TV

Australian actress Lily Sullivan on facing her fears in new series 'Picnic At Hanging Rock'

'There's always pressure.'

While many actors wait years or even decades for a big breakthrough, Lily Sullivan hit the jackpot before she had even graduated from high school.

After answering a casting call to appear in the 2012 film Mental, the Aussie teen found herself working alongside some of Australia's biggest names. These included Toni Collette, Rebecca Gibney and Anthony LaPaglia.

Describing the experience as an "acting boot camp on set", the shy schoolgirl was thrust into a world she had longed for since childhood.

Like most aspiring actresses, Lily dreamed of Hollywood. But it was a sound piece of advice from co-star Toni that changed her course entirely.

"Toni told me to find myself in Australia first and then go overseas," Lily, 24, tells TV WEEK. "That's what I've done and, so far, it's the best advice I've ever received."

Lily starred alongside Toni Collette in *Mental.*
Lily starred alongside Toni Collette in Mental.

Following Mental, Lily's success continued. She nabbed a role in the 2013 TV series Camp, which also starred Aussie actress Rachel Griffiths.

Then, in 2017, Lily shared the screen with Harry Potter star Daniel Radcliffe in the film Jungle. Earlier this year, she turned heads in Stan's gritty drama Romper Stomper.

Now, Lily is weaving her magic in the reimagining of Australian classic Picnic At Hanging Rock. The superb cast includes Game Of Thrones star Natalie Dormer, and fellow Aussies Samara Weaving and Madeleine Madden.

"It's been ridiculous," Lily says of the success that's come her way. "I feel like I've gone to university by going to work. I've learnt so much."

The actress impressed in *Romper Stomper.*
The actress impressed in Romper Stomper.

However, growing up in front of a camera isn't without its trials. Lily reveals she has struggled with confidence and is often her own worst critic.

"There's always pressure," she explains. "In my job, I have to be vulnerable and re-create moments that people do in private. It can be a psychological battle."

Lily admits she still questions her career path.

"Absolutely! I think I'll be second-guessing myself until the end of my career," she laughs. "I definitely battle with being confident. But, in a way, I can now recognise and still do what the fear is telling me not to do.

"But sometimes I do think, 'What am I doing?!'"

Lily as Miranda in the remake of *Picnic At Hanging Rock.*
Lily as Miranda in the remake of Picnic At Hanging Rock.

Lily can thank her Picnic character, Miranda Reid, for helping her find courage. The rebellious country girl is one of three students who go missing from a summer picnic at Hanging Rock.

"Miranda doesn't accept the expectations of women in that time," Lily, who grew up in rural Queensland, says. "I really connected with her and, like any woman, I can see the parallels.

"But after filming Picnic, I'm so grateful for who I am as a woman in 2018, because of how far society has come.

"It would be depressing if I said I can relate to the 1900s."

Lily's role in *Picnic At Hanging Rock* made her grateful to be a 21st Century woman.
Lily's role in Picnic At Hanging Rock made her grateful to be a 21st Century woman.

The restrictive costumes also gave Lily an idea of daily life in that era.

"Wearing the corsets was awful and suffocating," she says. "I could only take half-breaths. And bending down was painful. It created immense resentment towards the costume truck" [Laughs].

Despite her discomfort, Lily reiterates it was a dream come true to be involved in the series. Her mother, Noni, would no doubt agree.

"My mum is in the show!" Lily laughs. "On the last day of filming, we had a few reshoots to do – particularly the actual picnic scene – and were short on extras.

"My mum arrived on set to visit and I said, 'Mum, I need you to get in a picnic dress.' Next minute, she walks out of wardrobe in a white lace dress with a braid in her hair. It was hilarious."Hopefully, you can't tell, because the girls are supposed to be 15 and my mum is in her 50s!" [Laughs].

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