It was 1990 when Nicole Kidman had her big break starring alongside Tom Cruise in the action flick Days of Thunder.
After a string of TV movies and low-budget Australian films, Kidman was out to make her mark on Hollywood.
The reviews were low-key, to say the least, and as you would expect of the time they focussed mostly on Cruise as he revelled in his post-Top Gun glory.
Kidman — if mentioned at all — was simply seen through this lens.
“Women, in particular Nicole Kidman … are used for decorative purposes only, like hood ornaments,” a Washington Post reviewer wrote of the film at the time.
Now, 27 years later, Kidman is an entrenched Hollywood figure and is leading a cast of younger women in the new Sofia Coppola film The Beguiled.
And among her fellow cast members is another rising Australian talent — 16-year-old Angourie Rice.
Yet where Kidman slogged her way to the top of the Hollywood heap, Rice makes it look easy. Very easy.
“There’s always a lot of luck that plays into it but you also have to work hard and I guess dedicate yourself,” Rice told News Breakfast.
Who is Angourie Rice?
The Melbourne-based teenager’s rise has been phenomenal but somewhat straightforward.
After appearing in the short Australian film Transmission she was handpicked by director Zak Hilditch to star in his feature piece These Final Hours.
What followed was an invitation to the prestigious Cannes Film Festival in 2014 and the start of international acclaim.
By 2016 she had landed the role opposite Ryan Gosling and Russel Crowe in the noir hit The Nice Guys, and within a year was auditioning for Coppola’s take on the 1971 Clint Eastwood film.
Angourie Rice starred alongside Ryan Gosling and Russel Crowe in The Nice Guys. (Reuters: Regis Duvignau)
“I originally auditioned for the role of Amy [in The Beguiled] and they came back and said, ‘Oh you’re a bit too old for the role’,” Rice said.
“I was really disappointed because I just wanted to be part of the project.
“So I was over the moon when they let me read for Jane who is a bit older, and I think I was really lucky to get the role.”
For Rice, fame wasn’t the driving factor but simply a by-product of a passion that began at an early age.
“I always loved performing when I was a kid and when I was six I did a short film for a couple of uni students and I really loved it,” Rice said.
“I thought it was fantastic and I had so much fun on set and I’m lucky enough that it’s got me here.”
What makes Rice stand out?
Film critic Zak Hepburn says with Rice it’s a matter of quality over quantity. Specifically, the calibre of project and director she has been able to work with.
“She has made supremely strong choices in the roles she plays and is always memorable,” Hepburn said.
“There are two factors as to why Rice has been impressive in these varied roles, aside from her on-screen presence.
“She has aligned herself in films helmed by interesting and enigmatic filmmakers, along with popular franchise properties.”
And you can expect her popularity to only soar after she joined the latest Spider-Man reboot and with it, entry into the wider superhero Marvel cinematic universe that has enjoyed unprecedented box office success in recent years.
“Not being afraid to work across varied genres exhibits a strong range, but also these dynamic and diverse roles showcase Rice as an up-and-comer to watch closely,” Hepburn said.
For now, however, Rice said she is keen to remain as grounded as possible. And this means sticking with the schoolwork.
“I have a tutor on set and I email my teachers and I do all the same work, all the same tests and exams,” she said.
“I really like school, I like going to school, which sounds a bit stupid, but I do.
“And I love the social aspect of it, it keeps me grounded and it’s nice to have that routine.”