Teresa Palmer (Getty Images)
The 26-year-old Australian actress, who has appeared in films including “I Am Number Four” and “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice,” is generating big buzz for her role in “Warm Bodies,” a zombie love story with a sense of humor co-starring Nicholas Hoult (or “Nick,” as Palmer refers to him), which oozes into theaters on February 1.
“She’s sassy, brave, and just a strong independent woman,” Palmer says of her character Julie, who is one of the few humans to survive a zombie apocalypse and ends up falling for one of the undead, R, in a new spin on the classic Romeo and Juliet tale. “I love that she has a beautiful, bright spirit despite the dismal circumstances around her. And when she meets R, she gets reinvigorated with passion and life again and they sort of heal each other with their love, which is really beautiful.”
There was a definite challenge to the film in that Hoult – who made headlines recently for his split from Jennifer Lawrence – and all the other zombies in the flick don’t really speak.
“Before we shot I was nervous about that,” Palmer admits. “But then when I got to set and I realized what an incredible actor Nick is and how he could say so much without actually being able to use words to express himself. So I could watch him and react and I just really felt I had a partner who was speaking volumes.”
Palmer and Nicholas Hoult play Julie and R. (Jan Thijs/Summit Entertainment)
And they certainly had fun on the set – even though it wasn’t always glamorous.
“Nick was such a trouper – he had all the makeup on, the contacts in, and then they’d come and squirt fake blood in his mouth. I felt so sorry for him,” Palmer says. “Then he’d have to smear the blood all over my face and it was this goopy, glue-like substance that would literally stick my hair to my skin. It was so painful to try and rip it off at the end of the night. And the red coloring would stain my hair.” But there was an upside. “It didn’t smell bad and actually tasted kind of great,” she laughs, noting “it was made from a thick mango sugary substance … And the brains tasted fantastic! I had a little bite. It was like a spongy peachy cake with gritty bits in it.”
“Warm Bodies” also introduced her to John Malkovich, who plays her dad in the film. Interestingly enough, the two bonded right away – over viral videos.
“He was not nearly as intimidating as I thought he was going to be. He was gentle and humble, and he’s soft spoken. And he wore a bright colored shirt with little umbrellas on it,” Palmer says of the veteran actor with the serious reputation. “He’s also very, very funny. He would show me his favorite YouTube videos. He’d be like, ‘Have you seen Party Boy or the Girl Sitting on a Toilet’ Then he would impersonate them to a T. I had a real laugh with him.”
Palmer in a scene with John Malkovich, who plays her father. (Jonathan Wenk/Summit Entertainment)
The actress is currently working on a movie with director Mark Webber called “The Fun in Forever” and has several other projects lined up, but there are two movies you won’t see her in. First is “The Power of Six,” the second book in the young adult science fiction series The Lorien Legacies after “I Am Number Four.”
“I don’t think we’re doing a sequel to that unfortunately,” she says. As for “Mad Max: Fury Road,” a scheduling conflict kept her from taking that gig. “I’m not in it, but Nick is. He’s fantastic in that movie, so I’ve heard.”
Palmer and Hoult promoting 'Warm Bodies.' (Getty Images)
With all of her high-profile new roles, the actress has found that people are paying more attention to her ... for better or sometimes worse. She recently suffered a makeup malfunction on the red carpet – she was caught with white powder around her eyes which became magnified by the flashes from cameras. Although she showed up as a “don’t” on many blogs, she didn’t mind it – and even jokingly referred to herself as Kung Fu Palmer on Twitter.
“It’s important to keep it real,” she says regarding the incident. “I actually was happy about it to be honest because ... I want people to understand [that actresses] are normal, regular people. We are just like you. We do get hair and makeup – and sometimes the makeup artist is going to mess up. You’ve got to poke fun and not take it too seriously. Everybody’s human! So it was important for me to show that side of myself, too. I take my job seriously but I don’t take myself too seriously. You’ve got to have a laugh.”
It’s that same personality that comes through loud and clear on the website, Your Zen Life, that she launched with fellow Aussie actress Phoebe Tonkin.
Palmer and pal/fellow Your Zen Lifer Phoebe Tonkin out in Hollywood. (Splash News)
One thing you won’t read about on the site? Anything related to her love life.
“I actually have decided not to talk about it from now on because I have talked about it so much,” explains Palmer, who has been romantically linked to Scott Speedman and Topher Grace in the past.
While her current relationship status is unknown, Palmer has still been feeling plenty of love while promoting “Warm Bodies,” which has been drawing some early “Twilight” comparisons – though she’s not convinced Julie and R fall into the same category as Bella and Edward.
“I do see it,” she says of the parallels. “There’s a mystical element to the love story in ‘Twilight’ as there is in ‘Warm Bodies,’ but I think the comparisons should really stop there because tonally the films are really different. ‘Warm Bodies’ injects a lot of humor into this story and it’s action and the love aspect – as well as it being essentially a zombie film. So that’s what essentially sets it apart from ‘Twilight,’ but I do understand the comparisons and frankly ‘Twilight’ is a hugely successful franchise, so we do embrace that in a sense. If we can find half of the audience that ‘Twilight’ has I think we’d be really happy.”
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