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EXCLUSIVE: Danielle MacDonald may be one of Australia’s rising stars but there’s a reason why she’s not super starstruck when working with A-listers

She's performed alongside Sandra Bullock, Jennifer Aniston and Joanna Lumley but Danielle knows they're only human.
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At just 18-years-old, Sydney actress Danielle MacDonald packed her bags to try her luck in Hollywood.

Now 31, she’s landed lead roles in films including Dumplin, Bird Box and most recently British/Australian rom-com Falling For Figaro.

But despite working with stars including Jennifer Aniston, Sandra Bullock and Joanna Lumley, she’s not one to get starstruck.

“It’s definitely wild! I don’t really understand how my life is that and it’s always weird at first,” Danielle exclusively tells Now To Love.

“I think when I first meet them I’m like ‘Oh my god that’s Jennifer Aniston, oh my god that’s Sandra Bullock, oh my god that’s Joanna Lumley,’ but then you get to know them and they’re people, they’re human beings and that becomes grounded in reality and that’s a really really nice feeling to have.

“I think if you go on to set thinking ‘Oh my god that’s Joanna Lumley’, you’re in a completely different space, you’re not in character and you’re kind of starstruck.

“For me, I think spending time with people before I step on set with them is always really really helpful because it gives you a chance to get to know each other and this goes for everyone.

“Regardless of whether you’re the most famous actor in the world or not it’s really helpful to get to spend bit of time with people before you get on set together because you create a chemistry and an ease with each other so much quicker.”

Danielle MacDonald has worked with A-listers including Joanna Lumley in her flick Falling For Figaro.

(Image: Paramount Pictures Australia)

Whilst filming Falling For Figaro in the Scottish Highlands in the middle of winter, Danielle says that she and co-stars Hugh Skinner and Joanna Lumley bonded by having dinner together every night and getting to know each other.

“So when it comes to Jo screaming in our faces and making us cry it felt really funny and normal!” she laughs.

“Jo is amazing at holding, she never breaks which is so cool because you actually feel the stunned-ness that you have to feel in that moment because she’s so in it. You feel everything and I don’t think we really broke with any of that because she’s just so good and makes you get into that headspace, it’s very cool.”

“Jo is amazing at holding, she never breaks.”

(Image: Paramount Pictures Australia)

In Falling For Figaro, Danielle plays Millie, an American fund manager based in London who quits her high-flying career to pursue her dream of being an opera singer.

After some intense vocal training from former opera star Meghan Geoffrey-Bishop (played by Joanna Lumley), she meets fellow opera hopeful Max (Hugh Skinner) and starts to develop feelings and playing the romantic lead was certainly a drawcard for Danielle.

“Honestly I love a good rom com, I grew up on rom coms so this was very appealing to me,” she says.

“I’d never been given the script to be the lead in a rom com before so that was really exciting in and of itself. On top of that it was really quirky and fun – the humour is a little off-beat, it’s got that kind of British quirk which I love and I think a lot of us Australians grew up with that watching a lot of British shows.”

On top of that, the chance to learn more about opera was an added bonus.

“I didn’t know much about opera but that actually excites me – I like getting to learn new things and getting to explore different parts of myself so it seemed fun and all the people involved seemed really amazing as well. It sounded like a fun set I wanted to be on for a month!”

Falling For Figaro was Danielle’s first rom-com.

(Image: Paramount Pictures Australia)

Whilst she and co-star Hugh’s singing voices were dubbed by professional opera singers, there was still a lot of training Danielle had to undergo.

“I think I covered three different languages while I was singing the songs so not only are you learning how to sing, you’re also memorising songs in another language so you’re not really aware of the meaning of the words of what you’re singing and that’s obviously very important in opera as it is very much telling a story,” she explains.

“It was a lot of writing down what the lyrics meant in English and really understanding that emotion and then memorising it in a different language and making sure you get that right.”

On top of that, she had to learn about the physical techniques to singing opera from making the vibrations work to getting her mouth shape in the right place.

“I worked with someone in LA and someone in Canada because I was working on another film when I shot this and then I also worked with someone every single day when I was in Scotland.”

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Danielle has nothing but praise for her co-star Hugh, who she calls “an amazing singer”.

“He didn’t need to be dubbed, I don’t even know if he was! He was so good I was like ‘This is mortifying, I am not a singer!'” she laughs, adding that he and their répétiteur in Scotland helped to build up her confidence.

“They really helped build me up because I think part of it is just confidence and remembering that I’m going to be replaced so even if I can’t hold the note, to just hold it so that it looks like I can and we can go from there.”

Filming wrapped in January 2020, the film’s release was delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Whilst the film’s themes of quitting your job to follow your dreams ring true to the current climate of what’s been dubbed “The Great Resignation”, Danielle says there’s always been that consensus in the world.

“We naturally want to follow our dreams and sometimes you get stuck in a life that you might be really good at and it might be really comfortable but I think what COVID asked us ‘Is that worth it?'” she says.

“I think that it’s natural to want follow your dreams and your heart. I think that’s something we’ve always felt and it just really brought it to the forefront of society during the last couple of years.

“I do really think this movie mirrors a lot of what people are going through right now so maybe it’s the right time to watch it!”

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