can't say that I was at her age, you know, it took me a long time. And I love Gerard Butler, I don't know if you know him but he always plays the hero guy, in 300
for example and Beowulf
, and the last thing you would expect him to play is this kind of lighthearted adventure hero alter ego who is scared of everything too, so he's a lot of fun in the movie.
Did you enjoy playing Alexander?
I loved playing Alexander Rover, she's neurotic, she's crazy but she just has so much fun energy. I think that's what I like about lighter films, is just the amount of energy that goes into it, all the spontaneity that goes into it. Yeah, she was a blast.
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