14) Her “old soul” quality is what won her the coveted role of Alice in Tim Burton’s 2010 reimagining of Alice in Wonderland. “I always like it when I sense people have that ‘old soul’ quality to them,” Burton said. “Because you’re witnessing this whole thing through her eyes, it needed somebody who can subtly portray that.”
15) Of course, it also helped that she was already an avid fan of Lewis Carroll’s books and that she had grown up on Jan Svankmajer’s trippy live action/stop-motion hybrid Alice film.
16) As Annette Bening and Julianne Moore’s daughter Joni in The Kids Are All Right, Mia wore an awful lot of pajamas. It turns out that this idea was her own: “[Joni is] very comfortable in her place, with who she is. So I pushed to have her, whenever she was at home, in her pajamas. That’s comfortable! And,” she added, “that’s something I do.” Art imitating life, imitating art, and so on
17) A film she had made that hadn’t even been released yet was responsible for her landing the role of Jane Eyre in Cary Fukunaga’s 2011 adaptation of Charlotte Brontë’s novel. Fukunaga is buddies with Gus Van Sant, who directed Mia in the now-just-released Restless. When he realized he was on the fence about Mia, he asked Van Sant what he thought. Van Sant wrote back only: “Cast her!” “As it turned out,” Fukunaga said, “she was the perfect choice. She read the book, reread the book, and had all of these ideas about what her Jane could be. So much of what makes Mia special—her intelligence and passion—is shared with Jane. She’s absolutely dedicated to her craft and so unaffected by her popularity that it doesn’t even blip on her radar.” High praise indeed!
18) She hates corsets. She had to wear one for Jane Eyre, which she called “torture.” I can’t say I blame her!
As Joni in The Kids Are All Right
19) Like her mother Marzena, Mia is a photographer. A secret pocket sewn into Mia’s Jane Eyre costumes allowed her to keep a camera close by so she could snap shots of her own between takes; one of those shots ended up being a finalist a photography competition sponsored by Australia’s National Portrait Gallery in 2011.
20) Marzena was also a finalist in that same competition. Like mother, like daughter!
21) Home keeps her humble. When asked if she gets treated like a big celeb when she goes back home, she replied emphatically, “Nooo, I still take the rubbish out and empty the dishwasher. It’s good going back for that reason.”
22) Mia was originally set to play Sleeping Beauty in Julia Leigh’s erotic retelling of the fairytale, but had to drop out due to scheduling conflicts. Emily Browning played the role instead.
23) Although she’s amused by the idea, Mia insists that there’s no secret society of Aussie actresses consisting of herself, Nicole Kidman, Care Blanchette, Naomi Watts, Toni Collette, Judy Davis, and Isla Fischer. “I wish!” she’s said, “where we all sit around eating vegemite sandwiches.” We’re not wild about vegemite, but that sounds like it would be a pretty neat club if it actually existed!
24) In her seven year career, Mia has been nominated for 14 awards. She’s won five of them, including not one, but two Hollywood Film Festival Awards for Breakthrough Actress: One for Alice and one for The Kids Are All Right.
25) There’s more to look forward to in the future! Mia has no fewer than three projects in the works: One in pre-production (an untitled Jim Jarmusch project), one filming (Stoker with Nicole Kidman and Matthew Goode), and one in post-production (The Wettest Country in the World with Shia LaBeouf).
Lucia Peters is BettyConfidential’s associate editor.