Actor Focus: Pippa Grandison

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“Our eyes locked. It was love at first sight, well for me anyway. Steve is my shining light and an amazing father.”

Interview by Joanne Kmaid

Where does time fly? It has been 22 years since Muriel’s Wedding hit our TV screens. With a sensational ABBA soundtrack and artistic cast, it remains an all-time hit; one that I can watch over and over again. The cast have moved on, each walking their own path, so it was wonderful to converse with actress and singer, Pippa Grandison, who played the role of Nicole so well.

She verbally lit up when chatting about the iconic film, even laughed at the misconception that she was anything like her character. “It was heaps of fun and brings back great memories! P.J. Hogan depicted those horrible girls so well,” she said. “Filmed on a small budget, no one guessed it would take off and be so successful.”

Unlike her character, Grandison was on the receiving end of bullying. After her parents split, she travelled with her mum and changed schools frequently, so that gave her less steady friendships. “Now that I’m a mum, I see how common bullying is,” she affirmed. Perhaps that is why she mastered horrible characters so well. A personal experience goes a long way in the acting industry.

Well regarded as an actress, Grandison also holds special talent in singing. She found her voice in a U.S. choir and has worked in many musical theatre productions since. “I love both singing and acting equally. I really enjoy singing for pleasure though, because it’s less restrictive,” she said.

Chatting about her family is like watching a clichéd love story! No acting. No forged scene. Just a woman in love with her husband whom she met on the set of South Pacific, starring Glenn Close and Harry Connick Jr. He had never seen Muriel’s Wedding and had no idea who she was until they met through their mutual friend that day. “Our eyes locked. It was love at first sight, well for me anyway. Steve is my shining light and an amazing father,” she reminisced.

How can an actor marry an actor and not feel crammed with scenes? But as she puts it, the only setback is when they score an acting job at the same time! “It’s tricky, you gotta take the work when it comes and invariably jobs come at the same time. We have great friends who will nanny for us, but I miss my family a lot, especially my daughter, Charlie, when I’m on tour. It’s a different type of ache. I want her to see me follow my dreams and hopefully be a good role model for her.”

No one is exempt from the reality of the film industry – Work one day and none the next; admired one day and forgotten the next. These days, Grandison plays anxious and real-life characters, but it wasn’t always her path. “When I was younger, I got cast for sexy/bitchy roles and I inhabited that for a while. But I always found it confronting to be in a room filled with people and cameras in my face. I just held my nose and jumped in,” she expressed.

In an industry that sees diverse personalities walk through the door, including fretful and frustrated dreamers or chaotic rivalry, it is humbling to hear Grandison label herself as sensitive and insecure. “I am not great with connections, never been ambitious. I love my work and I know networking is important, but I find it difficult to sell myself,” she confided. “I rely on my wonderfully supportive agency for that.”

Grandison does not recall her father being around much when she was a child except for the family boat trips they took to Rottnest Island and the times they spent with their pets in the backyard. After her parents’ separation, she saw him on weekends, and it was then that she got to know the man. She recalled how they “played in the pool, made up songs, had delicious lunches and formed a special bond through laughter.” An unfortunate turn of events saw them disconnect during her teenage years, but once she moved to Sydney and began her career, they found their way back to each other. “I wish I had spent more time with my dad. I loved him dearly and miss him very much.”

This interview was submitted by Cinema Australia contributor Joanne Kmaid. If you have an article or interview you would like to submit for our consideration please contact us today.

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